The demand for a best classical guitar is always high. This musical instrument originated in Spain and therefore it is also known as Spanish guitar. Another popular name for this type of guitar is nylon string guitar because it is made of nylon strings. There is a good reason why classical guitars are in such high demand. They have a number of advantages over other types of guitar.
Classical guitars have a smaller body as well as mellower tone than steel stringed guitars. There are lots of different choices when buying a classical guitar. The price of a classical guitar can range from as low as $100 to as high as $1500. They all have different sound quality, style, body quality as well as a number of other things.
Not to be confused with such nylon strung "folk" guitar, the classical guitar, although sharing the same type of strings, offers the musician a far more sophisticated instrument, in build tone and quality. The beautiful classical guitar has a wide-ranging repertoire that in the right hands can evoke each and every changing emotion, from romantic and enchanting moods to the dramatic and dynamic tone. This review will explain to you everything that you need to know about handmade classical guitars.
All this can be overwhelming for someone looking to buy a classical guitar for the first time. What to look for in a classical guitar? What price is best? How to find the best classical guitars for you? All of these and many other questions are answered in this short but extremely detailed article. This is the perfect guide for someone looking to buy a classical guitar for the first time.
Why Need A Classical Guitar?
This is a great question to start with. Why do you need a classical guitar in the first place? Won’t any other type of guitar do? Here are a few reasons why you may want to consider buying a classical guitar.
First, nylon stringed classical guitar is one of the easiest platforms to learn music on. Most of the beginners learn their initial scales, chords, songs, and notes on a classical guitar. They are easy on your fingers and it is much simpler than other types of guitar. They are also a lot cheaper than other types of guitar.
Classical guitars are best for the children. The classical guitar takes advantage of the allure of the rock star. Most of the child is familiar with the pop music and every child who is interested in playing an instrument will probably take interest very quickly in playing the guitar. Any child will be first to brag to his or her friends that he is learning to play the guitar. It is a highly romanticized instrument. You can take advantage of such kind of attraction to popular music by teaching your child to play classical guitar.
Classical guitar can be quite useful even if you’re not a beginner. If you want to play certain types of music such as jazz, flamenco, latin, fingerstyle, or classical, then the nylon-stringed guitar is absolutely essential. It will be quite difficult to play any of these types of music in other types of guitars.
As you gain more experience in music you can move on to more sophisticated instruments such as steel stringed guitar or electric guitar and master them as well.
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Top Differences Between Classical Guitars and Electric / Acoustic Guitars
Let us talk about the differences between classical guitars and other more common types of guitars such as electric guitars or acoustic guitars.
For starters, classical guitars have a wider neck. This enables it to provide more spacing between the strings. There is a downside to this kind of design too. It makes it a bit more difficult for small hands to wrap around it.
Second, classical guitars have a shorter neck and it comes with nylon strings as opposed to steel strings. These are gentler on fingers and produce a very distinct sound from steel strings. These take a little bit of time to get used to.
Finally, many classical guitars come with a soundhole rosette which doesn't actually have any practical purpose other than aesthetics. These beautiful designs around the soundholes are not generally found in other types of guitars such as acoustic guitars or electric guitars.
The top difference between an acoustic and an electric guitar is simply amplification. An electric one needs an amplifier, but they are much easier to play. The electric instrument will cost more because you will have to purchase a good amp, and they both cost quite a bit of money. The acoustic instrument is more limited in shape and size because both shape and size make a difference on the sound that comes from the guitar.
The fretboard is completely different for these two types of guitars. Fretboard of classical guitar is quite wide than the acoustic guitar.
How to Choose the Best Classical Guitar?
One thing to remember before choosing a guitar is that even with so many different choices, a perfect guitar with all the features you want and that too at a great price probably does not exist.
You probably have to deal with a little bit of trade-offs here and there. Choosing the best classical guitar first and foremost involves knowing about your own experience and preferences.
