Choosing the best classical guitar is not such an easy task, especially if you are a person who is just willing to master this musical instrument. Today, classical guitar is a fundamental instrument that is widely used almost in all music styles. Therefore, there are dozens of brands that offer hundreds of various models to consumers.
On the one hand, this means that classical guitars are extremely popular nowadays. On the other hand, this turns the choice of the first classical guitar in your life into a real challenge. To help you better orient among a huge variety of different classical guitar brands, I have prepared ten small but concise reviews describing the models that would be ideal for a novice player. What is more important, all these models are quite good and affordable and if everything goes well, they won’t lose their value over time. So feel free to get familiar with this article and you will also learn about perfect tone woods for the guitars.
Classical Guitar Reviews
The Hohner HAG250P is an elegant model designed by the world-known brand Hohner. The first thing that should be mentioned is that this guitar mainly targets children, so it does not have all the standard features intrinsic to classic guitars. The manufacturers claim that this model was launched as an initiative to support music education among children, so they really tried to produce high-quality product. In fact, the HAG250P is a 1/2 size classical guitar that is only 30.5 inches in length. Additionally, this product is equipped with soft nylon strings close together, which are ideal for tender childish fingers. Also, I find it important to mention that this guitar has a sturdy build quality while remaining pretty lightweight (its weight is 1 pound). When speaking about the materials used, I should say that this item is a handcrafted classical guitar that has an Agathis top back and sides. In my opinion, this fact contributes to the overall sound quality of this musical instrument. In conclusion, I would say that this guitar is an affordable item that has a pleasantly low action.
- The sound quality is pretty awesome, especially as for a guitar for children.
- The action is super easy and intonation is spot-on.
- The package includes the replacement strings.
- The first three strings seem to be too thin and mild.
- The neck if this guitar also seems to be rather thin, so there is a substantial risk of getting it broken.
Video Hohner HAG250P
In my opinion, the Hola Music managed to create a versatile guitar that can fit the needs of various groups of customers. This guitar is a perfect choice for novice players. The thing is that when purchasing this pretty-looking musical instrument, its owner gets free live, video lessons with an expert instructor who is going to teach you for the next two months. Although this model is a 3/4 size classical guitar, having 36 inches, it can be considered a low-budget product, it still looks like a perfect investment due to its portability and clear sound that it can produce. By the way, most customers will definitely like its natural glossy finish that complements its sophisticated design. What I like in this guitar most of all is a perfect choice of materials that were combined successfully to create such a great product. Basically, this musical instrument is made using only high-quality woods (e.g. the top made of spruce and neck, back, and sides compelled of mahogany). In my humble opinion, both spruce and mahogany belong to perfect tonewoods that have a really great look. The rosewood bridge only adds more value to this product. Overall, this can be the best classical guitar for beginners that offers an ideal combination of sound, design, and affordability.
- It comes with a reliable padded bag and a hex key.
- Soft nylon strings are ideal for beginners.
- The guitar body is covered with the lacquer to prolong its durability.
- The guitar’s saddle is way too high causing high action that may create discomfort for many players.
- It does not keep the tune for a long time.
I truly believe that this classic guitar is a pure masterpiece, as it is equally good for beginners and experts. Although guitars from Yamaha C-Series mainly target novice musicians who only make their first steps in guitar mastering, this wonderful 6-string product can ideally fit true guitar professionals. The C40II is a pretty affordable guitar that still offers exceptional playability and perfect tone characteristics. Having a very conventional look and 40.3 inches long, this model is the result of flawless craftsmanship and meticulous attention aimed at ensuring superb quality. Actually, this guitar made by Yamaha can be described as one of the most affordable classical guitars in a full-size scale. Personally I like the way this musical instrument behaves and how its nylon strings respond to my movements. If you have a rich experience of guitar playing, then I would recommend replacing the strings with silver or golden strings to achieve an even better sound. However, if you’re a beginner, you should better practice with those nylon strings that are actually equipped on the item for a couple of months. My verdict is that this low-budget guitar has a decent build quality and clear sound for the price you’re going to pay for it.
- The item boasts excellent playability.
- The tone of this guitar is rich.
- This guitar does not produce an annoying buzz.
- It comes bundled with a tuner and soft case.
- This guitar is designed for nylon strings only; steel ones can damage the neck.
- Large pieces of glue can be observed on some parts of the guitar.
