Inexpensive (read: not cheap) classical guitars
January 2, 2009 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Any recommendations for an inexpensive (but not cheap) classical guitar? I'm looking in the $150-$250 range here.

I've been playing guitar for eons, but never had much luck with classical pieces. I'm ear trained, and quite out of the blue my ears have decided they want to learn this style. I've borrowed a friend's 1/2 scale classical, and I feel like I've rediscovered the guitar. I'm picking up so much so fast, and I want to keep going, but will never do this as part of a paid gig like I might with my other guitars.

Looking for good intonation, above all. The tone or timbre itself I couldn't care less about. I hear Yamahas are quite good at this price point. Even a student model would be fine so long as it's got good intonation. Thanks.
posted by littlerobothead to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
The Art & Lutherie Ami Classical lists at $279 - basic finish, but nice sound.
posted by scruss at 7:29 PM on January 2, 2009

I've found that low-end Washburn and Ibanez classicals are very good for their price points. The Washburn C80S should only run you about $200, maybe less if you shop around.
posted by tealsocks at 8:09 PM on January 2, 2009

Ebay? I just got a banjo online that my guitar freak friend said wasn't bad at all.
posted by nevercalm at 8:41 PM on January 2, 2009

This is a rule that always applies, in my experience:

If you're buying a guitar for less than $300, you should buy a used one. Cruise the pawn shops - they're a good place to try.
posted by koeselitz at 8:51 PM on January 2, 2009

Both good suggestions, I have to go with pawn shops over Ebay though - musical instruments are one thing I have to hold in my hands first.
posted by mannequito at 9:04 PM on January 2, 2009

Parents, friends' parents (or maybe even just friends). Often, perfectly good musical instruments are sitting in someone's home unused and could be parted with for a reasonable price - or free! Ask around.
posted by xiaolongbao at 9:56 PM on January 2, 2009

All my Yamaha instruments (a steel string guitar, a classical guitar, an upright piano) and other Yamaha instruments I've played (grand pianos) have all been good instruments. Their quality ranges from "solid" at the lower price points to "competes with the best, if not is the best, manufacturer for this instrument" at the highest price points. Think Japanese cars. Toyota makes decent mid-range solid performers. Very good bang for the buck, not cheap junk, solid performer. Lexus, Toyota's luxury division, is capable of making some very stylish, very nice vehicles at their top end. Serious luxury, great performance. Depending on the year and model, you may like a high end Lexus more than, say, a Mercedes or a BMW.

My classical guitar is pretty good. I've played Yamaha concert grands that felt better and sounded richer than comparable Steinways and Bosendorfers.

So, if you're looking for a durable but decent classical guitar, I would recommend the Yamaha CG101MS (or the CG101A-- the last letter just tells you the finish on the wood). About $200 brand new, depending where you look. Features to note on the CG101s: 1. Solid spruce top. This is probably the most important item to look for in this price bracket. A well made solid spruce top gives you a full, resonating tone that won't come off as toy-like or cheap. 2. The consistency of Yamaha craftsmanship in this price range means your guitar will perform much like mine will-- pretty good-- and will likely be durable for until whenever you decide to upgrade.

Hope that helps!


If you're curious, my music experience:

Main instrument -- Piano: 12 years classical, 4 years jazz
Secondary instrument -- Guitar: inconsistent dabbling, enough to play basic pop and rock (i.e. enough to fool non-musicians into thinking I play guitar). Limited ability to play jazz.

So, take my guitar advice with a grain of salt.
posted by unidyne7 at 12:27 AM on January 3, 2009

It is said that Ry Cooder played some of his best stuff on a guitar that was aged and gummed up
posted by telstar at 2:11 AM on January 3, 2009

Make sure that it's not the 1/2 scale part that's making you make progress. Sit down with a full scale classical guitar. I've always found the fretboards to be kind of distressingly large and clunky.

For fun's sake, I have a 1/2 scale Yamaha, and while it's a plywood guitar without stellar tone, it's very well made, plays in tune, and stays in tune.
posted by LucretiusJones at 6:25 PM on January 3, 2009

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