In this guide, we’re looking at the best classical guitar for beginners, providing you with a few options, and something that is sure to fit your price range. Many people opt for these guitars for beginners as they are quite easy on your fingers, so you won’t get callouses that you might get from steel strings.
We explore some of the features that are vital to consider before you take the plunge and buy a guitar, as well as the benefits of classical guitars before we go on to review a few different options.
In a Hurry? Here Are the Best Classical Guitars for Beginners
Classical Guitars vs Other Acoustic Guitars for Beginners
Many people opt for classical guitars over other styles of guitar such as steel-stringed acoustic guitars. Having a nylon string guitar such as a classical option is undeniably easier on the fingers.
One thing that people tend to find really tough when they start to learn how to play guitar is getting used to the pressure on the fingers. Steel strings can cause callouses and damage the fingertips, so beginner guitar options may need to account for this. If you use a classical guitar, the theory is exactly the same. In terms of how they are played, chords and finger positions, there is no difference.
Another approach for beginners could be to just go for it with a steel-string guitar. The pain of these strings instead of nylon strings may be annoying for a few weeks, but gradually the skin thickens (literally). If you plan to move on to a steel-string acoustic guitar eventually then you are probably going to have to deal with this at some point.
As well as the difference in strings, there is a difference in sound between classical guitars for beginners and acoustic guitars. You will find the nylon strings and body of the classical option to give a mellow sound. Sometimes it is referred to as a “Spanish guitar” and the sound is pretty iconic and recognizable.
A classical guitar may also have a thicker neck and fretboard.
Whatever style of guitar you buy, the tonewood is bound to be important. This is definitely the case with classical guitar options that rely on the wood to generate the sound. Different woods make a big impact on the sound, and certain parts of a guitar also rely on the quality of the wood to project an enjoyable tone.
The top of the guitar is also sometimes called the soundboard, and it is called this because it has a bigger impact over the sound than the back and sides or other parts of the guitar. All are important, but good quality woods are generally prioritized for the top. A spruce top or cedar top will be fairly common for classical guitar models. The better the wood, the more the guitar is likely to cost.
Spruce and cedar give a solid all-round tone, but maple and mahogany may also be opted for when manufacturers are choosing wood for the top. When it comes to the back and sides, you are more likely to see woods such as rosewood and possibly even koa, a wood that is traditionally used more for ukuleles or guitaleles.
If you’re new to classical guitar then you should go for a guitar design with a good all-round tone. If you can find a model with a spruce top that is within your budget then it will probably reward you with a great sound.
Price of Classical Guitars
If you have never been able to play guitar before and you’re looking to just get an affordable option to see whether you can pick it up, some classical models are relatively affordable to buy. You can pick up budget guitars that give a relatively decent sound, and are still enjoyable to play, but for the very top models, you are going to have to part with a bit more money.
It isn’t unrealistic to think that you can find a good classical guitar for beginners that is under $100, but a $200-300 budget will get you a lot more for your money, and you can actually buy a guitar that is likely to last years. It’s better to invest a little bit more for the longevity, the same as buying any other acoustic guitar, you don’t want an instrument that will break in the next few months or feel flimsy and cheap as you advance your skills. You want the best you can get for your money.
Of course, like most instruments, if you want an elite classical guitar made by a luthier then you can end up spending thousands for one of the very top options. We don’t recommend this for beginners unless you’re happy to part with a lot of cash.
Before you make your guitar purchase you should think about the best accessories, too. Some of the guitars for beginners are sold as bundles, meaning you get a lot of the accessories that you need free with the guitar. If you wish to play with a pick, this is a very cheap but very important accessory. Also, if you are looking to take your instrument out and about with you a lot, you should look to get a gig bag or case for your classical guitar, too.
You will also need a tuner. These help you to ensure you play in tune rather than letting your guitar sound horrible and out-of-key. If you want to play standing up then you should look to buy a strap, too.
It’s annoying to buy a guitar and not be able to play it straight away, so think about ordering your accessories at the same time.
Best Classical Guitar for Beginners Reviews
1. Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar Bundle – Best Classical Guitar for Beginners
The Yamaha C40 is one of the best and most popular guitar options if you are looking for a classical guitar. It has been named as our best overall option due to the fact that it doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount, but it still gives a huge level of quality and craftsmanship. Plus, with this particular option, you can buy a bundle, so you get the best classical guitar accessories to go with your guitar!
