Best Cheap Classical Guitars Under $200 Reviewed

Best Cheap Classical Guitars Under $200 Reviewed

For less than the cost of your monthly utility bills, you can start playing a beautiful nylon string classical guitar and learning the compositions that brought guitar out of obscurity into mainstream popularity.

We searched through dozens of budget friendly instruments to bring you this list of expert-recommended classical guitars under $200.

These classicals are all you need to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of fingerstyle guitar playing, with dependable builds, beautiful tones, great playability, and pleasing aesthetics that bring to mind the era when guitarists first emerged into the limelight.

Our Recommendation

In a lineup of the best classical guitars in just about any price range, Cordoba will nearly always take the cake.

Their C1M is a great low-cost classical perfect for total beginners to intermediate players looking to get their hands on a new model. It sounds smooth and sweet, plays like a dream, and has a traditional classical build that can please even the strictest of guitar purists.

At the low-ranking end of this list is the Stagg C546TCE.

It’s a good guitar in all rights, but in a list of classicals it loses some points for being built with non-traditional woods, a modern cutaway body design, and compensating for its average tone with low-end electronics.

The 7 Best Classical Guitars Under $200 – Overview

#7 Stagg C546TCE Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminate Spruce
  • Body – Catalpa
  • Neck – Catalpa
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood
  • Electronics – Under saddle PU + CL-4

Pros

  • Electronics for plugged-in playing capabilities
  • 4-band EQ to tweak your tone however you want
  • Cutaway for upper fret access

Cons

  • Non-traditional woods
  • Laminate top

Review

I haven’t had the chance to play many different Stagg instruments, but I like what I know of them.

The Stagg C546TCE is a good guitar for beginners with an urge to learn classical or for intermediate players looking to play with some plugged-in nylon string effects.

In all the basic ways, this is a fine guitar. It’s got a dependable build with no major flaws. Its frets are ground well so they don’t prick your fingers as you move over the neck, and its set-up is keyed in so that intonation is pretty good right out of the box.

When you’re ready to spice up your playing with some amplification and effects, the Stagg is there for you with a basic undersaddle pickup system and a 4-band EQ that allows you to fine-tune your tone. Wanna know more about how to use EQ? Check out this in depth article.

I’m not going to rag on it much, but I will say that if you’re looking for a traditional classical guitar, this Stagg model isn’t really for you.

Classical purists will want to opt for an instrument with a traditional non-cutaway body shape and hope to land a solid cedar top in lieu of this Stagg’s laminate cedar.

But, all things considered, this is a fine guitar for under $200 and can meet just about all of your at-home playing needs.

#6 Squier SA-150N Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Lindenwood laminate
  • Body – Mahogany
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Maple

Pros

  • Traditional body design
  • Lightweight and comfortable build
  • Very low cost

Cons

  • Strange tonewood combination

Review

We took a look at this model in our review of the best classical guitars for beginners, and that about sums up what lands this guitar on our best under $200 list.

It really is a fantastic beginner model since it’s priced so cheap and can withstand some moderate bumps and bangs to its durably constructed laminate body.

Depending on how you look at it, the good points of the Squier SA-150N can also be its downfalls.

Lightweight is fine for small players and children, but the laminate woods that give it this attribute do a fairly poor job of giving you the kind of tone you’d want to perform with.

It’s got the traditional classical body design, but without superior bracing it is rather quiet and unimpressive.

Still, it plays smooth and is fully functional, and at the price it’s hard to beat.

I’d recommend this guitar if you’re on a really tight budget or just don’t want to spend more than $100 on a hobby you’re not sure you’ll stick with. It’s also a great model for music teachers who need to buy classroom instruments or an extra guitar to keep at home for students who haven’t yet purchased a guitar of their own.

#5 Fender CN-60S Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Solid Spruce
  • Body – Mahogany
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Walnut

Pros

  • Thin, comfortable neck profile
  • Thick low-end response
  • Solid spruce top for tonal purity

Cons

  • Weak mid and high ranges
  • Low volume

Review

Fender’s entry on this list is the Fender CN-60S, designed with student’s in mind.

In this price range, you’re really going to want to pay attention to those guitars which feature a solid top, as they will provide you with the best music for your money.

Traditionally, classical guitars have cedar tops, but we can’t ask too much for under $200, and the solid spruce on the CN-60S does a great job of producing clear, resonant tones with a decent amount of sustain, thanks in part to the walnut fingerboard.

