The 9 Best Parlor Guitars (Review and Guide)

The 9 Best Parlor Guitars (Review and Guide)

If you are looking into smaller sized guitars, you may have run across parlor guitars. If you are wondering what are the best parlor guitars, look no further! Let’s discuss some parlor guitar FAQs and some great parlor guitars you can get right on Amazon. 

(Please note that we try very hard to only recommend guitars that are actually available for purchase, but things change, and the guitar may be sold out by the time you get to it.)

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Cordoba C9 Parlor Small Body Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Polyfoam Case
Cordoba C9 Parlor Small Body Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Polyfoam Case
9.7/10

Our top pick for best parlor guitar!

Gretsch G9500-OXB Jim Dandy Limited Edition Acoustic Guitar - Oxblood
Gretsch G9500-OXB Jim Dandy Limited Edition Acoustic Guitar – Oxblood
9.5/10

Top pick for best-looking parlor guitar.

Yamaha CSF1M TBS Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar with Hard Gig Bag- Tobacco Brown Sunburst
Yamaha CSF1M TBS Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar with Hard Gig Bag- Tobacco Brown Sunburst
9.1/10

Top pick for a non-classical parlor guitar.

Parlor Guitar Frequently Asked Questions

What does parlor size guitar mean? 

A parlor size guitar is a smaller guitar than the typical dreadnought. It is the smallest of the full size guitars, and has an almost “peanut” shape. A parlor guitar is a lot curvier and narrower than other guitar shapes. 

Parlor guitars earned their name because they would be played in rich people’s parlors as entertainment. They were also originally built with women in mind, because the smaller guitar would be easier for smaller women to play. 

Parlor guitars tend to accentuate the midrange tones and understate the bass (due to the smaller body size.) They also provide bright, clean trebles, and may have a somewhat “boxy” sound.

What are parlor guitars good for?

Parlor guitars are often used in folk, country, or blues guitar. They are also great for fingerpicking (check out other great fingerpicking guitars here), and are often used by solo players who are playing without a full band for backup. 

Parlor guitars are also great as lightweight travel guitars or spare backup guitars, since they are small and easily transportable. 

Are parlor guitars good for beginners?

Parlor guitars can be a good choice for beginners because they are smaller and therefore easier to play. The smaller body size and neck will allow a beginner to get a better feel for the guitar, especially if the beginner is a child. 

Are parlor guitars easier?

Parlor guitars are easier to play because of their size. Their smaller size makes them less heavy, easier to hold, and therefore easier to play. However, you still need the same skills and knowledge to play parlor guitar as you would to play a dreadnought (larger) guitar.

Which guitar shape is best?

This is really a matter of personal opinion. The best way to decide on your favorite guitar shape is to head down to a music store and try out a bunch of guitars, get the feel of them, and see which one you like. Some people prefer parlor guitars for their size and vintage-style sound, while others prefer the more typical dreadnought size for guitars. It all depends on the player and the specific guitar. 

Why does Ed Sheeran play small guitar?

Honestly, because that’s what he prefers. As mentioned above, your favorite, “best” guitar shape will be a personal preference. Ed Sheeran just seems to like the way smaller guitars play and sound. 

Are parlor guitars good for strumming?

Parlor guitars are generally not recommended for strumming. They are most often used in the fingerpicking style, which suits their size and quality very well. They may sound slightly discordant when strummed. 

Is parlor guitar ¾ size?

No. A parlor guitar is not a ¾ size guitar. It is a full sized guitar of a different shape and body size; it is considered the smallest full size guitar around. If you would compare a parlor guitar to a typical ¾ or travel guitar, you would see that the parlor guitar looks very different – it has a drastically different shape, and the neck is connected to the body at a different fret. 

Why buy a parlor guitar?

Because you want to,  because you like the sound, because you want to play blues or country style, because you want to play the same type of guitar as Ed Sheeran, because you like its vintage look and feel, because you want a smaller and more portable guitar – any of these are legitimate reasons to buy a parlor guitar. There is no one real reason to buy a parlor guitar, but if you want to, then go for it! There are plenty of affordable guitars on this list, as well as some pricier models.

So let’s get into the actual guitars and see which are the best parlor guitars!

The Best Parlor Guitars

Cordoba C9 Parlor Small Body Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Polyfoam Case

Cordoba C9 Parlor Small Body Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Polyfoam Case

Our top pick for best parlor guitar.

This parlor sized classical guitar has a solid cedar top and solid mahogany back and sides. It has a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and a hand-inlaid rosette. The solid wood construction of the guitar provides a sweet, warm tone, despite the guitar’s small size. It has Cordoba’s classic fan-bracing pattern which allows the guitar soundboard to be more responsive, louder, and provide better tone. The Spanish heel construction method of the guitar allows the entire instrument to vibrate as one unified piece. The nylon strings are easier on your fingers. If you have the money to spend, this is definitely a parlor guitar to get. 

Gretsch G9500-OXB Jim Dandy Limited Edition Acoustic Guitar – Oxblood

Gretsch G9500-OXB Jim Dandy Limited Edition Acoustic Guitar - Oxblood

The most beautiful and unique looking parlor guitar on this list.