Classical guitar is, by proper definition, a nylon-string instrument. The top three treble strings are made out of pure nylon, not unlike fishing-line, while the bottom three strings are nylon wrapped by the nickel outer core. This is the main difference between a classical guitar and a steel-string acoustic guitar. And one should never, attempt to put the steel-strings on a classical guitar as this will result in severe damage to the instrument.
The first thing you will look at when buying a classical guitar is the type of wood used. Good quality instruments come always with the top made of solid wood, usually spruce or cedar. The back and sides of the guitar can be made of good quality rosewood, mahogany or nyatoh. Depending on the quality of the instrument, the top, back and sides may be constructed out of solid-woods or wood-ply. Wood-ply is commonly found on beginner-level instruments as it is cheaper.
Your own style, your experience level, your budget and your dreams ultimately determine which is the best guitar for you, because what works you might not work for someone else and vice versa.
Here is our another awesome buying guide about bass guitar. You may check this.
What Should I Look for in a Classical Guitar?
So you've decided that you are going to learn how to play the guitar. If you don't have a guitar already, the first step will be to purchase a guitar, which of course leads us to the next question: how do you pick a guitar that's right for you? What should you look for in a classical guitar? This is a great question and the answer is not quite straightforward. Here’s the list of basic things that I personally look for in a guitar.
Strings - After a few weeks of consistent playing, you can begin to experiment with different strings to see what works best for you. The strings must sound good on your guitar but must feel right as you play it. There are many different brands to choose from. Classical guitar strings will come in different tensions: moderate or light tension, normal tension, and hard tension. Each will have a different sound and feel.
Playability - if you are experienced guitarist then this would rather depend on your personal preferences or style. But if you're a beginner then playability is critical. You need to look for a guitar that plays easily and smoothly, not something that you need to constantly fiddle with to make a sound note.
Sound - the second important thing to look for in a classical guitar is good sound. Unlike the electric guitars, classical guitars don’t have a wide range of sounds. Ultimately, it all comes down to woods and its construction. There are different examples of this, like cedar offers a sweet and warm sound whereas spruce is bright and vibrant, mahogany, on the other hand, is warm but woody.
You don’t need to worry too much about the specifics. As long as the guitar offers a decent projection and is articulate you’re good to go.
Hardware - final thing to look for in an electric guitar is the hardware. Fortunately, the hardware in a classical guitar is much more simple than any other type of guitars such as electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. But still, you should look for good quality hardware in the classical guitar you’re buying.
In general, more expensive guitars tend to be better designed and have the better quality hardware but that does not mean you can’t get good quality hardware at a low cost. Look at the individual components such as tuners, and nuts and saddle and what material they’re made of. This will give you some idea about the overall quality of the guitar.
If you want to learn playing classical guitar, then read this article.
Difference Between $200 Guitar and $500 Guitar:
What is exactly the difference between a lower priced sub $200 guitar and a higher priced sub $500 guitar? This question is asked a lot because surprisingly, a lot of them look quite similar and it can be confusing for a beginner to understand the difference between them. Different price range can decide the quality of your guitar also.
The differences are subtle. Here are the few basic differences between a lower priced guitar and a higher priced guitar.
Design - the first difference between these two types of the guitar is their design. The more expensive guitar you buy the more elegant or innovative the design you will get. Keep in mind that this does not mean you can’t get a good design for a low price. But, in the higher priced guitars you can find some quite out of the box designs.
Tone or Sound - Tone or Sound of the guitar is a personal preference and therefore it is quite hard to judge. What may be beautiful to one person may not be good for another person. Yet, higher priced guitar produce a much better tone than lower priced guitars. That being said, I still recommend beginners to start with a low priced option because the difference in tone is not big and you can save a lot of money buying a lower cost guitar.
Electronics - Another big difference between an entry level guitar and a higher priced mid-level guitar is their electronics. The lower priced guitars usually have minimal to no electronics whereas the higher priced ones have electronics and some of them come with advanced features such as dual pickups, sound shaping capabilities which do a lot more than simply adjusting the volume, and other customizations. Some even come with USD connectivity or phase switch.
