What determines the loudness of a guitar with F holes? My dream acoustic will be an archtop with F holes, but I want it to be reasonably loud.

So, being a dummy about these things (electric player mostly) I thought that I needed to have one built with over-sized F holes and the same body depth as a Martin Dreadnought. And even as I write these words, it still seems reasonable that this would be a good combination.

Mathematically speaking, if the total area of the f holes is approximately equal to the total area of the soundhole on a Martin, and the body depth is the same, it should be just about as loud.

Is this not how it works?


i know nothing of these things but i was watching a tv show and they had an old gibson with f-holes and they were saying that they were trying to make them as loud as they possibly could because this was before electric guitars and needed to be heard.
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You are on the right track, but that isn?t exactly how it works. The size of the body vs the size of the hole is what determines the internal resonance of the guitar. Changing the size of the hole doesn't change the volume all that much.

The things that change the amount of volume from the guitar are

The size of the soundboard. The smaller the soundboard the more volume you will get

The overall airspace inside the body. More airspace means a louder guitar.

The thickness of the top. A thinner top will be lowder for the people sitting close but it will cause the guitar to project less and therefore it is quieter when you get further away.

The bracing. X bracing will make the guitar quieter and warmer sounding. Parallel bracing makes the guitar louder but more trebbly.

The placement of the f holes. The closer together the F holes are the smaller the active portion of the soundboard which also means the louder the guitar, however, if you are going to be putting the F holes close together it defeats the purpose of having a large soundboard so you might as well make a smaller guitar.
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They're more or less as loud. The area of the holes isn't important.