The Victorian Piccolo Parlor: History & Design

Acoustic Guitar - String Instrument

Here is a detailed video and article from our friends at Peghead Nation discussing the history, design, and characteristics of Dana’s Piccolo Parlor guitar. Enjoy!

“When it was time for luthier Dana Bourgeois to build his 5,000th guitar back in 2009, he came up with his first parlor design, thinking that the fancy Brazilian rosewood guitar (for which he also made a beautiful wood “coffin” case) might be a special one-off to celebrate the occasion. But once he showed the guitar, many players wanted one, and before long, he’d built versions of the guitar for Sara Watkins, Ricky Skaggs, Ray LaMontagne, and Courtney Hartman. Now called the Victorian Piccolo Parlor, the instrument has become part of the standard Bourgeois line, and we recently had a chance to check one out in the Peghead Nation studio.

Like most of Bourgeois’s designs, the Victorian Piccolo Parlor combines old and new design ideas. The instrument has the elongated, small body and 12-fret neck joint typical of mid-18th century guitars, but it also has a solid peghead and a 25-inch scale, which is longer than most vintage parlors. The guitar has a beautiful pyramid-style bridge, half-herringbone “rope” purfling, and “diamond and square” position markers in the fingerboard. Naturally, the guitar is built using Bourgeois’s usual refined construction techniques, which include an advanced bolt-on neck design.

The instrument we received has a torrefied Adirondack spruce top and Macassar ebony back and sides. One thing about building small guitars is that luthiers can choose woods of extremely high quality that wouldn’t be large enough for an OM or dreadnought body. The top on this Victorian Piccolo Parlor is extremely even, and the back and sides have incredibly attractive figure and color.

The Victorian Piccolo Parlor is a very fun guitar to play. With its immediate response, it’s a great fingerstyle guitar, but it also handles a flatpick well, as long as some restraint is used when strumming or picking the instrument. Sonically, the guitar has a bright voice with beautiful mids, and besides having a distinctive tonality on its own, the guitar would certainly be perfect for studio or live situations where a compact but rich sound is needed to avoid competition with other instruments.

Without question, the Victorian Piccolo Parlor is a very cool guitar. Bourgeois has managed to put an individual stamp on the parlor design, and the result is equally impressive in both its design and function.

SPECS: Victorian parlor body. Torrefied Adirondack spruce top. Macassar ebony back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fretboard. Ebony pyramid bridge. 25-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at saddle. Gold Waverly tuners. Made in the USA. $6,990.”

Article and video by Teja Gerken