Materials - Materials with which the guitar is also an made up of is an important factor in a classical guitar. A budget model is mostly made up of all laminate woods. This is because laminate is much cheaper and it makes very little difference in terms of aesthetics. However, a laminate body is also less resonant and can produce a less pleasing tone (even though it is subjective). Expensive models are likely made of solid wood or a solid top which resonate freely and produce a more pleasing sound.
Build - An expensive guitar is built more craftily than a budget guitar. A budget guitar, on the other hand, is more likely made from a factory line and little attention is given to build or small details that make big difference. Expensive models are much smoother and provide great feel and playability. A low-cost model isn’t always bad, but it is not as craftily made as an expensive one. For entry-level guitars, you will probably need to set it up and customize it before you can use it effectively.
Hardware - Last but not the least, the hardware of expensive model is of much better quality which gives them a better functionality, sound, and durability. On less expensive classical guitars, the parts of the guitar will work but it will not be of great quality so it may give you some problems in tuning keys or tuning stability. Expensive guitars, on the other hand, have impeccable quality and come with a good quality protective case.
These were some of the basic differences between a $200 guitar and a $500 guitar.
Reviews of Top 5 Best Classical Guitars Under $200:
Now that we have talked about the difference between a low priced guitar and a high priced guitar, let us dive into the main part of this article that is the best classical guitar reviews and recommendations.
We have done some research and scoured hundreds of different products comparing their features and materials and ratings and prices to bring you the top 10 best classical guitars of all time. Let us start with the top five best classical guitars under $200.
Yamaha c40 full size can come first in this group because the brand offers only the high-quality products. This nylon stringed guitar comes from the Yamaha company which is more than 130-year-old company. A company that has lasted this long is obviously doing something right. Although they are quite old, they have survived this long by keeping up with the latest trends and using the latest cutting-edge technologies in their creations.
This model from Yamaha is quite affordable because it is made from the good quality laminate wood and this is factory made but not handcrafted. Yet, the sound of this guitar is quite good when it is compared to the models in the similar price range. Although, you will not get the sound as powerful as you get from a handmade, fully wooden guitar or high price.
It is built from high-quality laminates which are designed for great sound and durability. It comes with spruce top and Indonesian mahogany on sides and back. It has Javanese frets and bridge and has a wide neck made from nato.
This guitar is mainly made from picking and not strumming. You can play it in small rooms and it is a great option for Spanish folk classical music. It comes with tuning pegs which makes it quite easy to adjust and set them as per your preferences.
- The fingerboard is made from Javanese Rosewood
- Sides and back parts are made from Indonesian mahogany
- The melamine gloss type finish gives it an elegant look
- Because this is a full size guitar, it may be less comfortable for many people who have smaller hands. You should keep this in mind before ordering this. But being nylon stringed it will be quite easy on your fingers.
Next up in my recommendations of nylon-stringed guitars under $200 is Yamaha C40 II BL. This is also from the Yamaha brand which is highly trusted and is known for its great products.
This is a great value purchase for beginners. It comes in a limited edition black color with great hero HQ exclusive. It has a spruce top, Meranti Back and Sides, Rosewood Bridge, and fingerboard. With body depth of about 94 to 100 mm and fingerboard width of 52 mm (nut/body), this is probably a lot more comfortable guitar than some others in this price range.
It is easy to use and has a quite gentle volume. You can pick it up at your first notice and will love to start playing it. In terms of looks and sound also this is quite a good guitar. It is a must buy for any guitar lover. It does not offer rich sounds but it is perfect for learning for a beginner.
It is made of high-quality wood and therefore can be used for traveling as well as camping or exposure. It will last longer than surely your average guitar if you use it well.
