Parlor guitars have been gaining popularity in recent years, offering a smaller, more portable option for musicians who want to take their music on the go.
They are small-bodied, less strenuous to play, and easy to achieve an optimal tone, making them a good choice for fingerstyle players.
However, finding the perfect parlor guitar can be a daunting task, especially when you’re on a budget.
In this article, we explore some of the best parlor guitars under $1000 that are sure to impress even the most discerning musicians
Here is a summary of the best-rated parlor guitars:
- Yamaha CSF-TA Parlor Transacoustic Guitar (Editor’s Pick)
- Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (Most popular & cheap)
Who should buy a parlor guitar?
Parlor guitars are suitable for a wide range of players, but they are particularly suited for people who prefer a smaller guitar size, whether it is for comfort, portability, or stylistic preferences.
In terms of playing style, parlor guitars tend to have a more focused, balanced tone, making them a great choice for fingerstyle players and those who enjoy playing blues, folk, or country music. They can also be a good option for beginners who want a guitar that’s easy to play and comfortable to hold.
Overall, anyone who values a compact, lightweight guitar with a distinctive sound should consider a parlor guitar. Whether you’re a professional musician, a hobbyist, or a beginner, a parlor guitar can be a great addition to your collection.
Best Parlor Guitars Under $1000 Reviewed
The mid-priced parlor guitar has Mahogany sides and back, a nato neck, and a solid Sitka spruce top. It also has a rosewood fingerboard and a fixed bridge.
Furthermore, CSF-TA features three simple knobs. These are chorus control which regulates the blend of preset effects, a reverb control that toggles between room and hall reverbs at 12:00 position, and TA Switch/Line out Volume Control, which allows you to control its loudness.
The controls are mostly intuitive, and the effects blend in with the instrument’s inherent tone without overpowering it.
Also, the Yamaha CSF-TA is powered by a pair of AA batteries, and the effects are redirected through the quarter-inch output when connected to an amplifier.
Even though the instrument is a darling to blues, country, and jazz enthusiasts, it can sound boxy when played too hard.
- Good tonal balance
- Plenty overtones
- Includes a Gigbag
- Not bass-heavy
- Occasionally sounds too boxy
If you are a guitarist craving the feel, comfort, and excellent playability that a smaller instrument provides, the Cordoba C9 Parlor is specially designed for you. It is handcrafted with high-quality materials.
It’s a 7/8-sized conventional classical guitar with a solid Canadian cedar top, 50mm nut width, and Spanish-style fan bracing design. Beginners should consider a cedar top guitar because it can hide incorrect notes.
The bracing pattern increases the soundboard’s center surface area, allowing it to respond and vibrate to string tension. On the other hand, the solid Mahogany back and sides of the Cordoba C9 provide a firm tonal foundation for the solid cedar top, rendering an ideal blend of brightness and warmth.
An Indian rosewood bridge and a rosewood fingerboard complete Cordoba C9’s aesthetic look.
Furthermore, the parlor guitar features Mother-of-Pearl “fret marker inlays, Cordoba Polyfoam case, a solid mahogany neck, easy-to-turn Cordoba Premium Gold Etched Tuning Machines, and a gloss polyurethane finish to crown it all.
Even though Cordoba C9 lacks an elevated fingerboard, it’s considered ideal for small intimate gatherings.
- Easy to play
- Rich overtones
- Ideal for newbies
- Lacks an elevated fingerboard
- Expensive for beginners
The guitar incorporates a 25.5-inch mahogany body and top, which help play warm-sounding tones. It also features a full-scale mahogany neck with a comfortable “C” shape and a Satin finish.
The guitar has a fingerboard made of rosewood and features pearl dot inlays and 22 total frets, Die-cast tuners that ease tuning. It’s easy to switch from electric guitars and other larger acoustics to Dean AXS thanks to its 25.5” full-scale configuration.
Besides that, it has a fixed bridge system made of rosewood, just like the fretboard, to aid in stability, dependability, and tone. The 2-Ply Black & White binding on the body completes the guitar’s exquisite aesthetic by showcasing the elegant grain of the tonewood.
One of the AXS Parlor’s main selling points is its meager price below 1000 bucks, making it a perfect parlor guitar to choose from if you want to enjoy serene music without ripping your wallet. Additionally, it can be replaced with ease should a problem arise.
- Beautiful body
- Subjective sound
Gretsch G9500 is made from premium quality wood and has an easy-playing 24-inch scale that promises comfort when playing desired warm and pleasing tones. In addition, it includes an X-bracing non-cutaway basswood body which produces a resonant sound.
The guitar also embodies a Parlor-size Agathis body, Nickel hardware, and other appealing features such as a comfortable C-shaped nato neck, a Walnut fingerboard with Pearloid dot inlays, and a rosewood bridge.
Its shallow and small body guarantees effortless and enjoyable playing with a crisp tone but may be problematic for bigger players.
