The Best Nylon String Guitar Roundup 2017

Here we present you with the best nylon string guitars, updated for 2017, sorted into three price brackets to help you find one that suits your budget and playing style.

Sweetwater

This page is sponsored by Sweetwater so you can click through to get the full specifications, the latest price, and purchase any of the Guitars stocked by Sweetwater that we have recommended.

Nylon string guitars have gone beyond conventional classical, flamenco, and Latin American music. Their mellow and punchy tone are now heard on virtually all types of music, including jazz, rock, country, avant-garde, experimental, world and even pop music. As such, manufacturers have been producing many different nylon string guitars to appeal to the needs of more guitarists.

With so many to nylon string guitars on the market, choosing one can be a cumbersome task. To help with this, we have combed through what's available to find those that provide the best tone, build quality and value for money, and we grouped them according to their price range. Note that cedar topped guitars are known for warm tones while spruce topped ones sound brighter, so you'll want to consider this when taking your pick. You should also go for traditional flamenco style guitars if you're looking for something percussive and responsive, while a modern nylon string is ideal if you're looking for more sustain and note clarity. Whatever your preference maybe, you'll find a fitting nylon string guitar in this list.

Best Nylon String Guitars Under $500

Yamaha C40

Yamaha have the impressive ability to build quality guitars at beginner friendly price points, as exemplified in their line of student level classical nylon string guitars. The C-40 is among the most popular from their line up, featuring traditional combination of spruce top, mahogany back, sides and neck, and a rosewood fretboard. What sets it apart from other affordable instruments is its top notch craftsmanship quality, resulting in a true inspiring nylon string guitar for students and experienced players alike.

Just like many guitar players world over, the C40 was my first nylon string guitar when I began formal classical guitar lessons, and it's comfortable playability and articulate sound served me well during actual lessons, practices and even during stage recitals. As proof of its reliability, my Yamaha C40 still plays and sounds great even after years of use. Being my first "real" guitar, it has accumulated some battle scars, but other than that it still is a good instrument that's a joy to play.

Since this guitar follows traditional classical specs with 25.56" scale length and 2.06" nut width, the fretboard can be too flat and wide for some players, still with a bit of patience it will help you develop a stronger and more accurate fretting hand. If you are just starting out or if you are looking for a budget friendly nylon string guitar, get the Yamaha C40. Get the latest Yamaha C40 price & reviews at Sweetwater.com.

Yamaha also make a 3/4 sized classical guitar which is also reasonably priced - details available here.

Cordoba C7

Cordoba again grabs a spot in this list with the C7, a very reasonably priced handmade guitar with top notch craftsmanship, premium wood configuration and tone. Reviews and feedback are overwhelmingly positive about the guitar, mentioning its great balance of feel, comfort and sound. For its mid-level price, the C7 comes packed with high-end tonewoods.

Headlining the features of this modern nlyon stringed guitar is the solid Canadian cedar top which is supported by Indian rosewood back and sides. They form the guitar's resonant body which features a modern cutaway for easier upper fret access. The tone of the C7 is surprisingly loud for its size, all the while letting you hear the nuances of your playing.

Scale length for this guitar is standard at 25.6" while the nut is 2.04", which follows traditional specs. An acoustic-electric version called C7-CE is also available with built-in Fishman Presys blend system, a cutaway body and a slightly narrower nutwidth of 1.96". If you are looking for a reasonably priced nylon stringed guitar with the backing of a manufacturer that actually specializes in these types of instruments, then check the C7 out. Visit Cordoba for more information, or get the latest Cordoba C7 price & reviews at Sweetwater.com

Yamaha CG172SF

The CG172SF is Yamaha's student friendly take on the flamenco guitar, meant for serious learners of this unique guitar style. At its core is a solid Engelmann spruce top, which is an impressive choice of wood for this price range. Solid spruce top is favored for its projection and clarity, and is the top wood used on many flamenco guitars because of how it complements the musical style. The top is supported by cypress back and sides, all of which work to meet the punchy bright tone and percussive needs of flamenco players.

