Although invented over a century ago, the timeless beauty and unparalleled tone of Parlor guitars are finding more and more admirers in recent years. It’s easy to see why Parlor guitars are compact, travel-friendly, and offer a rich, resonant tone that can fill up a room. That’s why we’re witnessing more and more musicians adding Parlor guitars to their personal collections.
If you’re looking to buy a good quality Parlor guitar, then we’ve got just the thing for you. We’ll be discussing Parlor guitars in a variety of builds, finishes, wood variations, and budgets to cater to different playing styles and needs. So whether you’re an experienced guitarist or just starting out, there’s something in here for every musician.
I’ll start this article by reviewing the best Parlor guitars at each price point, but if you want to learn more about them before reading reviews, check out our buying guide at the bottom of the page. Each of these guitars has been tested out, researched, and studied to give you an accurate picture of their key features, as well as what you can expect each of them to feel like and sound.
|Name of Product||Image of Product||Description||Price Range||Full Review|
|1. Gibson Acoustic Parlor Modern EC (Best Overall Parlor Guitar)||Body Wood: Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Rosewood Back & Sides|
|$2400||Read Full Review Below|
|2. Yamaha CSF1M TBS Parlor Size Electro-Acoustic Parlor Guitar (Best Under $500)||Body Wood: Spruce Wood Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
|$430||Read Full Review Below|
|3. Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (Budget Pick)||Body Wood: Agathis Top, Back and Sides|
Neck: Nato wood
|$170||Read Full Review Below|
|4. Cordoba C9 Parlor Small Body Classical Acoustic (Best Classical Parlor Guitar)||Body Wood: Solid Canadian Cedar Top, Solid African Mahogany Back & Sides|
|$900||Read Full Review Below|
|5. Yamaha CSF-TA Electro-Acoustic Parlor Guitar With Transacoustic Technology (Best Under $1000)||Body Wood: Sitka Spruce Top, Mahogany Sides & Back|
Neck: Nato Wood
|$760||Read Full Review Below|
|6. Fender CP-60S Parlor Acoustic Guitar (Best Under $300)||Body Wood: Spruce Wood top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
|$210||Read Full Review Below|
|7. Alvarez AP66SHB Parlor Acoustic Guitar||Body Wood: Solid Africal Mahogany Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
|$360||Read Full Review Below|
|8. Dean AXS Parlor Acoustic Guitar, Mahogany||Body Wood: Mahogany|
|$220||Read Full Review Below|
|9. Ibanez PN15 Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar||Body Wood: Spruce Wood Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
|$150||Read Full Review Below|
|10. Luna Gypsy Muse Parlor Acoustic Guitar||Body Wood: Mahogany Top, Back & Sides|
|$200||Read Full Review Below|
|11. Blueridge Guitars BR – 341 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right Handed||Body Wood: Sitka Spruce Top, Mahogany Back and Sides|
|$1435||Read Full Review Below|
|12. Ibanez Performance PN1MHOPN Mahogany Parlor||Body Wood: Spruce Laminate Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
|$150||Read Full Review Below|
|13. Epiphone EL-00 PRO Solid Top Parlor Size Acoustic / Electric Guitar||Body Wood: Solid Spruce Top, Maple Sides & Mahogany Back|
|$370||Read Full Review Below|
|14. Fender Paramount PM-2 Standard Parlor||Body Wood: A-Grade Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Solid Mahogany Back & Sides|
|$700||Read Full Review Below|
Here Are the Best Parlor Guitars (All Price Ranges)
1. Gibson Acoustic Parlor Modern EC (Best Overall)
|Body Wood||Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Rosewood Back & Sides|
My Review: We did say we’ll include guitars for ALL budgets, so it’s only fair to include the best of the best in here, even though it may prove to be quite pricey for many of us. Say hello to the Gibson Modern EC Parlor. If you do plan to shell out a pretty penny over your Parlor, then do it on a guitar like this one, because it will be well worth it.
Take its body, for instance. It’s the only guitar on this list with Rosewood sides and back, along with a solid sitka Spruce Top. The bright high-end of the Spruce and the low-end of the Rosewood offer you an inspiring tone that is rarely found – luscious, warm, clear, and full-range. Next, its LR Baggs VCT system makes sure that this one of a kind tone translates equally well when plugged in. Its body is super comfortable to hold as well as play. This is one model that we can vouch will be well worth the (bags of) money spent.
Overall Build and Design: The Gibson Modern EC has one of the most well-designed bodies we’ve come across, and with this model, the god is in the details. Once you’re done fawning over its vintage style body, mother of pearl inlay, and sunburst finish, you’ll see that it has used a traditional, hand-scalloped X-bracing. This style not only offers more support to the body than other bracing techniques but also makes for one of the most flexible and responsive soundboards.
Secondly, its neck is designed with an advanced response profile, which makes it very ergonomic and a pleasure to play for hours on end. The classic rosewood bridget further boosts the tone beautifully. The Grover mini rotomatic tuners keep your tuning rock-solid for long durations.
Wood Details: This is truly where the Modern EC sets itself apart from most other Parlors in the market (and at that price point, it should as well!). The body is made from a solid Sitka spruce, while the back and sides are made fully of rosewood. As we said, you don’t usually see many guitars with a rosewood body. The neck is mahogany while the fingerboard is again made with rosewood. The all-solid design and use of the choicest woods have played a big role in this guitar’s distinct full-range tone.
Tone and Sound Quality: When you blend the bright, high-end of a sitka spruce top with the warm, buttery low-end of rosewood, what you get is magic. In literal terms, you get a full-range tone where the high end sparkles over a thick, rich, warm low to mid-tone. This brings a level of versatility to this model that’s rarely seen in Parlor guitars.
Thanks to this wide range tone, it suits both fingerpicking musicians looking for attack, as well as folk musicians looking for a lush strumming sound. What’s even better is that this signature one is no longer restricted to being played to a small audience. The guitar’s LR Baggs VCT pickups allow for lossless transmission of the unamplified tone to an amplified setting on as large a stage as your heart desires. And just as well, it’d be a crime to not let a wider audience enjoy this tone.
2. Yamaha CSF1M TBS Parlor Size Electro-Acoustic Parlor Guitar (Best Under $500)
|Body Wood||Spruce Wood Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
My Review: With the CSF1M TBS, Yamaha has produced a solid-top guitar worthy of being considered one of the high-quality Parlors in recent times, at a price that’s significantly lower than typical top-end Parlors. Its solid Sitka top, and Mahogany sides, back, and neck produce a full, rich, and full-bodied tone that’s quite impressive. Plus, it can also be plugged in, thanks to an under saddle pickup. This model also comes with a hard case, a definite value add, given that Parlor sized cases are not very commonly available.
Overall Build and Design: The CSF1 has a classic Parlor shape that fuses vintage beauty with the modern forward-shifted scalloped bracing. This blending of classic craftsmanship with modern bracing technique gives the guitar a higher overall resonance and a richer bass response. Another great thing about this guitar is that it can be plugged in, thanks to an under saddle Piezo pickup. This will allow you to amplify your sound in case you’re playing to a bigger audience, while still retaining that distinct Parlor tone. This model is available in four stunning shades – tobacco brown sunburst (our personal favorite), vintage natural, translucent black, and crimson red burst.
Wood Details: The Yamaha CSF1M has a solid Sitka Spruce top, and Mahogany back, sides as well as neck and fingerboard. All in all, the brand has used high quality woods in the guitar’s construction, which makes it quite a value for money purchase for its price point.
Tone and Sound Quality: By combining a Parlor-sized body and a forward-shifted scalloped bracing, Yamaha has gifted us the magic of a full, resonant, rich tone in the body of a Parlor guitar. Not only is this guitar loud, but its tone also has a noteworthy nuance and vibrance that will be appreciated both by fingerstyle players as well as those that love strumming away to folk music. What’s even better is that this tonal integrity is more or less maintained even when it is plugged in, letting you enjoy the quintessential Parlor sound even in an amplified setup. Overall, I would say that this is the best Parlor guitar under 500 dollars.
3. Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (Budget Pick)
|Body Wood||Agathis Top, Back, and Sides|
|Neck Wood||Nato wood|
|Frets||18 (12 reachable)|
My Review: Founded in 1883 in Brooklyn, Gretch is one of the oldest guitar makers in the business. Even though the Jim Dandy Flat Top Parlor is modestly priced, Gretsch has made sure that it offers a lovely warm tone that’s quite versatile. Thanks to a good combination of affordability and quality, this model is a good Parlor guitar to start with for beginners, and especially if you’re on a tight budget.
Overall Build and Design: The Jim Dandy Flat Top looks like it time traveled straight from the 1930s, from the looks of it. With a dark, vintage sunburst body and a white scratch plate, its design and style have been inspired by Gretch’s classic ‘Rex’ series of Parlor guitars that were very popular from the 1930s through the ’50s. Its C-shaped neck makes for comfortable handling and playing, while the X bracing lets this diminutive guitar project loud volumes and strong overall sound. At first look, it’s hard to believe that this guitar is so pocket-friendly, but you better believe it!
Wood Details: This guitar has a body that’s built from Agathis wood, a wood known to be a reliable and sturdy tonewood that’s affordable and a good option for beginner guitars. The Nato wood neck and rosewood fretboard together offer a vibrant tone.
Tone and Sound Quality: Even though his guitar is modestly priced and falls in a pretty affordable price bracket, don’t let that take away from the fact that it’s a pretty rich sounding guitar with a loud projection, especially for its size and price point. Agathis wood is known to produce a bright, loud tone and rosewood and Nato wood are also well-known for offering a balanced, mid range tone at a cost-effective price point.
4. Cordoba C9 Parlor Small Body Classical Acoustic (Best Classical)
|Body Wood||Solid Canadian Cedar Top, Solid African Mahogany Back & Sides|
My Review: For musicians looking for unsurpassed craftsmanship, timeless quality, and a sweet, warm tone in their Parlor guitars, the Cordoba C9 Parlor is something that will check all the boxes. Granted, this piece may not fit every musician’s budget, but those that can invest in a high-end Parlor should explore all the features of this beauty. Its all-solid wood body produces a warm, beautiful tone that shines through both in live performances as well as recordings.
