And no I do not mean calling it names or wedgies in the locker room. I am referring to body size and shape of guitars that gained popularity in the late 19th century and are commonly referred to as parlor guitars.
Until about the late 1950’s, parlor guitars where extremely popular with a strong rooted tradition in blues and folk music, this was due in part to the ease of musicians obtaining these guitars at lower cost and production numbers. The parlor guitar was also popular with instrumental players of American music, classical music and even polka. The “polka point”, as I am now calling it, is there to help showcase the wide styles of music that this guitar can handle and help to break down some of the misconceptions that this guitar may have attached to it.
I think Yoda said it best, “judge me by my size do you?” For modern players, who grew up on dreadnaughts and jumbo bodied guitars, this aforementioned misconception, that the lack of size equates to a lack of volume, can be proven startlingly false when given the chance to sit and listen to a modern builders take on the parlor. There is an expectation that big guitars bring big sound and little guitars bring little sound but these parlor guitars can be disproportionately powerful in volume and can provide better balance between the bass and treble of the instrument. Styles of music have evolved where we love to hear the thud of the deep bass our guitars produce but sometimes to a musical disadvantage, a parlor sized guitar does not have to deal with excessive bass so it can be less likely to produce feedback when amplified and in recording are well suited to produce a cleaner sound in the studio as it is easier to add bass then subtract it.
Larrivee has been a fan of the parlor size guitar since its inception when Jean Larrivee began building guitars in the late 60’s. They launched their first parlor guitars in July of 1999. Today they offer a wide range of models in this body shape.
The Larrivee P-05 is an all solid wood construction with Canadian Spruce top and Mahogany back and size, the custom Larrivee P-05MT adds a Mahogany top to the Mahogany body. The Larrivee P-09 comes in both a Rosewood and Flamed Maple version. If you want to spice it up a bit the Larrivee P-09 Flamed Maple also comes in a Full Sunburst . If you are looking for a cut away, the Larrivee PV-09 in Rosewood will fit the bill. Electronics you ask? Why of course. The Larrivee PV-09E adds an LR Baggs IMix dual pickup system. If you are feeling especially saucy, the godfather of the 9’s comes in a Brazilian Rosewood model. Last but not least for Larrivee is the re-introduction of a satin finished Larrivee P-03 model that is coming later this month to Guitar Adoptions at a price you have to look twice at to believe. This is a limited run of only 200 guitars, so don’t miss the opportunity!
And it is not just Larrviee offering parlor sized guitars. Blackbird Guitars, a maker of carbon fiber guitars, has introduced the Blackbird Rider. The Blackbird Rider sets a new standard for travel guitars and are coming soon to Guitar Adoptions.
And since are on the subject of traveling, how about the Voyage-Air series of guitars? Voyage-Air has developed guitars built for travel purposes with a nice twist, they are full sized guitars. The Voyage-Air guitar cuts down the space needed for traveling with a guitar literally in half. The guitar itself folds in half making carry on travel a breeze. The Voyage-Air Songwriter Series VAOM-06 Orchestra is a performance level instruments designed to be, as Voyage-Air puts it, “The Future of Guitar Travel™.
Voyage Air Guitar
The intent of the list of all of these models is to help express the point that these builders have embraced the parlor guitar and are hoping you will too by offering you a style and tone wood to fit any playing need.
This should be the point in the post where I cliché out and make some reference to the idea that it is not the size that matters but how you use it line. But I am going to take the higher ground and refrain from such a crude double entendre.
Okay I’ll admit it my will power is no good. I think this sums up the article rather well. These are after all tools. Instruments for which we strive to make music with. And I think that any one can agree that a man with a smaller guitar who is experienced, nuanced, gentle and loving, can make much sweeter music than some guy fumbling around, thinking he does not need to have skill because he is rocking a Jumbo. Guitar, that is.
If you have not had a chance to check out adding a parlor to your collection now is a good time to look into doing so. I think you will find that every great artist has many brushes of varying size in their paint box and they all serve the singular purposes of furthering their art.
Voyage Air Guitar on a motorcycle