Dreadnought vs 000 Guitars: Is There a Big Difference?

When you’re a legit guitar tone seeker like me, deciding between two of the best acoustic guitar shapes out there is not an easy task!

We weigh up the pros and cons between dreadnought vs 000 guitars so you can decide which one’s right for you.

Let’s discuss everything about these two titans of acoustic guitar manufacturing, and find out if one’s really better than the other.

Why not do we jump right to it?

What is a Dreadnought guitar?

When someone says “acoustic guitar,” the Dreadnought shape is likely the one that comes to mind.

This is one of the oldest guitar designs that are still in mass production even today. Originally created by Martin Guitars in 1916.

The main characteristics of Dreadnought guitars are:

  • Fuller sound with such a bass that people describes it as “boomy”
  • The almost non-pronounced waist shape is the primary factor that contributes to its big and clear sound
  • Usually comes with a scale length of around 25.5” (647mm)
  • Body depth of approx. 3.8” – 4.7” (96 – 124mm)

Almost every single acoustic guitar manufacturer has its own Dreadnought model. 

But among all of them, the most popularly known are the Martin D-18, Martin D-45, and Gibson Hummingbird.

What is a 000 Guitar?

Also known as Auditorium guitars, the 000 is the standard in what refers to balanced and “right in the sweet spot” acoustic guitar sound.

The 000 has a more pronounced waist which reduces a little the bass response, while at the same time, it makes players feel more connected to the instrument by allowing better direct contact with their body.

It was born between 1933 and 1934 as an evolution of the OM model, with a more comfortable, shorter scale neck.

The main characteristics of 000 guitars are:

  • Absolutely well-balanced sound, suitable for almost any musical genre
  • Rounder waist that embraces players 
  • Scale length of approx 24.9” (632mm)
  • Body depth of approx 4.1” (104mm)

There are several reasons to choose a 000 guitar apart from its characteristic sound.

First, because of its comfortable slightly smaller scale length, and second, for its very delicate body shape which suits perfectly for someone who wants to look great while playing live.

Some of the most recognized 000 guitars are the Martin 000-28, Martin 000-15M, and Taylor 522e.

Dreadnought vs 000 Guitars: Key Differences

Body Shape

Here we give you a body dimensions comparison chart (approximate values) between the two models:

  Dreadnought  (Martin D-18)000 (Martin 000-28)
Scale Length25.5”24.9”
Body Length20”19.3”
Body Depth 4.8”4.1”
Lower Bout Width15.6”15”
Upper Bout Width11.5”11.25”
Waist10.75”8.62”

In summary, we can say that:

  • 000 has a shorter scale length, making it softer to play. Perfect for long sessions.
  • 000’s thinner waist makes it more comfortable to play.
  • Dreadnought has a bigger waist, pushing more bass into the overall tone.

000 is curvier, which makes it more comfortable to play while sitting, and its scale length is totally recommended for small hands.

Playing a dreadnought feels at home. The overall feel of the neck and body is just excellent.

Sound

Dreadnought Guitars:

The Dreadnought has a fuller sound and a boomy bass response, making it perfect for songs with only guitar and voice, or for playing unplugged.

An interesting aspect of dreads is its tendency of blending all the strings into one big chord, so you lose a little bit of the individual character of notes. But that doesn’t mean this guitar doesn’t have a well-balanced tone. 

There’s a reason why thousands around the world love playing this guitar, and that’s because you can play almost whatever the heck you want with it!.

And another tone-shaping aspect is the choice of wood with this guitar. Depending on the wood construction, it will enhance even more the bass or will equilibrate the mids and highs.

000 Guitars:

The 000 has a slightly smaller body, so, it sounds very balanced, with pronounced mids. 

Thanks to those mid frequencies, it cuts perfectly through the mix, making its way clear to your ears.

And 000’s have the fame of being great for individual-note definition. You’ll hear every high note when playing big chords.

Plus, it’s suitable for integrating wonderfully with a band, leaving space for the bassist to do their job.

Depending on the playing technique the 000 can respond very differently, which gives you a wide palette of tones.

Versatility

In terms of versatility, Dreadnoughts are total beasts, you can play from pop to rock, to jazz or country. 

And even it proved to be great for percussive guitar, thanks to its bigger body, it booms with hand drum techniques.

On the other hand, 000’s are perfectly suitable for fingerstyle and other refined genres.

They have a focused bass response and a distinctive mid-frequency response, so, clarity is its realm. If a song needs a very delicate playing, this is the one for it.

Final Thoughts

Why Choose Dreadnought?

The Dreadnought can the right choice no matter what genre you play. You’ve to have a specific need to not choose it.

Choose it if:

  1. You need a full-bodied sound that fills most of the tonal landscape.
  2. You are a troubadour who likes to perform with your guitar.
  3. You’re a master strummer and want an instrument that can handle the heaviest of strums.

A thing to be grateful about Dreadnoughts is the wide range of prices they come in.

You’ll find them from very affordable prices to ultra-premium quality and price.

Why Choose a 000?

The 000 is a very intimate instrument. But this doesn’t mean it can’t handle a variety of genres too.

Choose it if:

  1. You need a softer playing experience.
  2. You’re working on being or already are a seasoned fingerstyle player.
  3. You play in a band and need those extra mids to shine your guitar through the mix.

000’s curves not only feel super comfy when playing sitting down but also when standing.

So, its body shape and the shorter scale length are very recommended for long playing sessions.

FAQs

Are Dreadnoughts louder than 000’s?

Dreadnoughts have a bigger cabinet so to speak, they move more air. And not only that, Dreadnoughts are usually stringed with thicker strings. All this results in a definite higher volume.

Yet, a lot of players, especially fingerstyle ones, find that boomy sound overwhelming and opt for a more “precise” overall tone such as the 000’s provide.

Dreadnought vs 000: Which is Better for Fingerstyle?

000’s are slightly smaller and will need less power to make them sound good. They are a better option for fingerstyle.

Of course, you definitely can make a Dreadnought work for fingerstyle, but it definitely will fatigue you faster than a 000.

So, in this case, it is a clear matter of taste and playing style.

You’ll find people who definitely love a Dread for fingerstyle, people who actually make a dread sound pretty cool on that technique.

And you can absolutely encounter people who love strumming their 000’s all day long.

Does Wood Affect the Tone?

The answer to this question is a firm yes, each tonewood has a different mass and a unique cellular pattern that reflects vibration in its own particular way.

The topic of woods in guitars is extremely extensive. A quick answer probably won’t even scratch the surface. Here is a great post you can check out to learn more.

But we can say that the wood choice for building a guitar will enhance or tame some frequencies and also its dynamic range (in a few words, the way they release the volume). 

So, a dreadnought could be balanced or even get boomier depending on which woods it’s made of.

And same for a 000, it could have a bigger bass if it’s made of the right wood for it.

2 thoughts on “Dreadnought vs 000 Guitars: Is There a Big Difference?”

    • Hi Daniel,

      Both can be good options for beginners, however, a lot of people find 000 and other smaller-bodied shapes easier to play while sitting.

      Also, if you want to primarily play fingerstyle, you’d be better off with a 000. Dreadnoughts are usually preferred for heavy strumming, flat-picking, or rhythm guitar.

      Reply

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