The term “parlor guitar” is a term that is widely used today to cover a spectrum of guitar types. But usually a parlor will only be described as such if it is of a certain smaller size.
The word parlor actually refers to reception rooms from old times and since compact sized guitars were regularly played in these compact sized rooms, they became known as parlor guitars.
The Parlor Guitar’s Size
There is no set size to determine a parlor guitar really – or at least what are labelled parlor guitars these days – but those which have bouts smaller than 13.5 inches or are smaller than Martin Guitar’s 0 shapes, are usually referred to as parlor guitars.
Because of this, the best way to identify a real parlor guitar is through its shape. An authentic parlor guitar will be smaller than a concert size and will have an elongated body. The long shape of the parlor guitar is specially designed by the makers to give some volume to the small guitars.
Modern Day Parlor Guitars
However a lot of modern parlor guitars don’t even deem it necessary because they can embed microphones or pickup systems in the guitars to increase the volume which was earlier done with an elongated body for the guitar.
What Kind of Sound Should I Expect from a Parlor Guitar?
Because parlor guitars have smaller bodies, they are good for tones emphasizing the midranges. The voice of a parlor guitar makes them a good choice for old school blues, folk and slide music.
Parlor guitars have a very distinct tone which also has contributed immensely to the resurgence of this particular instrument in the market. Regardless of the type of wood used in their design and their size, parlor guitars all have midrange tones because of their small bodies.
What are Parlor’s Best Suited for?
A parlor guitar is great for acoustic recordings if you are looking for the distinct tone that they produce.
They are also good for small intimate performances. However, for larger venues you might need to amplify the guitar as the volume doesn’t travel as much as larger guitars.
However if the performance is purely acoustic without any preamp systems then a parlor guitar would do amazingly for a smaller venue.
They are also great for those who are traveling and need a smaller guitar.
Parlor guitars are also great when one wants to play at an intimate gathering. Although they are small, parlor guitars have a very robust sound and for those singers who want to play soft music, these guitars are well suited for them too.
Because of their smaller structure and shape, parlor guitars are an amazing learning tool for children and novices learning to play guitar. Children have small hands and their fingers can more easily play parlor guitars because the scale length is smaller meaning that the frets are closer together making them easier to reach.
Also parlor guitars have lower string tension which makes it easier for novices and children to learn to play. This way their fingers won’t get sore and they can spend more time without pain learning to play the guitar.
Thanks for Reading
Thanks for reading and I hope that you have learnt more about what a Parlor guitar is and who they are best suited to.
Check out the link below for some reviews of some parlor guitars and other smaller bodied guitars.