- Excellent body depth
- Rosewood Bridge and fingerboard
- Elegant black color
- Because of its low price, this guitar does not come with a strap or a case and you will have to buy those items separately if you need them.
Ultimately, if you prefer a richer set of sounds then you should go with the C40 guitar and if you just want a beginner friendly guitar then C40 II is the best option.
For those looking for an extremely inexpensive but high-value classical guitar, then go with Hola! This is a Music HG 39GLS guitar. This guitar also comes with a spruce top, mahogany back, neck and sides. It provides a great combination of savings, style and good sound. It produces beautiful sounds even though it is small and lightweight. It has a glossy finish which makes it look even more classy.
It is an excellent choice for a beginner as well as an intermediate player. The guitar needs to be set up first before you start playing it. Changing the tuning machines and replacing strings can make it a lot more effective. One key point that you should keep in mind for this guitar is to adjust the truss rod before playing a bunch. This will help your fingers a lot. You can find the instructions for this on Youtube.
This is perhaps the lowest cost nylon string guitar in the market and it has a decent body and tuning for beginners. Nothing is extraordinary but good enough.
- Very much lightweight
- Made of traditional best quality mix tonewoods
- Real wood construction, not the laminated finish
- There is a little bit setup needed for this guitar but that is true for almost every budget guitar out there.
Cordoba C3M is another extremely popular budget classical guitar. It is made by the Cordoba company as a part of their Iberia series. The Cordoba brand is more than 20 years old and is a leader in handcrafted nylon stringed classical guitars. It prides itself on its ability to blend the traditional craftsmanship with modern cutting-edge technologies
For this price, it is a good guitar in all ways. It comes with a solid cedar top and is made of all natural wood and hand-inlaid rosette. It will give you high resonance and sustenance because of the natural matte/ satin finish. Rosewood bridge and rosewood fingerboard is also something that you wouldn’t find in many other guitars. The best thing about this guitar is that it is fully handcrafted unlike some other models in this price range which are factory made.
- It comes with the wooden hand-inlaid rosette
- Rosewood fingerboard
- Nickel plated great quality machines of tuning
- Light matte-finish texture
- The sound of this guitar is good but not as appealing as some other models in this price range. It has great resonance and intonation is quite spot on.
If you just want to learn classical guitar as a hobby then this is a great option for you. It may not be ideal for professional performances. It does need a few improvements before you can start playing this guitar. A little bit of truss rod adjustments should do the trick.
Washburn classical series C5CE is a classical acoustic nylon string electric guitar. It is slightly more expensive than other guitars in this list but in my opinion, it is definitely worth it. What makes this guitar so special? Well, there are several things to consider.
This model comes with a spruce top and mahogany neck. It has Catalpa sides and back with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The extremely natural finish it features makes it look quite elegant.
It has rich sound and amazing looks compared to other guitars in the similar price range or even the more expensive ones. It is also quite fun to play. To get the best results from this guitar, I recommend you to adjust the truss rod and tool of the guitar.
Overall, it is a great guitar and at a great price for both beginners as well as more experienced guitar players. If you want to learn more about this guitar and find out the latest price of the model then follow the link to the product given below.
- It has a great quality build and materials that may last long enough for you to master a classical guitar.
- Gives great feel and sound
- Little bit expensive than the other ones from the category
The Reviews of Top 5 Best Classical Guitars Under $500:
Let us talk about slightly more expensive guitars. If you are ready for more money to spend then you can go with the more expensive option. We have already mentioned in this article the basic difference between a lower priced guitar and a higher priced guitar. In general, the higher priced ones can be better often even for absolute beginners. Let us go through the list of the best classical guitar that available currently in the market within the budget of $500.
Cordoba is a company that makes some excellent medium priced nylon string classical guitar. This is why you are going to see quite a lot of those on this list. The Cordoba C5 model is an Acoustic Nylon-string classical guitar. This guitar is in the price range of $200 to $400 depending on whether you buy it along with a gig bag or without one.
