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When it comes to selecting the best classical guitars for beginners, it is important to highlight what are some of the standard features you should be looking out for. Some classical guitars are shinier, some have different colours, some can be really expensive but you may not be sure what’s setting them apart. A classical guitar is essentially an acoustic guitar with nylon strings which have a see-through plastic-like string material. Classical guitars do not usually come with steel strings or pickguards.
Other features include a headstock with pegs on the back instead of jutting out from the sides. Most classical guitars have 19 frets in total with 12 frets joined to the top body of the guitar. The bridge on a classical guitar typically has the strings tied around instead of being held together with a pin. The soundboard would preferably be a solid top rather than a laminate, and is arguably one of the most important part of the instrument in terms of the sound it produces. It’s like a vibrating membrane that resonates and defines the character of the classical guitar. These pointers should help you recognize a classical guitar when you see one.
The companies mentioned in this article produce off the shelf instruments that are robust, well constructed, immediately playable and provide ample value for money. They come in a variety of sizes, such as the half-size guitar to suit six-to-nine year old children, a three-quarter size guitar to suit nine-to eleven year old children, and a full size guitar for those above eleven years of age.
The nylon string guitar design has evolved and been passed down through the years providing a warm, mellow and organic tone. You don’t need any other gadgetry like amplifiers, pickups, pedals, etc. All the brands mentioned in this guide have the expertise to manufacture fantastic classical guitars, many of which are slightly expensive for the beginner’s market. However, when they bring the product down to an economical price they bring the manufacturing know-how in order to create a guitar that is affordable, but also sounds good, plays well and has a high build quality.
Top Picks from the 8 Best Classical Guitars for Beginners
1. Belear M-40 39 Inch Classical Guitar
Belear Guitars are designed for students by professional guitar teachers. They offer the beginner everything that they need to get started. Their guitars are found in schools and homes worldwide due to their easy playability and quality of workmanship. They are more affordable the other guitars mentioned in this list, but provide a very high quality build and sound.
- Good quality laminate body with figured finishing
- Nickel fretting
- Rosewood fingerboard.
- Quite affordable
- Standardized scale lengths for both small hands and regular-sized hands
- Sizeable nut width to ensure sufficient space between the strings to get a clean sound
- The back and sides of the guitar are made of Meranti wood, which does not resonate as much as mahogany
2. Ortega Guitars Student Series 6 String Classical Guitar
Ortega Guitars were established in 1994 and are one of the most popular and best selling Spanish guitar brands in the world. They pride themselves on the vast majority of their stock being finished by hand. Ortega has a wide selection of instruments ranging from the beginner to the intermediate student, including hybrid guitars up to the concert platform at prices to match.
- Great design using top quality materials and manufacturing processes
- The top body is made of Oregon pine which produces a warmer tone
- The back and sides are made of sapele wood
- The neck is manufactured from mahogany
- The bridge and fingerboard are made of rosewood
- The machine heads at the top have the Lyre design made of nickel so they have a smoother action
- The guitar comes with a gloss over the wood
- The guitar has a solid body, which means it comes from a single piece of wood that is split and opened to produce the body rather than having a laminated body. This gives you a consistent tone across the entire table in the guitar and has a well-rounded resonance so you get a warmer, smoother sound
- This guitar is in a relatively higher price bracket and would probably be better suited for the adult enthusiast that would appreciate something a bit more high-end from the beginner market
3. Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar
The Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized Classical Guitar is typically seen in stores as part of a package, providing a really good value since you also get a gig bag, additional picks, and a clip-on tuner along with the guitar.
- This guitar has a plastic nut which is 50mm wide
- The body construction is all laminate.
- The top body is made of spruce
- The back and sides are made of morado wood which looks quite similar to mahogany
- It has a layered wood which has been toned to give it a reddish hue and make it look like cedar. Most classical guitars are toned in a similar manner to project a warmer sound
- The all-laminate construction allows Hohner to do this at a budget price and also makes it resilient to temperature, humidity or pressure changes
- The scale length is a standard 650mm with a twelve fret neck to body joint
- The guitar has a slotted headstock and nylon strings manufactured by Savarez. This guitar is lightly constructed and does not have a whole lot of tension on the top from the nylon strings. This allows the guitar to resonate freely and project a wonderful Spanish nylon string classical tone.
- This is a parlour guitar with a more gentle and mellow sound, so you would require an amplifier to project a louder sound
4. Cordoba Guitars C1M Acoustic Nylon String Guitar
Cordoba Guitars manufacture some of the best entry level guitars available in different sizes. With the Cordoba C1M Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, you get a fantastically made full-sized guitar with a gloss finish along with a gig bag.
- The guitar has an all-laminate construction with a spruce top
- The back and sides made of mahogany
- It has a rosewood bridge and fingerboard
- The neck is constructed from sapele
- This guitar is available in both the 1/2 and 3/4 size range.
- Ideal for a young child who’s going to be taking guitar lessons during the summer or at school, since it is quite portable and can withstand pressure and humidity changes.
- Plastic nut
- Gold tuners which provide an overall premium look to it
- Cordoba wisely added a truss rod which allows you to change the bow or relief in the neck of the guitar. It is particularly helpful when you are starting out, because then you are able to lower that action and make it a little more comfortable for you
- Flat radius fingerboard
- Padded gig bag
- Slightly thinner neck which might be harder to balance without a strap
5. Yamaha C40M Classical Guitar
The Yamaha C40M is an excellent option and has great playability. It is versatile, responsive and has a solid construction producing a very good quality sound from its ergonomic design.
