Scalloped vs Non-Scalloped (Straight) Acoustic Guitar Bracing

The bracing used on an acoustic guitar has a significant impact on the tone. There are many different variables when it comes to bracing, including the pattern and whether the braces are straight or scalloped. In this article I’ll give you everything you need to know.

Acoustic guitars with scalloped bracing have a more flexible top compared to guitars with non-scalloped (straight) bracing. Scalloped braces make the guitar have more bass-response causing it to sound louder, warmer and have more sustain compared to non-scalloped braces.

Acoustic Guitar Bracing 101

Acoustic guitars have bracing underneath the tops to add more stiffness. This helps to strengthen the top so it does not become damaged as a result of the string tension. If an acoustic guitar did not have any bracing then the top would bend and ultimately break.

The most popular bracing pattern on modern acoustic guitars is “X-bracing”. Which has the follow braces

  • X-braces
  • Tone bars
  • Radial braces
  • Bridge plate
  • Sound hole reinforcers
  • Traverse bar
X-bracing pattern labelled diagram

Scalloped vs Straight Braces

Scalloped bracing is when part of the braces are shaved down and essentially carved out which reduces the weight of the braces. Straight (non-scalloped) bracing on the other hand is when the braces are made from a straight piece of wood which has not been carved out.

Here is a diagram to demonstrate.

There are different types of scalloped braces, and some are more extreme than others. When more wood is removed from the braces, the tone changes more dramatically. Check out this YouTube video comparing the Martin Standard and Golden Era scalloped braces.

Effect of Scalloping

Scalloping the braces essentially reduces the strength of the bracing. As we mentioned towards the start of the article, braces make the top of the guitar stiffer, so by reducing the strength of the bracing, the result is that the top of the guitar becomes more flexible.

  • Scalloped bracing = more flexible top
  • Straight bracing = stiffer top

Since the top of the guitar is more flexible, it allows for more vibration which allows the bass response to be increased. This makes the guitar sound louder and sustain for longer.

Guitars with scalloped bracing sound warmer and louder, whereas guitars with straight bracing have more mid-range response and sound brighter and more articulate as they have less bass emphasis.

Here is a YouTube video comparing the tone of a scalloped and non-scalloped braced Martin guitar. The Martin D-28 uses straight bracing, whereas the Martin HD-28 uses scalloped bracing. Both guitars have forward-shifted X-bracing patterns, spruce tops and rosewood back and sides.

History of Scalloped Bracing

Martin used straight (non-scalloped) bracing on all its acoustic guitars from 1945 to 1976 and first introduced scalloped bracing in 1977. The brand now offers guitars with either scalloped and straight bracing to suit different preferences.

Gibson on the other hand used scalloped bracing until the mid-late ’50s and then switched back to straight bracing. However, pretty much all modern Gibson acoustic guitars use scalloped bracing.

Taylor use scalloped bracing on the vast majority of their acoustic guitars.

Guitars with Straight Bracing

  • Martin D-28
  • Martin D-35
  • Martin LX1 Little Martin

Guitars with Scalloped Bracing

  • Martin D-18
  • Martin HD-28
  • Martin HD-35
  • Martin D-41
  • Martin D-42
  • Martin D-45
  • Martin D-10E
  • Martin D-12E
  • Martin D-X1E
  • Martin DC-X2E
  • Martin GPC-11E
  • Martin GPC-X2E
  • Martin GPC-13E
  • Martin M-36
  • Martin J-40
  • Martin OM-21
  • Martin OM-28
  • Martin OM-42
  • Martin OMC-X1E
  • Martin 0-X1E
  • Martin 00-18
  • Martin 00-28
  • Martin 00-X2E
  • Martin 000-18
  • Martin 000-28
  • Martin 000-42
  • Martin 000-X2E
  • Martin 000-10E
  • Martin 000-12E
  • Gibson J-35
  • Gibson J-45
  • Gibson J-185
  • Gibson SJ-200
  • Gibson LG-2
  • Gibson L-00
  • Gibson Hummingbird
  • Gibson Southern Jumbo
  • Gibson Dove
  • Gibson Songwriter

Check out my comparison between X-bracing and V-bracing patterns.


Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts