Roundup of the Best Parlor Guitars

The Best Parlor Guitars

If you are on a quest to find the best parlor guitar, check out these standouts! Here you can easily visualize and compare top-rated and crowd favorites that match your playing style, cosmetic preference and budget.

We originally published our selection of top parlors back in May 2015 and now about a year later we have given this roundup a major overhaul because many of the guitars we used to recommend have sold out from most of the major online retailers.

I've arranged the cream-of-the-crop parlors into three groups based on pricing. First of which is the affordable sub $500 range, next is the middle tier of $500 to just under $1000, and finally, the third bracket features premium instruments priced $1000 and above. Many of the parlor guitars featured here come with alternative finishes and wood combinations, as it is, You can use the information here as springboard to quicken your search for finding one that meets your needs and wants. Just remember that on top of 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 $500

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 pro-level specs, nice build and tonewood quality, and some even offer built-in electronics. Check out what we consider as the best in this competitive market.

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Detailed meta-review below

The Jim Dandy Flat Top has become a crowd favorite, thanks to its dirt cheap price, great quality and genuine '30s era aesthetics.

Epiphone EL-00 PRO

Epiphone EL-00 PRO

Detailed meta-review below

A budget friendly modern reproduction of the revered L-00 blues box parlor guitar from Epiphone.

Recording King RPH-05

Recording King RPH-05 Dirty Thirties

Detailed meta-review below

The RPH-05 is an insanely affordable instrument that has the look and sound of vintage parlor acoustics.

Fender CP-100

Fender CP-100

Detailed meta-review below

The Fender CP-100 is an affordable parlor guitar that seems cheap on paper - but sounds and looks great in person.

Ibanez AVN3

Ibanez AVN3

Detailed meta-review below>

Its vintage style narrow parlor guitar shape, natural finish, playability and tone, give you great value for your money.

Washburn R314K

Washburn R314K

Detailed meta-review below

The Washburn R314K is ridiculously affordable when you consider that has the look, feel and sound of premium acoustics.

Best Parlor Guitars under $1000

Surprisingly, there aren't that many readily accessible options in this price range. However, of the few that are available, I found a few that have top notch specs and quality, easily securing their spots in this list. These offer professional level tone and looks at price points that are reasonable.

Washburn R320SWR

Washburn R320SWR

Detailed meta-review below

The R320SWR gives you more than what you pay for, featuring top notch tonewood, quality build and impressive looks.

Cordoba C9 Parlor

Cordoba C9 Parlor

Detailed meta-review below

Here's an all-solidwood body nylon string parlor guitar built following traditional Spanish guitar method.

Washburn R360K Parlor Resonator

Washburn R360K Parlor Resonator

Detailed meta-review below

Washburn gives you a different perspective on the parlor guitar design, by turning it into a small bodied resonator guitar.

Best Parlor Guitars $1000 and Up

The law of diminishing returns suggest that you're not really getting that much more for your money when you buy premium level instruments. But if the sky is the limit for your budget, or you are simply curious about high-end options that are worth buying, these top tier parlor acoustics are highly recommended.

Gibson 1932 L-00 Vintage Reissue

Gibson 1932 L-00 Reissue

Detailed meta-review below

If money is not an issue and you're looking to buy the best that money can buy, then you should check out the Gibson 1932 L-00 Vintage Reissue.

Takamine P3NY New Yorker

Takamine P3NY New Yorker

Detailed meta-review below

An all-solidbody parlor guitar with vintage style aesthetics and modern built-in electronics from Takamine.

Martin 0-28VS

Martin 0-28VS

Detailed meta-review below>

With their long history of building great acoustic guitars, it's not surprising to find a Martin parlor at the high-end of this list.

 

Detailed Meta-Reviews:

Fender CP-100

Fender CP-100
Manufacturer: Fender

On paper, there's nothing really much going on with this guitar, aside from having the popular brand name stamped on its headstock. But you'll find that it is highly rated at many retailers by exceeding the expectations of guitarists in terms of build quality, consistency and overall value for the money. Instead of going for something premium, Fender went for a true-to-form blues box that's accessible to the masses - much like the parlors of old.

The body of the CP-100 is all-laminate, having a laminated spruce top and laminated mahogany for the back and sides. This is a common combination used on many cheap guitars, and while it may not work well for bigger acoustics, it does complement the small body of the CP-100, giving it a boxy sound with good midrange. The result is an affordable instrument that is voiced for blues and slide guitar playing.

