Top 10 Classical Guitars – Reviews of Some Great Nylon-Stringed Models

Looking for a classical guitar? You’ve come to the right place! Because whether you’re a professional concert guitarist, an enthusiastic student, a steel-string guitarist who fancies a change, or a complete beginner to the world of guitar, this article aims to help you find your ideal nylon-stringed guitar.

Defining ‘The Best’ Classical Guitar

That’s a bit of trick title… because the best classical guitar for you, is the best classical guitar for you!

By this we mean that your level of playing, your style, your ambitions and your budgets will ultimately define what the best model is for you. My best won’t be your best, and it’s unlikely to be the same best as what’s best for classical maestro Xuefei Yang, or for The Gipsy Kings!

Which is why the guitars in our chart below range from cheap classical guitars right up to high-end models. It will help to give a rough snapshot of how the market looks today, regardless of the price range you are shopping in.

Top 10 Classical Guitars

ImageAcoustic Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Kremona Solea Kremona Solea

Total of 4.85/5   4.85 Stars

Premium playability, tone and craftsmanship from this high-end Kremona.

+ - Yamaha NTX1200R Yamaha NTX1200R

Total of 4.77/5   4.77 Stars

An excellent classical crossover, with advanced electronics.

+ - Lucero LFN200SCE Lucero LFN200SCE

Total of 4.70/5   4.70 Stars

A modern electro-acoustic oozing with style and playability.

+ - Kremona Soloist S65C Kremona Soloist S65C

Total of 4.70/5   4.70 Stars

Great tone and playability for students and performers alike.

+ - Cordoba C3M Cordoba C3M

Total of 4.60/5   4.60 Stars

An affordable, traditional classical guitar that doesn’t skimp on quality.

+ - Lucero LC230S Lucero LC230S

Total of 4.75/5   4.75 Stars

Bubinga adds an exotic touch to this solid Lucero.

+ - Epiphone PRO-1 Classic Epiphone PRO-1 Classic

Total of 4.75/5   4.75 Stars

A classical guitar designed specifically for beginners – great move Epiphone!

+ - Cordoba Protege C1 Cordoba Protege C1

Total of 4.67/5   4.67 Stars

An affordable student-friendly guitar from a trusted brand.

+ - Yamaha C40 Yamaha C40

Total of 4.40/5   4.40 Stars

A popular budget guitar, and it’s easy to see why!

+ - Ibanez GA3 Ibanez GA3

Total of 4.35/5   4.35 Stars

Ibanez produce a basic but solid entry-level classical with the GA3.

Kremona Solea

Kremona Solea

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

Although you’re paying a premium price, the Kremona Solea is undoubtedly the best guitar in this chart, aimed at experienced players and professionals. With high-end materials and perfectionist craftsmanship, the sound is exquisite – full of depth and vibrancy across the registers. It feels pretty great to play too. Handcrafted in Bulgaria, an eye-catching solid cocobolo is used for the back and sides of the body, while solid red cedar is used for the top. The neck is made from Honduran cedar, with a classical 2.04” nut width, an Indian ebony fretboard and 19 frets. The hardware is great quality, and the guitar comes shipped in a deluxe wooden hardshell case. You can check out all the details in our full review of the Kremona Solea.

Yamaha NTX1200R

Yamaha NTX1200R

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

Part of Yamaha’s NX series, this high-end NTX1200R electro-acoustic classical is a joy to play and aimed at stage performers. Steel-string and electric guitar players will be familiar with the reduced 1.89” nut width of the African rosewood neck, which is fully accessible thanks to the treble-side cutaway. The guitar is made entirely of solid wood, with a spruce top and rosewood back and sides. Acoustically it sounds vibrant and played-in (thanks to Yamaha’s A.R.E wood treatment), but it’s best when amplified. Highlighted in the full review of Yamaha’s NTX1200R, it is loaded with an advanced System 61 preamp and two-way pickup system. Versatile, playable, and it looks and sounds great – what’s not to love?

Lucero LFN200SCE

Lucero LFN200SCE

Body And Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

Lucero’s LFN200SCE is an elegant electro-acoustic with an attractive price tag, considering the quality and potential on offer. The model has a thinline body, a shallow neck profile, and a slim nut width to provide a very streamlined performance – perfect for steel-string players making the move to nylon. As highlighted in the Lucero LFN200SCE’s full review, the back and sides of the guitar are made from a quality Indian rosewood, while the top is solid spruce. While it sounds great acoustically, the Fishman Clasica III preamp allows for clear and true amplification, with plenty of sound-shaping possibilities thanks to the 3-band EQ. It’s an ideal guitar for flamenco, but suitable for most styles of nylon-stringed playing.

Kremona Soloist S65C

Kremona Soloist S65C

Body And Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars

Kremona know a thing or two about making a quality guitar (just see their Solea above!), but you don’t have to spend the Earth to get a quality guitar from them. This S65C – part of their Soloist Sofia series – is affordable, but demonstrates great feel and tone. It sports a traditional non-cutaway classical body, with a solid red cedar top, which provides great warmth to the tone. The back and sides are made from a sapele laminate which keeps things balanced, while everything is enrobed in a glossy polyurethane finish. The African mahogany neck is very playable, and the functionality and reliability of the guitar is at a high level. We go into more detail in our full Soloist S65C review.

