10 Best Classical Guitars 2023, Compared And Reviewed So You Don’t Waste Money
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Are you looking for a classical guitar?
Maybe you’re a beginner. Classical guitars can be great for beginners because they have nylon strings, which are easier on the fingers than steel strings.
Maybe you’re a student of classical music, looking to further develop your skills and hone your craft.
Perhaps you’re a professional, even if in a developing capacity, and you want a great guitar you can practice, write, perform and record with.
Whatever the scenario, there are plenty of great products available. But that’s also why the selection process can be overwhelming.
So, we’ve handpicked and highlighted the best classical guitars here. Let’s get into it.
Cordoba C12 CD Acoustic Nylon String Modern Classical Guitar
The Cordoba C12 CD guitar comes with solid Canadian cedar top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides.
It also comes with a lattice braced top, raised ebony fingerboard, flamed maple wedge, hand inlaid mother-of-pearl “Esteso” rosette and a hard shell humidified arch top Cordoba wood case.
This guitar has plenty of headroom, so it should give you all the projection you need, even in a larger room. It has a pleasant, bright sound to it too.
Of course, more expensive instruments can sound better but you can’t compare it to instruments worth twice the asking price.
One downside is that, reportedly, the raised fingerboard is nice, but should have been raised even further.
For the average professional, however, this instrument should more than suffice.
And, in this price range, Cordoba guitars come highly recommended. So, if this guitar is inline with your budget, you should consider it.
If this specific model isn’t right for you, you can also check out other Cordoba products, as they do make great classical guitars.
Takamine H8SS Classical Nylon String Acoustic Guitar With Hard Case
The Takamine H8SS classical guitar comes with a solid spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and a natural gloss finish.
This concert classical model offers a great deal of clarity, projection and sustain. The intonation is true across the entire fretboard and there’s good note separation too.
The Takamine is a great choice for intermediate to advanced players who want a reliable and great sounding instrument.
Takamine is best known for their steel-string acoustics, but they are no slouch when it comes to classical guitars and have a robust selection of products you can choose from. Have a look for yourself.
La Patrie Guitar, Collection QI
This Canadian made and handcrafted La Patrie guitar features a radiused fingerboard, pressure tested solid cedar top, solid rosewood back and sides, double function truss rod, Tusq nut, compensated saddle and high-gloss custom finish.
It’s a simple but classy looking instrument with a great sound and feel.
The Collection comes with a Godin Q1T pickup system with a saddle transducer and controls for volume, treble and bass for shaping your tone. The electronics offer a rich and full sound overall.
Its price may have you fooled, but this is a top of the line guitar. Some customers even say it’s the best classical guitar they’ve played.
I’d say the LaPatrie is worth checking out. And, they have few other models you might want to have a look at too.
Yulong Guo Echoes Spruce Double Top Classical Guitar – 650mm Scale Length
The Echoes features a solid spruce double top, solid Ziricoté back and sides with solid cypress, 650mm scale length, ebony fretboard and Singing Dragon fiberglass case.
This is a concert guitar made from the highest quality woods. In case you’re curious, the top is composed of two thin layers of wood with a Nomex honeycombed structure in between.
The Echoes sounds clear, rich and full, with just a hint of roundness.
Finding a guitar that sounds and feels this good in this price range can be a monumental undertaking. So, the Yulong Guo is an excellent instrument worth researching.
Taylor 714ce-N Nylon-String Grand Auditorium Cutaway
Taylor isn’t exactly known as a classical guitar maker. But forward-thinking types might appreciate the look, feel and tone of the Taylor 714ce-N.
This guitar features a Venetian cutaway, ES-N Electronics, Engelmann spruce top, tropical mahogany neck, Indian rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard and ivory pearl buttons.
To me, the guitar has a rich, smooth tone, although I find its sound is somewhere between a classical and a good acoustic guitar, and depending on what you’re looking for, that’s either a good or bad thing.
The pickup is great, as it offers plenty of cut for live performance situations.
