Best parlor guitars: compact acoustics from Martin, Yamaha, Gibson and more

Close up of Martin X series guitar sound hole
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re trying to find a compact acoustic guitar that’s punchy yet delicate, with lots of focus, then look no further than one of the best parlor guitars in this guide. These old-school acoustics take their name from the parlor rooms in which they were played in the 19th century. Nowadays, parlor guitars are favored by blues players, folk artists, singer-songwriters, recording engineers and more.

Their compact dimensions and narrow waist give them a fairly distinctive sound. They’re often quite mid-heavy, though can be nice and bright too. These guitars are great for cutting through a mix, so if you want to be heard, and you want to be able to control dynamics easily, then a parlor could be the right instrument for you. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that a small guitar means a small sound – many of these can pump out a good amount of volume.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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Richard Blenkinsop

After spending a decade in music retail, I’m now a freelance writer for Guitar World, MusicRadar, Guitar Player and Reverb, specialising in electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and almost anything else you can make a tune with. When my head’s not buried in the best of modern and vintage gear, I run a small company helping musicians with songwriting, production and performance, and I play bass in an alt-rock band.