This limited edition of the Gretsch Jim Dandy parlor guitar has a beautiful oxblood red color. The guitar has a basswood body and walnut fingerboard. It has a comfortable c-shaped neck and is an absolute steal at under $200. It is ready to play right out of the box, and is great for beginners or anyone who wants to play folk-style music. Guitar also comes with Gretsch Deltoluxe Soundhole Pickup electronics. The guitar has a vintage look and sound that is sure to make you fall in love with it. 

Yamaha CSF1M TBS Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar with Hard Gig Bag- Tobacco Brown Sunburst

Yamaha CSF1M TBS Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar with Hard Gig Bag- Tobacco Brown Sunburst

The best non-classical parlor guitar.

The Yamaha sounds like a full-sized guitar but is more comfortable. It has a solid spruce wood top, and mahogany body and back. It has a 600 mm scale length, which is 34 mm shorter than a standard full-sized acoustic guitar.  Features zero impact pickup electronics. The forward shifted scalloped bracing enhances the bass tones and increases overall resonance and sound. This helps give a full-sized guitar sound in a small-sized guitar body. The guitar comes with a deluxe gig bag – that plus its small size makes it perfect to travel with!

Blueridge Guitars 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right Handed (BR-341)

Blueridge Guitars 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right Handed (BR-341)

A great, solid-wood parlor guitar.

This Blueridge guitar features a solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped bracing to give clean articulation and a crisp tone. It has a solid mahogany back and sides which gives a nice, warm resonance. Mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard is long-lasting, durable, and looks great! Comes with a padded gig bag. The guitar has a wide, 1 ⅞ inch neck that makes it very easy to fingerpick on. This is perfect for a parlor guitar, which is almost meant for fingerpicking.   

Yamaha CSF-TA Parlor Transacoustic Guitar with Chorus and Reverb – Gig Bag Included

Yamaha CSF-TA Parlor Transacoustic Guitar with Chorus and Reverb - Gig Bag Included

A parlor guitar with built-in effects.

This Yamaha CSF-TA has a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. It has a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. What makes it really cool is its transacoustic technology – it has effects built-in to the guitar, so you can add Hall reverb, room reverb, and chorus without plugging into an amp! It has three simple knobs that let you control the effects. 

James Neligan LIS-P LISMORE Series Parlor Acoustic Guitar

James Neligan LIS-P LISMORE Series Parlor Acoustic Guitar

A beautiful little parlor guitar from James Neligan.

The James Neligan Lismore has a spruce top and mahogany back, sides, and neck. It has a rosewood fingerboard and a high gloss finish. Loaded with D’Addario strings and Fishman pre-amps, this guitar is both dynamic and wonderfully precise. It has a subtle yet innovative design, enhanced by the best hardware around. 

Washburn 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right (WP33SRS-L)

Washburn 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right (WP33SRS-L)

A stunning guitar with royal sapphire blue back and sides.

This Washburn guitar has a solid spruce top and sapele back and sides with quarter sawn scalloped Sitka spruce bracing. It has beautiful jewelry box Abalone inlays. The guitar projects rich and full lows, warm and round mid tones, and crisp, focused highs. Its neck has a matte finish so your fingers won’t get stuck. It has a natural wood color top and deep, royal sapphire colored back to add a uniquely beautiful spin to the guitar. 

Alvarez Artist AP70WE Parlor 6-String Semi-Acoustic Guitar with EQ and Tuner, 18 Frets, Mahogany Neck, Pau Ferro Fingerboard, Solid A+ Sitka Spruce Top, Walnut Back/Sides, Natural Gloss

Alvarez Artist AP70WE Parlor 6-String Semi-Acoustic Guitar with EQ and Tuner, 18 Frets, Mahogany Neck, Pau Ferro Fingerboard, Solid A+ Sitka Spruce Top, Walnut Back/Sides, Natural Gloss

A great parlor option from Alvarez.

This parlor guitar has solid spruce top, walnut back and sides, mahogany neck, and a Pau Ferro fingerboard. It is acoustic electric, plus has a built in tuner. It has 18 total frets (which is typical for a parlor guitar) and is sure to become one of your favorite guitars very quickly. Its natural gloss finish and small body gives it a sleek appearance that not only looks good, but sounds good as well. 

Recording King 6 String RPS-7-TS Dirty 30’s Series 7 Single 0 Acoustic Guitar, Tobacco Sunburst

Recording King 6 String RPS-7-TS Dirty 30's Series 7 Single 0 Acoustic Guitar, Tobacco Sunburst

A parlor guitar that is playable right out of the box. 

This guitar has a spruce top, a whitewood back and sides, and rosewood fretboard. It has a bone nut and saddle and a satin finish. The tobacco sunburst finish framed by vintage-style checkerboard binding give it a unique look and feel. Reviewers say this guitar tunes easily, has low action, and is playable right out of the box. It projects well and has a sweet, warm, and clean tone. 

Conclusion

A parlor guitar is a great guitar to have as a backup guitar or travel guitar since it’s light and doesn’t take up much room. It is also a must if you like to play folk music or blues. From this list, you can’t go wrong with the Cordoba C9.

Happy playing!