A little giant of the original parlor-guitar style still has stories to tell.
In all my decades of being involved in building, selling, and playing guitars, one type of 6-string that I’ve always gravitated to is the parlor guitar. I enjoy the sound and feel of parlor guitars. They’re very comfortable to play and, as a result, easy to fall in love with. I’m really glad that after 60 years of being sidelined from the limelight by dreadnought and jumbo-sized acoustics, they’re making a comeback.
Now, when most guitarists think of parlor-size guitars, they typically picture the Gibson L-1 or Martin O-style instruments, which have been favored over the years by guitarists from blues legend Robert Johnson to folk virtuoso Norman Blake. But the original parlor guitars are actually smaller. (This one’s about 18 1/2" long, 4" deep, 13 1/8" at the lower bout, and 9 1/2" at the upper.)
They were made mostly by European immigrants who’d come to the United States. Thanks to their comfortable playability, affordability due to mass production, and a size that made them easy to travel with and easy to keep around the home—ostensibly in the parlor—they helped launch the popularity of guitar music in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The 1921 Washburn 1915 model we’re eyeballing here is perhaps one of the most noteworthy of these early American parlor guitars. Its playability is exceptional and the instrument’s overall condition is really good considering its age. A few hairline cracks on the back and a center top seam crack have all been very professionally repaired. It feels and looks like a guitar that still has stories to tell.
At the time this guitar was made, Washburn was part of Lyon & Healy, a company that started in 1864 as a partnership of businessmen George Washburn Lyon and Patrick J. Healy. Lyon & Healy was originally formed to distribute the popular sheet music of Boston-based publisher the Oliver Dotson Company. By 1865, Lyon & Healy had expanded into making reed organs and some small instruments. The Washburn brand achieved independence by 1880, and around 1888 it launched fully into fretted and plucked instruments (guitars, mandolins, banjos, and zithers) under the Washburn name, which makes Washburn the second oldest guitar line in the U.S.—following Martin, which was established in 1833.
This ebony bridge has survived nearly 100 years and still looks solid. Note the comfortable string height.
Production of the Model 1915 began in 1915 and ended in 1921, so our example is from the final year of manufacturing. It’s a great specimen. What I love about this guitar is that it has such a big, beautiful-yet-delicate sound despite its size. As a budget model, it has thinner bracing and the body thickness is merely .085 to .090 of an inch. But it does have a Brazilian rosewood back and sides along with its Adirondack spruce top, which deepens the tone. (It amazes me that Brazilian rosewood was considered a low-cost wood at the time.)
The label inside this guitar’s body offers old-school testimony to its vintage as well as Washburn’s one-year guarantee of 1921—provided the label was left intact.
This instrument also has a solid mahogany V-shaped neck, an ebony fretboard and bridge, and what we might call a Martin-style trim and back strip. According to a Washburn catalog from the period, the price to dealers was around $18, so whatever the retail mark-up was, this was a lot of guitar for the buck. Today, depending on condition, playable examples of the Washburn 1915 sell for $1,000 to $1,300, with an example this nice coming in at the top of the range.
The open headstock and three-on-a-side tuning pegs on this 1921-built guitar are still functional, so it’s no surprise the same headstock design appears on several of Washburn’s modern Revival Series models.
Here’s some cool trivia: Washburn, at the time, was mostly known for banjos and mandolins, so when they entered the guitar market, they were trying to make headway by producing quality instruments—even on the low end. These 1915’s are great for fingerpicking, with their wide 1 7/8" fretboards and 18-fret shorter scale. It’s been said that the fingerpicking styles used on the parlor guitars of the early 1900s inspired what became the modern bluegrass “roll” style of banjo playing, made popular by Earl Scruggs.
The model 1222 features a rosewood back and sides with a center stripe, with a similar trim around the body.
Washburn reintroduced the parlor guitar several years ago, as part of its Revival Series. Today, even Ibanez produces parlor guitars, so there are many options available to players who aren’t concerned with an instrument’s vintage. With modern-day electronics, the sound of these beautiful little guitars that remain affordable, light, and easy to play can translate onstage as well as in the parlor.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
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About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.