Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 10 Classical Guitar Brands


"So What is the best Classical Guitar Brand?" is the most frequently asked question when it comes to buying or getting to know about Classical Guitars. And to tell u the truth giving the answer to this question isn't as easy as it seems. A few months back I had searched the net for top classical guitar brands. Unfortunately I got redirected to a several top 10 electric guitar brands page. After suffering from such serious set of disappointments of Classical Guitars being not famous or sold as much as the electric, and after being tormented by the idea that no one cares to write a blog on it, I decided to do something about it. So after a lot of suggestion & thinking, I'm finally going to put the list of 10 Classical Guitar Brands on the objective basis of Global reputation, Professors' recommendations, and from what I've heard at the Guitar Festival's from the Maestros. It is obvious that the maestro's guitars are made by Professional Lutheirs, who make around 10 expensive guitars a year. So these lutheirs do not mass produce guitars, and hence I'm not going to include them here. Most people who are curious enough to search for the top 10 classical guitar brands probably don't intend to buy those guitars that come with gigantic price tags. Anyways, here's the list :

Now just to be fair and honest, from what I've understood - there is no number one brand. Sure you can have an objective mathematical model on the basis of certain attributes which can tell you who is going to be number one. But I won't do so, I'll just name the guitar brands with some of their guiatrs photos and info. And this list is for those whose budget is from $100 - $2000 ( USD).



Jose Ramirez Guitars

( a photo of the Jose Ramirez shop in Madrid )
This needs a proper introduction. When it came to Ramirez Guitar, everyone I asked seemed to answer in a consistent way, which was by simply addressing it as 'great'. It was almost as if this brand was impeccable, and no one had any grievances against it. Even the Maestro's talked a lot about it. It's obvious that Ramirez has a huge legacy and history, and since Segovia once said in his documentary that Ramirez is the best luthier along with Hauser, it gained itself an automatic 'the best status' with Herman Hauser guitars on which both Segovia and Bream has played.




( a photo of the Jose Ramirez 125th Anniversary Guitar)

Here's a brief history on Jose Ramirez.

José Ramírez (1858 - 1923) was a luthier, the founder the Ramírez Company and of the Spanish luthier dynasty who continue to run it. His grandson José Ramírez III was in turn head of the company, and a noted innovator who made significant changes to the classical guitar.Ramírez was the first child of José Ramírez de Galarreta, a very well-off land owner. In 1870 he became apprenticed to Francisco Gonzalez (1830-1880). In 1890, he opened his shop in Madrid; Ramirez Guitars would continue to operate from these premises until 1995.Ramírez' work generally followed the designs of Antonio Torres (1817 – 1892) in all respects except one: He produced a larger flamenco guitar known as the tablao guitar. Both this innovation and the quality of his guitars generally were favourably received, but he is chiefly remembered as the founder of the dynasty of luthiers and the guitar manufacturing company that still bears his name. Click here to go to their website.




Manuel Rodriguez Guitars

( a photo of a Manuel Rodriguez Junior)

Manuel Rodriguez And Sons is also an excellent brand considering all of their guitars from their diverse price range. They have guitars from 500 $ - 4000$ + and they have been making Guitars for over a 100 years. This is perhaps a brand of guitar that everyone owns or owned at some point of their life. I've personally fetched a great review on almost all valid Rodriguez guitars. Manuel Rodriguez, the grandson of flamenco guitarist Manuel Rodriguez Marequi and son of classical luthier Manuel Rodriguez Perez, learned the art of constructing a guitar firsthand. His apprenticeship began at the age of 13 in Madrid, and after operating in his own shop in Spain, Manuel emigrated to Los Angeles in 1959 and opened a business there.

Manuel resided in Los Angeles for nearly 15 years, making guitars for professionals, Hollywood actors, teachers, and students before moving back to Madrid in 1973.

Using only the finest woods, and hand-forming each to precise tolerances, Manuel Rodriguez developed distinctive guitars fit for the world’s preeminent artists. Each instrument is as unique and individual as the musician who plays it.
Click here to go to their website. 