It comes with a mahogany back and sides and a solid Canadian cedar top. It is a full-sized classical guitar with about 52 mm nut width yet it is quite lightweight and comfortable to play. It comes with a great quality Savarez Cristal Corum Strings which is a great advantage because you do not need to replace the strings of this guitar.
If you are a novice and are buying a classical guitar for learning purposes then this guitar provides some excellent features so it looks like a great option for you. The looks of this guitar are also quite good.
- Elegant look
- Provides you with good sound
- The downside of this guitar is that many people have reported that this guitar does not last long or the materials are of poor quality.
Our second recommendation for a best classical guitar under $500 is the Cordoba C7. There isn’t much difference between the C5 model and the C7 model. Both are models from Iberia series and are manufactured by Cordoba. In terms of design and materials also they are quite similar to each other.
It is an upgrade or successor of the C5 model so it is a bit more expensive. It has many features such as fan bracing pattern and a highly responsive soundboard. Additional features of this product are hand inlaid wooden rosette, high natural gloss finish, and a rosewood binding.
The quality of this guitar is also much better than its predecessor C5 model and therefore it lasts much longer and produces better tone. This is the reason that this is a great choice for both beginners and intermediate players. All the cordoba guitars are handmade which gives you an additional advantage.
If you are looking for a value for money product, then it can be perfect for you.
Overall, this guitar has everything you need, low price, great quality materials, lots of features, beautiful tone, and resonance and high customizability and comfort. This is why we highly recommend this guitar to anyone looking to buy a nylon string classical guitar.
- Constructed with Indian rosewood from back and sides
- Fingerboard and bridge also made of rosewood
- Comes with gig bag
- Lack of the humidification
So far we have seen quite a few Cordoba models. How about one more model from the same company? They come up with a line of great quality product and most of them are excellent in performance. Anyway, Cordoba Cadete 3/4 is slightly different from the previous two models we talked about. It is an acoustic nylon string classical guitar and it is not a part of iberia series.
It is an awesome guitar nonetheless and it is loved by a lot of guitarists. Whether you are a new player or an experienced player, this guitar is a great choice for everyone. This is also great for learning purposes, gives you a great sound and comes with a solid build and body.
It comes with a solid Canadian cedar top and mahogany back and sides. It is 3/4 in size which is smaller than average and quite lightweight which makes it a great option for children and students. The savarez Cristal Corum strings of this guitar are of great quality and you will not need to replace it for a long time. Other than these, it has all the features of the Cordoba C7 guitar. It has excellent Spanish fan bracing. High gloss polyurethane finish gives it a stylish and elegant look.
- Lightweight and produce excellent sound
- Made of high-quality rosewood
- Great for high action only
- On the neck, there is a large sized black spot
Next up in this list is the Yamaha CG122MCH classical guitar. We have talked about Yamaha before and we have mentioned that it is one of the best guitar manufacturing companies out there. So it would be a surprise if I didn’t mention a Yamaha guitar in this list.
Like the previous three models in this list, the CG122MCH model comes with a solid cedar top as well as solid spruce top or spruce top as per your selection. It comes in two different types, the acoustic guitar, and the acoustic electric guitar. You can choose whichever you are most comfortable with as per your experience and level of expertise. If you are a complete beginner, go with the solid cedar top acoustic guitar.
Yamaha is one of the best companies when it comes to durability and you can depend on it. It is much better than Cordoba in this regard. This model comes with a 3 ply neck construction which gives it an additional durability advantage against neck wrap. It has a natural matte finish, low string action as well as rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
Overall, this model is highly recommended because of the brand and the quality of this materials and sound. Possibly the best you can get at this price. To know the latest price of this model click on the link below and find all other detailed information about this product.
- Traditional look with natural matte finish elegance
- Best for low string actions
- There is a three-ply construction neck that gives excellent durability to the product
- Little bit uneven fingerboard
Delfy Df020 006 model is a bit less popular than others we have mentioned yet according to its performance, we believe it deserves a place in this article. You will know the reason for this shortly. A great thing about this guitar is that it is quite inexpensive yet it comes with most of the features in the Cordoba or Yamaha guitar, possibly more than that.
