1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Anyone know of a good classical guitar?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by xtelesquirex, Sep 19, 2020.

  1. xtelesquirex

    xtelesquirex Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    599
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2020
    Location:
    International Man Of Mystery
    I have a Yamaha and it's pretty good. However, I want to swap it for something different.

    I tried a couple Cordoba and didn't like them. I hear wonderful things about Alhambra. Anyone tried them? What other makers should I be looking into? I'd prefer something with no cutaway and no electronics. Prices are hard to nail down, but I think I could get a quality instrument for between 1k and 2k USD.

    Thanks for any and all suggestions.
     
  2. KATT

    KATT Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    164
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Location:
    Essex, England
    I have a Ramirez R4 which was about that price range used. I like it and it was good enough to get me up to grade 8!
     
    xtelesquirex likes this.
  3. M2roadwarrior

    M2roadwarrior Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Age:
    51
    Posts:
    287
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2020
    Location:
    Cape cod
    My nephew bought a lovely takemine classical for under 500 bucks, sounds and plays great!
     
    PhredE and xtelesquirex like this.
  4. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,003
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Location:
    Between the Raindrops
    What about the Yamaha don't you like? They are probably the best quality-for-dollar choice in all price ranges of classicals these days.
     
    Nahtabot, Fiesta Red and xtelesquirex like this.
  5. xtelesquirex

    xtelesquirex Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    599
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2020
    Location:
    International Man Of Mystery
    Mostly the preamp and the cutaway. It isn't a bad guitar, but I'd like something a little bit more traditional. I just checked, it's an NCX700, for what it's worth.
     
    Deeve and Peegoo like this.
  6. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,053
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Suburban PDX, OR
    **Warning, long post (apologies..) **


    For reference, what model of Yamaha do you have?

    If considering new, then:

    At 1k-2k you have a lot of really great options. A few brands I recommend considering are:

    Alhambra :) I believe, still all built in Spain (at least non-budget models) Go for model 7 (they are all solid) or up if possible. When Freeman built his classical recently, he borrowed a friend's model 7 as a reference for measurements and such. He included a few pics of it in that thread.

    Kremona - Bulgarian based, but make a good range of options. Prices and quality are good. One of the real sleeper options most don't know (..yet). You'll have to spend about $700-$900 for all solid model.

    Cordoba - the higher end models aren't bad. All solid wood models start at the model 9 (about $850-$900). Generally these are all MIC.

    Raimundo - Another Spanish builder. I've played a few that were (I know, it's overused) 'cannons'. I liked the ones I've played a lot. They seem to make more in the mid-budget line these days, but the high-end ones (eg; all solid) should still be quite good.

    Yamaha in the GC series (the grade above the 'CG' [student] series) These are all solid. The GC32 and above have bone saddle /nut; the GC12 and GC22 do not. GC32 runs about $1600, the GC12 is about $900.
    IIRC, GC32 and above are MIJ, the others are MIC.

    Takamine is a real sleeper. The C132s and C136s have been great historically. Haven't set hands on new ones though. MIJ still I believe. Prices are about $1200 +/- a hundred or two. They seem to want to make/sell cutaways mostly these days though.

    Also, don't automatically exclude lesser known or European brands -- Hanika, or even the better Hofner guitars (German built ones) offer some great options too.

    If considering used, then:

    Older Yairi's are great (models CY116-CY140) great bang for the buck (if in good condition)
    Older Rodriguez are very good, especially the higher end models.
    Some older high end Yamahas and Taks are good.
    Depending on your location and proximity to luthier built instruments, you might scan your local CL ads to see of locally built used guitars pop up on the radar. I have seen ads for guitars built by famous/well-known builders at reasonable price.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Here's just an FYI list I whipped together on this subject -- I hope it might help somehow.

    What to look for/how to shop for a classical guitar:

    * Try to get 'hands on' if at all possible. If you can purchase remotely from a shop that has good customer service/generous return policy, that is probably the next best scenario.