Video Yamaha C40II
This model is a perfect musical instrument for those persons who are willing to start learning guitar playing. The main advantage of this product lies in the fact that that you get a perfect guitar starter kit that contains reliable waterproof guitar bag, a guitar clip tuner with the battery, a nylon strap with the leather end, an aluminum alloy guitar capo, as well as a guitar wipe and two guitar picks. This 36-inch classical guitar for beginners has a traditional number of 6 strings that are made of nylon to help the fingers of novice players get used to guitar playing with minimum pain. I should say a few words about the choice of materials. This particular model is constructed with solid basswood for the top, side, and back. I should also praise a high level of craftsmanship that can be observed in this model, as it looks pretty awesome and has a perfect sound too. At the same time, I have noticed an unpleasant feature that this guitar tends to lose its tuning pretty fast. Overall, this cheap guitar is an excellent choice for beginners, while experienced guitar lovers will be unlikely to enjoy this musical instrument.
- The instrument feels very comfy and lightweight even for 3/4 classical 6-string guitar.
- The tuner that comes with the guitar ensures super-fast tuning.
- The string height is just ideal for beginners.
- The bag is not cushioned at all, which makes the item not that good for traveling purposes.
- The item has an unpleasant chemical odor.
The Yamaha CGS103A has a perfect ratio of price and quality, so I believe that it will be favored by many guitar players in the near future. This model has a solid spruce top that gives it a rich and bright sound. Sides and back are made of deep meranti, which I cannot say is a decent combination for spruce. However, in this particular case, everything works pretty well. Maybe, the clear sound of this musical instrument is empowered by the use of rosewood fretboard and bridge. However, I need to mention that this is a 38-inch 3/4-sized classical guitar, which has a well-planned design that is suitable for both adults and teenagers. This Yamaha classical guitar is fitted with very compliant nylon strings that are just perfect for beginners. By the way, I like a clip-on tuner that comes with the purchase, as it helps you quickly tune the instrument. In conclusion, I would say that this guitar has a lot of positive features, though you can find a lot of models for beginners that are much cheaper.
- It comes with a gig bag that allows users to safely pack the guitar when you are on the go.
- The guitar produces incredible low tones.
- This guitar sounds very quiet.
- The full-size protective cover that comes with the product does not fit the instrument appropriately.
The Cordoba C3M is an ultra-light 46-inch full-sized classical guitar characterized by high responsiveness and strong vibrating sound. The Cordoba body has a spruce top and mahogany sides and back. It is equipped with soft nylon strings that allow for good playing. The guitar’s soundboard is very sensitive to the tension coming from the strings, and for that reason, it helps boost the sound power and volume. There is a set of tuning machines with pearl buttons. Each of them is made of gold and provides extreme tightness in holding the strings. The Cordoba design sticks to classical traditions. It reminds of a traditional Spanish guitar with a fan bracing pattern that usually delivers incredible playability. The item comes in one color and has a low-gloss finish on it. There are a number of essential accessories to empower the musician’s capabilities. The Cordoba classical guitar is a conspicuous example of what a decent guitar should look like. If you value the quality above the price, this Cordoba C3M is a perfect variant.
- It comes with a two-way truss rod to adjust the guitar’s neck.
- The sound is clear with the warm timbre.
- This is a handmade guitar that is comfortable to hold in hands.
- There are no additional accessories for this guitar. You will need to pay extra for a guitar’s hard case or tuner.
- It cannot be stored in a humid environment.
Video Cordoba C3M
The Donner guitar is an ideal choice for every musician who needs a full-sized left-handed classical guitar with incredible performance. The guitar is fit for both novice players as well as skillful guitarists. The Donner hard body features a light spruce top and mahogany sides & back. It produces a clear and vibrant sound wherever your stage is. The body is equipped with high-quality bronze strings that allow for resonating sound and increased volume. Yet, the strings are soft and comfortable to manipulate. The fingerboard is easy to play and enables the musician to change fret positions quickly and without difficulty. The neck is not thick and contributes to a comfortable grip. The Donner tuning machines are made of metal alloy and extremely tight so that the strings stay in tune for long. For that reason, you don’t have to tune the guitar every single time you are about to play. The item has a unique design. The combination of two planks of wood and a sophisticated cutaway make the Donner model both handy and elegant. The 39-inch body also has a satin finish that adds more chic to this guitar. The Donner left-handed guitar also comes with a variety of accessories that are designed to provide the guitarists with extreme comfort. They include a set of strings, polishing cloth, tuner key, capo, and strap. If you are looking for a left-handed guitar that complies with the latest craftsmanship standards, this one will definitely be the right decision.