The neck is crafted from nato wood, and topped by an 18-fret rosewood fingerboard with a scale length of 25.6" and 2.0625" nut width. For a student guitar, the neck offers professional level playability, with its traditional specs. To make the fingerboard viable for blazing fast flamenco runs, the string action is configured to be lower than how classical guitars are setup.

Market response to the Yamaha CG172SF is overwhelmingly positive, and its all thanks to its great balance of quality, features and affordability. Visit Yamaha for more information, or get the latest Yamaha CG172SF price & reviews at Sweetwater.com

Takamine GC1CE

Being one of the pioneers of the acoustic-electric guitar trend, Takamine knows how to make nylon string guitars stage ready. And they did just that with the GC1Ce, an affordable nylon string guitar with built-in piezo pickup and preamp system. With its venetian cut-away body design and built-in electronics, the Takamine GC1CE is obviously not traditional, rather it does provide guitarists with a practical nylon string acoustic instrument for whatever style they chose to play.

The body of this guitar features fan-braced select spruce top with mahogany back and sides, a conventional combination used in most acoustic instruments. The neck is crafted from mahogany while the 19-fret fingerboard is made of rosewood. Interestingly, Takamine chose to stay with traditional neck specifications with its 25.6" scale length and wide 2" nut. Other features include inlaid mosaic rosette, rosewood headcap; rosewood bridge and a classy gloss finish.

The standout feature of this acoustic-electric nylon string guitar is its electric component, which is the Takamine TP-E preamp which comes with a built-in tuner. This means that you are getting a true performance ready instrument for the price of a student guitar. Visit Takamine for more information, or get the latest Takamine GC1CE price & reviews at Sweetwater.com

 

Best Mid Range Nylon String Guitars

Cordoba F7 Paco

Cordoba's reputation as a nylon string guitar builder continues to grow, and their presence is felt in the market regardless of the price range. As a result more and more artists are joining their fold including Bon Iver, Ben Wood and The Gipsy Kings just to name a few. They now continue to be a strong contender in the entry level to mid-tier market, many thanks to their impressive yet modestly priced instruments like the F7 Paco.

The Cordoba F7 Paco is designed in honor of Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, meant to be a reasonably priced genuine flamenco guitar with snappy and percussive tones. It features a solid Canadian cedar top with a thinner body profile, supported by Indian rosewood back and sides. To get the percussive buzz that's distinct to flamenco guitars, the F7 Paco's action is set lower than that of classical guitars, making this instrument very easy to play especially with its 25.6" scale length and wide 2.04" nut width.

It would have been nicer if the price was a tad bit lower, but being part of Cordoba's Iberia line, the F7 is handcrafted to ensure a level of quality that goes beyond what you're paying for. If you're looking to play traditional flamenco or if you're looking to spice up your tracks with percussive rhythm riffs, then check out the Cordoba F7 Paco. Get the latest Cordoba F7 price & reviews at Sweetwater.com

Godin Multiac Nylon Encore

Godin is one of the few guitar makers that have broken free from conventional guitar designs and more importantly, remained successful while doing it. Their unique design makes every Godin pop out when lined up with other makes, all the while retaining tone that's similar to traditionally built guitars. Of their many acoustic instruments, they are well known for their thin body nylon string guitars, a great example of which is the solid cedar top equipped Multiac Nylon Encore.

Far removed from conventional Spanish style guitars, the Multiac Nylon Encore has a thinner body, so it is unreasonable to expect it to have more volume when played without an amp. But plug it into a PA or amplifier and you'll see why this mid-priced nylon string guitar is sought after, you get clear and balanced tone with virtually no feedback even at higher volumes. This is all thanks to Godin's Blendable Dual Source System which lets you mix the sound of an under-saddle transducer and an acoustic soundboard transducer, both of which are packed inside every Multiac Nylon Encore.