    * Straight, flat, neck parallel with top of the guitar. Properly built, no truss rod is needed.

    * All solid (solid top, solid back and sides) -- laminate just doesn't resonate as well as real wood.
    >>Watch product descriptions carefully. The writers of marketing info often try to blur the distinction <<

    * Bone saddle, bone nut -- in that order. Both is best. TUSQ is 'ok' and is used on a few brands of guitars. Fine luthier built instruments nearly always have bone. Bone is the de facto standard. Go with proven materials.

    * Good fretwork. Be prepared to check and polish frets at a bare minimum.

    * Top bracing pattern -- just know Torres is tried/true classic pattern and it's fine. It is also sometimes referred to as 'Spanish fan' bracing, or 7-fan bracing. All of these imply basically the same thing.
    You might encounter a mention of a transverse or 'treble' brace. That refers to a modified Torres style (implemented by Ramirez) with a tweak to boost treble response -- this is fine. The treble brace is most often found on cedar top guitars. The bracing should ALWAYS be wood (preferably quartersawn spruce).

    * As much as possible, avoid 'overbuilt' factory guitars. These are guitars that are built using very thick tops, backs, etc in order to ensure it survives transport and won't be a warranty issue. Overbuilding a guitar tends to greatly inhibit it's sonic potential. Most factory guitars are overbuilt and overfinished to some degree.

    * As light of finish possible to protect the instrument. Don't expect French Polish or even a shellac finish on a factory guitar. Sonically, French Polish is best. If you have some indication the Poly finish was applied judiciously that's as about as good as it gets.

    * Look for a large number of favorable reviews (preferably by experienced players and/or builders). Reviews that say 'it has great finish' or 'sounds really good', 'sounds very warm' don't translate to useful information. You need objective details about it's sound and construction.

    * If I had to reduce the task down to one thing to look for, I would suggest the 'high E string test'. Pluck the high E -- Is it loud? Does it sustain long? Is it as loud as the other (wound) strings? Even better when that same level of volume is replicated on fretted notes higher up the fretboard (say, 12th fret). Also, beware: most guitar builders simply do not put the best strings on new factory instruments. Most new buyers probably could not tell the difference, so, they 'go cheap'. Ask the shop or seller restring it with good strings and then let you demo it -- if possible.

    A piece of advice: try to avoid (what seems to be ubiquitious these days..) 'mahogany laminate'. I have had it on a few guitars, and I always end up with the feeling the sound is lacking. To me, it's the 'keep looking' signal. It might work ok on steel string guitars, but it's a real tone killer for a classical. All solid back/sides of almost any wood type is superior sound-wise.

    While comparing steel string to classicals, keep in mind the physics of each type are basically inverted: they are braced differently, the tension applied to the top is vastly differently, the string materials have enormously different density/hardness (derp!), etc. A steel string will tend toward brightness and tend to lack in bass response. A classical is just the opposite: it will 'want' to be bassy and tend to lack treble projection and clarity. So the challenges and remedies to each's problems are inherently different. This is the reason that carbon composite treble strings have become very popular with classical players -- the greater mass and harder material gives a stronger and brighter sound. They can make a modest classical guitar sound reasonably good.

    Hope this helps..

    Disclaimer: all the above is IMO of course Your experience and opinions may very well differ.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
    P Thought, DrPepper, mfguitar and 9 others like this.
  7. Injam

    Injam Tele-Meister

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    407
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2020
    Location:
    Georgia
    Check out the Martin 000c
     
    xtelesquirex likes this.
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    76
    Posts:
    5,624
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Washington
    Read carefully what PhredE says. Then read it again.

    I'll add my two cents and maybe ask a couple of questions. Do you want a true classical guitar which to me implies purely acoustic, no cutaway, no electronics, wide flat neck. Do you play with classical technique - foot on a rest, neck elevated, precise hand position? Do you play percussive (flamenco) music. Or do you want the sound of nylon strings for jazz/blues/folk or other genres?

