How to Find the Best Budget Nylon-Stringed Guitar For Less Than $150
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Last Updated: May-04-2019
In our 2019 update of this wallet-friendly chart, we expanded our list up to include seven affordable nylon-stringed guitars. The newer Yamaha C40II replaces its precedessor and retains the top spot. We also included two newer models – the Washburn Classical Series C5CE for those looking for electronics, and the Yamaha CGS103A for new players starting out on a tight budget.
We can all dream of owning an American-made model from Cordoba’s prestigious Master Series… until we check our bank balances and realize we can’t even afford the strings for it!
Table Of Contents
There may be several reasons for wanting a cheap guitar. If you’re a beginner, you may not want to spend much more than $150 because you may not be sure whether or not you’ll stick with the instrument. If this is the case, don’t forget to check out our page dedicated to classical guitars for beginners.
Maybe you’re a parent purchasing a guitar for your teenager to take to and from school? Or you may be an experienced classical guitarist looking for a budget model to leave around the house / in the car / travel with. If you drop, damage or lose a guitar that didn’t cost much, it’s not the end of the world. Rather that, than your $1,000 Kremona!
Whatever your reason for wanting an affordable model, you don’t have to settle for ‘cheap and nasty’. We’ve sourced classical guitars that are ‘cheap and cheerful’. Here’s our top five.
Top 7 Cheap Classical Guitars (Under $150):
|Image||Acoustic Guitar / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Yamaha C40II |
Total of 4.50/5
The newest model from the premier name in budget acoustics.
|+ -|| Washburn C5CE |
Total of 4.25/5
A versatile classical with modern electric touches.
|+ -|| Ibanez GA3 |
Total of 4.35/5
This Ibanez is a great example of how affordable guitars should look like.
|+ -|| Yamaha CGS103AII |
Total of 4.45/5
A small-bodied model packing a full-size punch.
|+ -|| Cordoba CP100 Guitar Pack |
Total of 4.38/5
The perfect way to explore the nylon-stringed guitars.
|+ -|| Classical Guitar by Hola! |
Total of 4.73/5
Superb style, quality and sound – perfect for beginners and experienced players alike.
|+ -|| Squier SA-150N |
Total of 4.63/5
An attractive wallet-friendly classical guitar from budget kings Squier.
|Body And Neck:|
Beginners looking for a great starter guitar need a few specific things: quality, value and tone. The Yamaha C40II has all of those in spades. As we highlight in our full C40II review, this guitar is not only one of the best classical guitars for beginners on a budget – its tones and durability make it great for more advanced players as well.
It features an all-laminate construction, with a meranti body and spruce top, while the playability on the nato neck is exceptional. However, the C40II’s best features are its brilliant articulate tones.
Any beginner looking to start on a classical guitar (or any more advanced guitarist looking to switch up their sound on a budget) needs to check out the C40II!
|Body And Neck:|
For guitarists on a budget looking to get the most out of one axe, the Washburn C5CE offers a great blend of tone and versatility. As we highlight in our full C5CE review, this guitar can produce both shimmering acoustic tones and more biting amplified sounds.
The C5CE features a laminated spruce top with catalpa back and sides. An engineered wood fretboard tops the mahogany neck. The 25.5” scale gives this guitar a more traditional acoustic feel. Classical lovers don’t need to worry – the roomy fretboard still feels like a traditional Spanish guitar.
The C5CE also boasts a built-in pickup and onboard preamp, including a tuner. The electrified sounds are far from flawless, but at this price the C5CE’s versatility is outstanding.
|Body And Neck:|
Although they have rock in their hearts, Ibanez show off their classical side with this super affordable GA3 – with style, tone and attitude in equal measure. With a traditional classical body, the guitar is crafted with a spruce top, and agathis back and sides, finished in a natural high gloss with a classical mosaic rosette.
The eye-catching Ibanez-branded red headstock features chrome classical tuners, and sits atop a mahogany neck, with rosewood fretboard – all comfortable to use and offering easy playing.
This attractive guitar is clear and well-balanced in sound, and would work well for a beginner learning their first chords, licks and riffs. Take a look at the full review to find everything you need to know about the GA3.
|Body And Neck:|
The Yamaha CGS103AII is the perfect starter model for smaller or younger players who don’t want to deal with an unwieldy full-size guitar. This 3/4-scale model makes playing easier and more comfortable while still offering Yamaha’s high-quality construction and top-notch tones.
As we highlight in our full review of the CGS103AII, it features a laminated spruce top, with a rosewood fretboard and a slim 18-fret neck, helping smaller players maneuver the instrument more easily.
While it doesn’t project as well as its bigger brother (the C40II), the CGS103AII offers traditional classical tones with a full, warm range for its unique size. This axe also responds better to picking and strumming than many classical models – great for beginners looking to explore different genres.
|Body And Neck:|
Cordoba’s CP100 is a fantastic affordable startup nylon-string guitar that comes bundled with a range of essential accessories, including a travel gig bag, a digital clip-on chromatic tuner, plectrums, and a tutorial book.
The guitar in this great value set has a beautiful pale, satin-finished look, with a spruce top and nato back and sides. There’s also a good rosewood bridge, and a nato neck with rosewood fretboard, which is wide and easy to play.
The guitar provides a mellow sound with good projection, that’s more than suitable for beginners. It looks great, and the craftsmanship – for such a ‘cheap guitar’ – is very notable. This convenient pack (which is reviewed in full here) offers beginners everything they need to start playing.
|Body And Neck:|
While there’s no big brand name behind this affordable guitar, there’s a lot of quality on offer – as we highlight in the full review of the Classical Guitar by Hola! Music. It’s a full-size classical guitar, sporting attractive traditional looks and featuring a spruce top, with mahogany back and sides.
There’s a good mahogany neck, fitted with a rosewood fretboard and the typical 19 frets. Hardware matches the style and playability of this guitar, with a decent set of open-gear tuners, a rosewood bridge, and a Tusq nut and saddle.
Heading to and from guitar lessons is no problem either, as the guitar comes bundled with a padded gig bag. For the price, it’s hard to fault this impressive model!
|Body And Neck:|
When it comes to cheap guitars, Fender’s budget subsidiary Squier know how to make something that impresses, and this SA-150N (available in both jet black and natural finishes) has plenty to offer both beginners and experienced players alike.
It’s constructed entirely of laminated wood, with lindenwood on the top, and mahogany on the back and sides. Joined at the 12th fret, the mahogany neck is wide and slim, which gives players lots of space to maneuver, and offers a painted maple fretboard with 18 frets in total.
Hardware on this model is nothing to write home about, but it does the job with a set of traditional open-geared tuners and a rosewood bridge. For more on the Squier SA-150N, check out our full review.
Whether you’ve skimmed the summaries or read each review in depth, you’ll now see that you don’t have to spend over the odds to find a classical guitar that marries affordability with a decent level of quality.
What to Look for in a Cheap Classical Guitar?
Unlike having, say, $300 in your pocket, you aren’t spoiled for choice when it comes to woods, components and tones in this budget bracket – but there are still some things to look out for.
Whereas the steel-string acoustic and electric guitar markets are awash with a nearly endless stream of designs, the classical market is notably more traditional in appearance, and the budget end is usually no different. In fact, trying to tell a $1,000 model apart from a $100 guitar based on a photo is not always the easiest thing to do!
In this budget market, you can find different colored guitars (black in particular), but nothing beats a classic natural finish.
As for materials, you’ll usually find laminated woods on cheaper guitars, especially those under a hundred bucks, but in some cases, you can find a cheap guitar with a solid top. This allows for a much more robust sound, and adds to the value and longevity of the guitar.
Where possible, avoid plastic components (and we’re talking basic, cheap plastic, not higher-tech plastics such as TUSQ, Corian or Micarta). It shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but if you have the option to avoid it, do so. For example, aside from cheapening the look of your guitar, a plastic nut isn’t particularly durable and will usually hinder your tone. If the guitar does come with a plastic nut, consider upgrading it.
Before we go, we should point out that having your new guitar professionally set-up by your local guitar pro is worth considering – unless you are experienced enough to do it yourself. Ask them to change your strings, lower the action a little, and ensure it’s all playing and sounding as good as it can. This can make a cheap instrument feel a lot more expensive. Although make sure to have a quote from them first – if the set-up ends up costing more than the guitar it’ll all be a bit pointless!
The Final Word
This is the most volatile market, because for every good guitar under $150, there are 10 poor models. It’s worth sticking with a name you know (Yamaha, Ibanez, Cordoba and Epiphone tend to be good bets), and if possible try the guitar out before you buy. Otherwise read some reviews and look at a few videos, which will give you a sample of what they sound like.
Keep checking back because we refresh our lists often and a more expensive model may eventually slip into this budget category. Good luck with your hunt!