A foreword about classical guitars
Both classical and acoustic guitars are noble instruments. They're a sure way to everyone's soul, and no wonder that you're here, looking for decent classical guitars. Essentially, finding the model that's good for you isn't rocket science, but it surely is more than plain "look and pick".
We're here to advise you on certain aspects of "how to pick", but we won't neglect the part where you have to "look" - the latter concerns our review of the best classical guitars.
Essentially, picking a right model isn't too hard. There are a plethora of reputable brands that work day and night to accommodate the ever-incoming feedback, and it's safe to say that this is a good time to be alive as a classical guitar enthusiast.
The race between the competition has graced the market with outstanding guitars, such as Cordoba's C7, Kremona's Rosa Morena, La Patrie' Etude, and such.
We've deliberately divided the budget sections, ranging from the most expensive ones to the most affordable ones, so that there's everything for everyone.
Now, keep in mind that the "best" guitar might not necessarily be the most expensive one – some models in our review are more versatile, others have better intonation potential, while certain models are made of exotic materials. It's all a matter of subjective preference, really.
Top Rated Classical Guitars Comparison:
The first classical guitar on the menu is Kremona's Solea nylon-strung guitar from the Artist series. It's quite plain in design, but saying it's "cool" would be an understatement.
Namely, this majestic guitar comes outfitted with premium-quality features, which include a solid cedar top, cocobolo back, ebony fretboard, and ebony bridge.
In summary, Solea is one of the best classical guitar models in our reviews due to perfect playability and outstanding durability.
The craftsmanship is absolutely impeccable, and the special hand-picked features work in unison, providing outstanding sound. People tend to like Solea's resonance above all else, which is heavily complemented by the top-shelf nylon strings.
Out of the box, you can expect quite a lot, but not everything is perfect considering this classical guitar - it belongs to the expensive price point category, and this may be the only flaw about it. Nevertheless, it boasts a massive value for the cash, and it's definitely worth considering.
- The flawless construction is the first thing you'll like about Solea
- All of the features are high in quality, without a single exception
- Amazing sound and resonance provide a unique classical guitar experience
- Highly durable cedar and ebony materials make sure that Solea will remain intact for years to come
- The only bad thing about Solea is that it costs quite a lot. It belongs to the "expensive" price point category, but it's not overly expensive for a boutique classical guitar.
As one of the most famous brands in the guitar world, Yamaha earned quite a reputation, and their NTX1200R is a true representative of their quality.
Overall, this one is exceptionally beautiful, mainly due to the exotic materials used in its construction process.
The Top of NTX1200R is made of Sitka Spruce material, although you are free to choose between Cedar and Spruce variants. Furthermore, the back and sides were constructed with solid rosewood material, granting this model a beautiful outlook without sacrificing durability.
The neck was made using the exquisite African mahogany while the fretboard is made of ebony.
Overall, Yamaha's NTX1200R is quite extraordinary. Further on that point, it's also capable of going electric, as it's outfitted with the special A.R.T. pickup system. Even though it costs quite a bit, you won't regret the cash, guaranteed.
- Yamaha's NTX1200R is one of the best guitar models we've come across, as it excels in multiple fields of performance.
- Great durability provided by exotic materials is just one of the things you might find as fancy.
- Even though it's already beautiful, the NTX1200R comes in three color variations, including Nato, Flamed Maple, and Rosewood.
- Decent playability and exceptionally crispy sound are NTX1200R's forte.
- Comes outfitted with A.R.T. pickup system, allowing you to switch between standard and eletric modes.
- Just like the previous model, Yamaha's NTX1200R is highly expensive. Apart from that, there are no major flaws.
Cordoba's Fusion is another semi-electric classical guitar, just like Yamaha's NTX1200R we've just reviewed.
Now, this model is pretty great, all things considered – it features a solid rosewood top, back & sides, and a wide nut which allows for better intonation.
Speaking of outstanding characteristics, Cordoba's Fusion is outfitted with Fishman Presys electronics, and a pre-built tuner – if you're looking for versatility, this one just might do the trick. Furthermore, you'll also get a gratis gig bag, humble compliments from Cordoba.
Last, but not least, let's talk about the price of this awesome classical guitar. Unlike the two guitars we've seen, this one isn't overly expensive. Namely, Cordoba's Fusion belongs to the "medium" price point category, and it's highly valuable for the cash.
- You can choose between 12 and 14-fret variations, making it easier to accommodate different skill levels.
- Cordoba's Fusion is outfitted with highly durable materials, among which Indian Rosewood is dominant.
- This classical guitar is a semi-acoustic guitar, being outfitted with Fishman Presys electronics, as well as the pre-built tuner.
- You'll get a complimentary gig bag as a bonus feature.
- Some people characterize Fusion's soundstage as "not-exactly-balanced". You can expect a slightly different bass and treble output, comparing to other guitars you've played so far. Not a fatal flaw, but still a drawback.
Next up is one of the greatest classical guitars in the mid-range price point category – Kremona's Rosa Morena from the Flamenco Series.
