The quest for the perfect tone has always fascinated guitar players since time immemorial. We tend to experiment a lot; saddle height, string tension, alternate tuning – all of which contributes to the overall tone. But all of these only contribute to what is already there – the guitar. Looking for your ideal guitar does not mean that you have to shell out that big chunk of cash just to get the most expensive ones in the market today. So what are the pointers one should keep in mind when choosing a best classical guitar under $1000?
Tonal preference: For me, this is the most important thing to consider. As a guitarist, we should be able to convey our thoughts, our feelings through our instruments. Would you want a sweet, warm tone to compliment your singing? Or something crisp, bright and punchy, for finger style playing or cutting acoustic lead parts. Your tone separates you and defines your artistic style as a guitar player.
Body shape: This has a lot to do with how you would like to be seen with your instrument. Are you travelling a lot with your guitar? Would you like something that has a large sounding board so that you would not need an amplifier when playing in an enclosed venue? Would you one prefer something with a cutaway, or you would prefer something more conventional?
Budget: Of course, this is the harsh reality of life. You want something better? You must be ready to shell out a bit more cash. But this is why we are here to help you, to get the best deal you can, on a realistic budget that a standard musician has. Always remember that all of these preferences are relative; that $10,000 Gibson L5 may be Tuck Andress’ preferred gear for its tonal attributes, but not necessarily your cup of tea. Read on, and we’ll give you the best bang for the buck option there is for your six string piece of heaven.
Looking for something on the budget? Check our under $500 classical guitar picks!
Yamaha LL16RDHC Solid Spruce/Rosewood Acoustic GuitarPro: Handcrafted / Solid Spruce top
Con: Passive pickup
The LL16RDHC is one of Yamaha’s precision instruments; Solid Engelmann Spruce top, acoustically treated sounding board, and Abalone bindings are just a few of the elegance this guitar has to offer. Artist such as George Lynch, Andy McKee, and Richie Kotzen are just a few of the guitar virtuosos who share the same sentiments when they picked up Yamaha’s instrument. The secret lies within Yamaha’s acoustic treatment rooms. Each wood is individually kiln-dried, then treated in a constant room temperature for months before finally going in their workshops. The LL16RDHC is the perfect example of all these factors combined. The only downside for me is its passive pickup, though it can be easily justified that this guitar does not need any equalization when plugged in. All in all, this guitar has everything going for it; the feel of its slimmer neck combined with its bright, deep tone is enough to justify why the Yamaha LL6 is on top of this list.
Kremona Artist Series Fiesta FC Classical GuitarPro: Meticulously hand crafted, reflecting more than 90 years of tradition
Kremona is a family owned guitar company based in Bulgaria whose guitar making expertise has spanned more than nine decades. The Fiesta FC is a product of those 90 years of fine-tuned, guitar making tradition. The body is made of solid East Indian Rosewood, while the top of the guitar is Cedar which gives the guitar its loud and vibrant, yet sweet sound. The material used for the saddle and nut is bone, which is known to be the best material for string stability and solid tone transfer. These individually crafted guitars have all the intricacies and love that only a master craftsman can give his creations. From the beautiful rosette, to the bindings, up to the wooden tipped machine heads; one can say the Kremona really gives the highest respect to the art of guitar making.
Guild GAD D-125 All Solid Mahogany Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar with CasePro: All solid wood construction (translates to very loud sound)
Con: Sound tends to distort a bit when you hit the strings too hard
If you are after the loudest beast you can get for a budget, the GAD D-125 is for you. It is made of all solid Mahogany (top, sides, and bottom) and has spruce for its sounding board. Out from the box, it comes installed with gauges .012-.053 which adds to its loudness. The tone quality of this guitar is great, since it’s made out of all solid Mahogany, enabling it to adapt the general characteristics for the wood – solid bass with clear overtones. It is a breeze to play, since the C-shaped neck is very comfortable to the hands, and the sustain of this guitar is at par with any high end models that Guild has. And the best part is, the factory setup is already very good, so you won’t have to spend extra money to have it set up. A definite steal for its price.
Washburn R319SWKK Parlor Acoustic Guitar Vintage NaturalPro: Unique vintage rustic design (gives you the feel of playing an instrument from the 1800s)
Con: Unique vintage rustic design (looks like an old person’s guitar – the two sides of a coin)
Washburn has literally taken a step back with this guitar. The company has recreated an instrument that may have existed in the late 1800s. It’s vintage rustic guitar gives it the qualities of a parlour guitar. Its top wood is spruce, which gives its “warm” tonal quality. The V-shaped neck incredibly increases the guitar’s comfort and playability. It is smaller in size compared to a standard classical guitar, but don’t let the size fool you! This baby is loud, and packs all the quality of a mean blues machine. A perfect marriage of tradition and modern technology.
