Most classical guitars produce sounds that are full bodied and warm. These instruments are unique, in that they have nylon strings instead of metal ones. Their necks are flat and wide, which makes it simple to play the scales, arpeggios and chords featured in classical music – however, this can be a challenge for short fingered guitarists.
- How to Choose a Classical Guitar
- How Much is a Good Classical Guitar?
- Our Recommendations:
- Best All Around Classical Guitar For The Money – Kremona Solea Artist Series Nylon String Guitar
- Best Classical Guitar For Beginners – Cordoba C5
- Best Classical Guitars Under 1000 – Yamaha NTX700
- Best Classical Guitars Under 500 – Alhambra Classical 1OP-US
- Best Inexpensive Classical Guitar – Yamaha C40
- Best Small 3/4 Size Classical Guitar – Cordoba Protege C1 3/4-Size
Typically, guitarists pluck the strings to produce sounds, but strumming is needed in some musical styles too. ‘Extended range’ classical guitars have extra strings and are ideal for playing beautiful, mellow music. These guitars work well in casual settings, because they help to create a nice atmosphere.
How to Choose a Classical Guitar
When selecting a classical guitar, some of the main factors to consider are the instrument’s sound (based on the design and tonewood), how suitable it is for novices, its’ action and how it plays. Because of its’ versatile nature, spruce wood is often used to build these guitars. This wood creates a crisp, powerful sound with a broad dynamic range, making it a wise option if you intend to experiment with different styles. Solid wood or plywood is typically used to make the soundboards. Although solid wood tends to be better quality, there’s a case for plywood being more cost effective, and this is used in several guitars designed for beginners.
Notwithstanding, the majority of advanced musicians will choose solid wood. The fretboard influences the sound to a degree, however this should be assessed for its’ playability and comfort. As far as fret navigation goes, it is much easier to position your hand correctly on certain fretboards than others, while fingerpicking. If you have never played or held nylon string guitars before, it can be hard to choose the right instrument size. It is best to visit a guitar shop with an extensive list of classical instruments. This way, you will have the opportunity to test the full size, ⅞ size and ¾ size models, to determine which one suits your playing style and body type.
How Much is a Good Classical Guitar?
The difference in price between an expensive and cheap classical guitar is like the difference between night and day. If you have less than $100 to spend, then the instruments available to you will be fairly rudimentary – and not particularly dependable. They are unlikely to last long either. To get a guitar of a reasonable standard, your minimum budget should be $100 to $250. The majority of well known manufacturers have fairly good instruments for less than $250, and this is all you require as a novice.
Between $250 and $500, you can get classical guitars with superior hardware – like metal and bone tuning pegs – and higher quality woods. Between $500 and $1000, you will find some hand crafted guitars and others that have been made in factories. If you intend to spend more than $1000 on an instrument, you need to ensure it is up to scratch! In this situation, search for hand crafted models and always read plenty of customer reviews. Superb craftsmanship, quality tonewoods and a gorgeous appearance and feel should be mandatory features, if you are parting with this amount of money.
Looking for regular acoustic guitars? Take a look at our post on the best acoustic guitars.
Best All Around Classical Guitar For The Money – Kremona Solea Artist Series Nylon String Guitar
Founded in 1924 in Bulgaria, Kremona is rightly regarded as an expert guitar manufacturer. Its’ acclaimed Artist Series strengthens this reputation further. This premium guitar range features handmade instruments from the company’s best craftsmen, designed for advanced guitarists. A key inclusion in this series is the outstanding Solea, which boasts a number of nice details and tropical woods.
With a 25.6 inch scale length and conventional flat top body, this guitar has an attractive straight tight grain and lovely red solid cedar top. The back and sides really stand out, because they are made from cocobolo – an exotic wood with a colorful and busy grain.
Honduran cedar has been used to make the guitar neck. At the twelfth fret, a dovetail joint connects this to the body. Indian ebony has been used to make the fretboard, which has no inlays, a 2.04 inch nut width and nineteen frets.
The hardware is both effective and simple. It features six brass handmade machine heads, with tuning keys. This is an innovative touch, to say the least. Ebony has been used to make the guitar bridge as well, which also has a bone saddle and matching nut. This guitar comes with a deluxe top hard wooden arch shell case.
The cocobolo back and sides deliver a rich, distinctive tone. Thanks to the natural warmth of the red cedar top, this instrument produces a clear and mellow sound consistently – with a responsive bass, lots of projection and glimmering trebles.
Best Classical Guitar For Beginners – Cordoba C5
This guitar is a rarity, in that it is an authentic classical instrument with a reasonable price tag. It has a number of refined features that make it ideal for novice musicians. The back and sides are made from laminate mahogany, with beautiful craftsmanship, and the solid cedar top is made from solid Canadian cedar. Mahogany is used on the neck of this instrument too, which includes a classical scale.
The rosewood hardware on the Cordoba C5 is highly effective. Tuning and intonation are well above average. The bridge improves the tone even more, because it is reliable and solid. Combined together, these features make for a lightweight guitar that sounds angelic when played.
Generally speaking, craftsmanship and design are more important on guitars with nylon strings, compared to steel acoustic guitars, because you can instantly tell whether they are out of tune once the first couple of chords are played. The Cordoba C5 measures up in this regard, and provides the warm sound that you would expect from a good classical guitar. The low notes are rich, broad and satisfying, while the treble notes are compelling and lively.