Thanks to a unique Spanish heel construction, the entire piece vibrates as one seamless unit, which is really the best way to get a great tone. Further, its smooth-as-butter playability and delicate aesthetic touches make it less than a collectors edition piece in our book.
Overall Build and Design: By looking at the way the C9 Parlor is built, it’s easy to see why it’s such a beautiful sounding guitar. Its all-solid construction, Spanish heel construction style, and bracing style all are masterful techniques to bring the best possible sound out of the guitar. The vintage elegance is quite admirable in its design – the cedarwood and solid mahogany body has a wonderful natural brown, high gloss finish, along with glimmering and tasteful mother-of-pearl weave rosettes.
The bone saddle and nut both further enhance the overall sound of the guitar. The C9 also comes with a lightweight padded case, making it easy to carry on flights or road trips.
Wood Details: This C9 is crafted from an all-solid wood, which plays a big role in not just its durability but also its sound quality and volume. The top is made from solid Canadian cedarwood, while the back and sides are constructed out of solid African mahogany wood. The neck is also mahogany, while the fretboard is made from rosewood.
Tone and Sound Quality: While the all-solid wood construction goes a long way in ensuring the sweetest tone, it’s the way its various pieces are connected that is a gamechanger. The brand uses a technique called the Spanish heel construction to piece the guitar together. In it, they systematically attach the pieces in such a way that, in the end, turns the whole guitar vibrant like one single, seamless unit. This further enhances the resonance and quality of the tone. Moreover, their bracing technique also allows for the soundboard to vibrate more and be more responsive, which again makes it louder.
5. Yamaha CSF-TA Electro-Acoustic Parlor Guitar (Best Under $1000)
|Body Wood||Sitka Spruce Top, Mahogany Sides & Back|
|Neck Wood||Nato Wood|
My Review: With a solid build, high quality wood, and a great tone, the Yamaha CSF-TA is mighty impressive. Their cutting-edge transacoustic technology offers you onboard effects that let you tweak your guitar’s reverb and chorus without needing any amplification whatsoever. With a solid Sitka Spruce top and mahogany body, you can expect a pretty full-bodied, crisp and resonant tone, whether you’re playing plugged in or unplugged. Overall, the CSF-TA has a lot going for itself and is worth exploring for both beginner and experienced musicians.
Overall Build and Design: This guitar is the holy trinity of beautiful design, great tone, and excellent playability. With its stunning natural finish, solid Spruce top, unamplified effects technology, and solid hardware, it’s one of the most bang-for-your-buck Parlors in this price range. The revolutionary Transacoustic technology lets you modify the guitar’s reverb and chorus levels without having to plug the guitar in. This is a mind-blowing feature that gives you control over your tone and effects even in an unamplified setting. Plus, the SRT piezo pickups work great when you do want a plugged-in performance. The die-cast chrome tuners do a great job of keeping the strings well in tune for a long time.
Wood Details: This guitar boasts of a solid Sitka Spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The neck is made with nato wood, while the fingerboard has been crafted with rosewood. A solid Sitka spruce top is a great way to project loud volumes and a balanced, beautiful midrange tone.
Tone and Sound Quality: Thanks to the solid Sitka Spruce top, this model has a wonderfully clear, resonant, and lush mid-range tone. The mahogany sides, back, and neck add a bit of warmth to the very welcome tone. With the guitar’s SRT piezo pickups, the tone sounds just as good even when plugged in.
Now, coming to the Transacoustic part – to be honest, we were *pretty* excited when we first got our hands on the CSF-TA. Simply because we’d already heard so much about the brand’s Transacoustic technology that lets you tweak reverb and chorus without needing to plug in your guitar. We hadn’t tried it as yet and weren’t sure if it would live up to the hype. Well, we gave it a go and weren’t disappointed.
Basically, there is a small device known as the actuator that’s embedded in the guitar’s body, and when you tweak the on-board knobs, it causes the actuator to resonate and vibrate, which in turn vibrates the guitars and the air surrounding it. So you get a lush, authentic ambiance over and above your tone. In my opinion, this is the best Parlor guitar under 1000 dollars.
6. Fender CP-60S Parlor Acoustic Guitar (Best Under $300)
Impressive Blend of Great Tone, Build & Affordability
|Body Wood||Spruce Wood top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
My Review: With the CP-60S, Fender has hit it out of the park by offering an envy-worthy tone and build quality at an unbelievably low price point. This model has brought a mature, seasoned Parlor guitar sound accessible to beginners and musicians on a tight budget. With a solid spruce top, proprietary easy-to-play neck design, and excellent playability, it’s a great option for not just blues and folk musicians, but anyone looking for a great sounding small-body guitar at a pocket-friendly price point.
Overall Build and Design: With a 24.5” scale length and a classic Parlor guitar shape, the CP-60S looks as impressive as it plays. It has a total of 20 frets, and Fender’s proprietary easy-to-play neck design makes for excellent and comfortable playability for musicians of all skill levels. The die-cast tuners firmly keep the strings in tune for a long duration as well. This model comes in a 3 tone sunburst color that looks quite vibrant with a vintage appeal.
