Nylon String Parlor Guitar & Small Classical Guitars Roundup

Nylon String Parlor Guitars & Small Classical Guitars
These are some of the best Small Classical & Nylon String Parlor Guitars

Nylon strings provide a mellow and percussive contrast to the bright and articulate sound of steel strings. When equipped on a small body instruments like parlor or small classical guitars, nylon strings produce a different tonal palette that both professionals and beginners enjoy.

To make it easier to choose which one to get I have put together the following list of the best guitars in this category. If you are looking for a beginner friendly instrument that has enough tone and feel for experienced players to appreciate, then you're in luck.

NB - this guide only covers small sized guitars, for full sized options see The Best Classical & Nylon String Guitars - $99 to $1000 on Gearank.com.

Small Classical Guitars or Nylon String Parlor Guitars

Small classical guitars are simply scaled down versions of their standard sized counterparts. They follow the same shape, build and style with the main difference being the smaller measurements. This results in a tone similar to standard size classical guitars but with less sound projection. 7/8 and 3/4 classical guitars fall under this category, and are popular for beginners and serious students of the instrument. Nylon string parlor guitars on the other hand have a different shape, following the compact design of "parlour" instruments from the early 1900s. These compact instruments have more pronounced middle frequencies, and are more comfortable to carry around and play with, ideal grab-and-go instruments that you can leave on your couch or on a stand. Regardless of your preference, you will find one that suits your budget and style in this roundup.

What to Look For When Buying a Small Sized Nylon String Guitar

If you budget will allow, and you're looking for a well balanced tone, it is always be best to go for solid top instruments. The sound of solid topped instruments "open up" as they age, making them worthy longterm companion instruments. Cheaper laminate topped parlor guitars offer a more dynamic yet abrupt sound that fans of vintage parlor guitars will appreciate. Cedar is the wood of choice for nylon string instruments because it helps round out the tone nicely, but you can go for ones with spruce top if you're looking for a more balanced tone. Note that the shorter scale length of a parlor allows for easy playability, while longer scale length of the small classical makes for easier transition when switching to regular sized acoustics. Other features to consider include having a nut width that matches your fretting hand and of course you want an instrument that inspires you to practice and play.

Nylon String Parlor Guitars

Cordoba Requinto 580

Cordoba Requinto 580
Manufacturer: Cordoba Requinto 580 | Street Price: Usually under $300

From its humble beginnings, Cordoba has grown into one of the biggest nylon string guitar manufacturers in the world today. They've grown so much that they recently acquired the Guild brand from Fender, expanding the company's reach into the steel string guitar market. As expected, Cordoba is not afraid to produce non-conventional variations of their nylon string guitars, and one of these which falls under the parlor guitar category is the Requinto 580. This 1/2 size guitar comes packed with impressive features and for its size and it plays surprisingly similar to standard size instruments. This small guitar features a solid cedar top with mahogany back and sides, a traditional combination that works great for nylon stringed instruments. It even comes with traditional 5-fan Torres style bracing so it can reproduce genuine Spanish tones in spite of being small. Because of its compact size, the scale length is shorter at 22.8, which results in beginner friendly playability. To compensate, they strung this guitar with high tension strings so that it can be played in standard tuning. Other features include hand-inlaid wood rosette, and Indian rosewood detailing. While it can be a little too small for some players, professionals will appreciate it's elegant look and genuine sound.

Get the latest Requinto 580 price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.


Art & Lutherie AMI Nylon

Art & Lutherie AMI Nylon
Manufacturer: Godin | Street Price: Usually under $400

Art & Lutherie is just one of the many sub-brands under the popular guitar manufacturer Godin. It strays from the eclectic designs used by Godin, opting for a more traditional approach to building. Since they offer vintage inspired designs, it is only natural for them to have parlor guitars in their production line, but they went beyond just traditional by offering a nylon string parlor guitar called the AMI Nylon. This guitar follows the same dimensions of parlor guitars found in the early 1900's, with the main difference being the use of nylon strings. It sports a solid cedar top with Canadian harvested red wild cherry for the back and sides, all of which form the instrument's compact yet resonant body. Interestingly, the AMI Nylon's silver leaf maple neck has a closer to standard size scale length of 25.66", while having a classical style wild nut width of 2". It would've been nice if it were a bit cheaper, but it's still within reasonable price range, especially considering its premium specs. If you're looking for a reliable solid top couch guitar with nylon strings, then get the Art & Lutherie AMI Nylon.