Cordoba C3M

Cordoba C3M

Body And Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars

From the Spanish brand’s popular Iberia series, the Cordoba C3M is an affordable model that doesn’t cut corners. Whether complete beginner or a more experienced guitarist, it’s a model that will appeal to most, with a sleek satin-finished feel and elegant appointments. The body is made using solid cedar on the top, with back and sides crafted from mahogany to give a warm and mellow sound. Volume is no problem either, with the solid, Spanish fan-braced top resonating well. As we mention in the full review of the C3M, the hardware complements the style and sound, including a bone saddle and nickel-plated tuners. For any style of nylon-stringed music, this is a solid choice from a brand you can trust.

Lucero LC230S

Lucero LC230S

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

If you’re looking for a touch of the exotic while retaining the traditional shape and style of a classical guitar, this LC230S from Lucero is worth considering. The exotic comes from the fact that the back and sides are made from bubinga, which both looks interesting and has similar tonal properties to rosewood. The top is cut from solid red cedar, while the one-piece neck is traditional mahogany with an Indian rosewood fretboard. For a guitar under $300 it feels pretty high-end in its construction and playability, and sounds great to match. Perfect for any student or intermediate player looking for an affordable upgrade. If you want more details of the Lucero LC230S, the full review is here .

Epiphone PRO-1 Classic

Epiphone PRO-1 Classic

Body And Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

The ultimate classical guitar for beginners? Quite possible, as Epiphone have put a lot of thought into this entry-level nylon-stringed model. Professional players gave lots of input when the guitar was designed, resulting in an instrument that beginners will really appreciate. Features on this full-size guitar include a slightly shorter scale length and slimmer nut width leading to less stretching, while the rosewood fretboard has a special coating to give a smoother playing experience. Corners aren’t cut in the build either, with a solid cedar top and laminate mahogany back and sides. It’s hugely playable, and sounds pretty good too with plenty of projection. Don’t forget to find all the details you need in the complete review of the PRO-1 Classic .

Cordoba Protege C1

Cordoba Protege C1

Body And Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

You don’t have to spend $1,000 to buy a real Cordoba – not when the wallet-friendly Protege C1 is available! This impressive entry-level classical guitar shows off a full-size, 25.6” scale length body with a traditional design (smaller versions of the same guitar are also available). The top is made from laminated spruce, with laminated mahogany back and sides. It sports a comfortable mahogany neck, with a rosewood fretboard, while the sound on offer for such an affordable guitar is fantastic – well-balanced and crisp. It’s no pro-model, but for beginners wanting something reliable to learn and practice on, you won’t go far wrong. You can read our full review of the Cordoba Protege C1 for everything you need to know.

Yamaha C40

Yamaha C40

Body And Neck:4.4 Stars
Hardware:4.1 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

With the C40, Yamaha have produced a basic, but very good entry-level model that will suit complete beginners as much as it would an experienced guitarist looking for a cheap backup. As we highlight in the full roundup of the C40 , the construction is typical of your standard classical guitar, with a traditional non-cutaway style, a spruce top, meranti back and sides, and a nato neck with a full-size 2.06” nut width. Hardware and craftsmanship is nothing compared to some of the others in our chart, but Yamaha produce a pretty solid feeling instrument with a full and clear sound that’s excellent for lessons and practice. No bells or whistles here, but for under $150 it proves good value.

Ibanez GA3

Ibanez GA3

Body And Neck:4.2 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.6 Stars

While the Ibanez name is more associated with rock and metal music, their budget classical guitar – the GA3 – isn’t bad at all! It’s certainly no frills, but it gets the basics right and is therefore excellent for beginners, intermediates, and anyone who needs a cheap nylon-stringed guitar. The body sports the traditional classical design, with a full-size 25.6” scale length body made from laminated spruce on the top, with catalpa used on the back and sides. The neck is mahogany, with a 2” nut width and rosewood fretboard, while the bridge (featuring an Ivorex II saddle) is also rosewood. Ibanez couldn’t forgo the chance to add a little flair, and the red headstock is eye-catching! Check out the complete Ibanez GA3 review here.

There we have a list of ten of the finest classical guitars around – in their individual categories.

You may question why we rate two guitars of greatly varying price, like the Kremona Solea (around $1,500) and the Cordoba C3M (around $200), both at 4.8/5. Does that mean they’re the same quality? Not at all!

Naturally, in a one vs. one scenario, the Kremona would win hands down due to its high-end construction, materials, sound and overall feel. However, both guitars earn a 4.8 in their respective categories, which are relative to their price tag.

With that in mind, let’s check out what else we should look out for in a classical guitar.

Is a Classical Guitar Right for Me?

Perhaps the most important question to answer! And one you may be asking as a complete beginner, or an experienced guitarist looking to add the smooth sound of nylon to your collection.