Wood Details: Even at such a competitive price point, Fender has managed to fit this guitar with a highly coveted solid Spruce wood top, which is a rarity at this price range. The laminate mahogany sides and back add tonal quality as well as sturdiness and durability to the guitar. The mahogany neck is quite comfortable to play on, while the fingerboard is crafted with walnut.
Tone and Sound Quality: Thanks to a solid Spruce wood top, this guitar has a noticeably resonant and clear acoustic tone with tones of projection. The mahogany back and sides further enhance and support the bright tone by adding a sweet midrange to it. The walnut fingerboard adds a sweet, warm, mellow touch to the sound. Overall, what you get is great projection and a full-bodied, resonant, and clear tone.
7. Alvarez AP66SHB Parlor Acoustic Guitar
Award-Winning Parlor Guitar Series with Great, Responsive Tone & Build
|Body Wood||Solid African Mahogany Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
My Review: With Alvarez’s 66 series, they’ve brought back the vintage appeal and exciting, punchy tone of the Parlor guitars in their heydays. As part of the brand’s award-winning Parlor guitar series, the AP66SHB brings out the best of its wood, design, and hardware, giving you an amazing, rich tone and super comfortable playability. With a solid mahogany top, bi-level bridge, and a proprietary bracing system, even the small-bodied shape of this model projects a loud and crisp tone. If you’re looking for a Parlor that’s a great balance of high quality at an affordable budget, then do check this beauty out.
Overall Build and Design: Given its mid-range price point, Alvarez has managed to utilize all its material and components to the best of their abilities, thanks to their 60+ years of experience in crafting great sounding affordable guitars. The guitar’s forward-shifted X bracing design keeps its solid mahogany top flexible and lets it vibrate beautifully – which is crucial to get a rich tone and sustain. The dark, shadow-burst finish adds a beautiful, mysterious touch to its overall look.
Wood Details: This Parlor guitar is crafted with a solid African Mahogany top, with mahogany sides and back. The solid wood top makes a world of difference in tone and sound quality. The neck is also made with mahogany, while the fretboard is of rosewood. Moreover, the solid maple wood bridge adds strength and durability while preventing any intonation issues.
Tone and Sound Quality: Thanks to thoughtful craftsmanship and high-quality components, the AP66SHB is incredibly responsive and projects a loud, soul-satisfying, full-bodied tone that is beautifully balanced. The solid African Mahogany top has a crucial role to play in this. The rosewood fretboard and the mahogany back and sides add a rich mellowness to the tone, so you get a great-sounding, punchy tone while fingerpicking and strumming alike.
8. Dean AXS Parlor Acoustic Guitar
Fabulous, Full Tone & Solid Build At Insanely Low Price
My Review: This guitar is a testament to how good a budget-friendly Parlor guitar can sound when the manufacturers know what they’re doing. A quite affordable but solidly built offering from Dean, the AXS Parlor guitar makes for a subtle stylish, and portable Parlor to add to any guitar player’s stable. With its all-laminate mahogany body, set neck shape, rosewood fretboard, and full-scale length, this guitar is impressively comfortable to play and with a great open, full tone to offer. At the same time, it’s lightweight yet strong and easy to carry on roadtrips. Given its incredibly budget-friendly price point, this Parlor is great value for money for musicians of all skill levels.
Overall Build and Design: First off, the AXS Parlor is a sturdily built Parlor guitar with great looks. The rich brown grain of the mahogany finish looks gorgeous, especially thanks to the 3 ply body binding. The set mahogany neck allows for much better tonal transfer and results in a fuller tone and sound overall. Further, the c shaped neck also sits comfortably, making it more ergonomic and easier to play.
Unlike most other Parlor guitars, this one has a full scale length with 22 frets, which is identical to that of a regular guitar. As a result, musicians that have never played a small-bodied guitar before will also find it a breeze to play on. The sealed die cast tuners are easy to tune and firmly keep the strings in tune. Its dual-action truss rod allows for better adjustability, both forward and backwards, as well as better stability.
Wood Details: This guitar has an all-mahogany body, with the top, back and sides all crafted with this wood. The C shaped set neck is also made with mahogany, while the fretboard is crafted from rosewood. This adds an overall tonal and visual uniformity to the entire instrument, which further enhances its appeal.
Tone and Sound Quality: Right before trying the AXS out, we had no idea it would end up sounding so open, rich, and full! Considering its pocket-friendly price point, this little wonder does a great job of projecting a loud, resonant tone that’s well-balanced, warm, and rich.
The set neck, mahogany body,and rosewood fretboard all have a role to play in making that happen. This just goes to show that when an instrument maker knows the nitty gritty of how to get the best sound out of the components available, they can make magic happen at pretty much any price point.
9. Ibanez PN15 Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar
|Body Wood||Spruce Wood Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
My Review: Ibanez has pushed the envelope of combining affordability and quality with the PN 15 by sticking to the basics and doing it well. With a solidly built body, high quality hardware, and flawless finish, it’s the kind of Parlor that’ll make you do a double take once you find out how budget-friendly it is. Whether you’re looking for an extra neat little guitar for your collection, or want a portable model to carry along for trips, the PN15 is well worth a good look.
