Drawing from our extensive data on parlor guitars, we present you with the best parlor guitars, updated for 2018. This list is meant to help you easily visualize and compare top-rated and crowd favorites, and find the ones that match your playing style, cosmetic preference and budget.
I've arranged the cream-of-the-crop parlors into three groups based on pricing. First of which is the affordable sub $200 range, next is the under $500 middle tier, and finally, the third bracket features instruments priced between $500 to $1000.
Note that Many of the parlor guitars featured here come with alternative finishes and wood combination variants, so don't hesitate to look for one that appeals most to your eyes. In addition to finding the right tone and looks, you should also consider comfort and familiar playability by comparing the scale length and nut width to the guitar that you are most comfortable with.
BTW - if you plan to record with a parlor, then you will find this gear guide on Gearank.com to be most helpful: The Best Microphones for Recording Acoustic Guitar. And if you're looking for something other than a parlor see The Best Acoustic Guitars.
Best Parlor Guitars under $200
This is the price range that majority of guitarists are willing to pay for a small body guitar, thankfully this budget is plenty enough to get you a great sounding instrument. You will find that there some in this bracket with good tonewood and build. Check out what we consider as the best in this competitive market.
Fender MA-1 Parlor Guitar
A budget friendly 3/4 scale compact parlor guitar from big name manufacturer Fender.
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy
The Jim Dandy Flat Top has become a crowd favorite, thanks to its dirt cheap price, great quality and genuine '30s era aesthetics.
Oldschool sunburst finish parlor guitar with Ibanez' brand of modern playability.
Fender CP-60S Parlor Guitar
The Fender CP-60S is a distinctly shaped parlor guitar with a solid spruce top.
Best Parlor Guitars under $500
This is where tonewood options broaden, with some offering solid top builds that crafted from various types of wood.
The Washburn WP11SNS is an affordable solid top parlor guitar with boutique like aesthetics.
Gretsch G9511 Parlor Guitar
With its solid cedar top and blues box profile, the Gretsch G9511 is a sure standout in terms of looks and tone.
Best Parlor Guitars under $1000
This price range is where you'll find better specifications.
Sporting a solid mahogany body built through Alvarez' meticulous production process, the MPA66 is sure to impress.
This all solid wood parlor guitar from a not so well known manufacturer offers pro level specs at mid-tier pricing.
With experience and technology on their side, Fender is more than capable of mass producing affordable parlor guitars with good quality. The MA-1 is a good example of this, a cheap guitar that does not feel cheap, nor does it look cheap. Rather it has the Fender label stamped on its headstock, with aesthetics and build quality that lives up to the brand name. The body of the Fender MA-1 is crafted using alternative wood, laminate agathis for the top, and laminate sapele for the back and sides.
These alternative wood are used because they are affordable and readily available, plus they sound very similar to familiar tonewoods. The resulting sound is good enough to please the ears of students and beginners, which this guitar is aimed at.
As for neck specifications, the scale length is 3/4 smaller than regular acoustics at 23.3", and it has a nutwidth of 1.69". The neck joins the body at the 12th fret, completing the simple yet eye pleasing look of the guitar. This parlor guitar from Fender is well worth considering for those with limited budget.
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top
Although relatively new, the Jim Dandy Flat Top has become a crowd favorite, thanks to its dirt cheap price, great quality and genuine '30s era aesthetics. I for one could not believe how affordable it was when I first saw it released! The design is inspired by the entry level instrument from the '30s called Gretsch Rex, sporting a retro look that you will want to show off to your friends or keep on a stand on your living room.
This ultra-affordable guitar does not look cheap at all, rather it has a premium feel and look to it. The small body is crafted from Agathis wood, which features the same properties as the pinewood used on guitars in the first half of the 20th century. Popularly used by house and ship builders, agathis has taken the place of pinewood because of its improved stability and reliability. Gretsch also designed the body to be slightly elongated, which together with the Agathis body add substantial sound projection to this rather small bodied instrument.
Comfortable playability is ensured by its 24" short scale length and 1.69" nut width. Much like old designs, the neck meets the body at the 12th fret, and it has a '50s style Gretsch square tapered headstock with rounded edges to complete its old school look. With an instument this cool and affordable, there really is no excuse for you not to have a great value couch guitar at home!
While they are mostly known for the shred machines that they build for virtuosos like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, Ibanez is a strong contender in the acoustic guitar market, particularly in the entry level price range. So it is not at all surprising to see them securing a spot in our recommendations with a good quality parlor guitar like the PN15. Build-wise, the Ibanez PN15 does not stray far from conventional guitar builds, with laminate mahogany used for its side panels and laminate spruce for the top.