Armin Hanika Guitars

(A photo of Hanika 56 pf spruce top )
There's a saying that you can't go wrong with a Hanika and I want to assure you that the statement is indeed very true. Founded in 1953, Armin Hanika is currently among the top notch brands from Germany. In case you didn't know, Germans have made serious contributions to the world of classical guitar making and playing. All traditional classical guitars are made with the traditional Hauser Bracing which was invented by the German luthier Hermann Hauser. Hauser's indispensable contribution made piano players envy the guitar and also made just about everyone from Segovia to Bream happy. Most of the Music conservatories in Germany teach Classical Guitar and their teachers are some of the best in the world. Hanika Guitars have been recently added to the book of German standards year of the century. They have four categories of Classical Guitars: 1. Studio Line 2. Recital Line 3. Concert Line and 4. Professional Line. Studio line deals with Guitars for beginners and the rest are an ascension of quality and price.
Price starts around $500 and ends somewhere around $5000 ( they make custom guitars as well).
They are also well known for their after sales service and they give a Lifetime Warranty on manufacturing defects although it's next to impossible to find a manufacturing flaw. The only thing people often don't like about Hanika Guitars is their unconventional Rosettes and their Matt top finish which doesn't look so polished but does a brilliant job when it comes to tone production.
Click here to go to their website.

(photo showcasing another Hanika Guitar's unconventional yet stylish Rosette and Logo )





Yamaha Guitars


( Photo of a Yamaha CG 150 A )

Among the best of all guitar manufacturers Yamaha is probably the most underrated, and this is probably because of their intermediate $500 guitars being made in China & Indonesia and not in Spain or Western Europe. Seriously, it is a unusual problem for Yamaha to sell guitars at this price range! Why would someone invest 600$ to buy a Spanish Classical guitar that is made in China. He/she would only buy it if the guitar surprisingly seems to be better than all the Spanish, Brazilian, Bulgarian, name-any-country-nian , guitars in the shop. Even if this happens the buyer would have second thoughts about the Spanish made guitar to open up it's volume after some months, and would eventually stick with an Paco Castillo or anything that has 'made in spain' logo on it. Funny as it may sound, but this is all true. If I still recall correctly then Yamaha has probably made the best guitars in the cheapest price range like Yamaha C40 and C70 which costs around 100-150 dollars, and these guitars last long as well. And due to this made in China and Indonesia dilemma people often forget about the top of the line expensive Yamaha series., the ones that are made in Japan. They have been considered by many to sound insanely good. And don't forget that for cheap and beginners guitars it's really hard to find a something more reliable.  They have four series of Classical Guitars - 1. C Series 2. CG Series 3. CGS Series and 4. GC Series.
 Click here to go to their website.



Orpheus Valley / Kremona Guitars


(To the left is a photo of the Orpheus valley sofia Guitar)
Orpheus valley, a Bulgarian Brand have been making Classical Guitars for more than 85 years.
Coming from a country which was once under communist rule, the guitar makers do not believe in the capitalist ideologies of tricking people just to earn more money. Probably if u invest around 1500 U.S. dollars, then u cannot get a better alternative in this price range for a full solid body guitar. Sofia and Romida are two of their great guitars among many. I personally loved the sound of Romida Rds, it easily makes a lot of guitars that cost twice as much look lame. Click here to go to their website.




Madrigal Guitars 

Madrigal Guitars might have not been so popular internationally but on my score book, they've done extremely well.
Unlike Ramirez or Rodriguez the Madrigal isn't well known for its sound/tone, but for being well built and providing great volume.

However the top of the line Madrigal model which is the B11 not only has great volume but also a sweet tone and good sustain. Soundwise most people said that they would go for a Rodriguez. Madrigal Classical Guitars are made with the best materials and craftsmen following the handicraft building method as learned from the Spanish Masters.

All guitars have solid tops for a rich warm sound, mahogany or rosewood back and sides, rosewood or ebony fretboards, top quality tuning machines and a sophisticated.
Madrigal has also promosing models in their A1 - B1 , student range.








Alhambra Guitars


( to the left is a photo of Alhambra 11P)
Alhambra, the name might not sound as catchy or fashionable as Ramirez or Rodriguez, but these guitars in the last 30 years have built a strong reputation all over the world. From what I've found, the first thing about these guitars is that they look great, the finish and rosette are probably a lot better in their student / beginner models compared to other brands. Their c1, - c3 range guitars have good volume as well. Their 5p model which has a solid top with an ebony fretboard is considered the best selling model. Their Iberia model is worth checking out. The problem with Alhambra guitars is that for some reason they take more time to mature, this is possibly very true for their German spruce top guitars. I've heard that it takes 3-4 years for the guitar to completely open up. I've seen this happen with at least 7 people I know personally. Most people however compliment on the comfort of playing an Alhambra, with the soft fretboard along with their nice touch and feel. An important point to note is that the Alhambra 8p and higher models which have solid top along with solid back sides are built by a small special luthier's workshop. So 8p and higher models tend to sound great. All of Alhambra's guitars are made in Spain. To sum things up, Alhambra might not be an old brand, it initiated progress around 1960, but in recent times have gained a lot of popularity mostly for producing guitars that are a product of good wood and craftsmanship. Click here to go their website.