In terms of playability, the CN-60S really alleviates a lot of the difficulty that beginners might find with other classicals, slimming down the neck just enough to make chord work comfortable, without sacrificing the space needed to allow for the full freedom of fingerpicking.

If Fender upped their bracing pattern, this could be a top notch classical, but their standard scalloped X design doesn’t do quite enough to give you the volume you’ll want for performances.

Although it’s a little weak in the mid and treble ranges, it’s bass response is pleasantly punchy, and gives you all you need to start on your way to mastering the classical guitar.

#4 Yamaha CGS103A Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminate spruce
  • Body – Meranti
  • Neck – Nato
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood

Pros

  • ¾ size ideal for small-bodied players
  • Smooth playing rosewood fingerboard
  • Yamaha-dependable build

Cons

  • Laminate top

Review

Yamaha is great at pretty much everything they do, and making entry-level classical guitars is no exception.

I love a ¾ size guitar, even if I can comfortably play a full-size dreadnought. There’s something special about the reduced scale, and the easy access to all parts of the neck makes playing extra fun.

If you’re a parent looking to get your kid started out with a musical hobby, the ¾ size Yamaha CGS103A classical guitar is a great option. It’s small enough for children to manage comfortably, but big enough that when they’re ready to step up to a full-size instrument it won’t seem like a huge task.

Tone-wise, Yamaha could have done us better with a solid top, but with the laminate option you won’t have to worry about an accidental bump sending a hole straight through the soundboard.

Even with the laminate, the CGS103A has a pleasing sound that’s well-balanced throughout the ranges, loud enough for practice, but not so loud that those first few months of chord practice will drive parents up the wall.

With a traditional classical build in a reduced size, the Yamaha CGS103A is a perfect option for preparing to take on a long-term classical hobby.

#3 Oscar Schmidt OC11CE Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminate Spruce
  • Body – Mahogany
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood
  • Electronics – OS preamp + under saddle piezo + 3-band EQ

Pros

  • Cutway for upper end riffing
  • 3-band EQ for tonal control
  • Soft on the fingers rosewood fretboard

Cons

  • Non-traditional body style
  • Weak mid-range

Review

I’m not a huge fan of most Oscar Schmidt models, but the OC11CE classical is a great entry for under $200.

Their electronic systems are not something to brag about, but for in-home practice and experimentation, you can get a lot of enjoyment from the Oscar Schmidt pickup + preamp combo in the OC11CE.

It does a good enough job of transmitting your tone, and with a 3-band EQ you can play around with your sound until you find something that works for your style.

It’s not a really unusual guitar in the playability realm, with a standard nut width and a 4/4 sized classical body, but the cutaway in this model gives you a bit more playing freedom in the upper end of the fretboard than you’ll get with most other models.

The laminate spruce + mahogany combo produces a good balance between highs and lows, but leaves a little to be desired in the mid-range.

While not a guitar to take up on stage, the OC11CE can give you years worth of pleasurable practice until you’re ready to upgrade to a more professional model.

#2 Yamaha C40 Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Solid Spruce
  • Body – Meranti
  • Neck – Nato
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood

Pros

  • Traditional classical guitar design
  • Solid spruce top for clear, concise tones
  • Naturally oiled rosewood fingerboard

Cons

  • Unstable tuning machines

Review

We liked the Yamaha C40 so much that we gave it its own dedicated review.

It ranks pretty high on our list of low-cost classical guitars because it’s all around a solid performer.

The C40’s tone rivals guitars that cost up to a couple hundred dollars more, and the playability is right in line with what you’ll want for the full classical guitar experience.

Spruce and meranti certainly aren’t the traditional tonewoods of choice for classicals, but they allow beginners to hear the nuance of their playing so that necessary changes to technique can be made to really hone in on perfect performing.

It’s a full-size classical body, but has a lightweight construction that doesn’t cause playing fatigue, and the naturally-oiled rosewood fingerboard enables smooth chord transitions and painless riffing for hours.

Definitely worth the investment, but just keep in mind that the tuning machines might need upgraded to avoid needing to re-tune every few songs.

#1 Cordoba C1M Check On Amazon >>

Specs

  • Top – Laminate Spruce
  • Body – Mahogany
  • Neck – Mahogany
  • Fingerboard – Pau Ferro

Pros

  • High-quality Cordoba craftsmanship
  • Traditional Spanish-style fan bracing
  • Made by classical guitar experts

Cons

  • Laminate top doesn’t improve with age

Review

This is our number 1 choice in the under $200 category, coming from one of the best brands of classical guitars.