Get the latest AMI Nylon price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.


Rainsong NP12 Nylon String

Rainsong NP12 Nylon String
Manufacturer: Rainsong | Street Price: Usually under $2,500

Rainsong built their reputation on quality guitars that utilize non-traditional materials, and they are the most familiar name when it comes to carbon fiber guitars. Interestingly they have a parlor guitar with nylon strings in their line up, the NP12, a modern take on traditional 12th fret neck joint parlor guitars. The guitar's top is crafted from unidirectional carbon that mimics the tight grain of a spruce, and is the company's lightest soundboard to date. This combined with the state of the art hybrid carbon fiber and glass body results in a parlor guitar that's surprisingly articulate, balanced sounding and loud. Playability is more akin to steel string parlors than classical guitars, having a scale length of 24.875" and a narrower nutwidth of 1.75". In addition to the above features, the Rainson NP12 comes with Fishman electronics that make it a stage worthy instrument. The obvious downside to this modern nylon string parlor guitar is its premium price tag, but since this guitar is virtually unbreakable and requires zero maintenance, you are certainly getting your money's worth.

Get the latest NP12 price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.

La Patrie Motif

La Patrie Motif
Manufacturer: La Patrie | Street Price: about $450

La Patrie, another sub brand of Godin made it into this list, and this one specializes in classical nylon stringed instruments. One of their production line models has a parlor guitar shape, the La Patrie Motif. Instead of following traditional short scale specs, this guitar is actually a "full-scale" guitar, which means that it feel and plays like standard size classical guitars. This makes the Motif a great couch guitar for classical guitarists, a reliable grab-and-go instrument that you can play without adjusting your playing technique too much, which means that your main guitar can stay longer in its secure case. This nylon string parlor guitar comes with a solid cedar top, wild cherry back and sides and a mahogany neck that joins the body at the 12th fret. Scale length is similar to standard size acoustics at 25.66". The longer scale length of this parlor guitar might put off players with small hands, but it provides an excellent opportunity to practice in standard scale with a more compact instrument.

Get the latest Motif price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.

Small Classical Guitars

Yamaha CGS103A 3/4 Size Classical Guitar

Boss TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner
Manufacturer: Yamaha | Street Price: Usually under $200

So many teachers and guitar schools recommend Yamaha guitars, myself included, and the reason is simple - they provide excellent easy to play instruments that students will find inspiring to play. I for one took formal classical guitar lessons on a Yamaha and that guitar is still with me now years later. If I had only known about the 3/4 size CGS103A, then my learning days would have been a bit easier with its short 23" scale length and slightly narrower 1.9" nut width. Being an entry level guitar, the CGS103A comes with basic wood that includes a spruce top, meranti back and sides and nato neck, thankfully Yamaha's impressive build quality makes this guitar look and sound better than what you'd expect. Yamaha mentioned that this guitar is meant for players age 6 to 10, but even older and experienced players are finding themselves quite pleased with how this guitar plays and sounds.

Get the latest CGS103A price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.

Cordoba C9 Parlor

Cordoba C9 Parlor
Manufacturer: Cordoba | Price: Usually about $1,000

The Cordoba C9 Parlor is actually a small classical guitar, slightly smaller than standard at 7/8 size. This means that Cordoba is staying within their expertise, and not necessarily utilizing traditional parlor style design as the name seems to imply. This can be good or bad depending on whether you want a small classical guitar or a nylon string parlor, but whatever your preference is, there's no denying that the C9 Parlor is a cool looking instrument. Far from being an entry level guitar, the Cordoba C9 Parlor sports an all solid wood construction, with either a solid Canadian cedar or solid European spruce top, paired with solid mahogany back and sides. Following traditional Spanish style guitar building, the top is supported by a fan bracing pattern which allows for more surface area vibration, resulting in improved projection and articulation. Interestingly, Cordoba opted for a slightly shorter 24.8" scale length, which better explains the "Parlor" label, meaning that it looks like a classical guitar, but plays like a parlor guitar. Nut width is narrower but still close to standard specs at 1.97". Thankfully, Cordoba was able to keep the price reasonable, although some beginners and students will find this guitar to be out of their budget range. If you are looking for a concert-level workhorse classical guitar that plays like a parlor guitar then check out the Cordoba C9.

