What Is A Parlor Guitar? Regular-sized guitars have their merits, but these can also be too large for beginners or too huge for the venue. Smaller-sized guitars are usually preferred by beginners who are still learning the instrument. Expert guitarists may also choose to utilize small-sized guitars if they want something more casual.

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A parlor guitar is a narrower and smaller guitar that is designed for ease and comfort of playing, especially in more intimate venues. The term “parlor guitar” refers to the widespread use of the said musical instrument in parlors, the old-fashioned reception rooms. The so-called concert guitars are named because these were played in concert halls

Size and Shape

It must be noted that there’s no standardized size for parlor guitars with their manufacturers following their sizing charts. Industry experts agree that a guitar with a lower bout smaller than 13.5″ can be considered a parlor guitar. Also, a guitar smaller than the “0” shape of Martin Guitar is regarded as such.

But a look around at the wide range of parlor guitars suggest that there’s a variety in sizes. Some manufacturers consider “00” size guitars as belonging to the parlor category. Some also assert that guitars with a lower bout of 14″ are also parlor guitars.

While there are widely varying acceptable sizes for parlor guitars, their distinctive shape gives them away immediately. A true-blue parlor guitar has a longer body, which seems elongated at first glance.

The guitar builders who first designed parlor guitars elongated the body of regular-sized guitars while also making them smaller in size overall. It was necessary so that the volume of the instrument when it’s played doesn’t significantly decrease.

With modern technology, such as pickup/preamp systems and microphones, the subtle elongation of the body isn’t necessary anymore. Still, many manufacturers continue to adopt an elongated body for aesthetic reasons.

Take a look at Recording King RPH-05 Dirty Thirties Solid Top Single O, and you will notice a slightly elongated body than your regular-sized guitar. It is also true for the Alvarez Artist Series AP70 Parlor Guitar, Natural/Gloss Finish, a beautiful instrument with mother-of-pearl inlays, scalloped bracing, and a spruce top. Let’s not forget the Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar, an excellent parlor guitar that beginners and experts love.

Tone And Sound

Parlor guitars have midrange tones due to their smaller bodies. Such tonal range makes them suitable for playing slide music, folk music, and old school blues, which contributed to their emerging popularity. These guitars are also popular among songwriters because of their balanced sound, with the treble and bass strings being well-represented.

In terms of playing style, parlor guitars are excellent instruments for plucking and fingerpicking. These lend themselves well to genres like jazz, bluegrass, and country music, too.

Depending on your preference in a guitar, you can choose from 12-fret and 14-fret models. The 12-fret guitars sound smoother to the ears while the 14-fret models have more power.

Both are quieter than regular acoustic guitars, but it has its merits, too. You may want a quieter guitar for playing in front of family and friends, an intimate recital, where your voice and the guitar’s tone blend well.


To summarize, parlor guitars are highly musical instruments for more casual occasions in a cozy venue, such as in your living room. These are great, too, for your songwriting activities, for live jamming with friends, and for enjoying a song alone. Remember that just because these are small doesn’t mean that these are inferior. It produces almost the same sound quality as standard-sized guitars.

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