The Taylor isn’t cheap by any means, but it is a beautiful guitar. I think of it as more of a classical for acoustic players than a classical for classical players, but you might want to check it out anyway.
Kremona Verea Performer Series Acoustic/Electric Nylon String Guitar
An absolute stunner handcrafted in Europe, the Kremona Verea Performer Series guitar comes with a solid red western cedar top, dual-source Fishman Presys Blend system with tuner, custom narrow 48mm neck width, rosewood tuning pegs and a deluxe dual-pocketed firmly-padded gig bag with neck support.
The modified neck is closer to the size you would generally find on a standard steel string acoustic, which can offer increased comfort and playability, especially for those with smaller hands.
Again, consummate pros may not like this and prefer a classical guitar with a thicker neck. To each his or her own.
The guitar has a good amount of warmth and cut. I think the tone is slightly thin, but it still sounds great.
Customers unanimously agree – this is an awesome guitar for the price. The Kremona is certainly worth a look for beginner, intermediate and advanced players on a budget.
Yamaha NTX700C Acoustic Electric Classical Guitar
The Yamaha NXT700C acoustic-electric classical guitar comes with a solid cedar top, Nato neck, back and sides, A.R.T. two-way pickup system with an onboard tuner and a contemporary body design.
The tuning machines are standard chrome-plated classical style tuning machines. The plastic buttons have a nice-looking pearl-like texture to them.
Speaking of the body, classical players may find it a little unusual. If you’ve played a variety of acoustic guitars, then you should be able to handle it just fine. But this guitar is not for traditionalists.
And, it’s not for the most advanced players either, unless you’re on a budget. But there’s still plenty to like.
The guitar has a great sound to it – not too warm, not too bright. I would describe it as “crunchy”, but not in a bad way. It has good separation and a “plucky” tone that gives you a good amount of cut.
Overall, the Yamaha is a highly rated, highly playable guitar and is great for the money.
I think it would make a great addition to your guitar collection if you’re just planning to use it here and there.
And, if Yamaha feels like the right way to go for you, you’ll want to look at their other classical guitar products, of which there are several.
Alhambra 6 String 4Z-US Classical Conservatory Guitar
The Alhambra classical conservatory guitar features a solid Canadian cedar top with rosewood binding and high gloss natural finish.
It also comes with Ziricote back and sides, rosewood fingerboard, mahogany neck, gold plated machine heads and a gig bag.
The guitar’s tone is a combination of warm and punchy. It projects nicely too.
Perfect for the intermediate player, the Alhambra might be right down your alley. You may want to check out some of their other products too.
Godin Multiac Nylon Encore Acoustic Electric Classical Guitar
Now for something on the unusual end of the spectrum, the Godin Multiac is a semi-hollow body acoustic electric nylon string guitar.
The Encore, specifically, comes with a solid cedar top, a two-chambered silver leaf body, custom Godin Dual Source system (an under-saddle transducer and acoustic soundboard transducer), mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard.
Straight to the point, this guitar sounds amazing plugged in, and it’s great for the stage and the studio. The five-way preamp gives you access to plenty of tonal possibilities too.
This guitar is not for purists or traditionalists, but forward-thinking guitarists might enjoy it, especially those playing in a band.
There are plenty of other guitars in the nylon string Multiac family, so you might want to check out those as well.
I like what Godin has done here, and I wouldn’t mind owning one myself.
Ovation Classic Nylon Guitar Mid-Depth Cutaway AA Solid Cedar Natural 1773AX-4
The 1773AX-4 comes with a solid cedar top, maple neck, ebony fretboard, segmented saddle and of course a mid-depth cutaway for easier access to higher frets.
As with the Multiac, the Ovation is ideal for performance and recording. But surprisingly, it has a nice natural tone too.
To me, the guitar sounds great. Even purist classical players should be impressed.
With that in mind, this is anything but a conventional classical guitar, which may give some players pause.
Again, it may be better suited to acoustic players transitioning over to classical guitar, versus a classical guitarist looking for a better or different classical guitar.
I still thought it was worthy of mention, so if the Ovation has captured your imagination, check it out for yourself.
