“It’s an inspiring guitar to play whether strumming or playing fingerstyle”: Fender CP-60S Parlour review

This parlour version of Fender’s best-selling beginner acoustic offers big tones in a smaller, more comfortable package

  • £150
  • €189
  • $193
Fender CP-60S Parlour review
(Image: © Future/Matt McCracken)

MusicRadar Verdict

Small-body acoustic guitars are all the rage right now and for a beginner player, we can’t think of many better places to start your guitar journey than the Fender CP-60S. Perfect for smaller players or sofa strumming, it’s arguably a better option than the ever-popular but bulky CD-60S.

Pros

  • +

    Super comfortable neck

  • +

    Great for fingerstyle

  • +

    Cosy body shape and size

Cons

  • -

    Gets overwhelmed with hard strumming

  • -

    Not as loud as a dreadnought

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Fender CP-60S Parlour review: What is it?

For beginner guitar players it was something of a right of passage to get to grips with an unwieldy dreadnought acoustic guitar. I remember hating my first dreadnought acoustic, its large body cutting into my picking arm, strings that were painful to press down, and dreading having to put it into its hard case to lug it to school for my guitar lessons.

There’s still some of that mentality left over nearly 20 years later, with dreadnought guitars often touted as the best acoustic guitars for beginners. Thankfully for today’s burgeoning players, a large dreadnought isn’t the only choice. Enter the Fender CP-60S Parlour, a small-body acoustic designed to give beginner guitarists a more comfortable and travel-friendly option for their first acoustic.

The small-body beginner guitar range is becoming increasingly crowded, with Taylor, Martin, Gretsch, and many more all vying for the attention of newbie guitar players. Whilst the CP-60S is priced firmly in the beginner-friendly category, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a ‘proper’ acoustic, though. With features that promise to lure in more advanced players looking for a sofa guitar they can chuck about, I got hands-on to find out if this great value acoustic can compete in an ultra-crowded market.

Fender CP-60S Parlour review: Performance & verdict

Fender CP-60S Parlour review

(Image credit: Future/Matt McCracken)

Features

I found the build quality of the CP-60S to be flawless, without a single blemish or unsightly mark on it when I pulled it out of the box. As is becoming more and more common in the modern era of acoustic guitar, it features a solid spruce top, something that until a few years ago was typically the reserve of much more expensive instruments. It’s complemented by laminated mahogany back and sides, which is a classic combination of tonewoods that you’ll find on many acoustic guitars. 

The neck is mahogany, too and features rolled fingerboard edges for added comfort, another premium feature you’d expect on pricier guitars. The fretboard is made from walnut and joins the body at the 14th fret which gives you decent access to the higher frets, marked by pearloid dots along a 20-fret neck. 

Hardware comes in the form of simple but effective with six Fender chrome die-cast tuning machines at the headstock and a plastic nut. The saddle is also plastic, sitting atop a walnut bridge with six bridge pins that are white with black dots. There are no electronics so it’s a pure acoustic experience on offer and as I often find electronics on beginner guitars to be sub-par, it’s actually quite refreshing.

Fender CP-60S Parlour review

(Image credit: Future/Matt McCracken)

Playability

Picking up the CP-60S to play, I was immediately taken with the neck feel, which is super comfortable. Those rolled edges instantly make chords feel easy to play, and it’s a relatively narrow neck which will benefit beginner players or those with smaller hands. If you’re not a newcomer or you’ve got hands like spades you might find it a touch cramped, but I got used to the feel pretty quickly.

The narrower neck and string spacing makes it perfect for fingerstyle, and I was soon playing some of my favourite classical and flamenco pieces. I found some of the bigger stretches much easier than on my regular dreadnought thanks to the smaller scale length. Bending will be tough for new players and although the stock strings are light, the small, vintage-style frets mean it requires some effort even for more seasoned players such as myself.

The body size is nice and sprightly and will be a lot easier for younger and new players to get to grips with versus the rather cumbersome CD-60S. The narrow waist means it sits nicely on the lap and it comes with It’s a perfect sofa guitar too, small enough to stow at the side whilst still delivering a full tone to fill the living room. Speaking of which…

Fender CP-60S Parlour review

(Image credit: Future/Matt McCracken)

Sound

The CP-60S has a lovely voice with lots of mid-range energy that cuts through nicely. Of course, due to its body size, it lacks the heft of a full-size acoustic but delivers plenty of punchiness when you start strumming. I did find that when I properly hit hard with my picking hand, it had a tendency to get overwhelmed, resulting in a tone that lost a little of its clarity, but that’s the nature of a smaller body shape.

It’s an inspiring guitar to play whether strumming or playing fingerstyle, with plenty of articulation from string to string. It sustains brilliantly as well, with the overtones of a struck chord ringing out in a way that belies the body size. The sonics are versatile enough for it to run the gamut of beginner-friendly songs too, whether it's modern classics by Taylor Swift or traditional classics à la Pink Floyd.

Some may feel let down by the lack of electronics, something that’s a feature of many guitars in this price range, but if I’m totally honest I didn’t miss them. Particularly at this level, it's difficult to find electronics that accurately replicate the complex tone of an unplugged acoustic guitar and if you did decide you wanted to record it, you’d be miles better off using a condenser microphone anyway.

Fender CP-60S Parlour review

(Image credit: Future/Matt McCracken)

MusicRadar's verdict 

For beginner guitar players the Fender CP-60S Parlor is an amazing choice. Likewise, if you want a guitar to sit in the living room with, it does a similarly brilliant job. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the CP-60S is a much better choice for younger players than the oft-recommended, dreadnought-sized CD-60, having struggled with the large body size during my halcyon days learning to play the instrument.

Fender CP-60S Parlour review: Hands-on demos

KR MUSIC HOUSE

Johnny Adams

Fender CP-60S Parlour review: Specifications

  • Body Style: Parlor
  • Body Material: Laminated Mahogany
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Body Finish: Gloss
  • Neck Profile: Fender 'Easy-to-Play' shape with rolled fretboard edges
  • Scale Length: 629mm / 24.75”
  • Fingerboard: Walnut
  • Fingerboard Radius: 305mm / 12”
  • Frets: 20, Vintage Style
  • Nut Width: 43mm / 1.69”
  • Inlays: 3mm Pearloid Dot
  • Tuning Machines: Chrome die-cast
  • Contact: Fender 
Matt McCracken
Junior Deals Writer

Matt is a Junior Deals Writer here at Guitar World. He regularly tests and reviews music gear with a focus on audio interfaces, studio headphones, studio monitors and pretty much anything else home recording-related. Responsible for over 60 buying guides, a large part of his role is helping musicians find the best deals on gear. Matt worked in music retail for 5 years at Dawsons Music and Northwest Guitars and has written for various music sites including Guitar World, Guitar Player, Guitar.com, Ultimate Guitar, and Thomann’s t.blog. A regularly gigging guitarist with over 20 years of experience playing live and producing bands, he's performed everything from jazz to djent, gigging all over the country in more dingy venues than you can shake a drop-tuned guitar at. When he's not holed up in his home studio recording new songs or downloading new plugins, you’ll find him making a racket with Northern noise hounds JACKALS