Overall Build and Design: The PN 15 is a well-built Parlor guitar that’s got style, durability, and a pretty good tone. It’s slightly larger in size than a typical Parlor, but is still pretty compact overall and bears the signature pear-shaped Parlor body. It has a narrow neck with 18 frets that make it quite comfortable and easy to play. We’re also impressed by the hardware this model is fitted with. The die-cast tuners keep the strings precisely tuned even for long durations, while the Ivorex II nut and saddle prevent any intonation issues and enhance the overall sustain.
One thing to keep in mind though – it has a 1.65” nut width which, although perfect for strumming, may turn out to feel a little narrow for fingerpicking. The warm tobacco brown sunburst finish adds an elegant touch to the overall aesthetic.
Wood Details: This Parlor is made with an all-laminate laminate spruce top with mahogany back and sides. The neck is crafted with mahogany, while the fingerboard is made with rosewood. With an under $200 price tag, the all-laminate construction makes sense This makes the PN 15 quite sturdy, durable, and solidly crafted.
Tone and Sound Quality: Because it is slightly larger in size than other Parlors, the PN 15 ends up projecting more volume. Its all-laminate spruce and mahogany body produces a pretty nice and resonant midrange tone. Of course, the complexity of tone may not compete with other top of the line Parlors, but for its price point, it’s quite well-balanced and open sounding.
10. Luna Gypsy Muse Parlor Acoustic Guitar
|Body Wood||Mahogany Top, Back & Sides|
My Review: Luna’s Gypsy series of Parlor guitars carry forward their well-known tradition of crafting beautiful-looking guitars, along with offering quite an earthy distinct overall tone. The Muse Parlor acoustic with its dark, mystical hue and narrow body has a striking aesthetic that, indeed, looks like a vintage guitar that was played by the creative, musical nomads of yore. Thanks to the all-mahogany build, it has a deep, warm tone with a solid midrange.
Overall Build and Design: Luna is a brand that’s famed for taking special care in the visual aesthetics of their guitar, and they’ve done it again with the Gypsy Muse Parlor guitar. The classic elongated Parlor shape is in a dark, deep brown mahogany shade in an open-pore finish, which adds a satiny smooth feel to it. The intricate design around the soundhole is lasered onto the body. Playability wise, this model sits quite comfortably and is easy to play for beginners and experienced musicians alike.
Wood Details: The muse Parlor is made with a fully laminate-mahogany build – be it the top, back, sides, and even the neck! This gives this guitar a unique visual aesthetic as well as tonal quality. Meanwhile, the fretboard and the bridge is crafted with black walnut, adding to the warm tonal depth and the deep dark elements of the overall design.
Tone and Sound Quality: Coming to the tonal quality and sound, you’ll find that this guitar has a very inviting, warm and earthy tone. This gives it quite a unique sound that records very distinctly. The set neck makes the entire body vibrate as one, while the black walnut fretboard mellows the overall tone, making it great for fingerpicking and flatpicked sound. The all-mahogany body introduces a bass-oriented, warm tone that you won’t easily find elsewhere.
11. Blueridge Guitars BR 341 6 String Acoustic Guitar
|Body Wood||Sitka Spruce Top, Mahogany Back and Sides|
|Fingerboard Wood||Indian Rosewood|
|Frets||19 (12 reachable)|
My Review: Crafted with all-solid wood, the tone, playability, and aesthetics of the Blueridge BR 341 puts it up there as one of the best. This Parlor guitar is part of the brand’s popular Historic series that is known to be comfortable to hold, easy to play and deliver a bright, crisp tone. If you have a generous budget in mind and are looking for a piece that doesn’t compromise on a single element of a Parlor guitar, then do explore the Blueridge BR 341.
Overall Build and Design: First off, this is a beautiful-looking vintage Parlor guitar with a natural brown finish and a rich, ebony fretboard – a sight to behold. Blueridge was inspired to craft the BR-143 by looking back at vintage Parlor guitars that were all the rage in Early 1900 San Francisco. They’ve managed to translate that vision pretty well with this beauty. Its solid wood body has a scalloped bracing that allows the top to stay flexible and reverberate for clear note definition. Its Gottoh vintage slotted peghead style tuners keep the strings firmly and precisely tuned for long durations.
Wood Details: One of the most noteworthy things about the BR-143 is that it’s crafted with all-solid wood, which really enhances its sound and tone quality. The top is made with solid Sitka Spruce wood, while the back and sides are built with solid mahogany. The neck is also Mahogany, with an Indian Rosewood fingerboard.
Tone and Sound Quality: With this model, Blueridge has cleverly juxtaposed two different solid tonewoods to produce a wonderfully balanced sound. While Sitka Spruce is known for its clear, bright and crisp tone, Mahogany adds a delicious low-end heavy, warm tone to the entire sound. Together, you get a well-rounded signature tone that will travel beautifully across the room during an intimate performance.
12. Ibanez Performance PN1MHOPN Mahogany Parlor
|Body Wood||Spruce Laminate Top, Mahogany Back & Sides|
My Review: A beautifully crafted guitar with a sweet, resonant tone, this Parlor guitar from Ibanez’s performance series is a great little Parlor that you can buy without burning a hole in your pocket. The spruce and mahogany body projects an open, resonant and rich midrange tone, while the mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard makes for butter-smooth playability. With a distinct tone and design, Ibanez has managed to produce a Parlor worthy of admiration at a very budget-friendly price point. Guitarists that are looking for a great Parlor to start with, do give this model a good look.