What Should I Look For In A Top Classical Guitar?
With so many different styles of products available, and so many players with different preferences, choosing a classical guitar is highly individual.
You’ll likely be selecting and purchasing based on tone, playability and feel, budget, features and appearance.
It gets a little easier to choose if your narrow your criteria for search based on these factors. For instance, if $1,000 is all you can spend, then you can compare guitars that cost less than $1,000.
In any case, let’s look at each of these factors so you can figure out which guitar to get.
How does the guitar sound?
A guitar’s tone is influenced by its construction in every regard, from the tonewood to the neck.
Further, the player is also a factor. Guitars tend to sound different depending on who is playing them.
You probably won’t notice much of a difference with tone as a beginner, which is why it’s okay to put money towards a guitar that’s cheaper but still easy to play.
As an intermediate to advanced player, you will notice more differences with tone.
You may notice that cheaper guitars in fact have a “cheaper sound”. And, more expensive guitars have a richer, fuller, warmer sound.
This isn’t universally true, but cheaper guitars tend to have bad note separation and less projection.
With better guitars, you’ll be able to hear each note more clearly and it will carry a good amount of volume too.
Beyond a certain point, the differences in tone are barely noticeable.
You can get classical guitars worth thousands of dollars, but is it worth that extra two to five percent of improvement? Only you can decide.
The point is that you know how you’ll be using the guitar (e.g. solo performances, recording, playing with an orchestra, etc.), so you should also know how you want it to sound better than anyone else.
The best way to find out how an instrument sounds is to play it. Then, you will know how it sounds in your hands.
The second-best way is to watch video demos and reviews.
Playability & Feel
I don’t know about you, but I like guitars that are easy to play. I don’t like guitars that make it a struggle.
Sure, it’s okay to have a guitar or two that makes it tougher on you for the sake of practice, but beyond that I don’t see much practicality, whether it's for live performance or recording.
If you find that the action on a specific guitar is too high, you should still be able to bring it to a guitar tech to adjust it.
This may seem obvious, but I think it’s often overlooked by buyers. Sometimes guitars don’t come ready to play out of the box and would be served well with a little love and care from a tech.
Another factor here is the neck size.
In this guide, you’ll notice some guitars have different neck sizes. Some are closer to steel-string acoustics than standard nylon-string acoustics.
I understand that experienced classical guitarists will likely want to stay with the traditional neck size and shape.
But players who want to enjoy a bit of classical guitar on the side might be better served with a more comfortable neck width.
There can be other factors here, whether it’s raised fingerboards, scale length or otherwise.
The key point is to find a guitar you enjoy playing. The specs only tell one part of the story. The other part is made up of how the guitar feels to you.
Budget – Premium Or Cheap?
How much guitar can you afford?
Here at Music Industry How To, we don’t believe in going into debt to buy products we can’t afford.
And, we know that music stores oftentimes have alluring financing options and they’ll approve just about anyone.
But if you can buy a piece of gear with cash in hand, you will feel so much better about the purchase. Not owing anything on a guitar is a great feeling.
So, how much can you realistically spend? Or, how much are you willing to save to spend on a guitar?
You can buy a decent classical guitar for a couple hundred dollars.
We haven’t featured any of those guitars here, but if that’s all you can imagine spending on an axe, then it’s good to know you can find guitars in that price range.
A great, intermediate classical guitar can be gotten for anywhere from $600 to $2,000 – sometimes more, sometimes less.
And, honestly, there are some great guitars in that price range. Some are even comparable to higher priced instruments.
And, of course, advanced guitars usually start at about $2,000, but sometimes they are cheaper, and sometimes they are 10 times that price or more.
Some of the factors affecting price, of course, are the cost and quality of materials used in construction, attention to detail as well as whether the guitar was handcrafted and by whom.
With all that in mind, you should consider what your budget is.
If you already have a good classical guitar, that likely means you’ll want to save more for an upgrade. If you either don’t have a classical guitar or just a cheap one, then you can save a few hundred dollars for your next axe.
