For most beginner guitarists, the trusty nylon-string acoustic, or ‘classical guitar’, may be the first port of call. Often these guitars are inexpensive, with a playing action greater than a suspension bridge rather than a good deal going on tonally. It could come as a surprise then, to obtain the nylon-string scene comes with an entire other dimension to it. Indeed, there are nylon models available from all of the top brands in the acoustic world, with prices reaching similarly eye-watering levels for the most effective classical guitars.
Admittedly, high-end nylon-string guitars have a tendency to serve a number of specific niches of music, namely classical and flamenco, but their overall appeal does crossover in a few areas. In this guide we’ll discuss what distinguishes different types of classical guitar in one another, aswell as offering some tips of among the best classical guitars you can purchase today.
With Black Friday coming, it may be worth holding off on picking right up a fresh classical guitar before Black Friday guitar deals start emerging. We’ll be reporting on the very best offers through to Black Friday itself.
Which will be the best classical guitars?
On balance, the Taylor Academy 12e-N is hard to beat in neuro-scientific classical guitars. Any acoustic player – steel or nylon – will know of Taylor because of its reputation for providing guitars at the very top table, but using its Academy series, Taylor has learned how exactly to pack in every its experience and know-how right into a range which is affordable to the masses.
The Taylor 12e-N offers the classic Taylor package; wonderful tone, excellent playability and exemplary construction. Even if you’re not really a nylon player, the 12e-N will probably be worth a quick dabble in the event that you get the opportunity. It could open your eyes to an totally different method of playing.
Best classical guitars: Buying advice
If you’re buying nylon-string guitar specifically, instead of a general purpose classical guitar, then the it’s likely that that you play either classical or flamenco styles. These genres need a guitar that is intended for the initial techniques involved, and ‘normal’ steel-strung acoustics simply wouldn’t provide enough finger real-estate where to work your magic.
How is a classical guitar not the same as an acoustic guitar?
Classical guitars change from standard steel-string acoustic guitars in a number of ways, not least in the expanded width of the neck – up to 2” – to support more technical fretting shapes.
You’ll also find dissimilarities in the construction, body condition and weight distribution. Bracing – the technique of providing rigidity to your body – is generally much lighter and arranged in ways to improve the guitar’s resonance, while classical and flamenco guitars also generally have a shallower body depth than you’d find on, for instance, a dreadnought acoustic.
Within the sub-genre you’ll also find dissimilarities between flamenco and classical nylon-string guitars, with flamenco versions often having a reinforced plate to safeguard your body when percussive techniques are used. The neck on a flamenco guitar also is commonly flatter too, that allows for the playing action to be lower.
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And also classical and flamenco nylon-string guitars, additionally, there are hybrids which utilise a few of the features and aesthetics of ‘regular’ guitars – like narrower necks – which give a good middle-ground to anyone seeking the warm, mellow sound of nylon, but who doesn’t want to totally change their playing technique.
Regardless, the very best classical guitar for you personally is the the one that allows you to reach your playing goals. They are professional tools and also have certain characteristics which perhaps don’t lend themselves to playing crossover styles, however in the right hands an excellent nylon acoustic is a sight to behold. Here’s a glance at among the best classical guitars nowadays. We’ve standard classical guitars, flamenco guitars and hybrids, plus acoustic-electric options too.
The very best classical guitars on the market
(Image credit: Taylor)
- Taylor Academy 12e-N
Basically the best classical guitar for many people
Price: $699/£779 | Top: Lutz Spruce | Back & sides: Layered Sapele | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: West African Ebony | Scale: 25.5” | Frets: 17 | Finishes: Varnish
Taylor-appropriate build quality
Neck perhaps slightly too narrow for pure classical players
Taylor is seeing some very nice successes from its Academy line, which promises the full-fat Taylor experience at a price which makes them – at least relatively – affordable for the countless. The Taylor Academy 12e-N is a excellent nylon-strung option which gives the great things about classical and flamenco styling with the ergonomic familiarity of a far more standard steel-strung guitar.
We particularly just like the bevelled armrest which designed for a nicely comfortable playing experience, while we were impressed with the way the onboard electronics retained the guitar’s natural resonance even at higher volumes.
(Image credit: Cordoba)
- Cordoba C7-CE
Gorgeous Spanish-specific nylon with onboard electronics
Price: $699/£649 | Top: Canadian Red Cedar | Back & sides: Rosewood | Neck: Mahogany | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Scale: 25.5” | Frets: 19 | Finishes: Gloss
You’ll love the cedar top
Be sure you turn the built-in tuner off!
Gigging musicians often require some quality level and reliability from their guitars, and in the Cordoba C7-CE there is an affordable, top quality guitar that would suit you perfectly nicely. The C7-CE packs in a few exceptional tone-woods, which elevate your guitar sonically and aesthetically, and the onboard Fishman electronics, which blends an under-saddle piezo with an interior microphone, permits precise control over your amplified tone.
For the purchase price, the Cordoba C7-CE is a fairly compelling package, and one we’re pleased to recommend.
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(Image credit: Ovation)
- Ovation Timeless Legend
This bowl-back nylon acoustic is simply perfect for the stage
Price: $1,299/£1,195 | Top: Solid Cedar | Back & sides: Lyrachord | Neck: 5-piece mahogany/maple | Fingerboard: Ebony | Scale: 26.2” | Frets: 19 | Finishes: Natural
Bold, projected sound
Neck is a dream to play
Neck could be too thin for traditionalists
Ovation is something of a curio, relying since it does on that familiar ‘bowl’ shaped back and sides. Charles Kamen, founder of Ovation, believed there have been certain inherent frequencies he didn’t want within an acoustic and set after building his own solution comprising composite materials usually within the aviation industry. The effect was, and is, a guitar which promises elite performance at high volume levels, without concern with nasty feedback usually connected with amplifying acoustic guitars.
The Ovation Timeless Legend Nylon may be the culmination of most that innovation, providing a good cedar top gives a mellow, balanced sound when combined with Lyrachord material. That is a high-end instrument, of this there is absolutely no doubt, although its neck is slightly thinner than some classical or flamenco veterans may like. Having said that, if you’re likely to name your guitar ‘Timeless Legend’ it have to be good, and thankfully Ovation has were able to surpass that promise.