    The reason I ask those questions is to help decide between true classicals and what I call the hybrid nylon string guitars (which does include Yamaha, Cordoba, the Taylor nylon series and a few others). My feeling is that these guitars target the steel string player who wants to add the nylon voice to their music but maybe not have the rigid technique (I put myself in this camp)

    As you move into true classicals things like note separation and certainly projection come into play - traditional classical music (Bach, Sor, et al) is almost never amplified and you want a guitar that projects to the back of the hall. I was impressed by the Alhambra that PhredE mentions and Manuel Rodrigues guitars are well thought of in moderate price ranges.

    There are a lot of custom builders and the high end of your price range makes some of them possible. My recommendation there is simply to play exampleof their work and see what you like.

    Good luck. I just built a classical and altho I do not play classical music or in that style I am having a lot of fun with it. Another voice, another way to play.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
    DrPepper, Deeve, xtelesquirex and 2 others like this.
  9. Antoon

    Antoon Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,272
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Location:
    Low Lands
    What a great post PhredE!
     
    PhredE likes this.
  10. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,053
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Suburban PDX, OR
    Oh, thanks very much. Believe it or not, I was actually second guessing whether I should post all that.. but, I'm glad to see someone appreciated it.

    I'm always happy to regurgitate any info about classical ('nylon string') guitars any time, any where, etc.
    :D

    For any onlookers in general..
    PS/Edit: I meant to mention earlier, that if you are looking for a 'decent' classical and don't have the 1k+ to spend, there are some viable options out there. This is especially true if you can manage a couple simple upgrades/maintenance yourself: mainly upgrading a saddle, nut and some basic fretwork. < Those are the areas that tend to get cut short in many production guitars these days.
     
    xtelesquirex likes this.
  11. 63 vibroverb

    63 vibroverb Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,206
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2014
    Location:
    Lititz, PA
    I personally own a Manuel Rodriguez cedar top and love it’s sound. Very loud.

    Also have good experiences with Alhambra and higher end Cordobas.

    I prefer no cutaway and no electronics
     
    PhredE and xtelesquirex like this.
  12. El Marin

    El Marin Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,113
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Madrid, Spain, EU
    I own a couple of Alhambras, 4P and 9P... 1K and 2K guitars. They are the Best you can get.

    Manuel Rodriguez is also a VERY good builder.

    Camps... but now we are talking 4 or 5K

    But I would never ever buy a Japanese Spanish guitar or from another country than Spain or maybe France... On the same reasoning I always tell my friends not to buy an Alhambra acoustic and get a Gibson or a Martin. Alhambra is doing his homework on acoustics nevertheless but their deal are Spanish

    Now, a small advice:

    -ALL solid, No plywood,
    -No painted fretboard
    -No cutaway
    -Bone nut and bridge.
    -Cedar and rosewood are my favs.
    -NO pickguard, they kill volume and tone unless you are a REAL flamenco player.
    -Don't be shy with the hard case
    -No cheap strings. High tension are my fav (they are smooth compared to 11-52 in my tele).

    BE CAREFUL with humidity changes. Spanish guitars are much more delicate than an acoustic

    THIS

    If I have a doubt between two guitars I will measure and choose the longest time sounding
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  13. xtelesquirex

    xtelesquirex Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    599
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2020
    Location:
    International Man Of Mystery
    I'm not classically trained. I do prefer classical position, I have and sometime use a foot rest. I'm not sure my hand position and techniques are correct, but I try. I don't do a percussive style. I would like to learn proper classical form. I can play a bit of Bach and other moderately easy pieces. I want a guitar focused toward this. I use electric for jazz/blues/etc.
     
    PhredE likes this.
  14. xtelesquirex

    xtelesquirex Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    599
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2020
    Location:
    International Man Of Mystery
    Great information! Thank you. A lot to digest here. The Yamaha I have now is NCX700.
     
