When the full-size acoustic guitar we now know as the ‘dreadnought’ was introduced in the early 1930s, offering more volume, better bass response and a 14-fret neck join, the smaller bodied ‘parlour’ instruments-ubiquitous up until then-fell out of favour. With a dreadnought, guitar pickers in the country and bluegrass ensembles could now compete in terms of volume with the banjos, mandolins and resonator guitars that were much louder instruments than the guitar. Some blues players like Robert Johnson still preferred the smaller bodied acoustics but it wasn’t until the folk boom of the fifties and sixties that parlour guitars again found a new breed of devotees in the fingerstyle pickers, solo singers and singing groups. Since then, despite the full-size ‘dreadnought’, ‘jumbo’, ‘auditorium’ and ‘folk’ body shapes becoming so predominant, the humble parlour acoustic is again in demand-owing its new-found popularity to famous users like blues legend Keb’ Mo’ and contemporary rocker Ron Emory.
The Fender CP-100 typifies the parlour acoustic, with a small, narrow-waisted but deep-ish laminated mahogany body, authentic vintage-style dark sunburst finish and open-gear machine heads. However, it has the advantage of offering 14 frets clear of the body, making those upper register licks just that bit easier. Fender has constructed the CP-100 with a laminated spruce top with scalloped bracing, further enhancing the vintage vibe and adding volume and tone. The compact size means it sits very easily on your lap, despite the slightly deeper than usual body. An ideal guitar to just leave lying around the house for when the mood strikes.
Despite the laminated top, back and sides the volume that emanates from the CP-100 is surprising and combined with a rich bottom end and sweet trebles, is easily loud enough to hold its own in a picking session or acoustic-only group. The frets are finished well and the neck is very playable, with a factory-set action that will suit most players, beginner or pro. A nice touch is the compensated saddle-made of bone-which just nudges the B string back slightly which benefits the open chord tuning no end.
Many players prefer a small body acoustic guitar for recording, as they don’t usually have all the unwanted bottom end of their bigger counterparts and with its sweet tone and relative affordability, the CP-100 would be an ideal little studio guitar played straight into a good condenser microphone. If there’s a new standard for a good, low priced parlour acoustic guitar, the Fender CP-100 is probably it.