But what separates it from others in the price range is Ibanez' consistent quality across their entire line of products, where in they do not compromise aesthetics and playability even at lower price points.
While others will have a stripped down look, the Ibanez PN15 comes with bindings and a premium quality finish that can be mistaken for something that's more expensive. Ibanez' reputation for smooth playability is also present in this parlor guitar, with its soft action 24.4" scale neck, with 1.69" nut width.
Thanks to big brands like Fender, we can enjoy a good solid top parlor guitar in the entry level price range. And this is precisely what the the Fender CP-60S is all about, a distinctly shaped parlor guitar with a solid spruce top. Giving this guitar its distinct shape is its narrow upper bout. Completing its body are back and side panels that are crafted from laminate mahogany. But it's not just about aesthetics, because its compact profile and solid spruce top design results in a vibrant and bright tone that works great with fingerpicking.
It can also give you a more cutting tone when jamming with friends who play regular size acoustic guitars.
The guitar's mahogany neck is topped by a rosewood fingerboard with rolled of frets. Action and playability is similar to that of regular sized guitars, with a scale length of 24.85", and a nut width of 1.69". The neck joins the body at the 14th fret.
Finally, the Fender CP-60S is available in either natural or 3-tone sunburst finish.
When it comes to acoustic guitars, Washburn does not compromise aesthetics for specifications, and vice versa. And this is the reason why many love their acoustic guitars, like the WP11SNS, which for the price gives you good solid top construction and convincing old school style aesthetics. This guitar is definitely a pleasure to look at, thanks to its early 20th century aesthetics, which include having a neck joint at the 12th fret, and a nice looking slotted headstock with inlays.
Its solid cedar top also adds to the overall earthy appeal of the instrument, while giving it a tone that's warmer and snappier than those with spruce tops. The back and side panels are crafted from laminate mahogany, which follow after traditional designs.
The neck is also crafted from mahogany, and topped with a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard. It is carved into a C shape profile that offers familiar playability with its 24.75" scale length and 1.73" nut width. With its superb looks, great value for money and good playability, the Washburn WP11SNS is highly recommended.
The Gretsch brand is known for their eccentrically styled instruments, and this design philosophy applies nicely to the G9511. It sports a design similar to the mail order parlor guitars of the yesteryears, only this one has the reliability and playability of modern acoustic guitars, along with a solid top for improved tone and response. This parlor guitar has a very intricate and detailed sound, thanks to its compact parlor style body with its laminate mahogany back and sides, and solid sitka spruce top.
The downside to this is that it tends to sound muddy when played hard - but this downside is also what makes it attractive to blues and folk players.
While it does sport an old school 12th fret neck joint, playability of this guitar is within familiar territory with its 24.75" scale length. Note that nut width is a bit wider at 1.73".
If you're looking for a parlor guitar that you can play your favorite roots and acoustic blues pieces on, then do check out the Gretsch G9511.
There's just no substitute for a good all-solid wood acoustic guitar, they are generally more responsive and feel more alive as the body resonates with every string you pluck. But it's not just about having quality materials, because build quality also plays an important role. The all-solid Alvarez MPA66 parlor guitar is a great example of quality materials and build coming together, resulting in an instrument that looks as good as it sounds.
At the core of the MPA66 is its all solid mahogany wood body, which gives it a warmer and rounder tone, compared to those with spruce tops. This combination helps balance out the inherent midrange emphasis of its small body, resulting in a sound that's fuller than what you'd expect. Matching mahogany wood on its body and neck also gives the guitar a more uniform look, while the slotted headstock completes its traditional appeal.
This guitar features a mahogany neck that joins the body at the 12th fret, and it has a rosewood fingerboard. Action is expected to be smooth with its shorter scale length of 24", but note that the nut is a bit wider at 1.75", yet still within standard specifications. If you're looking for a quality all-solid mahogany parlor guitar, then this is your best bet.
With its all solid wood body and quality construction, the Blueridge BR-341 is easily comparable to guitars that are priced twice or more. It sports a solid Sitka spruce top that's supported by forward shifted scalloped X braces and solid mahogany back and sides - all of which are features that you usually have to pay top dollars for. And it is not just about the specs, and getting more for your money, because its projection and tone is just as impressive.
Even those who own more expensive parlor guitars have good things to say about the BR-341. It also scores good points with its boutique guitar appeal, thanks to its elegant binding, soundhole rings and slotted headstock design, which complements its natural finish.
The slim profile neck has an Indian rosewood fingerboard with a 1 7/8" wide nut and 24.75" scale length.
All these features add up to a familiar yet comfortable playability. If you're looking to get the most out of your money then check out the Blueridge BR-341.
If you feel there's a guitar we've missed which should be in the list above, please tell us about it in the comments below.