- Great value for money and has not changed its price point for several years
- Highly durable
- Spruce top construction that projects a really lovely warm tone
- Full-sized model with a 650mm scale length
- Rosewood fretboard
- The instrument has an accurate and consistent fret positioning which produces a really good intonation across the strings in all positions
Intonation is very important while tuning the guitar since if a fret is slightly out of position or not consistent across the fretboard, it might cause tuning problems. Quite often the fretting has not been set up exactly right for cheaper guitars so when you come to the higher positions on the guitar, it has a very different tuning that is either too sharp or too flat. This is a major disadvantage when you are purchasing an instrument for the longevity.
- The sound and feel of this guitar is of very high quality
- Quite portable as it can fit into the cabin compartment during a flight and are easy to travel with.
- Yamaha guitars are constructed from a solid top which allows the wood to resonate more, thus granting you better tone and volume out of the guitar. It will also lighten and give you better tone over the lifetime of the guitar
- The closer frets will help beginners master the complicated chords more easily. However, this could be a problem if you have bigger fingers
- For an intermediate player, If you are interested in fingerstyle playback, then this could be a little hefty task in getting used to this
6. Ortega R122SN Family Series 6 String Classical Guitar
The Ortega R122SN Family Series 6 String Classical Guitar has an open pore satin finish which makes it more resonant. This guitar has a very robust, full, rich, low-end dominate tone and so it’s fantastic for individual notes as well as long sustained chords. This is one of Ortega’s entry level guitars with a solid top which provides it with a really good tone quality, sustain and volume production.
- The rosette is all wood and uses traditional bridge materials
- Very robust, full, rich, low-end dominate tone fantastic for individual notes as well as long sustained chords
- Solid cedar top
- Laminate mahogany on the back and sides
- The neck material is made of mahogany
- The fingerboard is rosewood
- 52mm nut width
- 19 frets with nice quality control
- Open pore satin finish which makes it more resonant
- The fitting of the nut and the intonation are slightly better than that found in the Ortega Student Series Classical Guitar
- This guitar has a slightly wider nut width and can offer more space if you have bigger hands
- The fan-braced guitar comes with a complete setup and the action is relatively low so there’s no buzzing
- Very minimal in terms of ornamentation
The affordable price coupled with the solid tops make this guitar a pretty good buy and one of the best classical guitars for beginners.
7. Cordoba C1 Protege Series Classical Guitar
The Cordobe C1 Protege Series Classical Guitar is an entry level Chinese-made classical guitar.Cordoba also manufactures a left-handed version of this guitar.
This guitar is also manufactured as a cutaway electric model in either the normal classical depth or with a thin line model. It’s got the wonderful look of a classical guitar and has a great tone. It sounds a little brighter but with a nice, mellow fullness of a cedar-topped classical guitar.
- Comes with a gig bag
- Gloss finish
- Truss rod to adjust the action, just like the Cordoba C1M Acoustic Nylon String Guitar
- Solid cedar top
- Mahogany laminate back and sides
- The neck is made of Nato wood which is easier for beginners to manage
- The fingerboard is an ebonized maple with a smooth finish
- The use of laminate is able to keep the price down, but it still feels and sounds really good and is one of the best classical guitars for beginners out there
- The packaging is thin and does not offer too much protection
8. Valencia 3/4 Size Classical Guitar
Valencia Guitars were established in Melbourne, Australia in 1972. Their vision was being able to provide young students with excellent quality and value for money guitars, making guitars that sound great and are built to the highest standards. Valencia is now the bestselling brand for guitars around the world with a high resale value as well, in case you would like to move onto a slightly more advanced guitar after you’ve grown out of your half-size or three-quarter size guitar.
Valencia Guitars come in a selection of different varieties such as a natural wooden colour, some come in shades of black, blue, pink, purple, red sunburst, while some have a glossy finish. They also manufacture both left-handed and right-handed guitars. They have 19 frets that are made of nickel, and have a scale length of 580mm. The nut width is 48mm, so it’s smaller and more manageable for the hands.
- 19 frets that are made of nickel
- 580mm scale length
- Nut width is 48mm, so it’s smaller and more manageable for the hands
- The top, back and sides on these guitars are Linden, which is a laminated table of woods that have been fused together to make it very secure
- Sound is well balanced, and its resonance gives a great playback
- Top-quality wooden & body finish
- Project fine soft tones that are more fit for playing classical music, however playability should be more important than sound for beginners
Classical guitars are priced across a huge spectrum and there are various factors contributing to its overall value. Some classical guitars can be very expensive if it has some historic value or it is a collector’s item. However, if you end up selecting the cheapest classical guitar in the market it might hold you back in the learning process. You might quit because you think you’re no good at the instrument, but in reality it is the instrument that isn’t very playable. It is safe to assume that any classical guitar priced above INR 8,000 is worth its value since that is usually the range for solid top instruments.
You can make your selection for a beginner classical guitar across a host of factory-made instruments, each with varying quality. You’ll know you’re making a good, durable purchase with brands like Yamaha, Cordoba, Ortega etc. Generally, the more you spend the more playable an instrument gets and therefore projects a better, wider sound.
This was our rundown of the 8 best classical guitars for beginners. All the manufacturers mentioned in this guide make fantastic guitars as you go up in price with all sorts of individual options available when you want to upgrade from an entry-level guitar. If you’re in the market for a beginner level classical guitar, this guide features guitars that plays well, sound good, and give you the best value.