    Deeve and PhredE like this.
  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    76
    Posts:
    5,624
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Washington
    My point was that traditional classical guitars are pretty rigidly defined, as is the playing technique. The "hybrid" guitars have slightly narrower fretboards, often a bit of radius, sometimes marker dots. You can carry that a couple of steps farther, many of them have cutaways and electronics, frequently you will see adjustable truss rods and often non traditional bracing. As I recall in their advertising Taylor specifically targets their guitars to their steel string customers.

    As with any significant guitar purchase the best advice is always to get out and play everything you can. Good luck.
     
    PhredE and xtelesquirex like this.
  16. javiersson

    javiersson Tele-Meister

    Age:
    43
    Posts:
    127
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Location:
    Madrid, SPAIN
    I have an Alhambra, and played many for years. Mine is model 4P, solid top. After 10 years it still smells and plays like a dream. No issue at all.
     
    El Marin, PhredE and xtelesquirex like this.
  17. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    17,051
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2014
    Location:
    kamloops bc
    I have a 60's Raven , cheap as hell, given to me by my wife ( it was hers initially ) I lowered the action considerably , new machine heads , gave it a Dean Markly piezo pickup , I cant put it down , I play it for about 2 hrs a day , Ive written at least 10 songs on it, I have played ramerez, and a few others that were kind enough to make left handed models , I cant compare them to the Raven , one ramerz , played beautifully , the second one I played was worse than the raven was before I set it up.

    for nylon string my godin is gorgeous and sound outstanding , wide neck, set up spectacular, easy to play, but for that i was looking for some thing similar to a chet Atkins gibson classical ( none made southpaw) so Godin it was.

    uc3ysauxjjkq5k0cjyek.jpg

    s0zjuxpq800r1kwsc3tf.jpg
     
    PhredE and xtelesquirex like this.
  18. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,053
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Suburban PDX, OR
    Just wanted to offer a brief explanation for this:

    " * If I had to reduce the task down to one thing to look for, I would suggest the 'high E string test'. Pluck the high E -- Is it loud? Does it sustain long? Is it as loud as the other (wound) strings? Even better when that same level of volume is replicated on fretted notes higher up the fretboard (say, 12th fret). Also, beware: most guitar builders simply do not put the best strings on new factory instruments. Most new buyers probably could not tell the difference, so, they 'go cheap'. Ask the shop or seller restring it with good strings and then let you demo it -- if possible."

    Physics. Think about the ratio of mass in considering one tiny little nylon string vs. the weight of saddle, bridge and top. That little string has to transfer vibrations well enough to get the top to vibrate to pump air.
    It's asking a lot of a tiny little non-metallic string that might not even weigh .1 gram, even if it's strung up to sufficient tension. A bigger heavier string will ALWAYS drive the top more/better/more efficiently -- even if the tension is the same. So, using the most 'extreme' of conditions to test (the smallest, lightest string) is a better indicator of the ability of the guitar to pump air.

    Second, strings matter. Because the signal chain of an acoustic guitar is limited to:
    Strings>Saddle>Bridge>Top.. the strings are the origination point and and very important; much more so than any electric guitar. The composition of strings has evolved in recent years. Don't be afraid to try a different composition (and, of course, tension -- as most already know) if you want to modify or change your 'sound'.
     
    xtelesquirex likes this.
  19. javiersson

    javiersson Tele-Meister

    Age:
    43
    Posts:
    127
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Location:
    Madrid, SPAIN
    Some pics :)
    IMG_1872.JPG IMG_1873.JPG IMG_1876.JPG IMG_1888.JPG IMG_1881.JPG
     
    Deeve, xtelesquirex and PhredE like this.
  20. javiersson

    javiersson Tele-Meister

    Age:
    43
    Posts:
    127
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2016
    Location:
    Madrid, SPAIN
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.