Cordoba Guitars

You might not want to believe me but Cordoba has produced some outstanding guitars on the basis of innovation. It has been only Cordoba who has dared to experiment and push the envelope. Why many people secretly or openly resent Cordoba is simply because of the fact that some of their classical guitar series has a 'truss rod'. Now in case u didn't know this Classical guitars don't have truss rods. What is it ? Truss rods are rods which run inside the neck / fretboard of a guitar and are extensively used for adjusting the neck other than adjusting string tension, action etc. Steel string guitars or acoustic guitars always have truss rods, and when the neck warps it is usually easy to fix it by inserting an allen key inside the rod and gently applying some pressure. (never do this if u don't know how to, just pay a few extra bucks for the expert to do it, that's better than breaking your own guitar ) However, if the neck of a classical guitar warps, u the only option is to take it to a workshop and applying certain ' heating' techniques. This often ends up in damaging the neck. However, Classical guitar necks generally don't warp. I don't know why Cordoba had done this, but I bet they're courageous. I've played on a few Cordoba's that had truss rods and I wasn't even told. It sounded like any other classical guitar, i don't understand how they did it because I don't happen to be a lutheir, but for once I was seriously impressed. If you like a Cordoba guitar, then go for it, and u might not want to listen to what the purists are saying. I have personally always felt that guitars are evolving and becoming better and better, but you ought to know what you really want. Click here to go their website.







Iberica Guitars


Iberica is a portugese guitar brand. They have made some unconventional classical guitars that u can consider checking out. They have some special guitars which makes it easier for the right hand to rest on the guitar top while finger picking, which is not exactly an arm rest. The guitars are designed and built in a very fashionable way. They call them ' ergonomic' guitars, i've tried Iberica's ergonomic models myself, and I have to say , they aren't bad at all. Overall I'd say that their guitars are pretty fair if your budget is around 300-700 dollars.





Almansa Guitars


These are another breed of Spanish Guitars that initiated progress from the early 1990's. The luthiers brought skills and techniques acquired from time spent in the workshops of other makers such as Rodriguez.

Almansa is slowly building a good reputation. Post 2005 these guitars are becoming more and more popular.

You can also get 400/500$ dollars student guitars, along with the top of the line $2000 ones. For a student guitar one can buy an Almansa, I personally haven't played on their expensive models, incase anyone did please share your experience with us by commenting below.




The above guitar brands are the ones that I've shortlisted out of 27 brands that currently aim at mass producing guitars and selling them internationally in a varying price range.

I have not numbered them, as it would be inappropriate and would seem like I'm advertising.

These guitar brands make guitars that more or less has a starting price of about $400-$500 ( some start at S1000) 

The Top 100 Guitar Players today mostly use custom made handcrafted guitars which are diligently made by the luthiers whose philosophy, aesthetics and goodwill meets their expectations. They specify the wood, binding, bracing, neck, fret board radius, scale length , headstock, etc. If you're looking for a top 100 or top 10 guitar luthier list, there isn't any. Because you can objectively evaluate guitars in terms of materials, design, aesthetics, sonority, volume, intonation, projection, depth, finish, dynamics range, response etc up to 70-80%, and the rest is obviously better left subjective, hence it becomes personal after a certain point.

The Problem with all Acoustic Guitars is that they don't sound mature when they are just born. Guitars like wine, need to be played, seasoned and maintained properly for 6 months to one year to open up and sound mature. And for this reason, it is obviously a safer option to get a 'trial period' from a luthier. Many good luthiers and guitar sellers offer trial periods, just give them a security deposit and ur bank info / id and gain some trust. Sign a deal. Get some decent Computer Recording consoles like a condenser mic and an usb recording device / sound card, headphones etc. and record a piece that u know well, and record it again after 6 months or more, you will obviously notice a big difference ( if u only have been playing your guitar regularly for 2 hours i.e. you must surpass around 400 hours of playing the same instrument which you are re-recording). Branded Guitars generally come with warranty and if you buy an expensive branded guitar that costs above $2000, then u can e-mail the guitar company directly regarding your guitars flaws / lack of volume / tonal maturity etc. Post a video on youtube if necessary. Scan your bill, and send it to them via e-mail. Most reputed guitar brands will co-operate with you in changing your guitar. Always, remember to keep your guitar inside a hard shelled case when you are not playing, always use a hygrometer, humidifier kit etc. Do not expose your guitar to direct sunlight.

