Acoustic guitars are most often chosen by body size and shape. The primary consideration is usually sound. The physical stature of the player and comfort level may also affect the choice of body size.
Rather than assigning guitar body styles by playing techniques and sterile measurements it is best to visualize them along a continuum from smallest to largest. In our line-up we have the following:
Generally speaking, small bodied guitars are made for finger-style and large bodied guitars are made for flat-picking.
The physics behind this are as follows: Finger-style produces less treble and more bass because the soft pads of the fingers are used. A smaller body counters this with its tightly focused treble. Conversely, the use of a pick produces a treble attack that can be offset by increasing the body size of the instrument and subsequently, its bass response. A player who does equal amounts of both types of playing would gravitate toward an instrument near the center of the continuum.
Consider the real use of the instrument. If it is to be used in an ensemble setting, what other instruments will it be played with and where does the guitar fall into the mix of the overall music? Big bass oriented dreadnoughts and jumbos nicely compliment the high frequencies of violins and mandolins.
If it is to be used to accompany the human voice, consider the timbre of the voice to be accompanied. A man’s deep baritone voice might best be mixed with the focused treble of an Orchestra Model.
Guitar Top Tone Woods: Tone woods should be viewed as a way to fine tune a guitar buyer’s choice once the body style has been chosen. It is important to point out that although there are general tonal characteristics to each wood that Eastman chooses to use, anomalies occur all the time with these woods. We have heard rosewood (presumed to be bass focused) that was so treble in nature it could peel paint and maple (assumed to be treble in nature) that was so dark it could lull a grizzly bear to sleep.
Spruce is most commonly used for the soundboards (tops) of acoustic stringed instruments. It is a consistently “musical” wood. Once cut to size for an instrument, an audible note can be detected when the wood is tapped. Spruce is subdivided into species. Eastman uses Sitka, Adirondack and Englemann spruces.
Sitka is the most widely used spruce for tops and is chosen for its consistency in tone.
Englemann is a tighter, whiter grained spruce that is known for its vocal quality and sustain.
Adirondack (Red) spruce is a broader grained tone wood known mostly for its volume.
Guitar Back and Sides Tone Woods- The choice of woods for the back and sides of a guitar affect the tone in more subtle ways than the top because they are not in direct contact with the strings.
Mahogany has a throaty, warm woody tone. It is also perceived as an “ambient” wood, meaning it sounds the same to the player as is does to the listener. Its open grain is not as visually appealing as other tone woods to some people but its voice is unmistakable.
Rosewood is known for its big punchy bass without the loss of sustain in the high frequencies. Its alternating streaks of black and dark brown provide a beautiful contrast to the lighter spruce tops.
Maple is characteristically brighter sounding and known for its attack. It is also the most visually striking wood that Eastman uses. The flames and quilts become 3-dimensional when stain is applied.
Unlike the “ambient” nature of mahogany, rosewood and maple are more “performance” woods as the sound seems to project faster out of the sound hole and is focused on the listener.
Eastman uses ebony for the fret board material on all guitars except the 100 and 200 series acoustics,the ET series acoustics, the AR371, the AR403CE and the 600 series arch tops where rosewood boards are employed. Ebony is a dense black wood that brings out the dynamics of the player’s style. Rosewood is a warmer fret board material with less attack than ebony.