Best Classical Guitar
Here is our selection of the best classical guitars, covering the best small scale luthiers and mass produced guitars.
Professional classical guitar players almost exclusively play handmade instruments designed by small scale guitar makers, this ensures quality and gives them a say on the build or material used, but this comes at a price. We have picked the most influential, iconic, and widely used guitars from among the elite bunch.
Since many don't have access to the the kind of luthiers just mentioned, our list also includes top notch mass produced brands to help narrow down your choices, letting you pick from among the best that is currently available.
Greg Smallman and Sons
Greg Smallman's work, popularized by guitarist extraordinaire John Williams, is recognized the world over for its innovative and unique design. His guitars feature an arched and carved back which is thicker than traditional designs. The most unique feature of his guitars is its innovative lattice framework - made of balsa wood and carbon fiber. This gives Smallman guitars more pronounced tone and louder sound. Another notable feature is its unique and comfortable armrest. The Smallman is our top pick from among the best classical guitars - a perfect melding of traditional and modern design.
Manufacturer: Greg Smallman Price Range: $10K up.
John Williams and his Smallman classical guitar playing Concierto de Aranjuez:
Matthias Dammann pioneered the "double top" design which gives classical guitar players added volume while retaining traditional tone. The sandwich top features ultra thin soundboards with a hollow space in between, and utilizes a polymer called Nomex for the spacers. This allowed the top to move more providing a boost in volume, which became sought after by guitarists who play on venues that use no amplification. Big name classical guitarists like David Russell and Manuel Barrueco are just some of the few that are impressed with this guitar.
Manufacturer: Matthias Dammann Price Range: $10K up.
Manuel Barrueco playing Danza de los Los Vecinos on his Matthias Dammann guitar:
Antonio de Torres
If you are looking for the best classical guitar and you have all the money in the world, then you won't go wrong if you go to the source - Antonio de Torres. He is revered as the guy responsible for the design of modern classical guitars. Torres' guitars exemplify clarity and balanced tone and his design influenced the way the world made guitars. Up to now, his guitars still stand as the template by which many luthiers build their designs upon. Of the 400 guitars that Antonio de Torres made, only 90 are currently known to survive, which is why every existing guitar is revered by scholars, collectors and musicians.
Manufacturer: Antonio de Torres Price Range: $70K up.
Here is Stefano Grondona with a 1887 Antonio de Torres SE 107 playing F. Schubert's Minuetto:
Daniel Friederich guitars are known for amazing aesthetics and traditional but powerful tone. His guitars have an elegant and graceful body shape matched with a distinctive headstock design that makes them easily recognizable. Many classical guitar masters use Friederich guitars as their main instruments and they helped build the brand's popularity and consequently raised the demand and price. If you are looking for traditional design and tone with modern quality - then this is the ultimate classical guitar choice. Friederich has closed his wait list but he does send one instrument per year to Guitarsalon.
Manufacturer: Daniel Friederich Price Range: $10K up.
Daniel Friederich guitar in the hands of Marc Teicholz playing his arrangements of classical pieces:
The Jose Ramirez name is synonymous to Spanish Classical and Flamenco - they are the C.F. Martin & Co of Classical guitars, producing guitars for all price points, while retaining their master level workshop in Spain. Now in its fifth generation, the family business continues to provide quality and affordable guitars. The Jose Ramirez 125 Años is a limited edition model that commemorates the 125th anniversary of the Ramirez guitar making company. It features all solid tonewood body. This is the top classical guitar you can get at a relatively affordable price.
Manufacturer: Jose Ramirez Price Range: $2.4K up. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Ivan Chavarria on a Ramirez '125 Anos guitar:
Manuel Rodriguez is another famous family of classical guitar makers in southern Spain. The Rodriguez design is somewhat sleeker and slimmer, known for its larger body. Their design is mainly influenced by Antonio de Torres and they continue in this traditional design method up to this day. The Manuel Rodriguez FC is one of their affordable models that feature solid tone woods - solid cedar top matched with solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Workmanship is also topnotch for its price, and it closely rivals the Ramirez for the title best mass produced classical guitars.
Manufacturer: Manuel Rodriguez Price Range: $1.7K up. Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com.
Here we can see a vintage 1955 Manuel Rodriguez in the hands of Grisha:
These guitars are our top choices. Should you have any suggestions that you think others should check out, do let us know through the comments section at the bottom of the page.
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