There are tons of options to choose from when you’re looking for a new instrument, whether you’re seeking an electric guitar, a steel string acoustic, or a traditional nylon string guitar. Don’t know the difference? We’ve outlined what makes a classical guitar different from a steel-string acoustic in this informative guide.
We’re all about letting you know what your best options are to help you narrow down your choice and to choose the instrument that’s right for YOU.
This list highlights the best brands of classical guitars and what makes them stand out from the rest.
Whether you’re aiming to be one of the new best classical composers or just wanting to noodle around at home, there’s a guitar brand here that you’re sure to love.
Popular Classical Guitar Brands
Cordoba was founded in 1997 in Santa Monica, California with the vision of creating exceptional modern guitars using time-tested traditional craftsmanship.
They recruited some of the most skilled luthiers in the world to bring this vision to light, and now the team has produced a beautiful catalog of classical guitars that out-compete just about any other brand on the market.
Their collection ranges from beginner classicals like the Cordoba C3M, to intermediate guitars like Cordoba Fusion 12 Rose, to top-of-the-line professional models clocking in at just over $6000. Cordoba is so confident in their ability to produce consistently beautiful tones that they’ve even built a nylon string guitar that’s the size of a ukulele!
And, for those with a yearning to play a truly traditional nylon-string guitar, the Cordoba Master Series features high-end models based upon designs by the five best classical guitar luthiers of the last three centuries.
Yamaha may not be one of the first names to come to mind when you think of classical guitars, but they’ve proven themselves to be more than proficient in every manufacturing task they’ve undertaken.
From the handcrafted GCX series for professionals to the super affordable beginner C series, Yamaha has a classical guitar for players of any ability.
Even Yamaha’s least expensive, most mass-produced instruments lack the problems apparent in most budget brands. Their classical guitars are no exception, with every low-cost model boasting the kind of tone and playability I wouldn’t be ashamed to jump on stage with.
Beginner models start at the below $200 price range, and if you’re in the market for your first classical, you’d be well off considering something like the Yamaha C40 GigMaker.
Alhambra is headquartered in the home of classical guitar music itself, the country of Spain. They were founded in 1965 and employ some of the most talented and knowledgeable luthiers from around the globe.
Every Alhambra guitar is guaranteed to be free of defects for up to two years, so you can buy to try with the confidence that your instrument will withstand the test of time.
Like most of the best classical guitar brands, their products range from beginner instruments like the beautifully crafted Alhambra 2C-US student guitar to custom-made classicals played by the likes of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and renowned jazz guitarist Fareed Haque.
Add to this their commitment to environmental stewardship, and you’ve picked a guitar brand that you just can’t feel bad about buying from.
#4 La Patrie
La Patrie is a subsidiary of Godin Guitars Company, the same brand that produces the renowned Seagull line under the guidance of master luthier Robert Godin.
All I really need to say about La Patrie is that each of their models features a solid cedar top, but I’ll give you a few more reasons that this is one of the best classical guitar brands on the market.
La Patrie is actually the name of the town where this Godin Guitars subdivision is based, and they are the largest employer in the region, utilizing the superior craftsmanship of their citizens while sourcing as much body wood as they can from the local forests. All La Patrie guitars come with mahogany necks and are Custom Polish Finished, using a technique that promotes the vibrational frequency of each instrument.
Unlike most traditional classical guitars, La Patrie’s models come with double-function truss rods, enabling them to build their necks slimmer than the standard width found on most nylon-string guitars.
With optional Q1T electronics so you can play unplugged or electrified, the La Patrie classical guitars leave very little to be desired.
Although they’re not exactly in the beginner price point, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with any model, from the mid-range La Patrie Presentation to the lower-priced La Patrie Etude. You can see the best classical guitars worth the money in our handy review and buyer’s guide.
#5 José Ramírez
No list of the best classical guitar brands would be complete without mentioning José Ramírez. These are classical guitars built for the true professional, and with just a few seconds worth of play time you’ll be able to tell why.
Ramírez guitars can trace their roots all the way back to 19th Century Spain, when the brand patriarch José Ramírez completed his luthier apprenticeship in Madrid and opened his first guitar shop in 1882.
He mentored his brother in the trade, and together they began to craft some of the best nylon string instruments the world has ever known.
Their craft was passed down over the next four generations, and the result is the still-premier manufacturer of classical and flamenco guitars, Ramírez Guitars.
This brand has been a favorite of many of the best classical guitarists for almost 150 years running, employed by the hands of Robert Fabbri, Christopher Parkening, and Kazuhito Yamashita.
Even though you’ll have a hard time finding one for less than the price of a new car, if you’re fortunate enough to own a José Ramírez guitar you’ll understand what 150 years of luthier experience can mean for the quality of an instrument. The full history of this brand can really help you understand and appreciate the expense.
The Final Word
Now that you know some of the best classical guitar brands available to you you’re better equipped to find an instrument you can’t go wrong with.
Check out the models of these brands that are in your budget and you’re sure to find a guitar you’ll love to play.
And remember, you don’t have to buy a $20,000 José Ramírez to sound great!
Chang your strings when they need it, practice often, and be sure that the best classical guitarists didn’t become what they were without time and dedication, and you’ll find classical guitar can be one of the most rewarding hobbies of a lifetime.