If you want an International Guitar Luthier list : http://www.delcamp.net/liens/luthiers.htm

If you are in Spain and looking for Guitar shops in Spain then check this out : http://spainforvisitors.com/module-pagesetter-viewpub-tid-46-pid-84-meid-4054.htm 

Guitar Maker list from wiki : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Guitar_makers
 

Hope you found the information useful. Thanks and come again :)





51 comments:

  1. Hi, Thank for sharing so many good and original info on your website! most of the descriptions I found here were not available elsewhere.

    I would like to buy a Alhambra Maestro 100 (650$) with Fishman Pickup.

    I could not find any reviews on this guitar on line. The guitar plays quite well ... better than Takamine and Ibanez in the same price range.

    Do you know why I cannot find information about this guitar on line?

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all Thank you for letting us know about the Guitar. I honestly do not know why there isn't enough info on the Guitar. I myself never met this model at the shops, and I'm quite surprised.

      I will definitely keep you posted once I get more info.

      By the way, you seem to like the Guitar a lot, so if you end up buying it, please let us know about how it evolves and what others have to say about your Guitar. Thank you for writing:) Have fun

      Delete
  2. LaPatrie and Yairi should be on that list as well.

    LaPatrie is a Canadian made guitar with a solid redwood top that starts at around $300. Its got a strong, warm bass sound and good volume. I liked the models that I played quite a lot and rate them better than the cordobas, rodriguez and yamhahas in the same price range.

    Probably the worst thing about new guitars at this range is the 30 coats of glossy finish that they put on the guitars, likely to cover up poor materials and craftsmanship. It makes them look cool and shiny, but it suffocates the wood. The LaPatrie have a light, polished finish which along with the quality solid top are what I think gives it the edge at this pricepoint . I have played very good, new, 300 dollar yamahas, but I find them to be a little hit and miss. Their '70s Taiwan and Japanese made guitars and they are a great deal used for what they go for. Another used option at this range are the old Swedish made Goya classicals.


    Another maker that I think needs to be mentioned is, K. Yairi a Japanese luthier who's been making guitars since the '60s. They sell for about $1200 and up new, but are usually easy to find used at $500 or so. In America they are imported and sold by Alvarez but as a distinct line of guitars. The more expensive Cremona, Takamine, Yamaha, Alhambra and Rodriguez models that I've played are all pretty good guitars, but I've found the dynamic qualities and tonal subtleties generally inferior to Yairi. I hear sounds from the yairis that I don't hear in those other guitars. I think of Yairi as being one the best guitars that you can buy without purchasing a custom, luthier made guitar.

    My understanding is that the $1200 Ramirez guitars are made in other shops and then inspected by Ramirez before being shipped out. I think that the guitars that they make themselves are close to the same price as the Hausers or even more expensive. Call it the Segovia tax?

    Probably the best bet at $1500 and up is to look for a used luthier made guitar. When a guitar is made by a company, they don't whether it's going to be used by a concert player or a pissed off 13 year old boy, so they have to build to a certain minimum level of sturdiness. There are probably dozens of other compromises they have to make that an individual luthier doesn't necessarily need to consider. I recently played a used guitar at a little music shop made by a deceased luthier named Fred Schmedemann, who took up guitar making later in his life after he retired as an engineer. I had never heard of him before, but when I played his guitar I was completely blown away. You're just not going to get that level of quality from a factory guitar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing the wonderful info with us Jakob. You are most welcome :)

      Delete
  3. In your opinion

    Which one is best
    Kremona orpheus valley fiesta fc
    Breedlove passport N250/CO
    Manuel rodriguez c cedar
    Cordoba c7