And, of course, advanced players should carefully consider their options, as sometimes the difference between a $2,000 guitar and $10,000 guitar is not massive.
The main consideration here is whether to buy an acoustic-electric or just an acoustic.
I imagine anyone who’s studying classical seriously will want to get a traditional classical guitar.
Meanwhile, players wanting to switch between guitars on stage, or have more tonal possibilities in the studio will likely want an acoustic-electric.
Keep in mind that an acoustic-electric guitar can be sent through an amp, PA system or even a few effects pedals.
But there is no right or wrong, and I can’t tell you one way or another.
Another feature you’ll often notice on an acoustic-electric guitar is a tuner. Tuners are always handy, but if you already have a tuner, then it might end up being extraneous.
A cutaway is another thing you may be looking for.
Again, I can’t imagine too many traditionalists will be looking for a guitar with a cutaway, but anyone wanting to interpret classical music or use the guitar for lead might be more inclined to get a guitar with a cutaway.
These and other features are worth considering, but in general a classical guitar is a classical guitar, period. There isn’t too much to fuss about here.
To a lesser extent, you might consider an instrument’s appearance and whether you like it.
Most classical guitars don’t look all that different, and at times, it can be hard telling apart one manufacturer’s guitars from another.
But there is always more attention to detail with more expensive guitars, whether it’s the rosette, hardware, binding or otherwise. That can certainly affect an instrument’s appearance.
To me, it’s always about tone and playability first, appearance second. That may not be how you feel about it, which is okay, but I’m more interested in how a guitar feels in my hands than in how it looks.
In the case of the Godin or Ovation, obviously these are specialty guitars and they look quite a bit different from other classical guitars.
But you would probably only buy one of these guitars if you were planning to play them in a band context or for filler on your recordings anyway.
Of course, the top wood also affects the appearance of the guitar, with spruce usually being brighter in color and cedar being darker.
Guitars are made with other woods too, so that can play a part in how it looks.
Again, classical guitars generally don’t vary in appearance that much so I can’t imagine this being a major buying factor – just something to be mindful of.
What Is The Difference Between An Acoustic Guitar & Classical Guitar?
This is how I think about it.
A steel-string acoustic and nylon-string acoustic are both types of acoustic guitars.
So, under the primary umbrella of acoustic guitars, we have both steel-string and nylon-string acoustics.
Now, a steel-string acoustic obviously comes equipped with steel strings.
There are a variety of body shapes for this type of guitar. Some have cutaways. Some don’t. Some are smaller. Some are larger. Some have pickguards. Others don’t.
And, of course, there are other differences like construction materials and tonewoods, soundholes, electronics (if the guitar comes with electronics) and so on.
It’s safe to say that a steel-string acoustic is a broad category, encompassing a variety of instruments that vary in feel, tone and appearance.
Meanwhile, a classical guitar is relatively standardized. Sure, there are some outliers out there, as we’ve already explored, but most classical guitars are near identical.
The body shape and size tend to be similar. The neck width tends to be similar. The headstock design might vary a bit, but again, similar.
And, of course, a classical guitar usually comes with nylon strings.
Nylon strings are a bit easier on the fingers than steel strings. You’ll probably still develop calluses as you’re playing, but it will be significantly less painful.
They also sound different than steel strings, not surprisingly.
And, there’s also a difference in terms of how the instruments are used.
Steel string guitars show up in a variety of genres – rock, pop, folk, country, bluegrass, blues, jazz and even metal at times.
Meanwhile, classical guitars are generally used for classical and flamenco, though there is such a thing as a flamenco guitar (it looks a lot like a classical guitar), which is generally what’s used for flamenco.
A classical guitar may also be used for jazz and sometimes lead work on other genres, like R&B.
But for the most part, a classical guitar is only used when playing classical and jazz.
It could be said that a steel-string acoustic guitar is more versatile, and more applicable to a variety of genres.
I like having both myself, as I tend to write a lot of instrumental music. If a specific song lends itself to classical guitar, I will use it.
How Much Does Price Affect The Quality Of The Guitar?
