Best Beginner Classical Guitar Guide

Some people prefer to learn how to play the guitar on a classical guitar as opposed to an acoustic or electric guitar. It has a very distinct sound and is much easier on the fingers when just starting out. Classical guitars are also a popular means to starting on in finger style guitar.

There are a few big differences between the classical guitar and acoustic/electric guitars. This includes:

  • A Wider Neck – Classical guitars have a wider neck than other guitars, providing more spacing between strings but also making it more difficult for small hands to wrap around.
  • A Shorter Neck – The neck of a classical guitar meets the body at the 12th fret, whereas most acoustic and electric guitars connect at the 14th fret.
  • Nylon Strings – As opposed to steel strings used on acoustic and electric guitars, classical guitars use nylon strings. They are gentle on the fingers and produce a different sound than steel strings, although they do take some getting used to.
  • Soundhole Rosette – Although it serves no other purpose than¬†aesthetic, most classical guitars boast a beautiful decoration around the sound hole that you won’t find on an acoustic or electric guitar.

Take the Quiz! Which Guitar is Right for YOU?

For me, the purpose of this classical guitar is ________________.

My budget for buying a new classical guitar is:

The most important feature of the guitar for me is:

My dream classical guitar _________________.

Top 5 Classical Guitars for Beginners

Use the table below to sort by ratings and/or price. The price breakdown is as follows: $ = 0-150, $$ = 150-250, $$$ = 250-350, $$$$ = 350+

ImagesGuitarTypeSpecsPros / ConsPriceRating
Takamine Classical Guitar for beginnersTakamine Electric Classical Guitar (EG124C)

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6-string Classical Guitar with electronicsSpruce top with Nato back and sides.

On-board electronics.
Pros: Quality construction at a relatively low price point. On-board tuner & electronics that allow you to plug in to a sound system.

Cons: A little more expensive than most beginner classical guitars, although the quality is much better.

Read the review of the Takamine EG124C Classical guitar
$$$$

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5 out of 5 Stars
Cordoba Classical Guitar for beginnersCordoba C5 Classical Guitar

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6-string Classical GuitarSolid Canadian Cedar Top
Mahogany back and sides
Pros: Solid Cedar top makes for beautiful sound and a good projection for a beginner guitar. Cordoba is a respected brand in the classical market.

Cons: Some complaints about fret buzz from many players, which can be fixed but shouldn't occur with a new guitar.

Read the review of the Cordoba C5 Classical guitar
$$$

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4.7 out of 5 Stars
Yamaha C40 beginner classical guitarYamaha C40

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6-string Classical GuitarLaminate Spruce top with a laminate Meranti back and sides.

Nato neck.
Pros: An affordable beginner acoustic.

Cons: Sound quality and projection is limited. You get what you pay for but it's perfect for an absolute beginner.

Read the review of the Yamaha C40 Classical guitar
$

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4.1 out of 5 Stars
Espana classical guitar for beginnersEspana Classical Guitar

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6-string Classical GuitarSolid Cedar top with laminate mahogany back, sides and neck.

High-grade tuners.
Pros: Solid top produces clear, loud sound. High grade tuners prevent string slippage that might cause the guitar to go out of tune easily. Comes with a hardcase (big bonus if you travel!)

Cons: Playability is adequate for a beginner.

Read the review of the Espana Classical guitar
$$

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4.3 out of 5 Stars
Alvarez AC65HCE Classical electric guitar for beginnersAlvarez AC65HCE Classical Guitar

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6-string Classical guitar with electronics and a cutaway.Solid Cedar top with laminate mahogany back and sides.

On-board electronic and EQ system.
Pros: Long and thin neck similar to acoustic guitar (easier to play). Solid top and a cutaway. Great playability and a beautiful sound that blows away many more expensive guitars.

Cons: Not a true classical guitar (i.e. the neck is longer and thinner).

Read the review of the Alvarez AC65 Classical hybrid guitar
$$$

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5 out of 5 Stars

Beginner Classical Guitar Buyers Guide

When it comes to classical guitars, there are a few key features that you should keep in mind as you make your purchase. This includes:

  • The size/shape of the guitar
  • The nylon strings
  • The projection of the guitar
  • Quality of the tuning machines

Size/Shape of your Classical Guitar

Like most ever beginner guitar, classical guitars come in different shapes and sizes. There are smaller classical guitars that suit children but may be uncomfortable for adults. Likewise the wide neck of a full-size guitar may be too much for a child to learn on.

The shape of the guitar also has a huge affect on the sound and “projection” of the guitar (see below for more descriptions on projection). A thin body produces a smaller sound with more treble while a thick body allows the bass notes to sound out.

