10 Best Parlor Guitars 2020

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Experienced guitar musicians have surely come across the small, petite model known as the “parlor” guitar.

The parlor was quite popular in the early 1900s, an instrument that folk and blues musicians favored due to its compact size and friendly price tag.

While it may have lost some of its popularity after the 1950s, the parlor guitar is definitely making a comeback with modern musicians, and guitar makers offer a wide range of options for those who prefer this model.

Not sure which is the best parlor guitar for your skill level and budget? Read on, and our experts will share some tips with you in this helpful buying guide.

Top 10 Parlor Guitars Comparison Table

PictureNameCase IncludedPriceRating (1-5)
Picture
Name
Case Included
Price
Rating (1-5)
1. Martin LXK2 Little Martin Koa Pattern HPL Top with Padded GigbagNo$$4.8
2. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat TopNo$4.7
3. Cordoba Guitars C9 Parlor CD/MH 7/8 Size Classical GuitarYes$$$$4.6
4. Ibanez PN15 Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar Brown SunburstNo$4.5
5. Oscar Schmidt O315 Parlor Size Acoustic GuitarNo$$4.5
6. Alvarez Artist Series AP70 Parlor GuitarNo$$4.2
7. Seagull Coastline Grand GuitarNo$$$4.2
8. Arcadia DL36NA PAK 36-Inch Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar PackYes$4.2
9. Recording King RPH-05 Dirty Thirties Solid Top Single ONo$$3.9
10. Maestro by Gibson Parlor Size Acoustic Guitar Starter PackNo$3.9

What Is a Parlor Guitar?

There are a noticeable size and shape differences between the parlor guitar and the standard acoustic guitar.

Parlor guitars typically feature a longer lower bout (the bottom part of the guitar body) with a narrower curve just before the upper bout.

When looking at a standard acoustic guitar and an acoustic parlor guitar side by side, the difference is evident.

Left: The Jasmine S35 Standard Acoustic Guitar. Right: The Ibanez PN15 Parlor Guitar.

Their petite size makes them ideal for travel and when you aren’t competing with other sounds and instruments as you play (i.e., in quieter settings). Players with smaller hands also find them easier to navigate.

Don’t let their size fool you, however. These pint-sized guitars pack a punch when it comes to sound, so whether you’re playing on the front porch with some friends or in the studio, they offer full, rich sound and work particularly well for fingerpicking.

How to Choose a Parlor Guitar

Choosing a parlor guitar is no different from choosing any other type of guitar. You’ll want to consider your budget, any extras that it comes with, and of course, you need to try the guitar to see how it feels.

  • Budget – If the price isn’t an issue, then consider going all out and springing for the Cordoba C9 Parlor. It is the best parlor guitar in terms of quality, making it ideal for studio recordings and professional use.

If you’re completely new to the guitar (i.e., you’ve never played one before), then consider getting an entry-level model such as the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat TopIbanez PN15Arcadia DL36NA, or the Gibson Maestro Parlor Guitar.

The other models on our list are for the middle of the road player who wants a decent guitar without breaking the bank.

  • Extras – Does the guitar come with a case or any accessories? Entry-level models usually come as a package deal, which is handy for beginners who don’t already own any gear.
  • Feel – Everyone knows how important it is to try out an instrument before purchasing it, especially when it comes to the guitar.

There is no standard dimension for the parlor guitar, so some models are wider while others are narrower and more petite.

Top 3 Best Parlor Guitar Reviews

1. Martin LXK2 “Little Martin”

Martin is well known for the parlor guitars they craft, and the LXK2 “Little Martin” is one of their best models.

The sides, back, and top are made from a koa pattern high-pressure laminate with a natural birch laminate neck. It has a total of 20 frets with the neck joining the body at the 14th fret.

This guitar arrives ready to play right out of the box. Martin tends to all of the details before sending one of their guitars off the assembly line, which is something you can expect for a product in this price range.

The body material makes this slightly heavier than similar guitars like the Baby Taylor, which is priced about the same.

If you’re looking for a quality entry-level parlor or would like to upgrade from a cheaper one, consider the Little Martin.

2. Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Gretsch’s G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is one that we recommend for beginner guitar players.

It features an Agathis back, sides and top, along with a nato neck. There are a total of 18 frets, and the neck joins the body at the 12th fret. Agathis has a bad reputation among some guitarists since it isn’t as high in quality as other woods and those with a fine-tuned ear might not enjoy the sound. Others, however, just can’t get enough of this model, so it really is a matter of preference.

The sound it produces is true to the era when this style of guitar was still popular – in the early to mid-1900s.

You’ll need to pick up a case for this since it doesn’t come with one – Gator has an affordable one that you might want to consider!

3. Cordoba C9 Parlor

The crème de la crème in the parlor guitar world is definitely the Cordoba C9 parlor. We highly recommend this model to experienced guitar musicians or those who plan to record music in a studio since the quality and level of performance is top of the line.

The top is made from Canadian cedar while the back and sides are made of solid mahogany. Thanks to the highly responsive soundboard, this parlor produces a much louder tone than some of the other entry-level and mid-price range models that we tried on this list.

Those who are familiar with the brand may know this guitar by its former name – the C9 Dolce.

If you want to see the guitar in action, check out their video where you can see it being played in a variety of styles, including fingerstyle, classical, jazz, strumming, and flamenco.