Classical Guitars: Buying Guide for students, enthusiasts and even performers. Reviews of the best guitars available for Beginners and Pros. Find useful tips to buy the best Classical Guitar. These guitars not just look beautiful, they sound beautiful as well.
Nothing can be as soothing as listening to some great classical guitar music. In case, you are also fond of classical, and intend to buy one, here are some useful tips to buy the best classical guitar.
Though most teenagers like the sound of an electric guitar, there are many other music enthusiasts who prefer the mellower, melodious and soulful sound of classical music.
Usually, guitar students have their first encounter with classical pieces while preparing for music exams. Experienced players, in their quest to learn more, come across classical at some point of time. Irrespective, it does come across as a breath of fresh air, because they’re usually soft and soulful.
Table of Contents
- The Classical Guitar
- How is the Sound Produced?
- About the Body
- Classical Guitar Strings
- What to Look For?
- Shiny May Not Mean Better
- About the Guitar Action
- What Do you Want to Play?
- How’s the Workmanship
- Effect of Temperature and Humidity
- Price Ranges
- More Guitar Brands
- Deals, Discounts & Sale
- You May Consider a Luthier Made Guitar
- Final Thoughts
The Classical Guitar
A classical guitar is actually an acoustical, wooden guitar with six classical guitar strings as opposed to the metal strings used in acoustic and electric guitars designed for popular music.
The classical guitar body style is also smaller than most other acoustic designs, which make the instrument easy to handle and feel.
How is the Sound Produced?
Classical guitars transmit the vibration of the string to the soundboard via the saddle and bridge. The combined resonance of the strings, saddle, bridge and soundboard are, in turn, amplified in the sound-box or body of the guitar.
The design and quality of the body, saddle, bridge and soundboard have a major impact on the guitar’s sound. The fingerboard provides room for intricate finger picking.
Basically, even these are acoustic guitars, so you don’t need any external equipment to amplify the sounds.
So the better the design and the quality of the saddle, bridge and the soundboard, the better and louder will be the sound.
Here’s a video of Moonlight Sonata being played on a classical guitar:
If you are an absolute beginner, you may want to check out the acoustic guitar guide before reading on.
But if you have some basic idea about guitars, then you would know that the name classical guitar doesn’t imply in any sense that you can only play classical music on it. You can actually perform in any genre of music on a classical guitar, though because of its long history a lot of classical stuff does get played on the classical nylon guitar.
Check out Classical Guitar vs Acoustic Guitar to know the differences and similarities.
About the Body
A classical guitar is comparatively easier to handle than an acoustic one, mainly because the body is smaller than most other acoustic designs.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to take care of the guitar, as per the maker’s instructions. Remember, things like temperature and humidity does impact wood, and so if proper care is not taken the quality of the guitar may deteriorate.
You may choose one keep the following points in mind:
Classical Guitar Strings
Acoustic guitars usually have steel-strings. Classical, on the other hand, use Nylon strings, which produce the mellow sound suitable for classical music.
Nylon produces a round, mellow sound and is the preferred sound for classical. The strings are usually available as low, medium, normal and hard tension strings.
The less string tension makes a classic guitar easier to play, whereas the longer string (from saddle to nut) enhances the bass response and sustain.
What to Look For?
So what are the things to look for when buying the best Classical Guitar?
The simplest way is to go buy the budget. Premium quality guitars will definitely sound better, look better, and have better finish than budget guitars. But then budget guitars are useful and can be played well; however they may not be as polished as the premium ones.
You may want to check the tuning heads, to see if they turn smoothly and allow reasonable pitch control. It is not a great deal however as they are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.
Shiny May Not Mean Better
There are several options around the 300 dollar mark that are of good quality. But these are definitely not going to sound like a 1000 dollar guitar.
Most budget guitars have several layers of glossy finish on them, which makes them look cool, however the fact is that they are done to cover up for the poor materials and craftsmanship used. The problem with that is those costing usually suffocates the wood and as a result you don’t hear a vibrant sound.
Usually, a lightly polished finish with high quality solid top is what produces a nice sound.
About the Guitar Action
Each guitar is usually unique in feel due to the variations in neck thickness and shape. If the neck is comfortable, the guitar will be easier to play.
The string height above the fingerboard (known as the action) also influences how easy it is to play. The action may vary according to personal taste and playing style.
A compromise between the two is best for most players. Fortunately, the action can be adjusted to suit your needs.
If you are a steel-string player, remember that classical action is higher than steel-string action due to nylon’s lower tension.
What Do you Want to Play?
Buying a new guitar is always exciting, be it for the beginner or for the experienced guitarist. However, a basic knowledge of the instrument and knowing about your musical tastes will help you make a wise purchase; a purchase that you can enjoy for years or perhaps even a lifetime.
Is playing guitar a serious hobby or are you majoring in music? If so, buying the best solid top guitar that you can afford makes more sense.
An inexpensive guitar is a good choice if you’re on a really tight budget or if you’re in it only for casual enjoyment.
Do you need amplification, so that you can play in the church or on stage? If so, an acoustic-electric classical will be a better option.
Listen carefully to the timbre (tone color) of the guitar. A balance between dark and bright is best and also the most versatile. However, it’s also more of a personal choice and depends on your playing style.
If your right hand technique is on the bright side, a dark sounding guitar will help balance your tone. If you play without nails, a brighter guitar will help bring out the upper frequencies.
Play single notes throughout the guitar’s range and listen to how they sustain. Listen to the relationship of the bass notes to the treble. The bass should be firm with a long sustain. However, the treble notes must be able to stand out in relation to the bass so you can project the melody.
Finally, have someone play the instrument so you can judge the projection. What’s the difference in sound between a $300 guitar and a $3000 one? Budget guitars are less resonating and have a smaller tonal and dynamic range than expensive guitars.
How’s the Workmanship
Whether you are a beginning or advanced player, a quality guitar is crucial to your success and enjoyment. A fine instrument is easy to play, exudes workmanship, and sounds resonant and responsive.
A quality instrument inspires you to practice and excel as a musician. Buy the best guitar you can afford and it will greatly enhance your learning and enjoyment.
Note the quality of workmanship in the seating and polish of the frets, the binding between the top and sides, and in the finish.
However, in all fairness, you normally get what you pay for.
Budget guitars cost less because cheap materials and lesser workmanship are used to trim costs. Budget guitars should be playable but will have unpolished frets, messy glue joints, unsounded bracing and poorly adjusted action (a good dealer will adjust the action if needed).
Premium quality guitars will have a near perfect fit and finish of all components. Even the interior bracing will be neatly glued and sanded smooth!
Before purchasing a guitar, make sure that the tuning heads turn smoothly and allow reasonable pitch control. Fortunately, cheap or broken turning heads are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.
Effect of Temperature and Humidity
Always remember, when buying a handmade guitar, you are buying a instrument made of wood.
Temperature and humidity are the main factors to ruptures and instrument deterioration if not cared according to the maker’s instructions.
Here’s an idea of how much you can expect to spend on these classical guitars.
Most beginners are looking for an inexpensive guitar. However you need to bear in mind that most guitars retailing for under $100 are usually not fun to play (they do have their use though).
So if you’re really serious about playing classical, it makes sense to spend a bit more and get a quality guitar. Fortunately, there are several factory-made classical guitars that are reasonably priced and are of good quality.
Most pros who use top quality concert instrument actually get them handmade guitar by a professional luthier. So they aren’t going to be cheap. Such hand-made guitars will cost a few thousand dollars. when you pay so much, you should ask for a trial period and also expect lifetime warranty.
If you are looking for a factory fitted guitar, and an affordable one, look for a solid cedar top Spanish guitar, with either laminated or solid sides and back. These will cost you well below thousand dollars.