Furthermore, Gretsch G9500 hosts a double-action truss rod, a single-ply white pickguard, and a classic Two-Tone Sunburst finish.
- Easy to play
- Nice boxy sound
- Suitable for practice and travel
- Perfect for picked and fingerstyle playing
- No starter case
- Limited to players with small stature
What to Consider When Buying Parlor Guitars
When shopping for a Parlor guitar, there are a few aspects to consider so that you select a model that suits your tone, playing style, and preference. These features include:
Body shape: Parlor guitars come in two shapes: the pear shape and a more balanced shape, with the bottom half slightly wider than the top. If you want more bass tone, then go for the former. In contrast, a balanced body design will produce a more robust mid-range sound.
Body size: Buy a parlor guitar with your stature in mind to ensure comfort when holding and playing it.
The number of clear frets affects playability and the tone you’ll get from the guitar.
Wood: The top, body, neck, and back are made from Spruce, Mahogany, Cedar, or Agathis. Rosewood or Walnut is used to craft the fingerboard. Each of the pieces of wood has a unique sound and quality.
Frequently Asked Questions About Parlor Guitars
Are parlor guitars hard to play?
Parlor guitars can be harder to play for some people due to their smaller size, which can make it more difficult to reach certain frets and chords. However, people with small hands and fingers will find parlor guitars easy to learn and play.
What is the advantage of a parlor guitar?
Parlor guitars are smaller, lighter, and more portable than traditional acoustic guitars, which makes them comfortable to play and easy to transport. They have a unique sound that is bright and focused with a mid-range emphasis, and they are versatile enough to play a variety of music genres. Additionally, parlor guitars are often less expensive than full-sized acoustic guitars, making them a great option for beginners or players on a budget.
Should parlor guitars have nylon or steel strings?
Whether to use nylon or steel strings on a parlor guitar depends on individual preference and playing style. Nylon strings may be a better option for players looking for a warmer, mellower tone, while steel strings may be a better choice for those seeking a brighter, more resonant sound
Are Parlor Guitars Good For Newbies?
Newbies and people with small hands will benefit immensely from parlor guitars. They’re unquestionably easier to play than full-sized instruments like the acoustic guitar dreadnought.
Experienced players go for parlor guitars because of their emphasis on the midrange, but novices will appreciate their compact bodies and scale length.
Are Parlor Guitars Ideal for Finger-picking?
Parlor guitars are good for finger-picking, even though some sound better than others. They may fall short in openness and projection, but that’s not the only factor determining how strumming-friendly a guitar is.
There are many excellent parlor guitars available on the market for under $1000 that offer exceptional quality, sound, and playability. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a reliable and affordable instrument, or an experienced player seeking a high-quality parlor guitar for travel or performance, you can find a guitar on this list that meets your needs. We hope that this article has helped you find the perfect parlor guitar for your playing style and budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are parlor guitars a worthwhile investment?
As a guitar enthusiast, I can attest to the unique charm that parlor guitars possess. Transporting you back in time with their almost vintage vibe, they can add a nostalgic touch to your collection. Plus, they are extremely portable, making them a great companion during travels. However, it’s essential to note that they often fall short when it comes to volume production and dynamic range. Thus, they might not be the ideal choice for loud jamming sessions or if you play at venues requiring high audio output. However, for their intimate, nostalgic sound and their convenience when traveling, they are definitely worth considering.
Is there an alternative to the Gretsch Jim Dandy?
If the Gretsch Jim Dandy isn’t quite up your alley, I would recommend the Fender CP60S. As an avid guitar player, I absolutely appreciate the classic tonewood pairing on this model. The Fender CP60S boasts a solid spruce top, coupled with laminate mahogany for the back, sides, and neck, just top it off with a walnut fingerboard. This combination lends to a rich, warm sound. So, if you want a viable alternative to the Gretsch Jim Dandy, the Fender CP60S is definitely worth considering.
Which guitar wood matures well over time?
As someone who has strummed guitars of all types for years now, I’d say that Koa wood guitars undoubtedly age like fine wine. A fresh Koa wood guitar might give fairly bright tones initially, but as it ages, its tonal quality changes significantly, becoming delightfully warm with a pronounced midrange. This unique tonal evolution makes Koa one of the most sought-after woods in the guitar-making world.
Who are some notable musicians who favor parlor guitars?
If we look back to our cherished musicians of yesteryears, we’d find many of them harboring a soft spot for parlor guitars. Folk singers, in particular, seemed to have a penchant for them. Joan Baez, for one, and a young Bob Dylan were often seen playing their parlor guitars. Even earlier blues musicians like Blind Blake and Blind Lemon Jefferson often strummed these guitars. So, if you’re drawn to the genres of folk and early blues, you’ll be in esteemed company should you choose to invest in a parlor guitar.