A Beginners Guide
What is a classical guitar?
A classical guitar has nylon strings and is slightly shorter than an acoustic (metal string) guitar; it also has a wider neck.
A classical guitar being lighter than an acoustic guitar makes it easier to carry.
A beginner’s guitar is also known as a ¾ classical guitar and that is a good starting point for a beginner, a good size.
What is your classical guitar made of?
Classical guitars are built with woods that assist in the resonance and they sound softer than acoustic guitars.
Look for a solid top, it will actually have on it, “this guitar has a solid top”. As some guitars are made with a laminated plywood top.
Think of it as a very functional piece of furniture, you may buy plywood for a rented property but you want solid wood for your own home, you want it to last and you want it to sound good.
If your guitar does not sound good and is difficult to tune you will soon end up using it as an ornament or even worse as a doorstop.
Cedar wood is a superior wood as it is straight growing and would be the best option for sound and looks.
A lot of the cheaper mass produced factory guitars are made of spruce, which may look fine but spruce grows twisted which makes it an inferior wood.
Your guitar will also sound inferior.
The Spanish know how to do it; the classical guitar is also sometimes referred to as a Spanish guitar but less and less now as we need to be so politically correct. Your classical guitar could be made anywhere in the world but the Spanish practically invented it so Spanish manufacture would be a good idea.
In fact the Spanish carpenter Antonio Torres Jurado is known as the building the blueprint for the classical guitar today. Originally the stings would have been made with cat gut, now nylon takes over.
Spanish built classical guitars are light and have good resonance and tone, they keep the design simple, but don’t forget your guitar may be Spanish made and may look very Spanish but don’t go around calling it a Spanish guitar! Don’t be lazy either calling it a Classic guitar as some people do, it is your Classical guitar, ok?
Yes, there are plenty of Japanese guitars being manufactured and they may look good, with plenty of bracing and additional tweaks, this just adds to the weight and does not necessarily add to the ambience of the sound.
Laminated plywood sides and backs on your guitar will make it less expensive and not compromise the sound too much.
A little note on tuning
A little clip on tuner with a green light will also add to your investment. Your guitar should be tuned every time you pick it up! So having your little clip on tuner will not add to the weight and will enhance your ear as time goes on.
Make sure your guitar is easy to tune, ask questions, especially if you are buying online, ensure that it will be in tune, and ask for a clip on tuner, one of the easiest ways of tuning a guitar unless you have a very good ear.
There are many free tuning options on the internet, however, how useful is that when you’re out there busking!(You really don’t want someone running off with your iPad when you’re busy keeping an eye on the kitty)
If you are absolutely sure you are going to dedicate the time to learning the guitar then the best sound will come from a solid cedar top and rosewood for the back and sides.
New or Second hand?
If you are still unsure about dedicating time to practice every day, then it is well worth looking around for a second hand guitar. Now you know what the difference is between an acoustic guitar and classical guitar you can check local ads, you can ask your friends on social networks. A lot of people have guitars gathering dust in their attic or garage. Cleaning up and restringing would be a less expensive way of getting started. Your teacher will be able to help you restring, so long as there is no damage to the neck it will suffice until you get a feel of what you really want, and then take the plunge and buy a decent instrument.
So now what?
Whichever option you decide on, all you need now is to pick it up, try it for size and learn the best way to hold your guitar.
And practice, practice, practice, makes perfect, find your own style, no one is perfect.