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carol m

What Brand Classical Guitar Do You LIke?

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Does anyone have views on their favorite classical nylon string guitar? I'm not about to rush out and buy one at the moment but have sometimes wondered if I should upgrade my bottom of the range student classical guitar.

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Hi Carol,

My "go to" guitar for the last number of years is a Yamaha CGX-171CCA. It is a classical but the fretboard is narrower than normal for a classical making the transition from a steel-string acoustic a bit easier. It also has a cut-away making it easier to play up the neck (not that I do). Also, there is a boom mic in the cavity of the guitar that can be aimed in whatever direction you want and a piezo under saddle pickup. Built into the side of the guitar is a little mixer and graphic equalizer. The top is western red cedar solid top, sides are laminated rosewood and the fretboard is ebony. I got mine used from a kid who wanted to graduate to a full blown classical.

As a bonus, it came with a dollop of chocolate ice-cream stained on the label under the sound hole. Kids! Anyway, after leaving it out in the rain one night (adults!) the stain was washed away and the electronics no longer work.

Pretty good middle of the road guitar.

-Doug

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G'day Carol,

I can't let this one go without a reply.

I have an Alhambra 4P which has beautiful sound. A bit more mellow than some but still crystal clear. It's not my daily user because I have grandkids who visit and I'm happy for the 4P to be protected in it's case if I'm not actually playing it.

I also have an Orpheus Valley classical with pickup and cutaway. The sound could almost be as clear as the 4P but is certainly brighter. Has a great bass. When the mood dictates bright, then this one gets the nod.

I use a couple of Admiras for much of my playing. Nice tone but not as penetrating as the previous two. I play softly anyway so I really lose nothing by having a quieter guitar. Sound is clean if not strong. The 1000E with the spruce top is brighter than the Sevilla.

I still have my good old Pearl River which I take to lessons. A slightly muffled tone compared to the others but not a big investment and so far has withstood extended periods in the car. This one's made of plywood whereas the others have solid tops.

There's also another one which I did an electronic repair on and then the owner didn't want it. Can't remember the name. Decidedly muddy sound. I don't play it and I can understand why he doesn't want it back. Through an amp it would probably be OK but that's not my thing.

I have to say that for me, playing the best guitar isn't as important as playing well. I'm still struggling with that.

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Thanks Doug and Karcey. If I upgraded I'd like solid cedar top, with pickup, probably cut away, one I could afford.....and left handed. I estimate my chances of finding that are about 1000 to one. I'm not sure what 1000 to one really means but it sounds about right.

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Carol I have an Admira, and if am being truthful I purchased it solely for the reason that its called a Maria .

Maybe you could try my method and look around for one called Kevin, Bruce or maybe even Brad :yes:

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I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I haven't bought a new Classical Guitar.

I'm not sure if this is good or bad news, but I bid on an ebay Maestro, Made in Korea for $40, and it was a Lefty. I put in my killer last-seconds bid, but then I had to Confirm My Bid - I forgot I would have to do that, and my bid was too late and didn't count.

The seller was not a guitarist and this one had been given to him - I thought it was worth a try - possibly a great deal. But no....beaten by technology.

However, that sent me on a trawl of Classical Guitars.

I was looking for Classical, Cedar Top, plus if possible, a Lefty. . Although that probably wouldn't matter if the Saddle is set straight - I'd just take it out and put it back in backwards. That worked perfectly for the old pudding (otherwise know as a guitar).

And if possible with a pickup

I found: http://www.artistguitars.com.au/buy/cs100ceqlc-left-hand-solid-top-classical-guitar-pick-up-with-hard-case/11086 which is just a few km down the road.

and another similar guitar but they are both Spruce. But it has pickup and is lefty and an ok price.

Next:

Katoh MCG-40CEC Acoustic/Electric Classical Guitar $575 rrp

Fishman Aero EQ with onboard tuner. Solid Cedar top with cutaway. Sapele laminate back and sides.

More expensive, but it's cedar, but not lefty. It doesn't say if there is an onboard mic or not, or does the eq mean it does have a mic?

Do you think if I switched it to a lefty, I would have to get the eq changed as well?

Others:

Admira 'Malaga' Classical guitar $895 rrp

Solid cedar top with Sapelli back and sides, African Mahogany neck, cutaway and Shadow P3B preamp. Not a lefty.

Orpheus Valley Rondo R65 Thinline Classical guitar w/pickup $995 rrp

Solid spruce top, laminated walnut back and sides, African mahogany neck, Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge, walnut headstock overlay, wood binding and rosette, gold-plated machine heads with amber buttons, Fishman Classic 3 system.

Expensive and not a lefty.

Some nice Takamines but all expensive and none as lefty.

