Learn about the 5 things about double-cutaway acoustic guitars, starting from what they actually are, if they are any good, what makers make them, why they are rare and do they sound well – basically everything you need to know about them!
No. 1 – What Is A Double Cutaway Acoustic Guitar?
A double cutaway acoustic guitar, you ask? Yes, that is rather rare.
Some acoustic guitars have a lower cutaway in the treble-side upper bout to allow easier access to the frets for that hand. Even fewer have an upper cutaway too. That means that there is a gap between the body and the neck on both sides, making it look more like an electric guitar, with the ‘twin horns’ as seen on a Fender Stratocaster, for instance.
This option has a few pros and one very big con. It gives players, particularly anyone playing the high notes of lead guitar, greater access to the frets and more freedom to play. However, taking another cut out of the body of an acoustic guitar does affect the sound quality, without a doubt.
Double cutaways do serve a purpose, though. For a start, they allow your thumb and fingers to move past the neck-body joint on your guitar. A strap button on a double cut can be placed higher on the neck than on a single cutaway guitar. When positioned on the end of the upper horn, this improves the balance of the guitar if using a strap. The materials of these steel strings musical instruments include poplar, sepele, spruce, etc., for the body with rosette fingerboard in some.
No. 2 – Average Dimension For Double Cutaway Acoustic Guitar
- Overall Length – 37″
- Lower Body Width – 13.5″
- Upper Body Width – 11″
- Body Thickness – 2.5″
- Body Length – 17″
- Neck Length – 17.75″
- Top Neck Width – 1.75″
- Top Neck Width – 2.2″
No. 3 – Are Cutaway Acoustic Guitars Better Than Single-Cutaway/Non-Cutaway Acoustics?
Double cutaway acoustic guitars can be easier for some players, but the sound quality will definitely suit an electro-acoustic better than a pure acoustic model. Sound quality is so important to an acoustic guitar that any changes to the tried and tested shapes will come at a cost. That’s why most double cuts are electric-acoustic models.
There are some undoubted advantages to a single-cut model, especially easier access to the upper frets. This avoids finger contortions and having to play with your fret hand thumb, for instance. There is definitely a place for a double-cutaway electric acoustic in some groups, although they are nowhere near as common as either dreadnought acoustic or double-cut electric models.
The design of the guitar you choose will largely depend on what you intend to do with it and your personal preferences for sound and accessibility of the upper frets. If you’re more of a rhythm guitarist, then chances are those upper frets won’t see nearly as much use.
However, lead guitarists, who often like to hit the high note passages for impact, may prefer a double cut, which is why the shape is so familiar in rock groups where the lead guitarist is a focal point. They may play electric most often, but they can also switch to electric-acoustic when required.
No. 4 – What Acoustic Guitar Makers Have Made Double Cutaway Acoustics?
Despite the low sales potential for double cutaway models, there are some guitar makers who have produced them.
Cutaways generally come in two types. A Florentine cut produces the distinct ‘horn’ shape seen on many electric guitars, while a Venetian cut is rounder and doesn’t wrap round as high towards the neck as the Florentine. Some guitars even have a square cut, although this is unusual.
John Lennon’s Epiphone Casino, an electric acoustic with an upper-end, thinner sound, is arguably the best-known example of a double-cut acoustic. Paul McCartney also has one, which he played at the Live 8 concert. It is a hollow body model with no center block and f-holes.
Fender makes the Acoustasonic and Stratocoustic, while the Ibanez Talman is also considered a double cutaway. Any acoustic or electric-acoustic guitar that has a Fender Stratocaster style shape is usually a double cutaway. 1950s brands Danelectro, Wechter, and Shannon, have also been named as makers of double cutaway guitars.
Electric-acoustic guitars often have a cutaway. They straddle the divide between both types of guitar, looking like electric models but sounding more like acoustic instruments. So if your preference is to play acoustic, but you always fancied having a classic-looking guitar, an electric acoustic would be ideal. After all, for some players, the look of their instrument is just as important as the sound.
No. 5 – Why Are Double Cutaway Acoustic Guitars Rare?
The main reason double cutaway guitars are rare is because of the loss of sound quality. This can be forgivable in an electric-acoustic model such as the Epiphone Casino, as the electric capability helps hide the drop in tone and resonance. But in a pure acoustic guitar, this would be an impossible tradeoff, as acoustics have to sound bigger than they are.
Making a double cutaway is also quite complicated. In a higher range electric acoustic, this extra effort is reflected in the price, but many basic level acoustic guitars are so cheap these days that it’s just not a viable option even before manufacturers factor in the drop in sound quality. Changing the shape of the body leads to less space inside the guitar, so lower resonance. Even the usual maple neck found on a double cutaway can’t help with that, although it does make the instruments quite durable.
Of course, there are also other factors, such as the build quality and the tonewoods used in construction, as well as the materials used for the nut, saddle, and strings, and even the gauge of the strings.
No. 6 – Do Cutaway Guitars Sound Different/Worse?
Any cutaway will alter the sound of the guitar. This may be exactly what an electric or electric-acoustic guitar player wants if they’re going to be shredding a lead part with an amp turned up to the max in front of an appreciative audience. Double cutaway models can also assist newer players in developing their own style, as the frets are easier to reach in all areas of the neck.
Guitars with a double cut generally have a brighter, clearer, treble-heavy sound. Some musicians find that works for them and say it sounds more balanced, although inevitably, there are players who disagree. Effects pedals can always be used to vary or maximize the sound of your instrument if that suits your sound.
If the look of the guitar is important, then an electric acoustic has that classic horned shape but also comes with an electronic pickup (giving the option to plug into an amp or PA), EQ/volume control, and a tuner. All the advantages of fret access and the sound is great too. If playability is a problem, then a double cutaway may help, although it results in a longer scale length. However, the smaller body means they are lighter weight and often have thinner necks too.
Ultimately, a musician’s choice for a double cutaway acoustic or electric acoustic comes down to their personal preference and the sounds they are looking to make with their guitar.
No. 7 – Top 3 Double Cutaway Acoustic Guitars
- Body Shape: Talman double cutaway
- Neck: Mahogany neck
- Back And Sides: Mahogany
- Top: Spruce top
- Rosette: Black and white multi rosette
- Acoustic-Electric Guitar
- Body Shape: Talan Double Cutaway
- Neck: Mahogany Neck
- Back/Sides: Mahogany Back and Sides
- Top: Spruce Top
- Rosette: Black and White Multi Rosette
- Ibanez 6 String Acoustic Guitar
- Right Handed
- Transparent Blue Sunburst
- Brand: Unbranded
- MPN: Does Not Apply
Double cutaway acoustic guitars are a great option for anyone looking for an acoustic guitar that is easy to play. These guitars have a design that allows your fingers to reach the higher frets easily, which can be helpful if you want to play complex chords or melodies. While these guitars are not as common as single-cutaway acoustics, there are some great models available from top guitar makers. If you’re looking for an acoustic guitar with a comfortable playing experience, a double cutaway may be the perfect choice for you.
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James B. Laskowski was born and raised in Fresno, CA. He has been working as an acoustic and classical guitar expert at Instrument Insight for over 5 years. In this time, he has gained a great understanding of acoustic and classical guitars and gears, their materials, build quality, playability, and versatility. James also has an in-depth knowledge of the history and origins of many acoustic and classical guitar brands.