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all, each and every Guitar is unique and it is not always the best to compare them like this. However, there is Brand rep and overall Manufacturing Quality and After-sales Service. I suggest that you go with what you like, after playing them. However, if you are a beginner or if you are ordering online then I suggest that you go with the Kremona Orpheus Valley. If you can afford the fiesta, then also consider buying the Romida, it has an ebony fretboard and good quality Spruce top. Romida's don't come with Cedar Tops. However, if you like the tone of the cedar which is generally considered as the best option at this price range, then stick with the Kremona orpheus valley fiesta fc. Fiesta will also have a comfortable radius-ed fingerboard. :)

      Delete
  4. I am finding a hand made guitar but it is possible to be less than USD$500.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many Guitar Brands who are selling their guitars with a logo that says "Handmade in Europe / Spain" etc. All Guitars to some extent are handmade no matter how cheap they are. Robots or Machines cannot fully manufacture a guitar from scratch. There's nothing to get excited about the entire 'handmade' thing. The real question should be - whose hands are making the guitar and who is inspecting the wood, measurements everything. Is this person an unique genius, a highly skilled, experienced and knowledgeable individual? If the answer is a genuine Yes, then your guitar should cost around the standard $5000 ( Five Thousand Dollars ) Range. Guitar prices usually start skyrocketing with respect to the attention to detail that the luthier has given to every single bracing, wood, fretboard alignment, etc. More attention equals to More time which is equal to costly labor plus expensive material. It's complicated for beginners to acknowledge but the more you learn the more you'll know what some of the greatest guitars in the world are all about. Thank You!

      Delete
  5. Hi Max, many thanks for your blog, what a pleasure and so enlightening. Its true no two guitars sound the same and I've owned quite a few playing professionally over 30yrs. It all comes down to what feels and sounds the best and affordable to one. Its also a phallacy that the more you pay the more you get. Factory made guitars of today are turning out better products than previous years and at more affordable prices to the low income musician. , Cort classicals is a fine egsample from the 180dollar range up----compared to yamaha,takamine,admira-etc. In the 500dollar range. Incidentally also had a samick made by Yairi bros. Excellent. So to all low income guitarists--Try before you buy policy---no need to spend your hard earned money on established overpriced guitars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While i agree that some cheap factory made guitars are becoming better in some ways, specifically being better in terms of volume and looks, but in terms of sounding more like a classical guitar it still seems to suffer. Guitars, especially classical ones are unfortunately expensive. I don't control the Market otherwise I would bring down their cost. It's a sad world. Thanks for writing :)

      Delete
  6. I am going to grade 3. which classical guitar you recommended if I want to study to grade 8 because my guitar teacher said that I am not going to pass if I use my present guitar but I am planning to buy a Alhambra Iberia guitar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every Guitar is unique. I recommend that you ask your teacher to help you pick a suitable Guitar for you.

      Delete
  7. Can you please tell me what you think about the Cordoba GK studio Negra? What would you recommend for a budget that is up to 1k for a classical guitar? I'm very confused with the huge number of models and brands...thnx in advance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For a Budget upto 1 k ( I'm assuming USD ) a Cedar top would be a safer bet, since most good spruce tops are available from $2000 ( there are exceptions ). This is because it takes a lot of time and careful observation to pick up a good spruce top that will eventually give good sound, most Luthier-made guitars have very high quality spruce that has been carefully selected by them, but factory made guitars which are made in bulk rarely have good spruce on them. However, within $1000 Orpheus Valley Romida Rds might be able to get you some good spruce tops. The Cordoba GK studio Negra is also nice. Just make sure you are comfortable with the neck profile, and check the intonation before buying ( in case you are not buying online ) Also check the nut width 52 mm is average and good but 54 mm might give you some discomfort if you have average or small hands. And if the fretboard is not flat, then it will be easier for you ( more comfortable ) to reach barre chords etc. Just consider these few things before buying and you'll do just fine. And always put on good strings, it's best to stick with the strings the guitar manufacturer recommends. It's safe to experiment with different brands of strings once you are at an advanced level :) Thank

      Delete
  8. Hi,

    I am intermediate level, technique is good but not perfect especially in in rapid passages. I am more interested in the good sound of the guitar, with warm bass and strong volume. I am thinking to buy the Alhambra 5P. Would that be a good choice?
    Thx , Mihai

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! Get the Cedar top one, and tell the guitars seller to fix the intonation by adjusting the nut and saddle, in case there's any problem. If volume and projection is what you're really concerned about then try getting a full solid body guitar i.e. one that has a solid top and solid back and sides. :) Thanks for writing

