The 10 Best Student Classical Guitars

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Because they're made with such a wide neck and large bodies, traditional classical guitars are not ideal for those who are just beginning to learn the instrument, especially kids whose hands might not be large enough yet to comfortably hold them. These student models are smaller, lighter, and come in at prices that won't hurt anyone too much if they decide not to stick with this style of music. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best student classical guitar on Amazon.

10. Alfred's Complete Kid's Guitar Course

9. Cordoba C3M

8. Cordoba Requinto 580

7. Yamaha CGS102A

6. Cordoba C7 Nylon

5. Cordoba Luthier C10

4. Yamaha NTX700

3. Cordoba GK Studio Negra

2. Kremona Soloist S44C

1. Alhambra 2C-US

Special Honors

Calido CG 1210 These models come from a company that also serves as a distributor for Cordoba, but their full-sized offerings are entirely their own. Given their specs and sound, it's rather impressive that they can offer them for such a reasonable price. They even come with a nice case to top off the selection. calidoguitars.com

Editor's Notes

July 23, 2019:

While none of the models on our previous list have left our ranking, we did find a pair of new excellent models that took the number one and two spots respectively, pushing everything else back a bit. That first offering from Alhambra produces a remarkably rich sound from its solid Canadian cedar top, and is durable enough to withstand the rigors of travel to and from your lessons. And our new number two selection is ideal for very young guitarists, as its 1/4 scale makes it a perfect fit for small hands and bodies. Even adults with relatively small fingers can enjoy it as a travel option with a bright sound that falls somewhere between a guitar and a bass ukulele.

Why Start Playing On A Classical Guitar?

If you aspire to one day rip an epic solo from behind your head, you’re going to need to know where your fingers are without relying on any kind of guideposts.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning to play the guitar, there’s a good chance that they’ve been inspired by some rock star currently holding places on the charts, the majority of whom perform almost exclusively on electric guitars. It would be easy to feel tempted to start learning with an electric guitar, then, especially if that’s where you see yourself going as a performer.

There are some problems with starting out on an electric guitar, however, and the first is noise. To truly enjoy the sound an electric guitar offers, it requires amplification. Not only will this incur an extra expense and take up more space in your home, it will also potentially drive your fellow family members insane as you figure out how to change chords without your fingers stumbling. The other big issue with electric guitars is that they often have thinner necks than their acoustic counterparts, which means you don’t need to develop your hand and finger muscles on them the same way you do with an acoustic guitar, leaving you weaker than other guitarists where it matters most.

Of course, these are only arguments against starting out on an electric guitar. We want you to start your education on a classical guitar, so that raises the question as to what’s wrong with a good old steel-stringed acoustic option? More than anything else, it’s the strings. Most new guitarists have yet to develop any kind of calluses along their fingertips, and when you combine the large-gauge steel strings that come on those acoustics with their thicker necks, you create a recipe for quite a lot of pain in the hands of a novice. By contrast, a classical guitar’s nylon strings are remarkably soft, which will be more pleasant on the player’s fingers and easier on the ears of anyone within striking distance.

Another great reason to start out with a classical guitar is that they, traditionally, have fewer fret markings, and many models feature none whatsoever. That forces you as the budding player to learn the instrument by feel and memory. If you aspire to one day rip an epic solo from behind your head, you’re going to need to know where your fingers are without relying on any kind of guideposts.

Finally, learning on a classical guitar will force you to use the fingers on your right hand (assuming you’re right-handed) as much as you’ll use a pick for performance. Even if you only ever intend to jam out as hard as you can with a thick guitar pick, knowing the ins and outs of fingerpicking will not only give you more modes of expression throughout your playing life, it will also give you the tools necessary to keep on playing if your pick were to break in your hands in the middle of a song.

Choosing The Right Model

Now that you’ve heard and undoubtedly agreed with the arguments in favor of starting your guitar playing career with a classical model, you have to figure out which one to buy. There are some simple considerations here that should guide you towards the best option for you, but it’s important to remember that this is one of those categories of products where, generally speaking, you get what you pay for.

Some options will include additional accessories, like gig bags, picks, or even instructional videos.

That said, if you aren’t entirely sure that your youngster is going to stick with it — perhaps he’s already blown through a few expensive hobbies without anything sticking — then you can afford to cut some corners in the potential durability of the instrument until you know for sure that he’s decided to stay with it.

You’ll also notice that many student guitars come in different sizes, usually listed as 1/2, 3/4, or 4/4. This indicates the scale to which a guitar is built, particularly in regards to the length of its neck and its fret spacings. Children of a young age would do best with a 1/2 or 3/4 guitar, but if you know your little one is really going to be in it for the long haul, you could always invest in something for them to grow into over the years.

Some options will include additional accessories, like gig bags, picks, or even instructional videos. These are usually pretty low in quality compared to the materials you might find on their own, though the gig bags might be useful as they’re likely a good fit for your specific guitar. Also, keep an eye out for extra features like metal or faux ivory tuning hardware (you don’t want plastic), or even built-in pickups on some of the nicer models.

Essential Guitar Accessories

Once you’ve got that guitar in your hands, you’ll likely find out rather quickly that you need a dozen other accessories to really make it sing. Many of these are pretty basic essentials, while some are luxuries you may find you need down the line.

Many of these are pretty basic essentials, while some are luxuries you may find you need down the line.

For starters, you’re going to need strings. Even if your guitar ships with strings attached, they’re going to break, and they’re going to break sooner than later. Learning how to properly string a guitar is a rite of passage for new players, as well, so it should be looked on with excitement.

Next, if your guitar didn’t come with a case, you ought to get one. This is often the only line of defense between your instrument and certain disaster, and classical models are usually a little more fragile than any other type of guitar.

If you find you really like to play with a pick, but you either constantly lose them or don’t really like the designs available on the market, you can invest in your own pick maker. With one of these simple tools, you can create guitar picks out of anything from old credit cards to thin sheets of metal.

Finally, if you plan to perform out, and your guitar didn’t come with a pickup of its own, you might want to invest in one. There are plenty of excellent options on the market, many of which sound great and are surprisingly easy to install.

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Daniel Imperiale
Last updated on July 26, 2019 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).


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