Get the latest C9 price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.

Antonio Hermosa AHQ-10

Antonio Hermosa AHQ-10
Manufacturer: Antonio Hermosa | Price: Usually under $200

This relatively unknown 3/4 size classical guitar is hidden gem in the entry level market. Although not much is known about the manufacturer and their reputation, The Antonio Hermosa AHQ-10 comes with nice specs at a very accessible price. It sports a solid cedar top, mahogany body and mahogany neck, all built following traditional Spanish designs. Although it doesn't have big brand backing, reviews on this model are unanimous in saying that build quality is superb, tone is nice and more importantly, it is very easy and inspiring to play. This is mostly thanks to the short 22.75" scale length and the smaller body design and the narrower 1.875" nut width. In addition to its resonant sound and playability, the AHQ-10 features cosmetic appointments that you don't normally see on guitars of this price point, including maple binding, 3-ply top purfling, and gold-plated tuners. If you're looking for a budget friendly solid top 3/4 size classical guitar then check this one out.

Get the latest AHQ-10 price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.

Fender MC-1 3/4 Nylon

Fender MC-1 3/4 Nylon
Manufacturer: Fender |Street Price: Usually under $150

Thanks to Fender's attempt at gaining more ground in the entry level market, the company have come up with a cool 3/4 nylon string guitar, the Fender MC-1. This guitar is designed to compete with other student friendly guitars, focusing on affordability and playability. To keep the price competitive, Fender opted for cost effective wood materials, choosing laminated agathis for the top and sapele for the back and sides. While on paper it may seem lack luster, the guitar's elegant earthy look and impressive build quality makes up for what it's lacking in materials. Having a short scale length of 23.3"and narrow 1.69" nut width, the Fender MC-1 is designed to make it easier for students and young players to develop their playing skills. This is easily one of the safest options for students who are looking for an affordable, well made and easy to play nylon string guitar. Even experienced players who are looking for a convenient nylon couch guitar will find this guitar interesting.

Get the latest MC-1 price & customer reviews at Amazon.com.

Summary

If you need any further advice please post in the comments below and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.

      

Comments

small hands

Hi, just would like to know if there are shorter scale lengths full size guitar with cut-away? My fingers are short especially the pinky, also, what would be the preferred clearance between the strings and fretboard? or the frets? I find it difficult to bar the lower positions. Lastly, what gauge strings are best to use for classical pieces?

Short scale

Hello Michael,

Since your fingers are short, it would be ideal if you try short scale parlor guitars. They are easy to use, store and carry around and more importantly they are conducive to practice.

There should be some short scale length but full size classical guitars, unfortunately these are not covered here in Parlor.Guitars. As for the preferred clearance or "action", this will vary depending on the guitar, but based on your situation, you'd want one that has the lowest possible action without the fret buzz.

In you're case, I'd recommend light to medium gauge strings, especially since you're finding it difficult to do bar chords.

the scale length of the

the scale length of the Cordoba C9 parlor is 24.8 not 22.75 as stated above.

Thanks

Thanks Sandra for spotting that, I've edited the article accordingly.

Absolute beginner

Thanks for a great article Alexander Briones. I am still at the research phase of my guitar journey. I love the instrument and I'm looking to start learning, purely for pleasure. I tried to pick it up when I was really young but I guess the size wasn't right and the steel strings kind of punctured my fingers so I gave up too soon. But this time I am looking to make an informed choice that inspires me to learn. I am a small person with small hands, I like the sound of spanish guitar so would like to start of with nylon strings also because they hurt less. I found out that an acoustic-electric guitar is a good long term option, I would also go for solid wood instead of ply and lastly I can shell out upto 300$. Do you have any recommendation that has all of the above? I could let go off electric option if it doesn't fall in the budget. Antonio hermosa & Yamaha options seem like good options to me. What do you think?

Good pick

It's hard to go wrong with Yamaha so that's a given. As I mentioned in the article, I learned guitar on a Yamaha which is now over a decade old, and it still plays and sounds nice to this day. Unfortunately for me, parlor style nylon strings were not as popular back then as it is now, so mine is a full size one - but knowing Yamaha the build quality will almost always be consistent. The Antonio Hermosa one is also a good choice based on user reviews.