      Delete
  9. I'm an intermediate guitar player who has begun studying classical. I own a Breedlove, a Takamine, and two Ovations (The Ovations I'm in the process of selling for a good classical guitar.
    I haven't had a chance to test all the guitars listed here, but I purchased an inexpensive Cordoba C5 about six months ago, just to get my hands accustomed to the change of fret. For the price (199.00), the beginner with little or no experience could pick this guitar up and find themselves keeping it long after they move on to bigger and better things. I wish someone could tell me why Cordoba is not discussed more as a choice. I've read about the 'truss' addition, but is the reason, or are most people of the mind that it's just not as good as the other guitars?
    I actually liked the deep, smoky sound of the Cordoba C5, and was very surprised that it sounded so well for the price. I was even more shocked that it maintained its tuning (beginner guitars are notorious for falling out of tune quickly).
    Was not excited about plastic bridges and nuts, and the store thought I was crazy when i asked them to replace it with bone. But when I came to pick it up, they apologized, because it brought the guitar up a notch. If I were a teacher, I would have a student switch to bone after three months or so, so they can truly understand that every part of the guitar has a role in its overall sound.

    Went and played with the C9, which had that same quality, but more solid, it resonated more - if that makes sense. I'm about to try out the Cordoba C10 for the same reason, because to repeat what has been said over and over, it has to be about the sound. I don't want to play anything with a price tag above 1500.00 because that's my allowance for a new purchase, as my husband says this will be my last guitar forever (LOL - He says things like that all the time. He's cute).
    Any advice on more specific guitars to try would be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Considering your budget I would recommend Paco Castillo, Juan Hernandez, Armin Hanika Guitars, the last one probbaly around the 56 pf Hanika / range would be great if you are looking for a good spruce top, but for that you might need a budget of around $2000. Thanks for writing :)

      Delete
  10. hi, I need you professional advice, this year I taking for grade 6 exam, i plan to invest long term guitar, with good sound quality..I target Alhambra model 8P Solid German Spruce, is it good for long term. it better can use above grade 8. any recommendation? I have no idea what brand to look for. is that model good choice~?

    thank for advice. :~)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it will do good for your grade 8 exam, but after some point you wont be satisfied with it. But for a top of the line student guitar it will do just fine, you are more likely to be satisfied with it for atleast 4-5 years from now on, but it all depends on what you get. All the best and Thanks for writing.

      Delete
  11. Hi. I am a beginner guitar player who recently switched from violin. When it comes to instruments, I have always gone with the best tone quality and sound, no matter the price. I have been told that I should try a Yamaha to start but I don't like the tone quality, it sounds boxy and doesn't have that mellow tone that I love. I bought a Rodriguez model D and loved it, but I brought it to my teacher and he found that there was a defect with the way the 13 th fret had cured so it was extremely crooked. I retuned that one and am in the process of looking for a new guitar. I am torn between the Orpheus Valley Fiesta Fc and the Manuel Rodriguez C1V. In your opinion, which do you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I were to be honest with you then I'd tell you that you wont be satisfied under a budget of $2000, generally that will be the case. I suggest that you ask your teachers help in choosing a good instrument. It's great that you can spare extra to buy good instruments from the start, it's sad to see beginners play an instrument which is nowhere close to being a proper Classical Guitar. I do not control the market, otherwise I would lower the prices on all Guitars ;)

      Delete
  12. J. PEREZ guitars should be mentioned too! I would love to read an article about them and their features

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, they are good too. Thanks for mentioning. :)

      Delete
  13. Very interesting article, well written and informative.

    ReplyDelete
  14. HI Max, I don't really have anything to say about guitars right now but I'm really impressed that you've spent of much of your time trying to help total strangers find some answer.

    I've learned a few things today not only about guitars, which I love, but also about human decency. Much kudos to you.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Max,

    I'm an intermediate acoustic guitar player and want to begin learning to play classical guitar. I have read everything in your blog (thanks for the great info) and I've been to several other sites to educate myself. At this point, I feel that I have the basic info regarding the preferred construction and materials, etc. that constitutes a good classical guitar. I am one of those people that want to buy something that I know 100% was made in Spain. Part of it is because Spain is where my heritage and ancestry is, and I want that connection to the instrument. So as a result I have eliminated the non-Spanish manufacturers - as good as they sound. I am also eliminating Rodriguez and Cordoba because I found that many of their guitars are made in China - which is ridiculous. I have eliminated Ramirez because I found that the only models I can come close to buying, such as R1, are not even made by Ramirez, but instead made by another guitar maker for them (I think it's either Alhambra or Cordoba who makes it for them). So I figure why pay extra for the lowest model of Ramirez, when it isn't even made by them anyway.