- There is a large branded carrying case for the guitar.
- It is fit for any music style because of its loud and defined sound.
- The guitar produces a great and warm sound.
- It cannot be stored in a room with a high level of humidity.
Video Donner DAG-1CL
This 46-inch electric classical guitar is characterized by extreme durability and amazing performing capabilities. The Cordoba hard body is made of mahogany wood with the exception of a Canadian Cedar top. The neck feels nice and allows for easy transitions. It is not thick and helps the player to perform exquisitely. The electric guitar is powered by the Fishman Isys+ 2band system that helps produce rich and natural sound as well as make true-to-life and high-quality records. The Cordoba C5-CE Iberia model imitates the style of a traditional Spanish classical guitar with the only difference that it is better in terms of playability. The item has one design that looks appealing and classic at a time. The Cordoba electric guitar is a smart option for right-handed guitarists that strive to improve their comfort on stage or need to replace their old awkward musical instrument.
- The B-Band preamp is excellent and a lot better than similar guitar models have.
- The sound is awesome both plugged and unplugged.
- The C5-CE Iberia is suited for young and mature players.
- There is no case or accessories for the guitar.
- The sound may deteriorate because the frets are poorly polished.
Video Cordoba C5-CE Iberia
If you are in search of a good classical acoustic guitar, this Strong Wind model will probably fit your needs well. Though it is mostly designed for 12-year-old musicians, it sounds great even in the hands of a mature player. The 39-inch body has a laminated top and sturdy back and sizes that produce rich and defined sound. There are a number of high-quality tuning machines that let the player easily adjust the strings before playing. What you may also like about this guitar is that the fingerboard and the bridge are designed in a way that they are the same height above the top. This feature helps the player feel extremely comfortable when performing complicated and high-level songs. The nylon strings result in a soft grip and better playability. The Strong Wind design seems good-looking. The body has a pleasing gloss finish and a decorative pattern around the hole that together improve the guitar look. Overall, this model is a perfect choice for players that look for an entry-level classic guitar with good specifications and performance capabilities.
- The Strong Wind is fit for any style of music.
- The item is followed by a durable carrying bag.
- The strings go out of tune each time you pick up the guitar.
- After some time of using, a weird buzzing noise appeared if I play fret 7 through 13 on any of the strings.
Video Strong Wind
This 43-inch Takamine classical guitar is a great choice for right-handed players that are looking for a versatile acoustic-electric guitar. The Takamine body is made of spruce and mahogany that together create deep and resonating sound. It is equipped with 6 nylon strings that give enough volume but still are comfortably soft to play. The instrument is designed in Venetian style. You can see an unusual cutaway that promotes convenient playing, particularly in upper registers. The guitar also boasts a rosewood neck that contributes to playability as well. The Takamine electronics system has a preamp that allows the player to boost the sound, especially when they perform outdoors or in front of a wide audience. The item comes in one color and design. The most distinctive features are sophisticated inlaid mosaic rosette and a set of chrome tuners with white pearl buttons. The guitar also has a gloss finish that makes it look even more elegant and luxurious. The Takamine guitar has great value and performs well above its price.
- The Takamine produces a rich sound.
- The guitar comes without a carrying bag.
- Strings go out of tune pretty quickly.
Video Takamine GC1CENAT
Choosing Perfect Tone Woods for Classical Guitar
As you might have already known, not every wood type can be chosen as a material for making musical instruments. When speaking about classical guitars, there exist 8 core tone woods that are widely used by guitar manufacturers. Actually, each type of tone woods possesses its unique combinations of distinctive features that help the manufacturers create the guitar with a specific set of qualities. In most cases, guitar makers tend to mix these materials in order to achieve the most pleasant sound. For your information, cedar, spruce, mahogany, and maple are most commonly used for building guitar tops, while rosewood, mahogany, sapele, maple, Hawaiian koa, and cocobolo are 6 tone woods that are usually used for making backs and sides. Let’s discuss their main properties below, so you can better understand how to choose a classical guitar that is going to meet all your expectations and fit your needs ideally.
The choice of material for a guitar top can play a key role in determining the sound of any classical guitar. Learn about the main properties of tone woods that are used to build guitar tops.
- Cedar. This relatively inexpensive wood has a close and straight grain. It also boasts dimensional stability even when the surrounding temperature and humidity tend to change regularly. This material has a pleasant dark color. It possesses a wonderful richness of tone but lacks some clarity at very high volume.
