FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

For access to those "mystery notes" high up the fingerboard
© Frank Ford, 9/13/98 Photos by FF

The cutaway is just that, an area of the guitar body is cut away, or designed to look as though it had been cut to allow the player easy access to the higher frets over the body.

This cutaway looks as though it actually might have been sawed right out of the body:

It's generally called a "sharp" or "Florentine" cutaway"

This one flows naturally in a more rounded shape:

It's a "rounded" or "Venetian" cutaway.

Some instruments, like this guitar by Judy Threet, have a cutaway that defies categorization:

The "Pathmaker" guitar by Abe Wechter has a "double cutaway" and provides nineteen frets clear of the body:

It wasn't the first cutaway in the world, but this is certainly Gibson's first production guitar with a cutaway:

Well, sort of. It's the famous orchestra model, "Style O," from as early as about 1911.

Just so all you guitar guys don't get smug, let's not forget that the mandolin had the first cutaway design. This Gibson F-4 has its cutaway harmoniously balanced by the asymmetry of the "Florentine" body shape:

I suppose that's why we call the sharp cutaway "Florentine."

But where does "Venetian" come from?

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