Best Classical Guitar (2020)

The guitar is a beautiful instrument so it’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Whether you’re looking for something new, you’re returning to music, or you want a professional level classical guitar to perform with there are thousands of options available and it can seem overwhelming at first.

This guide is here to take you through some of the best options out there, so you have all of the information to make the best choice for you.

Best Classical Guitar

The Best Classical Guitar - The Top 5 Reviewed

Now let’s get down to business and review some of the best classical guitar. Please know we only considered the highest rated tenor ukuleles for this list:

  1. Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar 
  2. Cordoba Dolce 7/8 Classical Guitar 
  3. Yamaha CG122MCH Solid Cedar Top Classical Guitar
  4. The Yamaha FD01S Classical Guitar
  5. Cordoba C12 SP Classical Guitar

We used consumer reviews and our own research to compile this list. These are unbiased reviews designed to help you pick the best possible classical guitar.

Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar

Our rating:

Like most of Yamaha’s the model is an excellent guitar and a great choice for beginners but could also be used by more experienced players. It’s a full-size classical guitar with a rosewood bridge and fretboard. It’s got 19 frets and you’ve got inlaid frets which while not common is great for beginners. This is an eminently playable guitar partially because of the wide fretboard and spaced out strings.

It sounds great and sustains well, and the tone is clear and bright. The guitar’s back and sides are meranti wood, and you’ll find it easy to tune. A truly excellent guitar for beginners and advanced players alike. If you’re looking for a guitar that will last you as you get better, and your skills grow than this is a good option. It’s lightweight so it’s a good option if you’re on the move, possibly going from gig to gig.

Pros

  • Beautiful clear tone

  • Great playability for new players or more advanced ones

  • Inlaid frets perfect for helping beginners get to grips

  • Beautifully made, very durable

  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • The rosewood bridge is stained black, but this tends to come off after a while 

Sale
Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar
  • Spruce top
  • Meranti back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard & bridge
  • Gloss finish
Cordoba Dolce 7/8 Size Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Iberia Series

Our rating:

If you struggle with a full-size guitar, maybe because you have smaller hands and your fingers can’t span four frets. But it might be that ¾ size is too small, so this guitar which is a 7/8 might be the solution for you as it is only a little bit smaller than a full-sized one. It’s a lightweight classic and it’s perfect for adult beginners who want something that they’ll still be able to use as they advance. Made from mahogany, it has a cedar top with a gloss finish.

Traditionally braced in the Spanish fan style it has a built-in truss rod. The tuning machines are gold with pearl buttons and it’s very comfortable to play due to its size, but the fret spaces aren’t so small that you’ll feel uncomfortable while you play. The tone is great and the guitar can really fill a room with sound due to the cedar top, while the mahogany body creates a rich deep tone.

Pros

  • 7/8 size so perfect for those with smaller hands

  • Great clear tone

  • In-built truss rod

  • Three-year warranty included

  • Very comfortable to play so excellent for beginners still getting to grips with playing

Cons

  • Fretboard action could be lower

Cordoba Dolce 7/8 Size Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Iberia Series
  • Solid Canadian cedar top
  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Lightweight, 7/8 size classical
  • 50mm nut width
  • Savarez Cristal Corum strings in High Tension, 500CJ
Yamaha CG122MCH Solid Cedar Top Classical Guitar

Our rating:

This next guitar is also from Yamaha and is a truly excellent model from these titans of the industry. The quality of this instrument is truly incredible, and the sound is out of this world. Due to its solid cedar wood top, this guitar has a lovely full, rich sound and tone. It has a matte finish and a 3-ply neck construction that makes this a durable model and it has a great vintage look that will be sure to turn heads wherever you go.

The design around the soundhole is glued on rather than inlaid and this might bother some players. Ultimately, this is an excellent lightweight guitar great for anyone starting out playing classical, or someone who has been playing for a while and is looking for a good practice guitar.