It features quality construction with a spruce top, quality mahogany back and sides and a rosewood fingerboard. These are all common classical guitar materials, but for a reason. They are great for this type of instrument and produce the signature tone. Yamaha is a brand you know you can trust with the majority of instruments.
The accessories that are included are a polishing cloth, gig bag, DVD, strings, pick card, and a tuner. All the essentials to start playing the guitar.
Nylon string guitars don’t come more popular than the C40. It’s one of the options that has been on the market a long time and if you are looking for a guitar with a Spanish sound and classical vibe, this could be the top option.
2. Oscar Schmidt OCHS-A-U 1/2 Size Classical Guitar – Best Travel Guitar
The bright sound of a classical guitar can translate really nicely when turned into a smaller, portable option. Unlike some of the other acoustic guitar options out there, the tone doesn’t suffer too much if the body is made significantly smaller, though it can start to take on something of a ukulele sound. The best classical guitar for beginners who are short on space, and want to take their instrument out with them regularly, could be this 1/2 size from prolific manufacturer Oscar Schmidt.
Oscar Schmidt has a good reputation for making classical guitars and other styles of guitar. This is in the lower price range compared to some of their other guitars.
It features a mahogany neck, a spruce top, and unusual Catalpa back and sides. One other thing that is a big positive is the adjustable truss rod, this lets you choose the action you want your guitar to play with.
If you’re prioritizing a small size then this could be a very good instrument, both fun to play and easy to take to campouts and other social events, or just to band practice. Oscar Schmidt’s build quality is always reliable and if you are looking for the top option for a small guitar, this could be your answer.
3. Cordoba C5 Iberia Series Classical Guitar – Best Build Quality
Cordoba is another manufacturer that makes some very good classical guitars, but also some great ukuleles. The two seem to go hand-in-hand. The C5 is a popular model and though it is more expensive than the overall best, the Yamaha C40, it has excellent build quality. The materials used to make this are elite, and the solid Canadian cedar top is combined with a mahogany back and sides for a light but rugged design with a great sound.
The Iberia series is very popular for this sort of guitar, and the Spanish handmade design has all the quality hardware you’d expect, an inlaid rosette, a hand-carved headstock, and a bone nut and saddle to go with the solid cedar design. Without going to a luthier, it’s hard to get high-quality handmade instruments, but the Cordoba C5 is exactly that.
This is in the more expensive price range if you are looking for classical guitars for beginners, but if you are happy to part with the extra money for a great sound and handmade quality then the C5 is a good choice, which can even last for decades if treated right and looked after.
4. Strong Wind Classical Acoustic Guitar – Cheap Option
We’ve included the best cheap option, too. The Strong Wind model doesn’t have the same reputation as some of the other manufacturers on the list, but it certainly has some decent features for beginners. If you don’t want to part with too much money then an instrument like this could be your answer.
As well as the decent build quality and design, the guitar is available in multiple sizes, so you can choose the most suitable for you. It also includes a gig bag, and while you might want to look for more accessories to go with the guitar, you don’t need to worry about how you are going to carry it around.
The compromise that means it is a more affordable option is probably simply the fact that it is made out of cheaper materials. Instead of a solid cedar top or mahogany back and sides, it features basswood. This is fine, and a hard-wearing material, but it doesn’t have the same projection and sweet sound as some of the other options.
We live in an age where you can get some pretty decent instruments under $100, and this is definitely an example. You don’t have to part with loads of cash to get a decent guitar, and though this is not likely to be as good for recording or performing as, say, the Cordoba C5, it is fine to get started. For beginners, affordability is usually important.
It’s vital that you decide which features are most important, and how much you want to spend before you decide on which classical guitar is right for you. There are quite a few options, but not as many as a standard acoustic guitar. Our guide has aimed to provide 4 options for different budgets, and with different features and accessories included, so there should be something to suit all kinds of beginners.
The C40 has been named the best overall. It’s relatively affordable, but the quality and sound on offer are excellent for beginners or even intermediate players. It even comes with a number of accessories when bought as a beginner’s bundle.