It comes with a solid cedar top, a mahogany neck and sapele back and sides. It contains gold plated all enclosed tuners which make the task of tuning quite easy. It contains 19 frets with an overall length of 39 3/4” and a nut width of 2 1/16”. It has an eye-soothing floral design on the top edges which are beautiful but it might be a turn off for some people. Keep that in mind before buying this.
It is 100% handcrafted nylon string classical guitar. It is not perfect but good enough for this price. The materials are of solid quality and the sound is good too. Overall, it is a nice guitar with great sound as well as visually appealing and good quality materials. This is surely a highly recommended item.
- Sapele sides and back equipped with the mahogany neck and solid cedar top
- Rosewood bridge, fingerboard and headstock overlays
- All enclosed golden plated tuners for the smooth and fine-tuning
- 100% luthier handcrafted
- The beautiful floral design gives it an artistic look
- Edge of the fretboard is quite uneven
Things to Consider When Buying a Classical Guitar:
There are a few things that you should absolutely consider before buying the best classical guitar or nylon string guitar. The first important question you should ask yourself before buying a classical guitar is for what purpose you are buying it. Is it for learning as an absolute beginner? Is it for a child? Or you’re an experienced guitar player looking to try something new? The answer to this question will help you learn about what type of guitar you should buy and what type of classical guitar you should avoid. For example, if you are buying the guitar for a kid, you probably need a smaller sized guitar as per the age of your child.
You should definitely consider in advance how much you want to spend on a guitar. This will again depend on what the purpose of the guitar is. If you are a complete beginner and if you are not sure if this is something you want to do for the long term then you may just need a cheap instrument that is simple and does not have many fancy features.
If you need think this is something that you will persist with and do for a long-term then buy the guitar that has the most number of features and in the higher price range. This way, you will not regret your purchase in the long term.
This strategy also helps you stay motivated to practice more as you have sunk a lot of money into it so you better make good use of it.
Before going to the store to buy a classical guitar, gather knowledge about the product that what are best features and best product as per your requirements and budget. If you know the guitar basics best, it will be easier for you to buy a good quality one otherwise there should be the chances of ending up with a low-quality one.
Many people are confused about whether they should buy a used guitar or a new one. This is also something you need to decide in advance after considering everything. There are advantages and disadvantages of both options.
The advantage of buying a used guitar is that it is cheap and in many cases, it will actually sound better than a brand new model. This is because the wood needs to get “broken in” or mature before it can really sound good.
A new guitar is also a good option as it gives you the comfort and the euphoric feeling of buying something new. A new guitar comes with a warranty or returns policy and also it lasts way longer than a used guitar if you buy the right one.
There you have it, everything you need to know about buying a classical guitar as well as the 10 best classical guitars available in the market. Which of these is the best classical guitar model? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that. It is entirely up to you.
What I suggest is to browse all the models I have mentioned above and take a good look at all the features and find out which ones are the most suitable for you. Find something that matches your budget, your style, and your goals. Watch a few videos of those models and read up the online reviews before finalizing it. Ultimately, no guitar is perfect, but you can buy one which has the most features you want at the price that you can pay.
When you finally get the guitar that you like the most, make sure you replace the factory strings of the guitar. This will greatly enhance the sound and feel of the guitar. Another thing you can do is set it up with the help of a local guitar professional. It will cost a little bit but you can be certain it will increase the playability and value of the guitar.
You can start the process by making a simple favourite list of your preferable guitars according to your budget. For guidance and help, you can ask someone who is enough knowledgeable and known people about guitar, like your guitar guru or some rock star friend.
But it is highly recommended to read the feedback or the reviews on each product that you have selected before buying one of them. There are several reviews are available online that you may prefer to read.