Pros

  • Rich and full sound, a definite upgrade to other similar guitars on the market in tone

  • Well-constructed and durable

  • Great vintage look

  • Great for a beginner or a more advanced player looking for a good guitar to play around the house

  • Excellent price considering the quality of tone and the craftsmanship

Cons

  • The glued inlay may annoy some players

Yamaha CG122MCH Solid Cedar Top Classical Guitar
  • Solid Cedar Top
  • 3-ply neck construction to improve durability against neck warp
  • Low String Action
  • Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge;19 Frets / 25.6 inches Scale
  • Natural Matte Finish
YAMAHA FD01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar (Amazon-Exclusive)

Our rating:

This guitar is very responsive and has a deep sound that will suit beginners and advanced players alike. There are a lot of great guitars on the market, but this is one of the best ones. It has a spruce top, back and sides made from eastern mahogany, and a rosewood fretboard and bridge. The neck is made from nato and it’s easy to slide up and down while playing.

The craftmanship o this guitar is really up there, and Yamaha has pushed themselves to deliver a quality instrument. The tonewood Yamaha has used helps create the pitch-perfect tone and projection. The spruce top helps make a clear and crisp sound. You’ll also find it easy to change the sound to your preference, though for a more personalized tone you may want to change the strings.

This guitar isn’t without its hiccups and if you’re planning to use this with other guitars there is a risk you might get drowned out, which makes it not the best for onstage performances.

Pros

  • A great option for beginners and will satisfy many advanced players too

  • Very well-crafted guitar made from excellent materials

  • Wonderful clear tone

  • Great for bluegrass picking

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a case, so you’ll have to buy your own to properly protect your instrument

YAMAHA FD01S Solid Top Acoustic Guitar (Amazon-Exclusive)
  • The perfect first guitar; Combining quality woods and outstanding tone at an outstanding value
  • Solid spruce top with Nato (Eastern Mahogany) back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
  • The acoustic guitars need a professional setup out of the box to achieve the player's preferences
Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case

Our rating:

Yes, the world famous guitar brand Fender also makes ukuleles. Over the years their brand has expanded and they now offer a variety of stringed instruments.

With such a big brand name it's not surprising that Fender came out with the Montecito tenor ukulele.

It is a good quality ukulele that would be considered in the mid range price range.

Pros

  • Made out of Koa wood, which is the traditional wood used to create ukuleles in Hawaii.
  • Features a Fender telecaster style headstock which gives it that rock and roll feel.
  • Wood quality gives it a beautiful tone.
  • Has that one of a kind Fender design.
  • Available in multiple colors.
  • Has a no-tie bridge which makes it super easy to change the strings.
  • Has a solid top giving it a resonant tone.

Cons

  • Users have complained about it going out of tune fairly often.
Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case
  • Solid European spruce top with solid Indian rosewood back and sides
  • Lattice braced top and raised ebony fingerboard for easy playability when accessing upper frets
  • Stunning flamed maple wedge
  • Hand inlaid Mother-of-Pearl "Esteso" Rosette
  • Includes hard shell Cordoba humidified arch top wood case

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of different factors to consider when buying any guitar, whether that be a electric, bass or acoustic but there are a few things that are worth knowing when it comes to the classical guitar before you buy one. One of the most important things to consider is the type of wood and the design of the body. A guitar has a top, side, and back, and the body is what amplifies the resonating string vibrations while the soundhole projects the sound. The better the resonance the more volume the guitar can produce. The wood type is what makes the timbre warm or bright.

The top of the guitar is the most essential because that is the piece that’s in direct contact with the bridge which transfers the string vibration to the sides and the back of the body so it all resonates together. A solid top means that the guitar has a top made of one piece of wood, while a laminated top is three or more pieces glued together.