Overall, the design of this guitar is quite minimalistic – the body's shape is quite standard, the color natural, but a trained eye could spot several "imperfections".
The Rosa Morena was manufactured by hand in Europe, and you might notice that certain pieces are quite different.
The saddle, as well as the guitar's nut are made of authentic bone fragments while the wooden bindings have been inlaid by hand.
The solid top was made of European spruce which is all but ordinary. Needless to say, guitars that are as specific as Rosa Morena might not feel so comfortable to immediate beginners, but, on the other hand, you might get to love it.
Summa summarum, Rosa Morena is a decently affordable (although, not cheap) guitar which is unique, peculiar, and greatly valuable for the money. It comes along with a branded gig bag as a complimentary feature, so you can say that you're gig-ready as soon as you get it.
- First of all, Rosa Morena is a beautiful, yet plain classical guitar. Might just be one of the most valuable classical guitars in the mid-range price point category.
- Handcrafted all the way, the craftsmanship work concerning Rosa Morena is characterized with pinpoint accuracy and precision.
- Authentic features give a certain taste of exotic in Morena's construction and design.
- The only bad thing about Rosa Morena is the high action. This little flaw affects playability, above all else, but it won't affect how the guitar sounds like, though.
We're looking at yet another amazing product from Cordoba, the C7 SP classical guitar.
Most people tend to have difficulties choosing between the C7 SP and C3M, as they're both great guitars, but, in our humble opinion, this one takes the spotlight.
Not only is C7 SP affordable, but it also looks pretty amazing, sounds exquisitely good, and comes outfitted with a set of high-end features, including the solid spruce top, back & sides made of Indian rosewood, and a Rosewood fretboard.
Additionally, Cordoba's C7 SP comes pre-strung with Savarez Cristal 500CJ strings, which produce a bright, highly resonating sound. Truth be told, if you're searching for the best classical guitars, you just might've found one.
The only downfall of this classical guitar is that it features a plain design – the fact of the matter is, its simplicity hides quite a few virtues.
On top of everything, you'll get a complimentary gig bag – a solid bonus, all things considered. There are no fatal flaws concerning Cordoba's C7 SP, but the scale range is not entirely impressive. Overall, it's pretty cool for the buck, and then some.
- Cordoba's C7 SP is a magnificent medium-priced guitar. It soars above most models in the price range, and it won't be wrong to call it highly valuable for the cash.
- The simple design is great for every minimalist person – nothing too extraordinary, only features that allow for superb playability.
- On top of that, Cordoba's C7 SP is highly durable. Rosewood and spruce materials used in the construction process are quite sturdy, making this one a keeper.
- You might notice some quality loss concerning the sound at higher volumes. Nothing substantial, though.
As we're getting closer to the budget section, let's open up with La Patrie' Etude.
You can't miss the North American craftsmanship about it if you’re a classical guitar enthusiast – the beautiful finish and carefully implanted layers provide the exquisite outlook and durability, to say the least.
The first most notable feature of Etude is the accurately radiused fretboard – not only does it boost the overall playability of this classical guitar, but it also makes it perfect for beginners.
The solid top was made of cedar materials, pressure-tested for quality before hitting the stores.
What you'll definitely like are the special nut and the pre-compensated saddle. You won't have to bother with intonation for quite some time, another set of great features for beginners.
On top of everything, the Etude is the first guitar in our review that belongs to the "affordable" price point category. It's not too expensive, it sounds great, and it looks simply amazing – what's more to like?
- Definitely one of the best guitars in the budget section.
- The Etude comes outfitted with a set of marvelous features (compared to other budget guitars).
- Superb intonation was made possible by compensated saddle.
- Pressure-tested cedar top and radiused fingerboard allow for top-notch playability.
- Most people don't like the fret wire length on Etude.
As you've probably noticed so far, Cordoba is extremely proficient in making high-quality high-end guitars.
Well, we wanted to test out their mettle in the budget section, and the C5 was more than adequate for the challenge.
This guitar features a Solid cedar top, the sides are made of Mahogany, as well as the back of the guitar, and, on top of that, it comes pre-strung with Savarez Cristal 500CJ strings – Cordoba never went cheap concerning the features, regardless of the price range of their guitars.
What's more, special care was invested in the weight of this classical guitar during the construction process, resulting in a nearly weightless classical guitar. The nut might be too wide for some people, so you can expect somewhat reduced playability, but that's all for the sake of good intonation. Last, but not least, you're getting a complimentary bag with your purchase.
- Absolutely amazing guitar, concerning the price range.
- Weightless quality compensates for the increased nut width (approximately 52 millimeters).
- Comes pre-strung with Savarez Cristal 500CJ strings.
- The gig bag is a bonus feature.
- Very affordable, and highly valuable for the cash.
- There were reports of minor imperfections concerning the bridge.
Now, Yamaha's CG122MCH might not be one of the most impressive classical guitars ever made, but it surely is one of the most versatile and affordable ones that don't lack in quality.
Namely, you'll get to choose how the end result will look like – whether you want a Solid Cedar/Spruce or just spruce as a top, acoustic, or acoustic-electric, it's all up to you to decide.
