Best Parlour Guitars

Best Parlour Guitars

A Parlour guitar is a small waisted, compact guitar more suited to the mid 1800s parlours than the International Space Station. Yet in 2013 the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield made intergalactic history by playing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” 248 miles (400 Kilometers) above the earth (as mentioned in the song).

Although already growing in popularity up to this point, that particular stunt certainly never did the humble parlour guitar any harm. The steady stream of interest had mainly been due to the “out of this world feeling”  playing a parlour guitar had on its users. SORRY I couldn’t resist that. 

The steady rise in popularity had more to do with the ease of carrying this little guitar and it’s overall as one user put it, most guitarists know one tune. With the parlour guitar, you can play your one tune and pass the parlour guitar on to the next person.

Great for campfires, picnics and impromptu social gatherings. Parlour guitars are the smallest of all flat top 6-string guitars. Up until the beginning of the 20th century the parlour guitar was a popular design but as guitar manufacturers developed stronger necks and larger bodies they almost disappeared, remaining just as some sort of curiosity.

But over the last 10 years or so, they have become increasingly popular as interests in old music and older style instruments have increased. To the point where a parlour guitar found its way onto the International Space Station.

Parlour Guitar Buyers Guide

With nearly all serious guitar manufacturers making a modern version of the parlour guitar, it is becoming more and more likely that you will find a parlour guitar to suit your budget.  However there are few points that should be considered before you make your final choice.

All-Wood Body

Part of the factor that creates that rich tonal quality of a parlour guitar, is the solid wood construction. No laminates here, just all wood. So a combination of mahogany body and a spruce top, is perfect. It doesn’t have to be all the same wood, just all constructed from wood and not laminate.

Number Of Frets

The parlour guitar’s original inspiration came from Classical, Spanish-style guitars which were traditionally built with 12 frets, and the 12th fret positioned where the neck and body join. Some parlour guitars have 14 frets, it’s a matter of choice really but if it’s authenticity you’re after, then 12 frets would be your best bet.

Length Of Guitar

There is of course, no traditional set of rules concerning the length of a parlour guitar. The only guidance being, from historical sources that parlour guitars were smaller than a concert guitar size number O. The parlour guitar is generally a small guitar that’s longer than 36 inches (90 cms) in length.

Acoustic Or Semi-Acoustic

Parlour guitars were traditionally built as indoor instruments, and if you are a purist then you are going to want an acoustic parlour guitar. With that said, if you like the sound and the way a parlour guitar feels and handles and you’re playing to larger crowds, why not semi-acoustic? With the range and quality of parlour guitars on offer right now, the choice is very definitely yours.

Parlour Guitar Price

With a starting price of around £100.00 and ranging into the £3,000.00 price range there is literally something for every budget in the parlour guitar market. An interesting fact is some of the old makes used woods that were considered budget back in the day that now find themselves in the sought-after section. There are definitely bargains to be had when buying a parlour guitar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who plays a Parlour guitar?

Parlour guitars have found their way into many musical genres, including folk. Joan Baez and Bob Dylan both play parlour guitars.

What are the best parlor guitars?

There are many makes that can fit into the description of best parlour guitars. Including: Fender, Gretsch,Taylor, Cordoba,Yamaha and many more. But there is only one parlour guitar that made it into space, and that is the Larrivee Parlor Guitar P-01.

What are parlor guitars good for?

Parlour guitars are great for playing that distinct tone only possible from a parlour guitar. They make small intimate shows that extra bit more intimate.

Are parlor guitars good for beginners?

Parlour guitars are good for beginners because  they are a comfortable, easy size to handle and they have an amazing tonal quality.