And it's not just about the tone, because Fender was able to mimic the feel of old mail-order parlor guitars, with its 24.875" scale length and a narrow 1.69" nut width. Even at this low price, Fender has ensured the CP-100 has a good consistent build quality, making it a reliable grab-and-go couch guitar that you won't have to worry too much about. It also helps that the Fender CP-100 is easy on the eyes, making it an easy pick for many players. Check this one if you're looking for an affordable parlor guitar from a well known guitar brand.

Buy the Fender CP-100 now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Ibanez AVN3 Artwood Vintage Parlor

Ibanez AVN3 Artwood Vintage Parlor
Manufacturer: Ibanez

The Ibanez AVN3 is a testament to the company's ability to effectively mass produce guitars without compromising quality. Its vintage style compact parlor shape and premium cosmetic embellishments can compete with other more expensive instruments. And it's not all show either, playability and tone wise, the AVN3 sounds truly amazing, giving you great value for your money.

The AVN3 comes with the familiar combination of a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany for the back and sides, resulting in a clear and loud voice that can easily compete with other instruments of the same size. If you're used to playing regular sized acoustics, the 24.33" scale length and 1.693" nut width will require some adjustments to your fretting hand, but it shouldn't be much of a bother because anything from Ibanez is expected to be a breeze to play.

Also notable is this guitar's durability, you won't have to just keep this guitar in its case, because it is built to handle the rigors of being a grab-and-go couch guitar. The ned result is that you can play longer without worrying about the guitar breaking. Finally, because of its affordable price, you won't have to feel guilty of overplaying and roughing up an expensive instrument.

Buy the Ibanez AVN3 Artwood Vintage now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Recording King RPH-05 Dirty Thirties

Recording King RPH-05 Dirty Thirties
Manufacturer: Recording King

The RPH-05 is an insanely affordable instrument that has the look and sound of vintage parlor acoustics. It's small and slightly elongated body together with the regular sized soundhole makes it appear smaller than it actually is, giving it a convincing "blues box" appearance, much like the old Montogomery Ward mail order guitars that were popular during the early 1930s.

Sporting a solid spruce top, rosewood fretboard and bone nut and saddle, this guitar has the right materials placed on where it matters the most on an acoustic - the soundboard, and on the points where the strings meet the neck and the body. This results in an authentic vintage gnarly tone that matches its classic looks, you'll definitely have to play some crossroads blues licks once you have this in your hands.

As for playability, the guitar has a nato neck with a nutwidth of 1.69" and a regular scale length of 25.4", it should feel and play like a regular sized acoustic. If you are looking for an affordable parlor guitar with genuine historic blues vibe, then you should get the RPH-05, actually your $500 can get you two of them with enough extra money for spare strings!

Buy the Recording King RPH-05 Dirty Thirties now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Washburn R314K

Washburn R314K
Manufacturer: Washburn

The Washburn R314K is an affordable instrument that has the look and sound of century old parlor acoustics. It's small and slightly elongated body together with its vintage finish and distressed hardware make it appear smaller than it actually is, giving it a convincing classic appearance, similar to vintage parlor guitars from the 1800's to the early 1900's.

Sporting a spruce top, trembesi back and sides, ebony fretboard, and bone nut/saddle - this guitar has the right materials placed on where it matters the most on an acoustic - the soundboard, and on the points where the strings meet the neck and the body. This results in an authentic vintage gnarly tone that matches its classic looks, you'll definitely have to play some old school licks once you have this in your hands.

As for playability, the guitar has a mahogany V-shape neck with a nutwidth of 1.89" and a short scale length of 24.75", giving it the same feel as old parlor instruments. If you are looking for an affordable parlor guitar with genuine historic vibe, then you should get the Washbrun R314K, you'll even haveenough extra money for accessories and spare strings!

Buy the Washburn R314K now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top
Manufacturer: Gretsch

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!

Buy the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Epiphone EL-00 PRO

Epiphone EL-00 PRO
Manufacturer: Epiphone

Descended from the original "Blues box" of the '30s, the Epiphone EL-00 Pro features the same short scale and parlor design of the original without the crazy price tags usually expected from vintage replicas. Epiphone also took the design further by implementing modern more reliable structural improvements and built-in Fishman electronics. This ability to plug-in allows this couch guitar to double as a workhorse stage instrument should you need it to.