Laminated wood is stronger and can withstand temperature a lot better than a solid top can, but a solid top vibrates better meaning it has a better sound. Most beginner models have a laminated top, but it’s something that’s worth knowing before you start looking for your guitar. It doesn’t matter so much if the rest of the guitar is solid or not, because only an expert musician is really going to be able to tell the difference.

Before you start thinking about the wood you want, you need to think about the actual sound you want. Obviously, this depends on the type of music you’re looking to play. Are you looking for something with a bit of bite to it or more of a warm tone? Different woods produce different sounds so here’s a quick guide to what wood you should look out for.

Spruce

Spruce is a very common wood type used for classical guitar tops, it is light in color, and combines strength and elasticity for a bright articulate sound with a wide range. There are multiple different spruces and they each make slightly different sounds. For example, Engelmann has a good round, ripe timbre. European spruce, by contrast, gives you the kind of warmth that cedar usually gives you.

Cedar

Cedar is less dense and lighter than spruce, which means it produces a warm tone making it perfect for soft fingerpicking. Cedar does produce less volume than spruce, so if you’re strumming with your fingers you’ll reach the limit of the dynamics more quickly than on a spruce-top guitar. Spruce is excellent for projecting sound, while cedar fills the room with sound. Cedar is a great wood for beginners because it’s more forgiving so mistakes in your playing are less noticeable.

Mahogany

Mahogany is only ever used on the back and sides on classical guitars because the wood is dense and stiff. This means it makes the nice bright sound mahogany is known for, which interestingly only get fuller with time. It tends to sound deeper than spruce because it produces such warm and sweet mids.

Unlike steel-string guitars, classical guitars always have the same shape, but they do come in a variety of sizes which is one of the reasons why they’re perfect for younger players. Classical guitars come in sizes 4/4, 7/8, 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4, with 4/4 being the full-size model. It’s worth trying out a few sizes to find the best fit for you, and you may be surprised by what that is. Keeping an open mind could mean you find the guitar of your dreams quicker, and that your playing improves faster.

If how your guitar looks is important to you than it’s worth remembering that decorative details will push the price up. If you’re just getting started then it’s worth holding out till you’re a bit more familiar with what you like and what you don’t. Often these details are done by hand and they’re a good indication of how much effort’s been put into the finish, a far more important question is the finish itself.

Most classical guitars are finished with a thin layer of lacquer which can help the way the body resonates. The more money you want to spend, the thinner the layer of lacquer will be. You’ll have to decide what sort of finish you want such as glossy or matte, and if you want the guitars natural coloring or another color. Color doesn’t affect the sound but it’s a great way to express yourself and you might find it makes you more comfortable when handling your guitar to know it’s a bit more you.

If you’re a complete beginner, it's worth looking at what sets are available because you probably don’t know exactly what accessories you need or even what’s available. Most major brands offer these and they’re a great way to get all the kit you need, so when it’s time to upgrade you know what you’ll use and what you won’t use.


FAQs

How much is a classical guitar?

Budget is important for any large purchase and making sure you get the guitar for you for the price you want is often a big stress especially for beginners. Luckily, you’ll find there’s a large range of prices and you don’t have to sacrifice quality for budget. Keep an open mind and your certain to find something that’ll suit you.


What should I look for in a classical guitar?

Ultimately, you need to find something that you’re happy playing. Finding the best guitar for you is more important than anything else, because if you don’t like playing it than you simply won’t pick it up. Think about your skill level and what’s most likely to frustrate you if something goes wrong with your guitar. This is especially important to beginners or kids who might be trying to learn an instrument for the first time. Making sure you are comfortable is the most important thing.


What’s the best brand of classical guitar?

All the brands included in this guide are good quality, but if you’re unsure than someone like Yamaha who are experts in their field are always a safe bet.

Hopefully, this guide will have helped you make some decisions about what guitar you want and taught you a few things about what to look out for. Make sure you get the guitar that’s right for you and keep in mind the kind of music you want to play and your skill level. This is a big purchase, so have fun and enjoy making music!