Pro: Very comfortable body shape
Taylor 114ce 100 Series Acoustic Guitar, Sapele, Grand Auditorium, Cutaway, ES-T
The 114ce is Taylor’s “Jack of all Trades” guitar. It features the perfect contoured body shape that is sure to make those extra-long recording sessions a breeze. The layered back and sides of this guitar also ensures you that it will go through extreme weather conditions undaunted. The on-board electronics is Taylor’s own Expression System 2 (ES2) which will make sure that your guitar “sings” with you. One of the best entry level Grand Auditorium guitar you can get from the market today.
Martin OMCPA5Pro: Very tough aesthetics due to HPL (High Pressure Laminate)
Con: The wood has a longer aging process due to HPL
If you are looking for a guitar that will make you play your music at extreme conditions, the Martin OMCPA5 is one of the most “road worthy” guitars that you can find. Aesthetically speaking, the High Pressure Laminate finish protects the guitar from humidity changes and routine bumps. The on-board Fishman F1 analog electronics will guarantee a pure acoustic tone whenever you plug in, be it a live performance, or a recording environment. The X-series bracing maximizes the guitar’s tone projection and natural sustain, and the generous cutaway will enable you to cut through those solos with a breeze. Not to mention, everything is beautiful in black, and the OMCPA5 just took the description “sleek-black” to a whole new level. Martin has really done it on this one!
Yamaha NCX900FMPro: Acoustic Resonance Enhancement
Con: Does not come with a carrying case
Yamaha’s brand has been an institution to the music industry. They cater to almost all levels, from beginner to professional musicians. And here is an example of their versatility. The NCX900FM is a bridge for folk guitar players to get their hands on a classical guitar, and immediately play those guitar solos as they are still holding a steel stringed axe. The NCX900 also feature Yamaha’s “Acoustic Resonance Enhancement” a method developed by Yamaha to speed up the aging process of the wood, as if this instrument has been played for a very long time to enable the tonal qualities of the wood “Mature”. The top is made from solid Engelmann Spruce, which gives the guitar it’s warm and balanced tone. The pick-up system installed in this guitar is Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance transducer which is guaranteed to faithfully reproduce pure acoustic sound. This is Yamaha’s testimony that they never sacrifice their instrument’s quality with value.
Seagull Coastline S6 Slim CW Spruce QI GuitarPro: Solid Cedar Top (bright tone quality)
Con: Light lacquer finish; easy to get marks and dings
Seagull in one of the younger brands in the long list of guitar makers. The company is based in Canada, which gives them a very strong foothold on the supply of top quality woods. The S6 is their statement to this fact. Its solid Cedar top gives the guitar its bright tonal quality. The neck is slimmer than standard acoustic guitars, which makes it easier to play. The rosewood fingerboard adds spice to the guitar’s entire appearance, not to mention it gives the necessary tonal contrast to the guitar’s Cedar top.
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany GS Mini Acoustic GuitarPro: Portability / warm and vibrant sound
Con: No option for a hard shell case
Taylor had taken the word “portable” in a whole new level. This guitar has all the advantages of a full sized Dreadnought guitar in a smaller packaging. Sikta Spruce was used for the guitar’s top, which gives the guitar its crisp voice. The body is in Matte finish, which is great because this tends to let the guitar’s wood “breathe'” in comparison to those that has thick lacquer finishes. The bridge is out of genuine African Ebony, one of the hardest woods available, and gives the reliability and strength of the guitar’s string base. Just by holding the guitar, one can feel his firm, resolute grasp on the fret board – the feeling that only genuine African ebony can provide. The best part is that the Taylor 114ce comes with a durable, heavy padded gig bag which is essential for any musician who values their instrument. The best materials, unmistakable tonal quality, and a lifetime of support and service that only Taylor can provide its customers.
Cordoba C10 SP/IN Acoustic Nylon String Classical GuitarPro: Spanish heel construction
Con: No pick-ups
This guitar has all the best qualities going for it. It has a solid Cedar top which would give off that bright punchy sound compared to the traditional Spruce preference on most classical guitars. It is built using Spanish heel construction, a method in which the neck of the guitar is first attached to the top wood, then the sides are added and the installation of the back seals the whole guitar, giving it the ability to vibrate and resonate as a unified piece. It has a thinner and narrow neck (52mm (2.04″) from the nut) which makes it easier to play, especially if you’re into finger style playing. Not to mention that this guitar is from Portugal – it’s origin a statement right there and then. All in all, I would say that this guitar’s attributes (specs and price) is more than enough for the standard gigging musician.