The popularity of these guitars peaked between the late 19th century until the 1950s. Many blues and folk musicians have used smaller-bodied guitars, which were often more affordable, mass production models.
Parlor guitar has also come to denote a style of American guitar music from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Noted composers include William Foden, Winslow Hayden, William Bateman, Justin Holland, and Wilhelm Bischoff. The music for the guitar includes a variety of dance forms (waltz, schottische, polka), instrumental arrangements of popular songs, guitar arrangements of then popular classical music, operatic arrangements and music from European guitar composers (Sor, Giuliani, Carcassi, Coste and Mertz). The Scruggs style and its banjo rolls are based upon and contemporary with parlor-style guitar.
In the 2000s, the parlor guitar is enjoying a renaissance among players "who like their midrangery tone, historic vibe, and easy portability". Modern luthiers are making parlor guitars in a wide variety of tonewoods. Takamine Guitars produces one made of cedar and koa, with a preamp powered by a 12AU7, the first acoustic guitar with a tube preamp.
- Fingerstyle guitar — Finger-picking style is preferred on Parlor guitars (in contrast to the strumming style on Dreadnought guitars)
- Baroque guitar — small guitars in Baroque era
- Early Romantic guitar — small guitars from 1790 to 1830
- Classical guitar
- Antonio Torres Jurado — father of modern classical guitars in Romantic era
- Travel guitar — yet another small guitars in modern era
- C. F. Martin & Company — Martin defined the larger "Size No. 0" as Concert Guitar, in contrast to the smaller, traditional Parlor guitars.
- Prown, Max (April 2012). "Parlor Acoustic...With Tubes: The Takamine TF87_PT New Yorker". Vintage Guitar. p. 136.
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