I was discussing music and guitars with my friend Taylor the other day, and he reminded me of blues musician Mississippi John Hurt (a fantastic guitarist, by the way). Listening to Hurt reminded me of a guitar I had about 8-9 years ago, a Seagull Coastline Grand. The Coastline Grand is a parlor-sized guitar. If you’re not familiar with parlor guitars, they have a much smaller body than standard acoustic guitars.
Parlor guitars were most popular around the turn of the 20th Century and were used by many blues musicians around that time. Parlor guitars are still somewhat popular among blues and fold musicians. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Keb Mo’ was probably one of the more famous parlor guitar users, although Michael Hedges also used a parlor guitar.
Because of their smaller body, parlor guitars definitely have a different sound than larger-bodied guitars, but it’s a very pleasing sound. I started looking around, and unfortunately there aren’t a lot of options available if you’re in the market for a parlor guitar today. The Seagull Grand is still available, and it’s quite affordable at a street price of less than $400. However, there are a few other options, such the 125th Anniversary Washburn, the Epiphone EL-00 (which is slightly larger than a traditional parlor-size guitar), and the Fender GDP100.
The local Guitar Center had the Fender in stock, and I tried it out. Surprisingly, it sounds quite good, even though it has a laminated top and laminated sides. It’s also quite inexpensive at a street price of about $200. I personally like a smaller-bodied guitar, because I play mostly sitting down and larger guitars can become very uncomfortable. If you’re the same way, you may want to check out a parlor-sized guitar.