    That pretty much leaves me with Alhambra and Paco Castillo, which I found mentioned in other posts in your blog. I checked out the PC and really like what I saw very much. So I am considering the Alhambra 5P, 6P, 7P and 8P at the top end, and the Paco Castillo 204, 240, and 205 at the top end. Can you first verify for me that these are all truly made in Spain, and also can you give me your opinions between these models? The 5P and PC-204 seem like great values for the money, but I am able to go as high as the 8P and PC-205 if they are really worth the extra money. If there is another maker and/or model I should also consider, please let me know... So if it were you, which one would you get?

    Thanks,
    Ivan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good, you've done your homework and now you know what's best for your money. I personally suggest that you go for the Paco Castillo 204, ( Made in Spain ) considering all things it's going to be quite satisfying. However, if you are interested in Alhambra then consider 9p and above. You can also have a look at Manuel Contreras and Raimundo ( Both very reputed brands ). I'll put this along with Paco Castillo as the Top 10 Brands shortly, the list needs updating.

      Visit http://www.manuelcontreras.com/

      and http://www.guitarrasraimundo.com/

      Delete
  16. Thank you for writing this very informative blog. I am a beginner interested in a classical guitar, and I'm trying to learn about the differences in guitars before I buy one. This article really helped.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Fantastic article.

    Have you run across many left-handed players? I am looking for a beginner guitar made specifically lefty that wont break the bank.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes i have, you should be able to find good left handed Yamaha Classical Guitars from $100-$300.

      Delete
  18. Hello Max,

    First of all, thank you for the creation of that site; it takes dedication and time to create such a site.

    I would like to ask you this: would you recommand the AUGUSTINE guitars? The Prima models for a full solid wood body aren't that expensive, so I wondered if they were interesting instruments (sound), at least reliable (build)?

    Thanks for your time

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Several years back, even I was thinking on similar lines regarding the Augustine Prima, but lack of reviews made me realize that it wouldn't be wise to recommend it to a friend. But if you have already tried it out, please do let us know here. I currently don't have much info. Thanks for writing.

      Delete
  19. Very educational write up about classical guitars. I bought a Cordoba C10 SP/IN without previous planning but couldn't let go once I tried playing it at a guitar store on a business trip. I love its sound and volumn. However, I got to know that C10 also have CD/IN model which features cedar top, so I am debating if I should go to the store to exchange my spruce top for a cedar top one. In your opinion, would a cedar top sounds mellower/better than my spruce top?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alright, this is a tricky one. While $1000 is not less for a good spruce top, but I've noticed many people who give up spruce and go back to cedar and vice versa. Well, exchanging it with a spruce might not necessarily be an upgrade. It might also be a downgrade. You never know. If you're current spruce has good volume, sustain and projection along with the most important attributes- intonation and tuning stability. Then look no further, you've found the right Guitar. Cedar on the other hand is more dark, warm and has generally more volume. However, cedar tops often don't have good sustain when compared to Spruce. Good luck! And thanks for writing.

      Delete
  20. I am a beginner's beginner. I played trumpet for years, had an accident(facial) & can't play the horn anymore. I read a lot of reviews & got a Cordoba C5 Lefty. I'm glad to see Cordoba on the list. Great article.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there Joseph ! Thanks for writing. So sad to hear about your accident. I hope you enjoy playing the guitar. Best wishes.