Finally, the shape of the guitar is all about personal preference. Some classical guitars seem elongated, which may not look very aesthetically pleasing to some people. It’s all up to your own preference.

The Nylon Strings

Nylon strings are a different type of beast. They produce an entirely different sound and feel completely different than steel strings. On the plus side, they are much easier to push down with your finger tips, a major advantage if you’re just beginning on guitar.

On the negative side, however, they don’t produce a sound with as much edge as steel strings. If you want to be able to use a pick to get a¬†chunk chunk sound, nylon strings might not be for you.

Finally – and this is definitely something to keep in mind – stringing a classical guitar is completely different than stringing an acoustic or electric guitar. Be prepared to learn new methods that most guitarist won’t be knowledgable to help you with. Here’s the best guide to changing a nylon string guitar.

The Projection of your Classical Guitar

This is a quality that is often overlooked by many people looking to buy a classical guitar. They take into account the size and sound quality while they’re finger picking, but they forget all about the projection.

What is projection? Projection is the ability for the sound of a classical guitar to maintain a strength of sound without distorting its quality and clarity.

If you plan to be playing your classical guitar in public, projection is an important quality to keep in mind. The best way to test project is either to compare the guitar with one that you know has good projection, and if that’s not possible then have another person come along with you to listen to how it plays in an open space.

Quality of the Tuning Machines

The tuning machines on a classical guitar are very different than those found on an acoustic or electric guitar. They are much more prone to slipping, especially with lesser-quality guitars, which results in an out-of-tune guitar.

Test the tuning pegs to make sure that they run cleanly without any slippage. Wind and unwind them to see if there are any jumps or catches in the mechanism.

Nothing frustrates a player than a guitar that easily gets out of tune. This is an easy way to avoid that potential problem.

 

8 Responses to Best Beginner Classical Guitar Guide

  1. denny says:

    I have never played any instrument, will be starting from scratch, not sure which type will be the best to learn on. want to play for self relaxation.
    I am 62, what are your thoughts

  2. Laak says:

    Same question here, I was thinking an Ibanez entree level. Or a silent Aria Sinsonido 101c.

  3. amy says:

    For a smaller person what size do you recommend to buy?

    • JOJO.MOJO says:

      If you are below 10 or 9,I would personally recommend to buy a small size guitar whereas for above 10,I would prefer a full size guitar !!!

  4. Jim says:

    I just recently found your site and am very happy to have done so. I’ve been playing classical guitar now for almost 50 years and still try to play 2-3 hours a day. Back in the day I would go out and play solo performances once or twice a week without warmup time. I would just sit down and start my gig. Unfortunately, today I suffer with herniated disks and severe stenosis in my cervical spine and bad carpal tunnel in both hands with some days better than others. I’ve owned a number of guitars over the years including a hand made Yamaha classical guitar. A guitar I’ve been looking at now for years I finally purchased very recently. My wife agreed to allow me to purchase would be a better way to say it. We will be married 44 years this year. I bought the Yamaha NCX2000R. It arrived January 26, 2017 and after it arrived I was impressed with the sound and playability immediately but the tuning pegs were somewhat of a disappointment. The screw portion was good enough but the Takamine EC 132C I play each day has premium Gotoh tuning pegs I’ve installed and replaced at least twice. I have the ebony knobs and these tuning pegs now go for about $97 per set. I ordered Sloane Classical tuning pegs for my new Yamaha NCX2000R which cost $303.95 delivered and should arrive next Tuesday. I’ve contacted Yamaha a couple of times since taking delivery questioning taking down the saddle nut about 15/1000″ along the grade. This guitar came with a sound hole cover, strap, case, instruction manual and an Allen wrench for adjusting the truss bar. My Takamine has some wear on the fret board and undoubtedly the frets but the action is about the same as my new Yamaha. I think that there is definitely room for improvement in the action. My serial number indicates that I have the 10th one they built. You would think that a guitar that costs as much as the Yamaha NCX2000R would be adjusted to its best possible action since it’s hand made. What are your thoughts on the matter. I’ve asked them the recommended tip velocity on the router bit to cut the bone saddle nut. I’m a retired mechanical engineer and after training and working in the navy as an aviation metalsmith and as a machinist while going through school at LSU I’m thinking that I can trim the saddle nut myself. I have a variable speed Bosch router and Bosch router table. I sold my machine shop so no more milling machine. Would you suggest having a machine shop do the work? Also, who would you recommend for buying a replacement saddle nut. I could send a cad drawing and order several trimmed to different heights. Your experience far exceeds my own when it comes to adjusting the truss bar as I’ve never attempted this. Your thoughts on the matter will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

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