What is a parlor-size guitar?

A parlor-size guitar is a smaller-bodied acoustic guitar that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They are generally characterized by their compact size, narrow waist, and short scale length. The body size of a parlor-size guitar is usually 12″ to 14″ wide with a scale length around 24″. These guitars produce a warm, mellow sound due to their small bodies and are well-suited for folk, blues, fingerstyle playing, and slide guitar styles.

The History of the Parlor-Size Guitar

The parlor-size guitar has been a popular choice for musicians since the mid 19th century. It originally gained popularity in the salons of Europe, with its small size making it ideal to transport and play in these intimate settings. The body shape of the instrument was also smaller than most other guitars of the time, which helped make it more portable and easier to handle during performances. Its sound was also distinct, producing warm tones and giving performers a unique musical voice that set them apart from their peers.

In the early 20th century, parlor-size guitars became even more popular as jazz music grew in popularity across America. This style of guitar proved ideal for accompanying solo acts as well as larger bands due to its small size but big sound. As jazz evolved over time, so did the parlor-size guitar’s role in creating unique melodies and harmonies that have become synonymous with this genre of music.

By the 1950s and 60s, many famous artists had embraced this style of instrument for their own recordings including folk singers like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash who used parlor-size guitars to create some of their signature sounds. Surf rock pioneers such as The Ventures made use of this particular model when crafting infectious beach tunes perfect for summer days spent at sea or out on a lakefront dock.

There is no denying that parlor-size guitars have played an important part in shaping modern music history over the past several centuries – both through its distinctive look and sound alike.

Body Shape and Design Features of a Parlor-Size Guitar

Parlor-size guitars are unique in their design and shape, often offering a different experience than standard-sized guitars. Many parlor-style models have smaller bodies with the neck joined to the body at the twelfth fret rather than the fourteenth fret. This gives them a shorter scale length, creating a warmer tone that can be ideal for blues and folk music. They also typically feature a single or dual cutaway so that players can access higher frets more easily. These guitars come in many varieties of sizes, styles, colors, and materials but typically have a more vintage look to them compared to larger acoustic guitars.

The shape of these instruments is also quite distinct from regular acoustic guitars as they have shorter bodies with wider waist sections and narrower shoulders. This elongates the appearance while making it easier to reach around when playing chords or soloing on higher frets up the neck. Some manufacturers offer variations such as dreadnought body shapes or 12 string versions which can further enhance your sound options when playing this type of instrument.

These musical tools may not be suitable for all genres or occasions due to their size but those looking for an intimate experience will find them particularly attractive due to their warm tones and great playability when close up performance is needed. Parlor-size guitars may require some adjustments if you plan on using them in outdoor venues or studios but overall they make an excellent option for anyone who likes classic sounding instruments without sacrificing modern features like pickup systems and cutaways.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing a Parlor-Size Guitar

Playing a parlor-size guitar has its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, the small body size of the instrument makes it highly portable. This allows for players to take their music with them anywhere they go without having to lug around a large guitar case or dedicate an entire space in their home just for playing. These guitars tend to be quieter than larger instruments due to the smaller sound box. As such, they are often ideal for recording as well as performing in more intimate spaces where traditional acoustic guitars would be too loud.

However, there are some drawbacks that come with playing a parlor-size guitar. The most obvious being that the shorter scale length means fewer frets which translates into less range on the fretboard when compared to larger guitars such as dreadnoughts or jumbos. Because of its smaller size and shape, many models lack sufficient projection which could limit your overall sonic capabilities while performing live shows.

Despite these drawbacks, however, parlor-size guitars remain incredibly popular among those looking for portability and convenience without sacrificing quality or tone entirely. With options ranging from classic vintage inspired designs to modern takes on this timeless instrument style available at almost any price point – parlors make a great choice if you’re looking for something special that won’t break your budget but will still look great wherever you go.

Who Should Consider Buying a Parlor-Size Guitar?

The parlor-size guitar is an ideal choice for those looking to get a guitar that’s easy to carry and play but still produces a great sound. Those who are new to the instrument or don’t have much space in their home, should seriously consider purchasing one. The smaller body of the parlor-style guitars allows them to be comfortably held by both beginner and advanced players alike. Even though these guitars may be small in stature, they still offer plenty of resonance and projection as well as a full range of tones – all with minimal effort required from the player.

This type of guitar also has its place amongst seasoned professionals; some renowned musicians have used it during live performances or when recording in studios due to its portability, size, and responsiveness on stage. This makes it ideal for traveling musicians who need something reliable they can bring on tour without any hassle. Although it might not come with all the features that more expensive models do, you can count on this type of guitar being dependable and providing good value for money. Ultimately, anyone seeking an affordable yet good sounding acoustic guitar should consider getting a parlor-size model; whether you’re just starting out or already been playing for years. You won’t regret your decision.

Famous Songs Played on a Parlor-Size Guitar

When it comes to iconic music, the parlor-size guitar has often played a prominent role. Its relatively small size is part of what makes this type of guitar so recognizable and beloved by both professional and amateur musicians alike. Whether used as accompaniment or solo instrument, the parlor-size guitar has been an integral element in many classic songs over the years.

A few notable examples include Bob Dylan’s 1965 classic “Like A Rolling Stone”–recorded on a Martin D-28 Parlour–as well as Peter, Paul & Mary’s classic folk song “Puff The Magic Dragon” from 1963. Though recorded with a slightly bigger 000-18 Parlour model, Emmy Lou Harris also famously utilized a smaller 12 fret parlor for her 1975 single “Luxury Liner”. And not to be forgotten is Johnny Cash’s recording of Folsom Prison Blues in 1956 on his Gibson L-1 Parlour model.

The use of parlor guitars did not end there though; artists like John Prine (on his 1971 self titled album) and Willie Nelson (with his 1973 hit “Red Headed Stranger”) have continued to help keep the tradition alive through their works, proving that this instrument still packs plenty of punch even with its diminutive size.






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