If you want to become a classical guitarist, the Cordoba C5 will stand you in good stead – even after your skills improve. This affordable guitar is perfectly suitable for extended stage performances, and you should encounter no problems with it when playing live. In light of this, it is hardly surprising that Cordoba is a leading brand for guitars in this price range.
Best Classical Guitars Under 1000 – Yamaha NTX700
With its’ refined finish, the Yamaha NTX700 has got quality written all over it, however it does not come with an extortionate price tag. This instrument is notably big though, so some people might find it uncomfortable to play. The back and sides are made from nato wood, and the top is a solid spruce top. Nato wood is used on the neck as well, which has a fretboard made from rosewood. The top also has black binding around it, and the rosette on this guitar is nicely designed.
The rosewood bridge on the Yamaha NTX700 includes a compensated saddle. This is made from normal synthetic material, but it works fine nonetheless. The tuners are always a sensitive component, when it comes to mid range or entry level guitars. However, Yamaha have fitted their own die cast devices onto this model, which retain the instrument’s key perfectly.
The Yamaha ART system handles this guitar well. It boasts authentic tone reproduction and a decent quantity of tone shaping, thanks to its’ excellent triple band EQ. As far as the sound goes, projection, volume and power are the best words to describe what this instrument offers. Notwithstanding, the wide mids and trebles are still fairly well defined. The cherry on top is that the frequency range is nicely blended, so you get plenty of clarity and width. Suffice to say, this guitar merits your consideration, if you are looking for your first instrument.
Best Classical Guitars Under 500 – Alhambra Classical 1OP-US
Alhambra is a brand known for the range of customization options it gives to customers. When you buy an Alhambra guitar, you can be sure that it will fit your requirements to a tee. First of all, you need to select which shape and size you want – either the conventional classical style, or the cutaway substitute. Players who struggle to reach the frets at the top, and require some assistance in this regard, should purchase the cutaway model.
In addition, there are a couple of finishes to pick from when purchasing this guitar – an open pore finish, or a high gloss finish. Moreover, based on your preferred colors, you can opt for the standard red cedar instrument or Canadian cedar substitute. The Alhambra Classical 1OP-US was only launched in 2016, so it is still a new addition to the market. Nonetheless, it has managed to attract a following of seasoned players and novice players alike. This tells you all you need to know about the quality of this lightweight instrument. A soft carry case is included with the guitar as well, to keep it safe while you are on the move.
All in all, the nylon string Alhambra classical guitar is an ideal product for people, who are searching for a reliable instrument. It is great for developing your skills as a guitarist, and it is certain to last for a long time, due to its’ sturdy design. The soft case is a nice touch that will protect your guitar from those accidental knocks that can occur from time to time.
Best Inexpensive Classical Guitar – Yamaha C40
As a leading music industry brand, Yamaha’s classical guitar does not disappoint. With more than 100 positive reviews from customers, this instrument has captured the imagination of players since the turn of the twenty-first century. Better still, people continue to rave about it, due to its’ quality and affordability. Yamaha appreciates the importance of creating instruments that suit everybody – with regards to price, design and sound – and this is why they developed the C40.
The back and sides are made from Indonesian mahogany, which helps the instrument to remain durable and strong – regardless of how often you practice. The C40 has a melamine gloss finish that keeps it fresh and new looking for years on end. Its’ mellow tones are ideal for anybody who wants an engaging, soulful sound and those who pay for guitar lessons. As well as this, the C40 appears in Amazon’s top ten list of guitars, and on Amazon’s Choice product list. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this instrument is highly popular with people searching for a good quality, affordable guitar.
Essentially, with the C40, Yamaha is offering its’ customers a high caliber, robust instrument for a competitive price. If you want a guitar that produces a warm sound that you love listening to, without it burning a hole in your bank account, Yamaha’s guitar will suit you down to the ground.
Best Small 3/4 Size Classical Guitar – Cordoba Protege C1 3/4-Size
The Spanish style, nylon string, ¾ sized guitar from Cordoba is part of their series of Protege instruments. As with the other models in this series, this one was designed for younger players and novices. This does not mean that more experienced and accomplished players should not use it though, particularly if they require a smaller instrument while traveling.
The C1 acoustic guitar has a mahogany side and back, along with an ABS bound spruce top. The carefully chosen tone wood delivers a sound much fuller than most smaller sized guitars. Notwithstanding, the overall design aims to offer optimum comfort for new guitar players. The mahogany neck is simple to slide along and grip.
Cordoba have given this instrument a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and it comes with high quality Savarez strings. To safeguard the tone wood and enhance its’ appearance, without affecting the sound negatively, a high gloss polyurethane finish is used. Unlike many ¾ sized guitars, this model has a fairly high volume and rich, full bodied sound.
It might take you a fair amount of time to find the best classical guitar for your budget and requirements, however do not let this deter you. It pays to shop around, because we all have different levels of musical expertise and there are so many different nylon string guitars to choose from. Hopefully, the above list has given you a solid insight into the instruments we regard as the best classical guitars currently on the market. If you have purchased a guitar recently, it is sensible to take it for a check up regularly, to ensure that everything works smoothly. A reputable music shop will have employees who can replace the strings on your guitar, or even tweak the action of your instrument if required. Of course, it is nice to be able to perform your own guitar maintenance, however there’s no harm in getting a second opinion.