Among the various types of a guitar, there’s one with a size that’s small enough for you to be able to handle it for quite a considerable amount of time, at the same time, has a powerful and resonant voice that would fill up your room with harmony and pleasant sound. We’re talking about parlor guitars.
The term “parlor” refers to old reception and commerce rooms, and since these compact guitars were regularly played in these types of venues, such guitars were called “parlor guitars” since.
Parlor guitars are best played on small crowds, so you’ll really feel every note of your favorite old school blues or folk music. And if you’re looking for the best parlor guitar that would best serve you that purpose, this list is for you.
5 Best Parlor Guitars (Our Top Picks for 2020)
- Parlor-size agathis body
Considered as the best parlor guitar, among others, on this list, the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top has a lot to offer. Aside from its topnotch quality and awesome sound, you won’t have to save up a lot just to get this parlor guitar, as it’s truly affordable. The G9500 will take you back to the golden age of good old music brought by parlor guitars.
Boasting a traditional 12-fret design, the G9500 gives great comfortability and playability with its small body and excellent tonewood. Owning a highly resonant Agathis back, sides, and top along with an elongated body, you’ll have no problem playing this baby for hours on end.
Agathis is known to give that classic soft and warm tone, which is a plus if you’re a sucker for genres of this tone.
One of its greatest feature (which is loved by many), is its outstanding projection. Its neck is joint to the body at the 12th fret and front bout elongated which gives off a powerful volume. The G9500 provides a resonant but mellow tone- the perfect tonal combination to fuel your afternoon entertainment.
Aside from these exceptional features, the G9500 isn’t just a parlor guitar, it’s also a nice piece of American music heritage. The G9500 is part of Gretsch’s Roots collection, which is basically Gretsch’s one of the earliest instruments.
- Tone and volume are impressive
- Great for traveling
- Agathis wood sounds like pinewood
- Excellent tone quality for finger pickers
- Might feel a bit boxy and cheap
- Laminated spruce top with laminated mahogany back and sides
- Quartersawn Scalloped X-Bracing
Another great choice as your best parlor guitar is the Fender CP-100 Parlor Small-Body Guitar. Just to give you a great head start, ts size won’t be a hindrance to its powerful volume and tonality. Along Fender’s classic guitars, the CP-100 surely won’t disappoint.
Bringing you some vintage goodness, the CP-100 features a laminated spruce top and laminated mahogany parlor-style body, elegant sunburst-finish top with Quartersawn scalloped X bracing and pearl acrylic rosette. Its 20-fret rosewood fingerboard is paired with a rosewood bridge with compensated saddle and a mahogany neck. To help preserve this beauty, the CP-100 is complete with a smooth satin finish.
All these features give the CP-100 an overall powerful and full sound. Its neck joins the body at the 14th fret, so don’t worry about its accessibility and playability. Its open gear chrome tuners help the CP-100 in tune for a long amount of time.
- Has a full sound
- Has a smooth neck.
- The neck joins the body at the 14th fret so that it allows for accessing the more frets
- Does not include a case
If you’re a bit nit-picky when it comes to all things vintage, the Washburn R320SWRK Acoustic Guitar will solve all of your dilemmas. Complete with vintage perfection, even in the slightest details, the R320SWRK is made entirely of solid wood and rich finish. Aside from its physical appearance, this acoustic guitar gives off an overall resonant sound and great volume.
Featuring a solid spruce top and rosewood body, the R320SWRK owns great projection and volume. The design of the bone nut and saddle is the reason why the R320SWRK has outstanding intonation. It also has smooth strings that are gentle on your fingers and are very responsive. Featuring an ebony fingerboard, the R320SWRK creates great sustain and excellent feel.
The R320SWRK is lightweight and features its distinct properties to make it stand out from the rest.
- Portable and lightweight
- Great for blues or slides
- Great for strumming and doesn’t sound thin
- Finish is unevenly applied on the body
- The neck is mahogany with the comfortable Slimtaper D profile and dovetail neck joint.
- Nickel hardware with compensated saddle.
