Parlor guitars aren’t specifically designed as travel instruments – in fact, it’s quite the opposite! Parlor guitars (see our favorites here) were traditionally designed as living room guitars, with the perfect dimensions for comfortably playing while sitting on an armchair. But, it just so happens that their compact size does make guitars like the Ibanez PN15 a great choice for travel.
The Ibanez PN15 is one of the most affordable guitars that Ibanez makes, and while many might think of it as cheap and cheerful, it definitely punches above its weight in terms of performance.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be looking at the Ibanez PN15 Parlor. During our testing we considered its build quality and materials, performance, and of course, the tones.
If you’ve been looking for an affordable parlor guitar, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading!
Who Is This For?
The Ibanez PN15 is definitely a beginner focused guitar, but in reality, it’s still a perfectly capable instrument for players with more experience, especially when being used as a second or travel guitar.
Because it’s so small, it’s an ideal guitar for young players, too. Especially those who may be too small for a full size guitar, but still want a “real” instrument.
Appearance / Features / Controls
The Ibanez PN15 is actually a pretty handsome guitar. Many parlor guitars have a tendency to look stretched and over elongated, but we thought that this little Ibanez looked a little like a baby version of a Gibson slope shoulder dreadnought, and that kind of comparison is a complement in our eyes.
It came with a fantastic brown sunburst finish over its spruce top. It had a simple aesthetic besides that, with few embellishments and no pickguard, although it did have top and bottom binding on the body as well as on the neck. On the back and sides it made use of nyatoh, which looked nice, and of course, added balance to the tone. The woods for the body were all laminate, but at this price we weren’t overly concerned. In fact, having laminate woods on a knock around guitar like this is often beneficial. If you’d like to take it camping, or to the beach, laminate woods won’t swell and contract with humidity like solid woods would, making this a durable and reliable option as a travel guitar.
Like the back and sides, the neck was also nyatoh. Nyatoh is a close relative of mahogany both in terms of looks and tone, so it’s the ideal choice for keeping costs down while still creating a good looking and sweet sounding guitar. The neck profile was a slim to medium C shape, which we found to be fast playing and comfortable – a hallmark of all Ibanez necks.
Its fretwork was well finished, and we found no sharps or fret sprout anywhere. The crowns were all well leveled, and overall, the fit and finish was excellent considering the price.
As for tuning gear, it had simple Grover style sealed machines. The nut and saddle we suspect were plastic, although nothing was written about that in the specs so we can’t say for sure. What we can say is that the nut was well cut and caused no issues with tuning stability or performance in general.
Performance / Sound
Getting great tones out of the PN15 was way easier than we’d ever expected. At this price we’d imagined we might be wrestling with a bad setup or dull strings, but right out of the box, everything was pretty much as it should be.
The factory setup was pretty decent in fact. The action was much lower than we’d thought it would be, which made it an incredibly easy player
Tonally it was nicely balanced. It didn’t have the biggest bass response we’ve ever heard, but then again, thinner bass is a normal feature in parlor guitars. The mid range response was excellent, and it had a ton of top end sparkle.
It performed very nicely with fingerstyle playing. There was sufficient string spacing to ensure accuracy while playing, and the note separation was better than average for this price bracket, which kept things clear while playing complex arpeggiated passages.
Responsiveness was fine, but probably the weakest point of this guitar. It wasn’t particularly loud, even when strummed hard, so moving between softer playing and more aggressive playing didn’t result in any obvious change in dynamics.
Other Guitars to Consider
At this price point, the Ibanez PN15 is genuinely a great buy, but if you’re not quite settled on this model, you might want to consider one of the other excellent parlor guitars on the market. Below we’ve highlighted a couple of our favorites.
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy
The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is a favorite amongst the KGR team thanks to its fantastic styling, and authentic delta blues tones. It’s a ton of fun to play, and comes in right around the same price point as the Ibanez PN15. Aesthetically it is a very different looking guitar, but if you’re into the vintage look, you’ll probably love it.
It’s reliable, it’s very well made, and really feels like a much more expensive guitar than it is. It’s well suited to blues players, but in reality, it can still handle a wide range of styles.
The Fender CP-60S is another classic parlor guitar. With similar looks and feel to the Ibanez, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for an all rounder from a big name brand with great tones and reliable performance. It’s sturdy enough to travel with, and while it’s a little more expensive than the Ibanez, it does feature some nicer woods like walnut for the back and sides, a solid spruce top, and walnut bridge and fretboard.
Final Thoughts on the Ibanez PN15
The Ibanez PN15 is a great guitar for beginners and also makes a great second guitar for more advanced players looking for something to travel with without worrying about a more expensive instrument.
The build quality is typical of an Ibanez guitar. It was well put together, with good stunning stability, a nice straight neck, and in general, good playability .
The tones were balanced, and never felt too thin, which is a neat trick for a low cost parlor guitar. This size does struggle with reduced volume and bass, but the strong mids on this Ibanez really helped to carry this guitar.
We think it’s overall a great buy, and would happily recommend it to anybody looking for a low cost parlor guitar.