- Mahogany. This aristocratic tone wood has a well-recognized warm tone that can get even better over time. However, mahogany tops usually require musicians to better emphasize each note.
- Maple. Frankly speaking, this tone wood rarely features guitar tops, though some manufacturers rely a lot on this material. This wood offers great density and a high degree of internal damping that results in an exceptionally rich sound with outstanding clarity observed on high frequencies. Maple is a key to creating guitars that have outstanding accentuation and separation for each note played in a chord. Maple tops are particularly suited to instruments which are to be played plugged in on stage as the crisp highs can cut through the mix.
- Spruce. This material is known as the most common tone wood used for building guitar tops. The biggest upside of spruce-top guitars lies in the fact that they can suit any music style and any style of playing. Spruce tops can vary in color (from creamy white to light brown), though they often deliver a wide dynamic range with crisp and clear sound. However, spruce tops usually add more value to a classical guitar not only in terms of versatility but also in terms of price making it considerably costlier.
Tone woods for back and sides
Traditionally, most guitar makers tend to choose the same wood for both back and sides. This can be explained by the fact that they have an aim to achieve the equal ability of back and sides to reduce or amplify the frequencies that are generated by the top part of the guitar. These are the 6 most popular tone woods that are actively used by guitar makers worldwide:
- Cocobolo. This unusual wood comes from Mexico in limited numbers, so you can be sure that those guitars built of this material are custom build. Known as a dense tropical wood, cocobolo has a very bright zing with a notable low end. This wood suits most playing styles but the most impressive feature of this material is that it gives a perfect balance between the bright highs and the lows.
- Hawaiian koa. This wood is another exquisite material that mostly appears in custom build or limited edition guitars. This tone wood can be often found in ukuleles, though it does not mean it is unsuitable for classical guitars. This material has a perfect look that is supported by the warm and mellowed tone with a rich low end. This tone wood requires constant playing for the first several months if you want to expand its full potential. However, it does not sound well when a pick is used for playing, so Hawaiian koa guitars should be favored by those persons who like playing with their thumbs.
- Mahogany. This material is easily recognized due to its warm tone with the focus on the mid-range sounds. It acquires a distinctive overtone over time. The classical combination of a spruce top with mahogany back and sides is highly valued among guitar players.
- Maple. This wood is often picked up by guitar makers due to its great good look and superb tone clarity. This material allows you to accentuate every single note you play, even during live performances in front of a wide audience. Maple is also appreciated for its ability to amplify the sound resonating from the guitar top to make it brighter and louder.
- Rosewood. This material (both Brazilian and Indian rosewood) is appreciated for its durability. This wood is mostly used in those classical guitars that are meant to produce sparkly notes. Rosewood ensures outstanding clarity across all the guitar frequencies. Suitable for a wide range of styles.
- Sapele. This material is sourced from a fast-growing and very sustainable African wood that tends to overharvest, so the idea of using it for guitar making has a huge sense. It looks very similar to mahogany with the only distinction that sapele is a bit lighter. Sapele has a great low end and a notable sizzling top end with a distinctive zing.
Woods for the neck
The main requirement for the neck wood is the ability to withstand the pressure that can change under the pull of the strings that could be affected by the alterations in temperature and humidity levels. At the same time, the wood for the guitar neck should be light enough in order to maintain the proper weight for the entire guitar. Honduran cedar and Honduran mahogany are considered the two most ideal kinds of wood for this job, as they combine perfect endurance with excellent lightweight properties. Also, some guitar makers try to further reinforce the necks of their best classical guitars by adding a bar of ebony across the overall length of the neck.
Woods for the fingerboard
When speaking about the ideal wood for the fingerboard, it is necessary to pick up such a material that very hard and dense, so it will not collect scars and scrapes from. Today, there are two kinds of wood that are usually chosen to form the fingerboard. The first one is rosewood that gives superb stability. The second one is Guinea ebony that is very hard and durable. You can observe rosewood fingerboards mostly in the entry-level guitars, while ebony fingerboards are widely used in the best classical guitars.
Hi everyone! I’m Thomas Moody, also known as Guitarzan.
All my life, the guitar has always been my real love. I played as a featured guitarist in several bands over the years.
My extensive experience of teaching lessons and blogging taught me to write useful texts. I tried to keep as many notes about musical instruments as possible. So stay tuned—new articles are coming.