Playing this nylon string guitar is quite similar to that of a steel string acoustic, having a 25.5" scale length, 16" fingerboard radius and 1.875" nut width. Plus the compact proportions of the body makes it lighter and more convenient to carry around. Check this one out if you're looking to for a reliable gigging acoustic-electric nylon string guitar. Get the latest Godin Multiac price and customer reviews at Sweetwater.com

Top of the Range Nylon String Guitars

Taylor 814ce-N

Taylor's impeccable quality and aesthetics have quickly propelled their brand into the big league, joining the ranks of more established acoustic guitar builders and gaining the affiliation of many of today's popular artists from various disciplines including pop music's Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz and One Direction, gospel music's Israel Houghton, classic rock's Tommy Iommi and many more. As expected, the brand has expanded into nylon string guitar territory, producing true workhorse instruments with museum level looks, the 814ce-N being among the best in their lineup.

The 814ce-N is based on the popular 814ce steel-string acoustic guitar, and as such it does not necessarily follow traditional classical guitar designs. Rather it has a playing feel and setup that is closer to steel string acoustics, making it an ideal instrument for those who want to add the mellow tone of nylon strings in their arsenal with minimal adjustments to playing technique.

Being part of the company's flagship line, this nylon string guitar comes with premium appointments that include solid sitka spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides. It also comes packed with cosmetic embellishments that make the guitar easily stand out from among the crowd. Obviously, this is not the instrument for you if you are looking for a traditional Spanish style guitar, but for everything else, this is a worthy investment. Get the latest Taylor 814ce-N price and customer reviews at Sweetwater.com

Godin Multiac Grand Concert Duet Ambiance

Godin's high-end guitar line helped propel the brand to worldwide popularity, building their reputation around their instruments' impeccable reliability and their innovative use of multiple pickups. Notable players that use Godin's premium instruments include virtuosos like John McLaughlin, Sylvain Luc and Leonard Cohen just to name a few. One of the most popular in their upper tier line up is the Multiac Grand Concert Duet Ambiance, with its multi-pickup system from Fishman.

The Multiac Grand Concert Duet Ambiance nylon-string acoustic-electric guitar is a favorite among gigging and session musicians. Its key feature is its flexible undersaddle transducer with 4 switchable virtual mics, allowing for a more natural sounding tone that can match if not outperform conventional nylon string guitars. The Multiac Grand Concert Duet Ambiance has a cedar top which lends it a darker tone that works great for many working pop, jazz and world music enthusiasts. You can of course make adjustments to the Fishman Aura system to tweak the sound to your preference.

Again, the usual remonstration about Godin is the smaller body, but this seemingly weak body turns into an advantage making it easier to haul for gigs, and more resistant to damage. If you're looking for a reliable workhorse instrument that you can reliably take to the stage night after night, then you should consider this one.

Get the latest Godin Multiac Grand Concert Duet Ambiance price and customer reviews at Sweetwater.com

Taylor Jason Mraz Signature Model

Taylor's impeccable quality and aesthetics have quickly propelled their brand into the big league, joining the ranks of more established acoustic guitar builders and gaining the affiliation of many of today's popular artists from various disciplines including pop music's Taylor Swift and One Direction, gospel music's Israel Houghton, classic rock's Tommy Iommi and many more. As expected, the brand has expanded into nylon string guitar territory and with the help of two time Grammy Winner Jason Mraz, have come up with a true workhorse that sports museum level looks.

This guitar is inspired by Jason Mraz's Taylor nylon-string NS72ce, which he has successfully employed on many of his pop style songs. It features western red cedar top and Indian rosewood neck, crafted into a concert shape with an elegant cutaway. The resulting sound is warm and punchy, flexible enough to handle slow ballads and fast rhythmically complex styles as required in many of Jason's songs.