Cordoba is one of the leading names in classical guitars, composed of a team of expert luthiers all trained in the traditional practices.

They aim for authenticity, even in their lowest-tier instruments, and guarantee that every instrument they sell replicates the sound and experience of the historical designs they’re modeled on.

In their classical guitars, this is accomplished thanks to their carefully crafted bracing pattern. They follow the traditional Spanish style, building their guitars with fan bracing that reproduces tones with centuries-old authenticity.

Although they use a laminate spruce top for the C1M to save on production costs, the tone is remarkably warm and mellow, keeping the crispness tempered with rosewood back and sides so that the high end never comes through harsh and the low end can sing out with subtle power.

The Cordoba C1M is a high-end student model, great for those who are passionate about classical guitar and really desire to master the art of fingerstyle playing.

Buyer’s Guide

What to Look for in a Classical Guitar Under $200?

When you’re shopping in this price range, you have to be honest with yourself about your needs and expectations.

Playability and the basics of a good tone are what you most want to look for at this price point, so you’ll just need to go over a quick quality checklist.

Is the neck straight? Warped necks will ruin your intonation and destroy your experience.

Are the frets ground? Sharp frets can be at least annoying and at most a truly painful hazard.

Is the body in good condition? You don’t want to buy a new guitar with any major scratches, chips, or other damage.

Is everything attached how it’s supposed to be? Check the bridge and neck for separation from the body, and pass on any guitars that are literally falling to pieces.

Is it the right size for you? Classical guitars are all a bit smaller than dreadnoughts, but if you’re a particularly small player, make sure you get a guitar that fits your frame. ¾ sized bodies can be the perfect fit.

In terms of tone, play around with a few different models and see how they differ. Some will have strong low-ends, some will have a mid- and high-range emphasis, and others will be balanced. It’s a matter of preference, but usually I think the best tone is a balanced one.

Who Should Buy a Guitar in this Price Range?

Under $200 is a good realm for total beginners, as well as for intermediate players of other guitar types who want to branch into the nylon-string world.

There are cheaper models, but oftentimes they will have unacceptable flaws, and unless you’re buying for students or for a kid who you seriously doubt will have a sustained interest in playing, you’re better off buying at least in the $200 range.

Professional players probably will find a lot to be desired in this price range and will be better aiming to spend a bit more. We’ve reviewed the best classicals under $500 and the best for the money so you can see a range of higher quality instruments.

What are Classical Guitars Under $200 Good for?

These guitars are good for two things: practice and songwriting.

If you’re just starting out and need to learn the guitar basics, this is a great price range for your first classical guitar. They sound decent, play well, and won’t break the bank.

Looking for practice material? We’ve compiled a huge list of great classical guitar songs for beginners.

They’re good for songwriting as you typically don’t need a super high quality instrument to find the chords you’re looking for to back your lyrics. They’ve got good intonation and are comfortable to fret, so composing on them meets all the basic requirements.

Check out the tales of history’s best classical guitar composers if you need some songwriting inspiration.

Outside of that, I wouldn’t recommend them for playing out or any kind of public performance, unless your skills exceed your instrument grade and you really want to hit an open mic. Still, you’d be better looking at least in the under $300 range if you want to step on stage.

Can Classical Guitars Under $200 Be Upgraded?

Short answer: no.

Longer answer: The only thing I would consider upgrading on these guitars is the tuning gear. Guitars under $200 often have an issue of being made with cheaper hardware and might not keep their tuning as well as they could, but a quick and easy upgrade of the tuning machines can bring these classicals up to par.

Cheeky answer: Every guitar can benefit from upgrading to new strings from time to time. Here’s how.

The Final Word

For beginners, students, and intermediate players, these are great models that will show you what a classical guitar is capable of.

If you’re looking to plug-in, you can’t go wrong with the Stagg C546TCE or the Oscar Schmidt OC11CE, and if you’re looking for a truly traditional experience, the Cordoba C1M is your lowest cost genuine classical option.

We’ve covered tons of classical guitars on this site, and these are only the bottom of the price barrel.

You can check out our other reviews if you’re a more seasoned player and none of these really got you excited, but if you’re just dipping your toes in the water, I’m sure there’s a model here you can fall in love with.

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