Overall Build and Design: The PN1MHOPN (quite a mouthful to say!) is smaller in size than most other Parlor guitars – which is not a good or a bad thing – it’s simply about personal preference. Despite its size, it produces a rich tone with plenty of sustain. The open-pore natural brown finish makes it quite irresistible to look at, and the delicate adornment around the soundhole and the body adds a beautiful touch. It has a 24.4” scale length with 18 frets, which will be quite comfortable to play at even for those used to playing regular sized guitars.
Wood Details: This Parlor is made with an all-laminate Spruce wood top and Mahogany back and sides. The neck is also crafted with mahogany wood, while the fretboard is made with rosewood. Overall, they’ve used good quality laminates that manage to produce a pretty sweet tone even at a $150 price tag.
Tone and Sound Quality: Given its price range, this guitar produces a warm, resonant, and well-balanced mid-range tone. In contrast, we’ve come across plenty of other guitars in the $150 range with tones that are nothing to write home about. Due to its small-bodied size, you naturally won’t get a very loud projection like the other larger Parlor guitars. However, you can expect a distinct and pleasing tone that will sound great both when strummed or fingerpicked.
13. Epiphone EL-00 PRO Solid Top Parlor Size Acoustic Electric Guitar
Admirable Blend of Striking Looks & Warm, Mellow Tone
|Body Wood||Solid Spruce Top, Maple Sides & Mahogany Back|
My Review: Another veritable hero in the mid-priced segment, the Epiphone EL-00 Pro combines quality components and experienced craftsmanship to create a fantastic Parlor guitar that both beginners and experienced musicians will thoroughly enjoy playing. Made from solid spruce wood top, maple sides, and mahogany back, you get a warm, mellow, and balanced tone. Its beautiful, well-designed body is also quite comfortable to hold and play.
Being an electro-acoustic, its piezo pickups ensure that its bright, midrange tone translates well even when plugged in, letting you perform to as big an audience as you want even with a small-bodied Parlor. Meanwhile, the Fishman sonitone preamp fitted in the soundhole allows you to tweak the master volume and tone to your liking. If you’re looking for a great sounding Parlor with solid design without splurging too much, then do give the EL Pro a go.
Overall Build and Design: The EL Pro has a lot going for itself, so let’s go through them one by one. Firstly, this guitar has been inspired by flat top guitars that were all the rage in the 1930s among blues and folk guitarists. We love its vintage burst finish and the classic Parlor shape, especially the pronounced and considerably flared lower half. It evokes a serious nostalgia for the traditional Parlor of the early 1900s. Secondly, this is a larger body than other Parlors, which gives you a loud projection and tone, while still retaining the quintessential Parlor style.
The solid spruce top brings out a lush tone, while the 24.75” scale length and the slim-taper ‘D’ shaped neck makes it comfortable for those transitioning from a larger sized guitar to a Parlor. The compensated saddle keeps any intonation issues at bay, while the nickel hardware will stay solid and corrosion resistant for a long time.
Wood Details: The EL 00 Pro has a solid spruce top, maple sides, and a mahogany back. The neck is, again crafted from mahogany, while the fretboard is made from rosewood. The solid spruce top is obviously a great feature and goes a long way in ensuring a full-bodied, vibrant tone from this guitar, and the maple and mahogany enhance the overall sound as well.
Tone and Sound Quality: Epiphone has been known to craft great sounding guitars at an affordable price, and they’ve done it again with the EL 00 Pro. The solid spruce, maple, and mahogany woods bring out a sweet, warm, and mellow sound out of this guitar that players of any skill level will enjoy. What’s even better is that thanks to the piezo pickups, you can project this signature Parlor sound out to as large an audience as possible. The Fishman sonitone preamp that is fitted right under the mouth of the soundhole lets you adjust the master volume as well as tone, further giving you control over your own sound.
14. Fender Paramount PM-2 Standard Parlor
|Body Wood||A-Grade Solid Sitka Spruce Top, Solid Mahogany Back & Sides|
My Review: An all-solid guitar for under $1000? Is this real life? Well, it is with the Fender Paramount PM-2. The Fender Paramount series brings together superb, artisanal design and all-solid body to create something that sounds as rich as it looks. The PM-2 is their Parlor guitar from the series and is a great option for fingerstyle guitarists looking for that vintage, warm tone.
The solid Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany body project a loud, clear, balanced tone that we think most experienced musicians will be quite impressed with. Plus, the scalloped X-bracing makes for an impressively responsive body. Plus, the Fishman preamp carries through this tone quite well, even when plugged in. If you are thinking of venturing into the high-end Parlor guitar segment but need that sound and build in under $1000, then do give the PM-2 a serious consideration.
Overall Build and Design: The PM-2 is a guitar that you can tell has been designed with a lot of thought and care. The classic Parlor shape is adorned with natural brown finish and deep red scratchplate. At 42 inches long, it sure does fall into the larger end of the spectrum for a Parlor guitar’s size, but since it bears the distinctly narrow, pear-shaped Parlor body (and Fender themselves call it so), we’d love to group it under this category.