For its price, the Epiphone was able to pack the EL-00 PRO with specs that match its vintage Gibson ancestors, having a solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides. It has the same L-00 body shape as the guitar that blues pioneer Robert Johnson used and it is wrapped in vintage sunburst finish to complete its old school appeal. It has a 24.75" scale mahogany neck which is joined to the body via a titebond dovetail neck joint. It has a c-shape profile, nut width of 1.65" and 12" fingerboard radius that makes it easy to play even for beginners, and it is topped by a rosewood fretboard with mother-of-pearl dot inlays.

The Epipone EL-00 is highly recommended if you're looking for a low cost classic looking blues box. It also offers a slightly bigger body compared to other more traditional parlor guitar designs, reducing the need for playing position adjustments.

Buy the Epiphone EL-00 PRO now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Cordoba C9 Parlor

Cordoba C9 Parlor
Manufacturer: Cordoba

Thanks to the quality of their products, the company continues to dominate the nylon string market, and they have even expanded into steel string territory by acquiring Guild Guitars. With their hands on steel string acoustic blueprints, it's not surprising to find a parlor guitar model in Cordoba's ever growing line of classical nylon string guitars. The C9 Parlor follows true to form classical guitar building and specs, albeit at a smaller 7/8 size which makes it easier to play and carry around. Don't mistake it for a "junior" instrument because this one comes with the same appointments and attention to detail as Cordoba's standard size classical guitars.

Because of the smaller body, the guitar's tone has a natural tendency to emphasize the mids, complementing the already mid-range friendly solid cedar top. The back and sides are also crafted from solid wood, specifically mahogany, which provide structural stability and increased body resonance for better and more open sounding notes. Since the body is smaller, don't expect the same low end, rather expect this one to sing and cut into a mix better

Following traditional classical guitar designs, the neck is crafted from mahogany and topped by a 19-fret rosewood fingerboard. The scale length is 24.8", which is not too far from standard size classical guitars, and the nut width also follows after traditional classical guitars at 1.86". This reduces playing technique adjustments when switching to and from standard size acoustics. If you're looking for a premium classical guitar that's a bit smaller, then check this one out.

Buy the Cordoba C9 Parlor now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Washburn R320SWR

Washburn R320SWR
Manufacturer: Washburn

Although not as popular as other more established acoustic guitar makers, Washburn's line up is something that you should not skip out on. Case in point is the R320SWR (model # R320SWRK), a small body guitar that gives you more than what you pay for, featuring top notch tonewood, quality build and impressive looks. Washburn does not compromise cosmetics to reduce the cost, instead they go all out, resulting in a great looking instrument that can compete with other more premium models..

It's impressive how they are able to mass produce high-spec guitars that competes within the mid-tier market. The R320SWR is a shining example of how they have mastered the craft of balancing cost and quality, featuring an all-solid wood body that includes a solid spruce top, and solid rosewood back and sides.

Coming from the Vintage Series, this parlor guitar is built to resemble old Washburn instruments, but it is built using modern production techniques for improved reliability and playability. The scale length of the R320SWR is a comfortable 24.75", while you have to note that the nut width is a bit wider at 1.88", ideal for players with bigger fingers. Completing the vintage appeal of the guitar is its slotted headstock design and tree of life fretboard inlays. This is truly a cool instrument to get in this market.

Buy the Washburn R320SWR now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Washburn R360K Parlor Resonator

Washburn R360K Parlor Resonatorr
Manufacturer: Washburn

Washburn takes the parlor guitar shape beyond conventional steel string and nylon string configuration, by adding a biscuit resonator cone on the top. The result is the R360K Parlor Resonator, which gives you authentic Dobro style sounds in a small package. And since it is crafted by Washburn, it comes with a very affordable price tag without compromising build quality and vintage aesthetics. What separates this parlor guitar from others is its biscuit resonator cone, which gives it the metal high frequency "zing" that's found on all dobro style instruments. However since it has a smaller body, the upper mid range gets more emphasis, resulting in a warmer yet still cutting tone.

The top is crafted from solid spruce supported by quarter sawn scalloped bracing and trembesi back and sides - all of which ensure structural stability and adds authentic acoustic tones into the mix. The neck plays much like a regular acoustic, so you'll have to make some adjustments if you want to go all-slide.

There's really not much to complain about this parlor, with its elegant vintage appeal and hybrid resonator design. I particularly love the slotted headstock design and added cosmetics which give this parlor a premium look, making it look more expensive than it actually is. Even if you already have a resonator, or a parlor guitar, owning this one is easily justifiable, and it will add aesthetic value to any room you will display it in.