With its affordable price and excellent features, you’ll never second guess the Epiphone EL-00 Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar as your next best parlor guitar. Following its predecessor, L-00 from the 30s and 40s, you are guaranteed to have remarkable sound quality and great playability. The EL-00 is very versatile which means it’s perfect for recording and jam sessions.
Featuring its perfect size, the EL-000 Pro also comes with a solid spruce top and mahogany body. Its mahogany neck sits comfortably with the Slimtaper D profile and dovetail neck joint. Its powerful voice is enhanced by its Fishman Sonitone sound-hole preamp with Master Volume and Master Tone.
The EL-00 comes with a chrome tuner with Grover machine heads that’ll make sure to keep it in tune for a long time. It’s also a charmer with its beautiful and iconic Vintage Sunburst finish and 12″-radius rosewood fingerboard with mother-of-pearl dot inlays.
- Great value for its price
- Decent tuning
- Blurry high-mids in strumming situations
- Solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped braces gives you clean articulation and a crisp tone
- Solid mahogany back and sides for robust, warm resonance
Get a taste of music history by playing the Blueridge BR-341 Parlor Guitar which is among their Historic Series. Inspired by the most famous and well-known guitars of the same type, the BR-341 brings you excellent quality represented by a classic vintage piece. Judging by its size, you’ll be in awe by its powerful voice and rich tone.
The BR-341 will take you back to the good times where live performances in a small crowd were still a thing, as it has a volume that’s fulfilling and resonant. With a select solid Sitka spruce top paired with scalloped braces and select solid Indian rosewood, you’ll get an excellent tone that’s both clean and articulate. Its premium ebony fingerboard gives extra durability and striking good looks.
With its slim mahogany neck, the BR-341 gives easy action and playability. Complete with Gotoh vintage slotted peg-head style tuners, you’ll be provided with smooth and precise tuning that will last a long time.
- Scalloped bracing
- Slim Mahogany neck
- Excellent tonal profile
- Ideal for lead jazz tones
- No pickup or preamp system included, with its price
Factors To Consider When Buying a Parlor Guitar
Before you start invading your local instrument store or visiting some online stores, you should know the basics when it comes to buying a parlor guitar.
Depending on your budget, the quality and features you’ll get will vary. However, an item with an affordable price won’t necessarily mean you’ll get something with a low quality. In fact, our top choice won’t break the bank and is only under $200.
This list incorporates parlor guitars according to your budget. Ranging from $200 to nothing more than $1000, you’ll get your next best parlor guitar. That’s why, setting your budget will really narrow your choices down.
Since the beginning of manufacturing guitars, solid Sitka spruce as the guitar’s top has always been the number one choice. It gives parlor guitars a very pleasing sound that’s loved by thousands of players, which makes it the go-to tonewood as far as the guitar’s top is concerned.
Some manufacturers have also made do with other tonewoods like mahogany and cedar. Mahogany tops give a decent volume and are more adaptable when it comes to environmental changes.
On the other hand, cedar-topped parlor guitars produces a rich tone which is more emphasized when you perform fingerstyle.
If you want to learn more about buying an acoustic guitar in general, you’ll learn a lot by watching this video.
Length, Scale Length, and Number of Frets?
Parlor guitars were initially inspired by Spanish-style classical guitars which have the 12th fret right where the neck joins the body. But, some parlor guitars also have 14. The more frets your guitar has, the larger its size is.
That gives us the option to have either of the two. So, if you’re more fond of playing big guitars, the best parlor guitar for you is the one with 14 frets. If you’re used to classical guitars, have small hands, or just starting out, a 12-fret guitar should serve you just fine.
Stop searching and go get yourself a Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top. As the best parlor guitar on this list, the G9500 gives excellent overall sound and amazing features. It has the playability and comfortability you deserve with its small body and outstanding tonewood. Agathis is known to give that classic soft and warm tone, which is a plus if you’re a sucker for genres of this tone.
Its user rave about how the G9500 has an impressive tonality and volume. If you are fond of the fingerstyle and a travel junky, this is the surely your potential best parlor guitar. However, with its price point, you might feel like it’s a bit boxy and too simple.