The all-solid body is a pleasure to hold and play with, and the quartersawn, X-scalloped bracing keeps the solid top flexible and responsive. And the more responsive your top, the sweeter the tone. Moreover, the ebony fingerboard is quite comfortable and easy to play, all the while offering a sharp attack to the sound.
Wood Details: All guitars crafted by Fender under the Paramount series boast of an all-solid wood body, so it’s natural that the PM-2 got one as well. Its top is crafted from an A-grade solid sitka spruce, which is well-known for its rich, clear tone while staying affordable. The solid mahogany back and sides further add to the overall durability and warmth of the tone. The ebony fretboard is dark and lovely, not to mention incredibly long-lasting. Tone-wise, it adds a nice, bright sound to the overall rich mid-tone of the guitar.
Tone and Sound Quality: Its all-solid body brings out a rich, crisp midrange tone that’s clear and well-balanced. This will favor both fingerpicking musicians that want a sharp attack, as well as folk and bluegrass guitarists looking to strum. While the Sitka Spruce is known for its crisp bright sound, this is balanced beautifully by the solid mahogany sides and back. Whether you’re playing to an intimate audience or just doodling at home, its full, warm tone will work great on both occasions.
Being an electro-acoustic guitar also lets you perform with it on as grand a stage as you want. This is possible thanks to the Fishman preamp that does a great job of translating its distinct Parlor sound even when it is amplified.
Choosing the Right Parlor Guitar (Buying Guide)
This section is for those of you who want to learn more about Parlor Guitars before reading reviews.
Are Parlor Guitars Good?
The ability to project loud volumes and a rich tone despite its small size made Parlor guitars perfect for unamplified performances back in the day. In fact, small-sized acoustic guitars were the norm in the early 1900s, and Parlor guitars weren’t considered to be small back then. The larger designs like dreadnoughts that we have become used to now came in much, much later.
Thanks to being cleverly designed, even a tiny Parlor guitar projected loud, distinct, resonant tones – a quality that was greatly appreciated by musicians frequently playing in indoor and outdoor Parlor settings, as well as doing so unamplified.
But there’s another thing that distinguishes Parlor guitars from other small acoustic guitars, and that is their pear-like structure that’s wider at the bottom than at the top. Some Parlor guitars are also designed as an elongated, figure-of-eight body.
These body designs were deliberately chosen to maximize the volume produced by these guitars without compromising on their small size. Aside from their functional significance, such designs also give that classic vintage look to Parlor guitars that are quite a sight to behold.
What Special Features do They Have?
The reason Parlor guitars were so popular in the early 1900s was their extraordinary ability to play at loud volumes while unamplified, and produce rich tones in spite of their small body.
After experiencing a lull with the advent of amplified guitars, the Parlor guitar is back with exploding demand for their classic characteristics that make them irresistible to today’s musicians:
Distinct Tone: As we’ve mentioned, Parlor guitars produce a clear mid-range tone that can shine beautifully in acoustic guitar recordings, and can well become a musician’s signature tone. This rich and balanced sound works really well if you’re playing blues, folk, bluegrass, and especially fingerstyle (more on that below).
Perfect For Fingerstyle Guitarists: If you’re a fingerstyle guitarist, then playing a Parlor guitar will feel like a gift from heaven. This is because a Parlor guitar’s small body requires a lot less force to produce a crystal clear, rich, loud tone with your fingers.
This makes for butter-smooth playing with minimal exertion. In contrast, large body guitars like dreadnoughts require fingerstyle players to exert a lot of force to be able to get the same volume.
Compact, Travel-Friendly Size: The compact body of a Parlor guitar makes it an excellent companion on quick getaways and campsite trips. Their portable size makes them easy to stow away in a flight cabin or in your car without taking up too much space.
Intimate Performances: Parlor guitars were originally built to play loudly in an unamplified, indoor setting. This is why these guitars are a perfect choice if you’re playing to a small, intimate audience.
Not only will the volume be more than enough to travel across the room, but the clear, balanced, resonant tone you’ll get will be unparalleled in such a small size.
Beautiful, Vintage Design: Sure, this point is all about looks, but can you really blame us? One look at the uniquely-shaped Parlor guitar, and you’re instantly transported back to the vintage Parlors of 1930 America and Europe, where new styles of music were evolving right there. Any musician would love to get hold of such a light, portable, and beautifully crafted guitar that evokes a sense of nostalgia for an era that was before your time.
What’s The Difference Between a Parlor Guitar and a Travel Guitar?
It may be easy to confuse a travel guitar for a Parlor and vice versa. But if you pay attention, there are small but crucial differences between the two.
- While travel guitars are shaped like regular acoustics but in a smaller size, Parlor guitars are longer and thinner in comparison to acoustic guitars.
- Travel-friendly guitars have a smaller nut width vis a vis a standard acoustic, whereas Parlor guitars have the same nut width as a regular-sized acoustic guitar.
- A Parlor guitar typically has a lesser number of frets than a travel guitar. While Parlor guitars usually have 18 frets, travel guitars may have anywhere between 21 to 24 frets.
