Updated: Jul 10
In this post, we'll talk about the features and characteristics a classical guitar should have and some common defects to stay away from. As a student of classical guitar, I'd like to point out some considerations to keep top of mind when bringing home your very first classical guitar.
This guide by a student for students touches on some key points to consider before buying a classical guitar.
One way of knowing which classical guitar might be best for you is playing a friend's guitar or visiting a local guitar shop. If you are a beginner we don't recommend that you buy a guitar online. Being able to hold the guitar, making sure it has the right tone characteristics and feels right for you is an experience that you just can't replicate online.
One local guitar store we highly recommend checking out is Bill Glez & Associates. Bill Glez provides the opportunity for you to play the guitar in the shop and to try out different models. Also, their expertise and guidance help you in making an informed decision!
1. Choose the type of wood
The wood type you choose for your new guitar will have an effect on the sound and playability of the instrument.
The two commonly used woods for building classical guitars are spruce and cedar. They each give a different timbre to the sound of the guitar so you must be careful with your sound preferences.
Spruce guitars allow variations of different colors and timbre and are characterized by a splendid sound, making them perfect to play in larger concert halls and amongst other instruments as they project very strongly. Spruce guitars require patience, as it takes between the first and second year to give off this grander sound. Typically, you have to work hard to bring out the best tone with this kind of sound board.
A good spruce guitar will not forgive misshaped nails or incorrect hand position that may sometimes cause frustration but it can also be rewarding for some players to search and dig for every single note.
If you are looking for a bright and versatile sound, spruce is the way to go.
The cedar guitar is instantly distinguishable from spruce by its darker color. Cedar guitars tend to have a warm and sweet tone and perform best in mid-range frequencies.
The duration of sound in cedar guitars is often greater and because of its intimate nature it is good for chamber music performances that do not require such large concert halls with or large scale interaction with other instruments.
Which should you chose? We suggest making your decision according to your playing style and the sound you're going for.
If you'd like to talk it through with us, please contact us here.
2. Volume and Sustain Are Key
It's important to distinguish between volume and sustain. Volume is the amount of sound that a guitar produces, while sustain is the duration of the sound. For example, if you're playing in an orchestra and want your guitar to be heard over all the other instruments, you'll need a classical guitar with more volume and great sustain. If you're playing at home or with friends on your own time, however--or even performing in smaller venues where there aren't as many people around--then having an instrument with less volume might be better for you because it will allow for the clarity in your playing to stand out.
In general, louder does not mean better. A really important factor is finding a guitar where every note of every string has a life that is not too short.
3. Know Your Sound Quality
It's important to note that sound quality is subjective. What sounds good to you may not sound good to us, and vice versa. Sound quality refers to the accuracy and effectiveness of the tone of notes produced by the guitar.
You can get an idea of how your guitar will sound by testing it in the store and at home. If you don't like how it sounds, don't be afraid to try another guitar and compare them until you find one that sounds good enough for your purposes. This process might take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run.
4. Check for defects
Listed are common problems in a guitar to avoid.
Check for buzzes
Check for wolf notes
Check playability and notes on different strings
Check for weather damage
We hope this guide has helped you learn more about classical guitars and their features. We recommend that you visit a guitar store to try out some different models and speak to an experienced guitarist or luthier before making your final decision. Remember that there are many factors involved in choosing the right guitar, such as sound quality or volume projection. The best way to find out if one brand or model is better than another is by testing them out yourself! There may not be one perfect guitar suitable for all of your occasions, as time goes by you can collect different guitars with different characteristics and change them out according to your needs. Good luck from our studio to yours. :)