Now, for the regular features. The 3-ply neck is there to boost the overall durability of the guitar, shielding it from potential warping.
The string action is quite low, which might cause some issues with intonation, but you'll benefit from improved playability. Both the fretboard and bridge are made of Rosewood materials.
Overall, this guitar is great for the buck, but not so much when compared to its more expensive counterparts.
- A plethora of choices make this guitar extremely versatile.
- The highly durable neck removes the risk of warping.
- Excellent playability due to low action.
- Beautiful Matte finish.
You should expect slight problems concerning the intonation.
Cordoba's C3M is a perfect guitar for immediate beginners. It's very affordable, it comes outfitted with a Cedar top, rosewood bridge and fretboard, and a beautiful satin finish.
Even though it's often characterized as "cheap", Cordoba's C3M is one of the good classical guitars in the price range.
As for the sound, it can be described as rich and somewhat mellow. The soundstage is decently balanced, but far from perfect. Now, if we're to take into account that this is, actually, just a budet guitar, it does quite a bang for the buck.
- You'll love the natural satin finish – it makes the C3M look great while allowing for improved sustain.
- High-quality rosewood materials provide a beautiful outlook and plenty of durability.
- Extremely valuable, even for a budget guitar.
- Decently balanced soundstage provides a sound output that can be labeled as "beyond satisfactory" (for a budget guitar).
- Frequent buzzing might be a problem.
Let's close up the shop with one of the cheapest, yet good classical guitars in the price range – Yamaha's C40II BL.
We're looking at a limited edition guitar that easily tops other models in the range with its price.
Further on that point, it's a Yamaha, so you know that it can't be bad, regardless of the circumstances.
Now, this guitar features a Spruce top, a rosewood fretboard and bridge, and a Meranti back and sides. The nut is quite wide (approximately 52 millimeters), allowing for superb intonation, but somewhat hindering the playability. All is still well, though, as you can always compensate the saddle or string action if you feel that's the problem.
One of the most notable features of Yamaha's C40II is the design. Even though it doesn't particularly excel in any field of performance, it's as beautiful as can be. Apart from that, it's shamefully cheap, and worth the cash.
- The "Limited Edition Yamaha" can be characterized as a pro, however you put it.
- Yamaha's C40II is the cheapest guitar when compared to the rest of the bunch.
- Exquisite beauty would best describe the outlook of this classical guitar.
- Mediocre sound and durability.
How to Pick The Best Classical Guitar
There are several things you should consider before yelling "this is the one!". First of all, your budget, after which comes your skill level, the construction of the guitar in question, and the accessories and complimentary features:
Knowing and deciding how much you want to spend will narrow down the object of your search – there are literally millions of guitars out there, and scrounging from the budget section, over the mediocre ones, to boutique classical guitars might take a century.
The price ranges aren't pre-determined by a set of guitar experts – it's basically a categorization made convenient, where those guitars that belong to the "budget" section are affordable to everyone, and those "high-end" ones are reserved to people who don't pay much regard to money, in a sense. The difference between price ranges can be miniscule, or substantial.
You might've heard about the word "playability", and, if you're an immediate beginner, you might not know what it means. Well, it's tightly related to the term "skill level", which you should take into account before you buy your guitar.
The "playability" literally translates to "how easy it is to play this instrument". Your "skill level" affects how much you care for guitars playability. For instance, veterans and professional musicians can play any sort of guitar, even if it's a pre-strung shovel, whereas beginners tend to rely on guitars with good playability.
Construction and Material
The material used in the construction process of your guitar heavily impacts the "durability", or "how long your guitar will last". Additionally, certain materials look better, if aesthetics are in question. Overall, a durable guitar is the one you can feel free to get attached to, without the fear of it breaking down on you.
If you're not well-versed in the types of materials, let's give you a little heads-up:
- Most high-quality guitars feature a body & neck construction made of ash, alder, poplar, walnut, holly, spruce, or basswood.
- Exotic materials can be reliable, but they're rare, so your guitar might cost extra. Such are Koa, Bubinga, Lacewood, Redwood, etc.
Accessories and complementary features
The accessories and complementary features are the "bonus" you'll get with your purchase. Most manufacturers provide a simple gig bag as the bonus features while others go a step further, giving all sorts of things away, like a tuner, a set of free strings, audio books, beginner "learn how to" DVDs, complimentary hardware (machine heads, for example), and such.
All in all, the complementary features shouldn't be the reason why you've picked your guitar, but they shouldn't be overlooked.
There are several things you need to keep an eye out for when you're searching for best classical guitars see the price tag, and set your standards accordingly. If it sounds good, inquire about the features. Mahogany and Cedar are what you want your top to be, and most good brands use rosewood for their fingerboards.
Note that even the most expensive guitars aren't fault-proof, meaning that you can't just "buy" quality – you have to recognize it first. There's no such thing as "perfect sound" too – what appears as an ideal to some might not be so good for you, and vice versa.
If the pros of the guitar you're after are capable of outweighing the cons, you might be onto something, but if you feel the soul at the very first strum, you'll know what value means, as long as we're talking about classical guitars, that is.