What Features to Look for In a Parlor Guitar:
When buying a Parlor guitar, there are a couple of key features that you should keep in mind. This will ensure that you pick a model that is compatible with your playing style as well as tone and design preferences.
Body Size: Even amongst Parlor guitars, you will find different sizes available. It’s important to pick a size with your overall height and size in mind. This will make sure that you’re comfortable holding and playing the guitar.
Wood: Parlor guitars are available in a wide variety of woods used for the body, neck, and fingerboard. While their top, body, neck, and back are usually made of woods such as Spruce, Mahogany, Cedar, or Agathis, the fingerboards are typically made with Rosewood or Walnut.
Each of these woods has its own tone and sound quality, from bright, clear and crisp, to rich, deep and dark, so pick a model that offers you your preferred tone.
Number of Clear Frets: Even amongst Parlor guitars, you’ll see everything from an 18 to a 23 fret fingerboard. Do keep this in mind and check the number of frets in the guitar you’re considering, as this would affect playability and the sound you can get out of the guitar. In most cases, the last 4-5 frets are unreachable, unless it’s a cutaway body shape. So check out the number of total frets and generally, subtract 4-5 frets from there: That’s the number of clear frets you’ll actually get to play.
Body Shape: While all Parlor guitars are narrow in shape than standard guitars, they do come in two slightly different shapes. The first is a pear-shape, where the lower half of the body is considerably wider than the top half.
On the other hand, other Parlor guitars have a slightly more balanced shape where the bottom half is only slightly wider than the top. While a wider lower half adds slightly more bass to the tone, a more balanced body shape will have more of a mid-range tone. While these effects may be minimal, they’re important to keep in mind.
Price: You will find that there are several Parlor guitars available in a wide range of budgets, from extremely affordable to oh-wow-really expensive. The price mainly depends on the quality of wood and the components used, however, you’ll find high quality guitars in all three ranges, depending on what you’re looking for.
While high-end Parlors, priced at around $800 and above, are a great choice for experienced musicians who will truly appreciate its make and tone, there are also plenty of great sounding Parlors in the low ($150 to $300) to mid price range as well ($300 to $700).
Brand: When it comes to Parlor guitars, we’ve seen that the more experienced and reputed the maker, the better the craftsmanship and sound. Because Parlor guitars are so small in size, the brand crafting it has to be very smart about its design, components, bracing, and overall craftsmanship to get the loudest projection and the best tone possible out of it. And we’ve seen that experienced brands are well-versed in this department, as are some of the up and coming, passionate young boutique brands.
Several of the brands we’ve included in our list were actually around when the Parlor guitars were first pioneered, so they’ve lived through that era. However, that is not to say that newer brands can’t make great Parlor guitars. Whether legacy brands or boutique ones, it all boils down to the knowledge and thought you put into the design.
What is a Parlor Guitar?
The Parlor guitar is a small-bodied guitar that emerged in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Unlike a classical guitar, it was strung up with steel strings and came to America from Europe. The guitar gets its ‘Parlor’ tag mainly because it was used usually for intimate performances at home or small public Parlors.
Although there’s debate on the exact definition, a Parlor guitar is widely accepted to mean a small-bodied acoustic guitar that’s narrower than current standards. If you want to get even more specific, then Parlor guitars are all those that are smaller in size than the size 0 concert guitar sold by Martin & co, the legendary guitar crafters.
Parlor guitars are not only jaw-droppingly beautiful, they produce a distinct resonant mid-range tone that is exciting to play as well as record. We hope this list gave you a low-down of all the key features of a wide range of Parlor guitars, from collector’s edition models to great starter Parlors. In the end, what matters is your preferences – be it for wood, tone, or overall design.
If you ask us for recommendations, then here they are. If we had to pick the Parlor guitar with top-of-the-line craftsmanship and tone, then we would pick the Gibson Modern EC and the Blueridge BR – 341. For a great blend of affordability and amazing tone, go for the Alvarez AP66SHB or the Yamaha CSF1M, if you want an electro-acoustic option.
Finally, last but definitely not least, we recommend the Fender CP-60S, the Dean AXS, and the Ibanez PN15 as the best sounding budget-friendly guitars, be it for beginners or experienced musicians.
We hope you enjoyed reading this detailed review because we sure loved writing it for you. Hope you find the Parlor guitar that you love, and enjoy it at home as well as the outdoors. Also, if there are any great Parlor guitars that you know of that you feel we should add to this list, let us know in the comments below. Happy playing!
My name is Chris and I’ve had a passion for music and guitars for as long as I can remember. I started this website with some of my friends who are musicians, music teachers, gear heads, and music enthusiasts so we could provide high-quality guitar and music-related content.
I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13 years old and am an avid collector. Amps, pedals, guitars, bass, drums, microphones, studio, and recording gear, I love it all.
I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. My background is in Electrical Engineering, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. With my engineering experience, I’ve developed as a designer of guitar amplifiers and effects. A true passion of mine, I’ve designed, built, and repaired a wide range of guitar amps and electronics. Here at the Guitar Lobby, our aim is to share our passion for Music and gear with the rest of the music community.