Classical Guitar Buying Guide
While classical guitars are very similar to acoustic guitars, there are some significant points to consider when shopping for them. For starters, the strings are significantly different. A core component to the classical guitar string is nylon. Normally on a 6 string classical guitar, the top 3 strings are nylon exclusively, and the 3 bass strings are nylon wrapped in brass. Another primarily difference is that classical players rely a lot on their nails, as the guitar is primarily picked with the fingers and plastic or other type picks are never used.
As with the acoustic variety, woods significantly impact price and tonal quality in classical guitars. Woods such as Rosewood, Cedar, and Spruce will generally start to be included as you see the price of the guitar increase and the nice thing about these woods is that they sound better with time.
Tips For Buying a Classical Guitar
Check the action. Many cheaply made classical guitars will have very high action (string height from the fretboard). This will make the guitar especially difficult to play.
Don't spend less than a few hundred dollars. You get what you pay for. A cheap guitar not only sounds poor, it can be difficult to play and may inhibit the learning success of a beginner.
Play as many models as you can in local stores, and then shop online to get the best prices. It's very important to check the feel and quality of the guitar in person, but shopping online is probably the best way to find a really great price.
Don't overlook Spanish made guitars because you think they might be too expensive. Regardless of the level of guitarist you are, you can find a genuine Spanish guitar for as low as a few hundred dollars that is generally good quality.
A general tip would be to buy as much guitar as you can afford, and then some. Getting a better instrument will always benefit you in the end.
When trying a guitar out in the store, check intonation. Try and make an effort to try every note, on every fret, on every string. Often intonation issues can unveil other hidden problems or quality issues with guitars. Always do this before you buy. This step will also allow you to check the action on the guitar and the comfort of the neck.
Make sure the guitar is capable of sounding harmonics on the standard frets (5th,7th,12th, etc.)
Make sure you review the fit and finish of every major section of the guitar. From the tuners, to the neck tie in with the body, to the inside of the guitar where the braces tie the body panels together. Inferior fit and quality will be evident here.
Trust your ears! You should never purchase a guitar without having played it and listened to the sound quality. You're the ultimate judge. Make sure it meets your expectations, and you will get years and years of enjoyment from it.
Do you have a tip for folks who are shopping for classical guitars? Send it to us below and we will post it on this page!