Buy the Washburn R360K Parlor Resonator now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Gibson 1932 L-00 Vintage Reissue

Gibson
Manufacturer: Gibson

If money is not an issue and you're looking to buy the best that money can buy, then you should check out the Gibson 1932 L-00 Vintage Reissue. As the name implies, this instrument takes after the 1932 era L-00, designed to be as close as possible to vintage originals in terms of tone and looks, while resolving the usual problems associated with old instruments.

It's interesting how expensive the L Series has become, considering it started out as entry-level budget friendly instruments. But in a way, this is to be expected from Gibson, milking a guitar line that became so popular and used by big name artists of old. The 1932 L-00 Reissue features conventional wood combination of spruce and mahogany, but with a premium twist, the top being crafted from solid Adirondack red spruce, and the sides from solid mahogany.

It's interesting to note that this L-00 has a longer scale length of 25", a quarter of an inch longer than the popular electric guitar Gibson Les Paul. The scale length is complemented by the 1.75" nut width, giving it a playability that's in between the usual short and long scale configuration. The guitar's mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard meets the body at the 14th fret, which is a more recent design. If the premium features are not enough to convince you, know that legendary players like Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson and many others made great music with this classic L series line up.

Buy the Gibson 1932 L-00 Vintage Reissue now or get more information at Amazon.com

Takamine P3NY New Yorker

Takamine P3NY New Yorker
Manufacturer: Takamine

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.

Buy the Takamine P3NY New Yorker now or read the latest customer reviews at Amazon.com

Martin 0-28VS

Martin 0-28VS
Manufacturer: C.F. Martin & Co.

With their long history of building great acoustic guitars, it's not surprising to find a Martin parlor at the high-end of this list. Many of today's acoustic guitar shapes and building techniques are influenced if not directly copied from C.F. Martin & Co, and this includes small body guitars like the 0-28VS. Interestingly, the "0" shape was once the biggest size guitar that they offerded, now it is the smallest full size guitar in their production line up.

Since vintage "Style 28" Martins are highly regarded and sought after today, it makes sense for the company to apply it on a small body guitar. This style features solid sitka spruce for the top and solid east Indian rosewood for the back and sides. This familiar configuration coupled with Martin's impressive build quality makes the 0-28VS a great sounding and reliable instrument that has museum level looks.

The V-shaped neck has a 24.9" scale length, a solid ebony fingerboard with a 1.88" nut width and has 12 frets clear. This gives this compact guitar almost the same playability as that of the bigger Martins. Wrapping up its features are aesthetic appointments that include herringbone top trim, grained ivoroid healcap, zig-zag back purfling, diamond and square fretboard inlay markers, and a slotted headstock design. Although a bit pricey, the 0-28VS is definitely worthy of investing your hard earned money.

Buy the Martin 0-28VS now or get more information at Amazon.com

 

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.

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Comments

Parlor guitars

Rainsong Parlor rules period

I like Rainsong's guitars too

I like Rainsong's guitars too - they also look really good and have a range of colors that you don't often see on acoustics.

That's because they're made

That's because they're made from carbon fiber - you can't get wood to look like that and I doubt they could ever sound as good as proper wood does like on a Gibson.

We've removed the Rainsong P12 6-String

After much consideration, and despite the fact that I personally like the Rainsong P12 6-String, we have removed it from our list of recommended parlor guitars. We've decided to stick with guitars that more closely resemble traditional parlors and the Rainsong's carbon fiber construction doesn't really fit here.

Cort L1200P Parlor

I would like to see and hear the L1200P parlor from Cort
guitars.
and also hear some opinions from those who have owned one.

Cort L1200P is now included above

We looked into the L1200P and we agree - it deserves to be in this roundup - thanks for the tip!

seagull natural grand sg

Dear friends,

Was the seagull excursion natural grand sg considered when you were preparing this roundup? I can't find one to try where I live but was well impressed with what I could hear online. What are your views on it?

Thank you.

It's no longer available

I don't remember if we previously recommended the Seagull Guitars Excursion Natural Grand SG, however it has sold out at all the major online US retailers. It is a good guitar with a solid build but we only recommend guitars that are widely available.

It's good but hard to find

The Jack & Danny AP-30S is good value considering how low the price was, but it's nearly impossible to find at online retailers anymore so we haven't included it in our list above.

Larrivee parlors

What about larrivee parlors?

Alvarez parlors..?

Surprised the Alvarez AP70 or AP66 doesnt get a spot in this round up...

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