Classical Guitar Reviews and Recommendations

Below are some recommended classical guitars and brands for students. This review of factory guitars is mainly for beginner to intermediate students looking for an affordable and quality recommendations. I consider these classical guitars the best value for the money. Value and liking an instrument can be different things though.

Bradford is Currently Playing

My main instrument is a 2018 Douglass Scott Classical Guitar (see pics and my review) with a small scale (632mm) and smaller body. I also have a Cordoba C10, Saers Gutiar A50, Saers Guitar A90 for teaching and messing about. I have a bunch of cheap guitars of various sizes too (they are piling up).

In-Person or Online, My Pick or Something Local

It’s always best to play a guitar in person but I know that is not a possibility for many students outside of large cities. That said, if you can make it to a major classical guitar dealer that is ideal.

If you find a guitar in your local shop that isn’t listed here, you might still want to buy it. I’ve tried lots of guitars but not all of them so if you fall in love with a classical guitar at a local store, go for it! Just make sure it’s a standard full size nylon string classical guitar.

Recommended Student Level Guitars 

I understand not everyone is ready for the leap to a expensive single-luthier built guitar. Therefore, here are some recommendations. These are guitars I recommend to my students and online followers. I can only recommend what I’ve had experience with and so far the Saers and Cordoba brands are winning the game. Keep in mind that there are other great brands out there that I have not had the chance to demo.

Top Recommended – The better the instrument you get, the more you’ll likely enjoy the experience of learning music (within reason). However, everything I’ve listed here is a good value in relation to the price. Regarding the Saers vs Cordoba, the Saers seem to be a bit more affordable and have a better playability but the Cordobas are more widely available and tend to have a nice balanced sound.

  • Entry Level: Cordoba C5, C7, or C9, the higher the better
  • Intermediate: Saers A50 or Cordoba C10
  • Late-Intermediate: Saers A90 or Cordoba C12
  • Advanced: Single-Luthier guitar such as Marcus Dominelli or Douglass Scott

All Price Ranges

I’ve been happy with the Saers and Cordoba brands so pick your price range and the more you spend the slightly nicer it will be. I’ve reviewed most of these and I trust the guitars for the most part. Most have truss rods which are great for entry-level instruments in case of issues with the neck and setup. Truss rods allow small adjustments without having to consult a luthier plus they keep the neck straight which is an issue when factory guitars sit in dry warehouses too long. All of the models from the Cordoba C3 model up have solid tops which is also great for the sound. Send it back if you don’t like it, Amazon has a great return policy. Yamaha’s are also well build on average but no truss rod (but I’ve still been happy overall with their value). My new pick for the under $2000 range is the Saers Guitar A50.

Under $250 – If you can spend more you really should, but if you’re on a super budget the Yamaha will make the sound and be playable. You might quickly outgrow it musically though.

Amazon: Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar Price Range $140-200
Another good one if you’re on a budget. I’m always impressed with what you can get from Yamaha. It’s not a refined sound but it’s a great working guitar. Bottom Line: well built. No truss rod but if you get one with a straight neck you’re set, their quality control is pretty great so you should be fine.

Under $400
See my review of the Cordoba C5 here. Price: $300-$350
If you can afford to start here that would be best. With a solid top this one has some nice touches. In the end, the laminate back mahogany is a fine choice and I don’t think paying the extra for a different laminate is all that worth it. Bottom Line: Everything you need plus some extra.

Under $700
Amazon: Cordoba C7 Classical Guitar Price Range: $475-650
This is great because you get a solid cedar top and laminate Indian rosewood back and sides. In general, this is going to be louder and more refined a sound than the cheap Yamahas but the price is a jump up. To be honest it’s not much better than the C5 just a bit nicer. I say if you can afford this one then stretch your budget and buy the C9 or 10 which is a real improvement.

Recommended Under $1000
Cordoba C9 Classical Guitar: $800-1000
Solid Canadian cedar top with solid mahogany back and sides. This is a winner when it comes to under $1000. I would love to see my students with a guitar that could last them into their intermediate years. Also comes in a small scale “parlor” size for all you shorties out there. Beware of small neck profile on the parlor. See my review of the Cordoba C9 Parlor Guitar.

Recommended Under $3000

When choosing between them, the Cordoba has a nice balanced sound but the Saers wins in playability and features.

Saers Guitar A50 (review link) $1279 – Great value for the price. The Cordoba C10 is near it but costs a bit more.

Cordoba C10 Guitar (review link) or the Cordoba C10 Parlor Guitar (review link). $1800
Solid Canadian cedar top & Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Includes Cordoba Polyfoam case. Also comes in a small scale “parlor” for all you shorties out there. 630mm. Beware of small neck profile on the parlor.

Cordoba C12 Guitar (review link) $2000-$2600 USD
All the goodies. Modern design elements include a lattice braced top and raised fingerboard (not much though) for easy playability when accessing upper frets. It’s loud and fairly well balanced. If you are young concert player or just want a high quality instrument for an affordable price you should buy this as it will keep in in the game next to more expensive guitars.

Saers Guitar A90 Review – $2500-2800 USD
I had a great time testing and playing the Saers Guitar A90 classical guitar from their Artist Series. The solid woods, lattice bracing, raised fingerboard, 12 hole bridge, French polish top, high C, tuners, and responsiveness all contribute to an excellent value at this price.

Recommended Small (half and three-quarter size) Classical Guitars for Beginners
These guitars are for kids (or small adults).

Amazon: Cordoba Requinto 580 1/2 Size Acoustic Nylon String Classical Guitar – $250-350 (TOP MARKS)
It would be great if all kids could start on a guitar that actually helps them sound good. This would be that guitar. Depends on whether your kid is the “smash and bang” type as you don’t want it to get too damaged for resale when they grow out of it. Still, best pick for sure.

Amazon: Cordoba Guitars Cadete Acoustic Nylon String Classical Guitar, 3/4 Size $200-300
As above. Spruce top with mahogany back and sides

Amazon: Cordoba Dolce 7/8 Size Acoustic Nylon String Classical Guitar – $250-350 (TOP MARKS)
As above. Solid Canadian cedar top. Mahogany back and sides. The cedar will be a bit warmer so this is a good choice overall. 

Amazon: Yamaha CGS102A (in 1/2 and 3/4 or full) – $120-160
Yamaha’s are built well and I’ve never been disappointed. They are an amazing deal for the money.