As expected from Taylor, the guitar comes packed with cosmetic appointments that include custom "Be Love" inlay, and a special rosette with intricate zodiac symbols. Obviously, this is not the instrument for you if you are looking for a traditional Spanish style guitar, but for everything else, this is a worthy investment. Get the latest price & reviews at Sweetwater.com

Kenny Hill Signature

If you want the best nylon string guitar that money can buy, then your best course of action is to get a boutique builder craft you a special instrument. One such lutherie business with a great reputation is Hill Guitars, and the Kenny Hill Signature guitar is their most popular offering. Having been worked on by an experienced luthier, as opposed to coming from a production line, this guitar's workmanship, tonewoods and attention to detail is simply leagues above what mass produced guitars have to offer.

The lucky few that own a Kenny Hill Signature have nothing but great words for the instrument, praising its top notch build, aesthetics and tone. Especially noteworthy is the guitar's "double top" European spruceboard which makes the guitar lighter than usual and yet be more responsive. Trained flamenco and classical guitar players will find this guitar responding to minor adjustments to your playing, and it does so with amazing detail.

As with every premium guitar, the cost of owning and maintaining the Kenny Hill Signature makes it only viable for the elite few. But if you have the dough, or you are planning to save up for a great boutique guitar, then get in touch with Hill Guitars.


If you would like to see what the highest rated options are based on statistical analysis of market sentiment then check out the Gearank Guide: The Best Classical & Nylon String Guitars - $99 to $1000.

Don't forget to share your favorite nylon string guitars at the comment section below.

Related Article:
The Best Classical Guitars

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Other mid-range options?

Have to say that is quite a big price gap between $250 and $1500. Big enough to fit $300 to $500 guitars like Takamine EG522C, Ibanez EWs, or the Ibanez AEGs (with the Fishman Sonicore Pickup). These acoustic-electric nylons seem -- to me at least -- to be exactly the kind of nylon an experienced player might want to branch out with -- especially considering the on-board pickups and pre-amps make recording a snap.

I would urge anyone considering a nylon to jack into a good quality acoustic amp with guitars in this price range and see what you think.

Mid priced nylon string guitars

Great point, I did not include mid priced nylon string guitars on this list because they tend to be skipped by nylon string players. Compared to acoustic steel string enthusiasts who spend much on mid priced acoustics, nylon string players tend to jump into guitars within the $900 up range.

There are indeed some noteworthy mid priced nylon string guitars from brands like Yamaha, Takamine, Ibanez, Ovation and Cordoba that are worth checking out. They are ideal for musicians that are working within the given budget range and cannot afford to wait or save for more expensive models. I will consider putting up some mid range nylon string guitars on this list in the future.

Kent Guitar

I bought a second hand Kent Iberia Classical Guitar about 35years ago and wish to obtain some historical information about it, all info found so far relates to the semi accoustic and solid body electric . Was it manufactured by the same company? if so when did they cease production etc. Also,any ideas on valuation please, it really is in good condition and plays and sounds beautiful !! Cheers and Thanks

Cordoba C7-CE

Thanks for confirming the Cordoba C7-CE quality. It is sweet.

Specs not correct on that Cordoba c7

Hey, you quote the Cordoba C7 as has a 1.96 nut and not a 2.04 (as seen on sweetwater http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/C7C)

I believe its the C7-CE that has the 1.96 nut, not the base c7. You may want to change this as at first it kind of put of me off on the guitar but after some research its back on my list again.

Updated

Thank you for pointing that out JamesK, I have updated the article with the correct nut width and mentioned the C7-CE for those who prefer a plug-in ready nylon string guitar.

And how about the Breedlove Pursuit Nylon

Hi -- Lot of good stuff here but I was wandering why you did not evaluate or consider the Breedlove Pursuit Nylon in your list? Seems to be a very interesting guitar (at least from a specs stand point) but I would have love to read your comments about it...

Thanks,

Chris

Breedlove Pursuit Nylon

Hi Chris,

Actually, the Breedlove Pursuit Nylon is a nice guitar and it was one of our recommendations last year, however this year we felt there were better options to recommend.

You can read out thoughts about it on our other website Gearank.com: Breedlove Pursuit Nylon: Acoustic-Electric Nylon String Guitar Meta-Review.

I hope that helps,
Jason.

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