Without wishing to state the obvious, a classical guitar uses nylon strings instead of steel, and therefore sounds much more warm and mellow, lending itself well to jazz, folk and fingerstyle music, while nylon is essential for traditional classical music pieces and flamenco.

If you are a beginner, then a classical starter guitar can benefit you in the early stages. These guitars are usually slightly cheaper than their steel-string counterparts (so you tend to get a better-quality instrument for the same price), while the strings tend to be less painful for beginner fingers.

However, there is much debate as to whether a classical guitar is the best choice if you eventually want to go on to play a steel-stringed so, ultimately, it’s worth reading more on the pros and cons, then make the decision that suits your ambitions.

Does a Classical Guitar Need Electronics?

It depends on what you are using it for. If you are using the guitar for performances of any sort (more than just a gathering of friends in a small room), then you’ll certainly need to amplify your sound. That usually means either buying a classical guitar with electronics already installed, or placing a condenser microphone in front of the guitar as you perform.

Miking up the guitar is the best way to capture the guitar’s natural tone, and professional classical guitarists – whether performing or recording – will probably opt for this method. But for sheer convenience, plug-and-play electronics from brands such as Fishman, B-Band and Shadow can be hugely effective and versatile, allowing you to shape your sound directly from the guitar’s preamp.

If you are a beginner, it’s probably wise to ignore the last two paragraphs – you do not need electronics. Learn the instrument first before amplifying it. Chances are it will be a few years before you feel comfortable enough to perform to an audience anyway, by which stage you may consider upgrading your guitar.

The Difference Between Spending $100 and $1,000

We’ve said it several times before, but occasionally – from a photo or a distance – a high-end $1,000 classical guitar can look surprisingly similar to an entry-level $100 model or a mid-range $300 guitar. This is because there tends to be little difference in the fundamental design of these traditional instruments. However, when you get up close, you really start to see the differences.

Materials
The first thing you may notice on a budget guitar is that the woods are nearly always all laminate – top, back and sides. Although there’s little aesthetic difference, laminate is the cheaper option. The pitfalls are that it’s less resonant and less tonally pleasing (even though tone is subjective). A solid wood guitar, whether made entirely of solid wood or just with a solid top, can be a lot more toneful and resonate more freely, offering a louder, more complex sound that will develop nicely as the wood ages.

Build
A guitar costing $1,000 will definitely show better craftsmanship than a budget model, and chances are it will have been made in a workshop by a skilled luthier instead of on a factory line. In fact, a $1,000 should be flawless in its feel and playability, showing no blemishes or rough spots. In contrast, the craftsmanship on a $100 guitar is likely to be less impressive – maybe not particularly bad, but usually with plenty of room for improvement. Some entry-level guitars are also in desperate need of a good set-up when they first arrive, compared to the smooth playability of a premium guitar right out of the box.

Design
As design we’ve mentioned, designs can be shared among guitars of all prices. For example, the Cordoba C1 ($150) looks a lot like the Cordoba C10 ($1,050). However, as you move into the higher-end market, you can find some elegant, innovative and adventurous designs you just wouldn’t see in the budget market – whether it’s ESP LTD’s uber-modern TL-6N or a model from Godin’s premium Multiac Series.

Electronics
In the section above we determined that an entry-level/beginner’s guitar need not have electronics, but a classical guitar which is likely to be performed with should have the capabilities. Not every $1,000 guitar will have electronics, but those that do will tend to be advanced – some with dual pickups, and most with sound-shaping capabilities that go beyond simply adjusting the volume! A 3-band EQ (bass, middle and treble) is standard, while you may find a phase switch and even USB connectivity, for true plug-and-play convenience.

Tone
The sound of any guitar is subjective, and what sounds beautiful to me may not be your cup of tea. However, it’s generally agreed that an expensive, lovingly-crafted guitar using quality solid woods will have more character than an all-laminate budget model. But for beginners, as long as the guitar is clear with enough projection (and the guitars we feature on our budget classical guitars chart certainly are), then you’ll be more than equipped!

Hardware
Finally, it goes without saying that the hardware on a premium guitar should be good quality, helping both the sound and functionality of the model. On a budget classical guitar, you expect the components to work, but you could forgive a little tuning stability or stiff tuning keys. Not on a $1,000 model – tuning should be impeccable, and the nut and saddle should be bone (or a modern bone alternative, such as GraphTech’s Tusq). More often than not, when you pay a grand for a guitar, a good-quality protective case should come with it as standard. You can sometimes expect a gigbag or other free accessories with an entry-level guitar (replacement strings, polishing cloth, humidifier), but these are all easily purchased separately and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

Final Considerations

Whatever your budget, whatever your style, and whatever your aspirations, you’ve all come to this page for the same reason – you are interested in buying a new classical guitar. We hope our chart and the individual categories you can explore further have been helpful and have given you some inspiration.

Make sure you read plenty of reviews and watch review videos of your shortlisted models – possibly even try them out if you can – before making the purchase. Because regardless of whether you’re spending $80, $500 or $2,000, nobody should waste their money on a guitar that’s not suitable for them.

Good luck with your search!


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