In case, you like a guitar that is priced around a couple of grands, you should evaluate whether it makes sense to spend more and go for a handmade one as opposed to buying a factory made nylon string guitar.
You can read reviews of some of the best classical guitars here.
More Guitar Brands
Yamaha, Fender, Lauren are the popular brands that make some really good Classical Guitars. So here are some options depending on what you are looking for.
If you are looking for a good nylon-string classical guitar for kids or children, to get started with guitar lessons, then you need something that really is not a toy but a nice, lovely little classical guitar.
Here are a couple of options that are great for kids or children. You can check out the amigo 1/2 size classical guitar or the lauren 30″ student guitar. Both are equally good.
If you are looking for a full size guitar, with some bundled accessories, then you may check out these truly value-for-money options.
The one from fender that comes with a gigbag or the yamaha that gives you a digital tuner and padded gig bag. These are beautiful looking and rich-sounding guitars with a nice wooden body. If you have been on the fence about buying a guitar, do check these out.
Brands such as Yamaha, Takamine, Ibanez are the more popular ones out there, especially because they have a lot of stuff aimed at the beginner/intermediate level guitar players.
But then there are many other manufacturers of acoustic/classical guitars, some of which make expensive stuff for the connoisseur guitarist.
Here are some of the big brands (though not as popular):
Deals, Discounts & Sale
Classical Guitars for Sale: Find the best deals to own these wonderful instruments at affordable prices and discounts.
As you become more experienced and have the knowledge to decipher what is a good quality and sounding instrument, you become open to the idea of using used guitars as well.
This is because you know that high-quality guitars can be expensive, and you don’t want to wait forever to own such an instrument.
That is why it is a good idea to check out sites that offer Classical Guitars for sale, or have discounted music gear.
You May Consider a Luthier Made Guitar
That is one option available for the experienced players, and there are many who get their guitars custom made.
The challenge with a factory made guitar is that they are designed for a wide group of people and may not take into account your exact requirements. Most of these guitars are build to a certain minimum level of sturdiness.
An individual luthier doesn’t necessarily have to do that. Though it’s going to cost you more, the sound of the guitar is more likely to blow you away.
What to Look For?
You don’t have to smell anything fishy here and assume that they are all bad quality.
Most of the time, the dealers are trying to get rid of their inventory, or offer discounts because of festive season, as they make up on the volumes generated. These are brand new ones.
Even if you are looking for used ones, do remember to check the guitar thoroughly for wear and tear. Besides, classical guitars (aka Spanish guitar) can vary greatly, depending on their make. You need to know how to differentiate between poor quality and something that is of magnificent quality.
As I said you need to have some experience so that you can evaluate better. If you are a beginner, take a friend along who knows what to look for.
Can get Good Bargain
Once you are satisfied with the sound, finish, fit, comfort, you may definitely consider buying the guitar.
Many online sites also have the Blowout section where refurbished or slightly blemished (only looks wise) Classical Guitars are offered for sale where you get massive discounts.
You can indeed land yourself a good bargain on those Classical Guitars for sale.
Almost every guitar that is built has a purpose. So you’ll definitely find some good sounding guitars for a few hundred dollars. But then ask any experienced player, and he/she would quickly point out that the better ones cost more.
If you’re an intermediate player looking to upgrade, you should know that most affordable guitars have multiple layers of glossy finish, likely to make them look better and probably cover up some of the poor craftsmanship as well as materials. It makes them look cool and shiny, and most beginners associate that with better quality, and if you’re getting it at an affordable price, they think it’s worth buying. However, if you’re an experienced player, you would know that laminates usually suffocates the wood and prevents the guitar from producing a bright sound.
As you consider more expensive options, remember that you also have the choice of going in for a used luthier made guitar.
Here’s a video that provides more options on Classical Guitars: