What Is a Parlor Guitar? – All You Need to Know

What Is A Parlor Guitar

A parlor guitar is commonly found in different households. Still, many people find it hard to distinguish it from the regular type of guitars that may also be seen in several homes. If you are faced with the question, “What is a parlor guitar?” What would be the first answer that will pop into your mind? Hold on to that thought until the end of this article, and we will figure out if you got it right or wrong.

A parlor guitar is an acoustic guitar smaller than a Martin No. 0 concert guitar. Its sound varies depending on the wood and is always 36-38 inches long. They all fall between the mid-range and mid-rich sounds that are great for mixing harmonization. Parlor guitars have an elongated body that is designed to amplify their sound. They are suitable for intimate performances and have a distinct robust sound perfect for wide-reaching ensembles.

In this article, we will be listing and explaining the distinct features of a parlor guitar and why it is making a big comeback in the modern sphere.

Characteristics Of Parlor Guitars


Like most types of guitars, the parlor guitar has peculiarities that have made it unique and popular for decades. Read on to find out what they are.


The parlor guitar gained popularity between the 19th and 20th  centuries because of its unique style and comfortability. The parlor guitar was first used as a tool to entertain the affluent and wealthy people before it evolved into an instrument that anyone could enjoy. The parlor guitar was affordable and suitable for mass production and became a big part of American music, inculcating dance styles like the waltz, polka, and others.

Its history is associated with notable composers such as Justin Holland and many others. Its popularity spread throughout Europe, and its music included various popular songs and classical arrangements associated with the affluents.


Parlor guitars have a beautiful and peculiar tone that doesn’t reflect their size. The mid-range and rich tone gives it a broad spectrum of versatility. It is considered a primary instrument in jazz, folk, mariachi, punk, soul, and other genres of music.

The sound cuts across cultures and can fit in almost any genre of music. If you are someone who loves the old style of melody or delicate tones, a parlor guitar would be best suited to your taste. The guitar provides an excellent response to the fingerpicking and the fingerstyle. Its sound has made it a favorite for notable artists in the modern era, such as Mark Orton, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Jody Stecher, and many more.


Parlor guitars are compact and comfortable instruments. Their size makes it easy to play and can be amplified with different sound engineering tools, reducing the burden of carrying big guitars everywhere. Due to its portability, it is easier to transport it from one place to another, such as campfires, beach parties, road trips, vacations, picnics, and other social gatherings without much hassle.

Why Are Parlor Guitars Making a Comeback?

Parlor guitars can be hooked on microphones and sound systems to increase their range of reach, making them practical and sought after by many people. The age of digitalization and social media has given rise to several trends and influencers worldwide. As a result, people know more about parlor guitar and are intrigued by what it can do.

Trendsetters and celebrities such as Ed Sheeran, who have shown their skills and love for the parlor guitar, have contributed to the instrument’s restored awareness. You can easily watch artists make beautiful and ensnaring music with the parlor guitar via YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

An excellent example of how social media has helped influence the comeback of parlor guitars is the online viral incident in 2013. Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, caused quite the buzz by performing David Bowie’s hit song “Space Oddity” using a parlor guitar in Space. The clip inspired more people to pick an interest in acquiring parlor guitars.

The production of parlor guitars in different companies’ lines has increased over the years. Modern variations have been added to its structure to make it user-friendly while maintaining its traditional vibe and style. The parlor guitar is appreciated for its quality and its uniqueness.


Parlor guitars don’t have a specific size, but they are usually smaller than a Size No.0 Martin guitar and have a length of 36 to 38 inches. They can produce good sound with light pressure and are an excellent instrument for recording and performing. Parlor guitars have lower string tension, making it easier for children and novices to play them easily. The compact nature has made the guitar a favorite for professionals and newbies alike.

Parlor guitars are usually associated with folk music, blues, and other different genres of soft music. They were mainly used to entertain guests in wealthy and affluent homes. Although they come in small sizes, it doesn’t make them any less effective than other guitars.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of Parlor guitars?

They are handy for small intimate gatherings, soft music, and also good to travel with as they are light and comfortable.

Are Parlor guitars suitable for beginners?

Yes, they are great for beginners as you don’t need to exert strength and pressure to play them. You can produce beautiful music with a light touch. They are adequate for learning.