I’ve offered a brief explanation into how this works, but here’s a more detailed one.
We know that a guitar’s cost is largely due to the quality and rarity of materials used, how well the guitar is constructed, as well as whether it’s been handcrafted by an expert luthier.
Cheaper guitars may have a solid top, but usually feature laminate on the back and sides if not also the top.
This makes the guitar more durable – which is great for beginners – and generally it doesn’t sound terrible, but of course a guitar made entirely of solid wood tends to project more and sound better.
Midrange classical guitars are typically made with solid wood, but usually with more readily available woods, like spruce, cedar, rosewood and ebony.
They are usually great guitars and can hold their own. Their construction and parts are generally good, and if they include electronics, they are also quality.
You would think this is where it ends. But no.
Advanced guitars are often made with rare or exotic woods, or at the very least, carefully selected, quality woods.
The hardware might be gold or gold plated. Other parts of the guitar, such as the tuners, rosette, nut and saddle might be made of luxurious materials too.
And, of course, who made it and whether it was handcrafted makes a difference too, as the person who made the guitar may no longer be living.
If it was a short run, then that makes the guitar even more rare and valuable.
Now, the quality of guitar you can buy will certainly be affected by price.
But even experienced classical guitarists admit there isn’t always a huge difference between a $2,000 guitar and a vastly more expensive instrument.
That difference would probably only be picked up by someone with a tremendous amount of experience.
Still, some are either in pursuit of the purest tone possible, or simply want the best-sounding and feeling instrument, and who can fault them for that?
In total, the price of the guitar is subject to several factors but doesn’t always speak to its quality.
It often does, but sometimes pricier guitars aren’t a whole lot nicer, or may even be comparable to more affordable instruments.
Can I Only Play Classical Music On A Classical Guitar?
It’s easy to get caught up in all the rules.
And, although some guitarists are probably going to cringe reading this, no, classical music isn’t the only type of music you can play on a classical guitar.
As I already mentioned, jazz tends to be another popular option.
But when I was first picking up the guitar, a classical guitar was all I had. And, I played all kinds of genres on it, whether it was rock, punk rock, blues or otherwise.
Unconventional? Sure. Not how the instrument was intended to be used? I’m not arguing with that.
But after a while, my teacher told me he could only show me songs and riffs that applied to an acoustic guitar.
That meant that I had to invest in an electric guitar, which I did, because I wanted to play other genres.
But on my travels, I often took my classical guitar with me, as it was just easier to carry around, and I played whatever genre I felt like playing on it.
Now, I did learn a bit of classical guitar on my own, too.
I don’t pretend to be an expert, and I’ve heard from friends that gatherings of classical guitarists tend to be critical. It’s all about technique and playing the music as it has been written. Less about flash and flare.
Regardless, I’ve held onto my classical guitar and still use it for certain recordings and songs. I think it’s great to have around.
So, no, despite what others might say, classical isn’t the only genre you can play on a classical guitar.
But I would encourage you to learn a little bit of classical music nonetheless, as fingerpicking and other techniques are worth adding to your toolbox.
Brands: Who Are The Best Classical Guitar Makers?
Many of the brands featured here are in fact well-regarded and well-known in the classical guitar community, including:
- La Patrie.
Are there others? Of course. You may want to do your own research and see what you come up with.
Some of the most expensive classical guitars in the world aren’t necessarily made by well-known brands but rather handcrafted by individual expert luthiers.
And, of course, the quality of guitars they make tend to be quite high.
Aside from that, however, you’re basically looking at the best brands out there.
Top Classical Guitars Reviewed, Final Thoughts
Although we’ve highlighted some of the best classical guitars here, if you’re still lost, I’d suggest doing more research.
There are several other notable boutique or specialty guitar manufacturers not covered here, and they also make great instruments. Of course, they tend to be more expensive too.
But depending on the setting you’re playing in, you may prefer an expertly handcrafted instrument, and if that’s the case, you should continue your search.
Otherwise, have fun selecting your ideal guitar. Don’t stress over it.
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