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Old 07-26-2012, 07:07 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 24,300

It's a vague term, and can sometimes be applied to nylon string acoustic guitars as well as steel strings. Some guitar companies, like Seagull, use it to designate specific models, like this Seagull Folk model:

Others use it to describe, as you've already noted, any smallish to mid-sized guitar. I've heard some people describe the 000-42 I use onstage as a "folk guitar," and I suppose that's as accurate a description as any.

Given how vague a term it is overall, I don't think having a skinny neck is a requirement, because I've also heard the Martin New Yorker model referred to as a folk guitar, and as you can see it's got a pretty wide neck:

Personally, I would call a Martin New Yorker a parlor guitar, but as you can see it's a very elastic definition, depending on who's using it.

Then there are these oddball late 50's/early 60's Gibson F-25 Folk Model guitars, which had wide necks, flamenco tap plates and - if I remember correctly - could be strung with steel, silk and steel or ball end nylon strings:

(Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember these Gibsons with the white tap plates also sometimes being strung with nylon strings...)

Anyway, short version: a "folk" guitar is a small to mid-sized acoustic guitar. Where any given instrument might fall within those loose boundaries will tend to be in the eye of the beholder.

Not a hard and fast definition, I know, but that's about as specific as anyone seems to get with the term.

Hope this helps.

Wade Hampton Miller
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