More and more guitarists are opting for acoustic-electric guitars because they are convenient and future proof. It removes the need to install electronics, and prevents the need for 3rd-party modifications. This same advantage applies to parlor guitars, and is the reason why they are getting the acoustic-electric treatment.
Featured here are the best acoustic-electric parlor guitars that you can readily buy from major retailers, updated for 2018.
Parlor guitars benefit greatly from having built-in electronics. Plugging into an amp or PA system allows the humble blues box to go beyond its volume limitations, essentially leveling the playing field when compared to bigger acoustics, and transforming the couch guitar into a workhorse stage instrument. BTW - if you are going to plug directly into a PA / mixing console then you'll also need to get an acoustic preamp.
All mahogany acoustic-electric guitar with Ibanez' brand of playability and built-in electronics.
Here is a good looking, nice sounding and reliable acoustic-electric guitar from Takamine.
The Alvarez AP66ESHB is an affordable solid-top acoustic-electric parlor guitar with LR Baggs electronics and classic stylings.
This is a true standout solid-top acoustic-electric parlor guitar, with its distinctly Gretsch white "penguin" finish.
Takamine P3NY New Yorker
An all-solidbody parlor guitar with vintage style aesthetics and modern built-in electronics.
Acoustic Electric Parlor Guitar Detailed Meta Reviews
There's just no stopping Ibanez from its continued expansion of their guitar lines, and they are particularly strong in the entry-level tier of acoustic-electric guitars. The Ibanez PN12E is a good example of how they are serving this price range, with its combination of familiar aesthetics and modern sensibilities.
And if you see a low rating on Amazon, don't be concerned because it has an equivalent 4.15 star rating on Gearank.com at the time of publication.
At a glance the PN12E is a beautiful looking instrument, with its all mahogany body in sunburst finish, and its compact parlor style body. Laminate mahogany complements the warmer sound of a parlor guitar body, it also makes the instrument more sturdy and resilient to temperature and humidity changes. Combined with its affordable price tag, this resiliency makes the Ibanez PN12E a great couch guitar.
From the couch, you can take this guitar with you on stage thanks to its built-in under saddle pickup and AEQ-2T preamp. It even comes with an onboard tuner which you can use while playing in your living room, or while entertaining people at your favorite music venue. Having tried and owned a number of acoustic-electric guitars from Ibanez, I can attest that their plugged in tone is good, if not better than most in the same price range.
Takamine GY11ME NS
Being the brand that made acoustic-electric guitars a staple in the market, it is only fitting to see Takamine represented in this list. And after personally trying out many of their parlor size guitars, I have to give the spot to the GY11ME, with its elegant styling, good plugged-in sound and great playability. I am so impressed by it, that I ended up buying one for my 13 year old son, who currently enjoys it.
The design of this parlor guitar is pretty straightforward, with a traditional compact body that's crafted from mahogany, which gives it a warmer sound when compared to conventional acoustics. I for one describe its tone as "throaty", which works great for folk and blues style. And after having tried and owned many acoustic-electric guitars through the years, including high-end all-solid wood acoustics, I am finding myself picking this guitar up more often my other guitars, including an all-solid wood Martin which still is my favorite. It is also getting a lot of stage time from both me and my son, and other musicians who have borrowed it for a gig.
Another good thing about this guitar is its narrow 1.63" nut width, low action setup and 25.3" scale length - all of which add up to a very comfortable playing feel. So if you prefer guitars with wider necks, you may have to scroll down for the other top notchers in this list. Other features include Takamine TP-4T preamp with tuner and my favorite of them all, it has a slotted headstock that completes its classic appeal.
Alvarez guitars continue to make waves in the market, building their reputation on good quality acoustic guitars at reasonable price points. The Alvarez AP66ESHB is a good showcase of what the company does best, with its nice specs and premium aesthetic appointments. This is definitely a guitar that won't be mistaken for something cheap, with its elegant Shadow Burst finish, body binding, slotted headstock with rosewood plate, and distinct inlays.
Its beauty goes beyond skin deep with its solid mahogany top and forward shifted top braces, that allow the guitar to resonate more. The sides and back are also crafted from mahogany, along with the neck, which joins the body at the 12th fret, similar to parlor guitars from the '60s. It sports a short 24" scale length rosewood fingerboard, while nut width is similar to standard size guitars at 1.75".
Giving this parlor guitar its amplified voice is the LR Baggs StagePro EQ preamp and Element Pick Up, something you normally see on more expensive guitars. It features a 3 band EQ with anti-feedback phase inversion and notch filter controls - all of which allow for more control over the sound, and adds to the overall value of this guitar.
Aside from their popular orange finish, Gretsch is also well known for their white finish "penguin" style electric guitars. The G5021WPE inherits this special styling, only this one is a compact parlor guitar with built-in Fishman electronics. While the looks are definitely unique, materials used and build are similar to conventional parlor guitars.
Underneath its nice white finish and gold sparkle binding is a true-to-form parlor guitar, with a solid spruce top, supported by laminated maple for the back and sides. This is an interesting combination that results in a subtly brighter tone, which is precisely what endears the Gretsch brand to many guitarists.
The neck specifications of this guitar don't stray too far from standard size acoustics, with a scale length of 25", nut width of 1.675" and a fingerboard radius of 12". However, the headstock profile is a total departure from traditional parlor guitars, which gives this instrument an unmistakably Gretsch vibe. For plugging in, Gretsch equipped the G5021WPE with a Fishman Isys III pickup/preamp system.
Takamine P3NY New Yorker
Known for pioneering the body mounted preamp and piezo pickup design, Takamine is credited for being one of the forerunners of the acoustic-electric guitar category. So when it came to having their very own parlor guitar model, they expectedly applied the same stage-friendly design. Surprisingly, they went with a more vintage look for the P3NY New Yorker, instead of the more modern appeal of their bigger acoustic models. This combination of modern electronics and vintage appeal makes the P3NY New Yorker more than just a workhorse instrument, but a good looking one as well.
While it is considered parlor, this guitar is actually a bit bigger, and as such the difference in tone is expected to be subtle. Thankfully, the top is crafted from solid cedar which makes the tone warmer than the typical acoustic, and with a bit more midrange thanks to the smaller body size.
The guitar has a 25.3" scale African mahogany neck that is topped by a 21-fret rosewood fingerboard. Playability follows after modern acoustic designs with a nut width of 1.675" and fretboard radius of 12". As mentioned, this guitar comes equipped with Takamine's CT4B II preamp system, which features a three-band EQ, volume control and it has a nifty built-in tuner. Another notable feature is its split saddle bridge, which is designed for improved intonation - and it looks cool too. If you're in the market for a road worthy yet elegant looking parlor guitar, check this one out.