      Delete
  21. Hi Max, very nice and informative site and I thank you for all the info, time and effort you've put into this. I'm not a classical player, (wish I was), as I didn't get into nylon string guitars until about 3 years ago as I wanted to incorporate them into my repertoire for love ballads and such. I've been playing for many years' but didn't get interested in classical guitars til the age of 62 and after playing flat pick rock and classic country, a little difficult to start learning classical guitar. I have Fender, (Strats and Teles), electrics, Guild, Martin, Ovation and Adamas acoustics, and Almansa, Alhambra, Alvarez and Lucero classical guitars. I've owned Gretsch and Gibson guitars as well. I'm no Guitar master by any means, just love the guitar and after playing for so many years, I do have my preferences but in reality I think it is more personal preference than guitar manufacturer myself. I've seen some guitar players ( good ones) go into music stores and pick up a $100 special and make it sound like Chet, Ana, Xeu Fei and the likes and have also heard some beginners make a $2000 guitar sound like a cigar box with rubber bands. Another case in point, I wanted to learn violin so I bought a $350 instrument. My teacher makes it sound like being played in a symphony, but when I try, it sounds like I'm rocking on a cat's tail,LOL. Construction, action, materials and of course sound are all qualities to look for especially in acoustic instruments but don't you think a lot of the so called "Top Notch" instruments are labeled as such simply because they are played by re known players who are paid to endorse them and play only them? The point I'm making is for these people asking about all of these different instruments, does it really matter what you or me or Ana or John Williams or anybody for that matter, thinks about an instrument? If one tries it, likes it and are satisfied with it, then that's all that should matter. How it sounds is going to be completely up to the individual for the most part and how long it lasts and retains it's value in all aspects is going to depend on how it is cared for. And yes I do know there is a big difference in quality and workmanship in instruments but I also think one should think about how far and to what depth they are going to pursue the guitar, and more important than anything, their budget. I hope I'm not speaking out of bounds but just expressing my opinion. thanks

    Daryl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Daryl, thanks for writing. First of all Guitar Maestros can definitely make a poorly constructed guitar sound great. But it sounds great in their hand because of their superior technical mastery and musical expressiveness. When a cheap guitar is in their hands what you hear is just not the sound of the guitar, but Music being played the way it should. If you educate yourself further, you'll realize that to get the perfect balance in terms of individual notes on the fretboard with a good amount of projection and overall volume, making an internationally reputed guitar is very very hard. Sometimes it's more of a 'brand 'value', you pay mostly for the big name it carries along with some of its promised quality. So you are somewhat correct. But this isn't always true. I think for a professional classical guitarist a great guitar should not cost more than $5000 -$8000, anything more than that or twice/thrice of the value for example $30,000 is a waste in most cases ( unless you are a collector ). for someone just starting out I think once should not exceed the $500 range. For intermediate players who practice regularly I'd suggest $1000-$1500. For serious/advanced players who play/practice at least 2-3 hours a day ( this includes both students of the guitar and serious hobbyists ) I'd recommend a budget of $2000-$3000. For Conservatory students - $2000-$5000.

      Delete
  22. THank you !!
    great article !!

    greetings from Chile !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for writing.

      Delete
  23. I just want to say thank you for taking the time and being non biased in this article, fantastic reading and very informative.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Max,
    Is the $800 difference between the Kremona Romida and Solea a worthy investment for a beginner? I can afford the difference but would like to know if it is really a noticeable improvemnt for a noewbie.
    Thanks
    Bic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bic,

      That's honestly hard to answer. I think both are good guitars. I don't think that it will make a noticeable difference for a beginner. Thanks

      Delete
  25. Let me start by saying that I absolutely love your blog..
    I'm an intermediate player, who started at age 12 (currently 55) so guitars had always been part of my life. I currently own a Manuel Rodriguez & Sons Model B and a Luthier made guitar from Paracho, Mexico. (both are cedar tops) I'm currently considering buying a third instrument and for the first time I'm thinking about getting a spruce top guitar.
    I've seen two options and I would appreciate your comments. One is a Ramirez 3NAE and the other one is a Raimundo Concert Series model 140. Both guitars are solid wood and built with the spruce top/Indian rosewood formula. Many thanks and please keep blogging about guitars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Guitars are all unique and both seem great from the specs. i suggest that you play both of them and decide for yourself (i.e. if you have the possibility). Ramirez has a good name / rep, so it could be more useful for re-selling it later. But Raimundo is what I would personally pick, but it's 'rep' is not as good as Ramirez. But recently Raimundo guitars seems to be doing a better job than Ramirez. I hope it helps. thanks for writing.

      Delete
  26. A nice collection of guitar makes, I own a Hanika, and I just love it! I prefer guitars with a matt or satin finish, building a guitar with the finest tone woods, and then effectively plastering it with a varnish of glass, is (to my mind) silly! It has to be said that guitars that cost a lot less can sound just as good. I have a Sigma classical, satin/matt finish (built in Japan) that cost me £235 approx $300 twenty years ago, and it is one of the best guitars I have ever owned. There is also I feel a lot of snobbery about guitars built in China, lets not forget that the Chines have been building stringed instruments for well over 2500 years!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi billy, Thanks for writing and sharing your opinion!

      Delete