You are right about getting ones with built-in electronics, however they are not as readily available with nylon string guitars, even more so with parlor size ones. Anyway, by the time you are stage ready, you'll most likely end up getting something better, even when you already have an affordable acoustic-electric guitar. It's simply the normal progression for majority of guitar players, can't have too many instruments.

Yamaha it is!

I think I've found my guitar, Yamaha it is! Thanks Alexander!

Nylon with pick up

Hi
I'm after a nylon string parlour guitar with pick up and am finding this a difficult to find combination.
Any help appreciated.

Acoustic Guitar Pickups

As it is, there aren't that many manufacturers building parlor size nylon string guitars with built-in pickups. It can probably be added by the manufacturer through their custom shop, but it would jack up the price.

A good alternative is to simply add a third-party pickup yourself (or with the help of a luthier). Our roundup of acoustic guitar pickups has more information on these add-on pickups.

parlor-sized acoustic-electric

The La Patrie Motif comes in a version with an on-board pickup (the Motif QI) for an additonal hundred bucks or so.

AMI NYLON STRING scale length correction

The Art & Lutherie AMI Nylon has a 25.66" scale length and not 24.84" as you mention. I am aware of the specs published on the official Art & Lutherie web site, but that information is wrong, it doesn't apply to the nylon string version. I found this out the hard way. You can email the company and ask:
info AT artandlutherieguitars
Thanks

Thanks

Thanks for the heads up, I'll change the details following the actual specs after they confirm.

Edit: I have made the change to the article after getting the response from Godin. Thanks!

Cordoba Cadete

What are your thoughts about the Cordoba Cadete 3/4 classical? Priced at around $250 it is very comfortable for small hands and sounds warm. 24.2" scale length and nut width around 1.75". Haven't tried the other 3/4 to compare but when I brought this one to a luthier he was surprised that the price was so low for the quality.

Cordoba Cadete 3/4 Classical

I went with the Cordoba C9 because of its better specs, but the Cadete is a good budget friendly alternative. It's a great value nylon string guitar without a doubt.

Parlor and short scale guitars

When we use the term "parlor" Guitar most of us think of a smaller over-all size instrument along with a shorter scale length. I have found that in the current market place there are very few of those instruments fitted with nylon strings. Most of them listed as "parlor" are fitted with steel strings.As a classical (nylon strings) guitar player I find quite a few shorter-scale CG that are not identified as "parlor" but they do match the "parlor" size (you have listed quite a few ) and are an easy to play to play instruments for players with smaller hand/shorter finger-length.

My most comfortable to play scale length is anything between 630 to under 650 mm -24.75 to 25.25".In that category you will find the Cordoba Dolce and several entry level CG produced for Fender in Indochina. I have played these shorter-scale Fenders ranging in scale lenght fom 610 to 643 mm-23.75 to 25.25", and find them a great value when matching quality to price.

The Antonio Hermosa is a very good instrument as a small scale guitar but most adult players - not youth - will find the shorter scale - 580 mm -a bit challenging.

I have owned and played the A&M AMI nylon and the La Patrie Motif guitars and got rid of them for different reasons beside price. One AMI did not project as good as less expensive same quality level guitars and the La Patrie was heavier than a full size CG primarily because it was built with an adjusting rod like a steel acoustic guitar.

The Cordoba Dolce I mentioned above also has an adjusting rod but is still a light weight wise instrument.

Thank you for your reviews.It provides good information to most of us looking for a good instrument to buy without the need of a Bank Loan.

FENDER MC-1

I have no knowledge about guitars, I am purchasing the Mc-1 for my 9yr. old granddaughter, your article has reassured my decision. Thank you. My delicate is purchasing a padded case but not able to find full length of the guitar to make sure of proper fit. Help

Small

Thanks for your excellent information. I love small instruments and nylon strings; sadly, most nylon string guitars are built on the classical model, with its flat, jet-runway size fingerboard and bulky neck profile. Doesn't somebody make a small (< 35") high-quality (solid tonewood) nylon-string guitar with a truly narrow (< 1.7") nut width and radiused fretboard for playability?

asturias guitar C145

What can you tell me about an austurias guitar model C145 and says handcrafted by M. Matano?

Asturias

Hello Ginger,

Like most boutique builders, information on this guitar is limited to what they make available. They do have a website but it does not include the specific model you mentioned.

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