I think i found one for Clancy though:

Cordoba La Playa Nylon string travel guitar with pickup $449 rrp

1/2 sized cutaway guitar model with built-in pickup designed for travel. Solid Cedar top with Mahogany Back & Sides. Rosewood bridge, Cedar Neck with Nato fingerboard. Cordoba 2Band Piezo pickup. Cordoba Tarpaulin Insulated Travel Bag

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Hi Carol,

Sounds like you are having fun. Good luck with your search. I have seen some nice models coming from china with solid woods. Check out matt raines - although shipping from the us may be expensive. Not sure if he has left hand models or not.

By the way, if the guitar has a mixer/blender that would indicate a mic as well as a piezo.

- doug

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I saw this on ebay today:

The Fifth ("A") string has just been replaced, and the guitar plays beautifully (COD is prefered).

That's a great selling point, isn't it? I'm almost tempted.

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Doug, how wide is your Yamaha's nut?

You say it's narrower than a standard nut width, but I found the specs of your Yamaha, and they say it has a 2.05 inch nut. But my standard classical nylon string guitar is 2inches - but could be 2.05 within the margin of error. Do you have a custom version?

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I saw this on ebay today:

The Fifth ("A") string has just been replaced, and the guitar plays beautifully (COD is prefered).

That's a great selling point, isn't it? I'm almost tempted.

Except the guitar is probably tuned to the key of "Q" flat.

As a side note...........I have a LA Patrie "Etude". Very nice little guitar and not terribly expensive.

I really like it.

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Doug, how wide is your Yamaha's nut?

You say it's narrower than a standard nut width, but I found the specs of your Yamaha, and they say it has a 2.05 inch nut. But my standard classical nylon string guitar is 2inches - but could be 2.05 within the margin of error. Do you have a custom version?

Hi Carol,

My guitar's nut is 1 7/8" wide. About the same as my Larrivee I think.

Have you checked out New World Guitars? They're made in China but to Ken Hill's design and specs.

-Doug

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I checked them out Doug. They don't have a distributor in Aus, no lefties that I could see. and cost ~ $1700 - $2,200 and up.

They do list some Specs though: standard neck width is 52mm, or narrow-neck Fingerstyle width is 48mm. That's just over 2" and just under 2".

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Is anyone up for some research? I plucked across all six open strings and timed the reverb from the last string strike, and my pudding guitar rings on for ~ 18 seconds. This is my only problem with this guitar. Whenever I play something on it, all the strings keep resonating so long, it makes it all into a dog's breakfast of sound. I never used to have to mute every string if I want to have a clear sound.

Lifting the fingers off the strings after the note is struck makes no difference at all - all the notes keep on ringing.

Unless I mute every note with the picking hand, they all mash into each other and it sounds awful. I'm sure it's not my ears that have become more discerning.

Anyone up for having an experiment with their own classical nylon string guitar for comparison of resonance?

If you do a slow rake across open strings and time from the last note, it would be comparing apples with apples. I found I had enough fingers and hands for doing the playing and timing, by using that method.

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i've been having a wee look at classical guitars, this one caught my eye, i like the idea of the full size body

Breedlove Passport N200/CMP Stained Maple £279

The New Passport N200/CMP is inspired by the Custom Shop N20 shape and voice. With 14 Frets to body, the N200 is highly versatile, fast playing, comfortable and great for beginners and advanced steel string players to cross their technique over to the world of nylon tone. Our top selling shape for over 20 years. This is Breedlove’s entry level price point and a world class nylon string guitar. It is crafted from clean laminated Maple back & sides and given a rich dark stain finished in silky satin. Easiest to play Breedlove for beginners or advanced players.

  • Nylon String with slotted headstock
  • Full Sized C20 Shaped Body with 25.5” Nylon String
  • Solid Western Red Cedar Top
  • Laminated Dark Stained Maple Back & Sides
  • Depth 4-9/16” at Tail Block, 3-1/2” at heel
  • Classical Fan Bracing Pattern, voiced for jazz/classical
  • Black Binding, top, back, corner caps
  • BWB Rosette
  • Centered Dots Position Markers
  • Satin Finish
  • Breedlove Atlas Rosewood Bridge
  • Rosewood Fretboard, Scale Length 650 mm (25.4”) String Length with 21 Frets approximately with 14 frets to body
  • Nut Width 48mm or 1-7/8”, shallow c-shaped neck
  • Standard E Tuning
  • Dovetail Neck Joint
  • Double Acting Truss Rod, soundhole adjustable
  • Chrome Tuners
  • D’Addario High Tension Strings for strong and fast playing
  • Light-weight gigbag Included
  • Designed by Kim Breedlove, Chris Lindquist and Peter Newport, Crafted in Korea
  • Quality Assured in Bend, Oregon USA

10092712243518f.jpg

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Hey Paul, that looks like a very interesting guitar. I have always liked breedloves. However, for me, the 14 fret to the body makes me a bit uncomfortable. From the sound projection point of view, I much prefer 12 frets to the body. 12 frets to the body with a cut-away is perfect for me.

I'm going to look out for this guitar in local guitar shops and give it a try when I find it. The 12/14 fret thing may not be an issue at all.

Hi Carol,

Depending on how hard I pluck the strings and how quiet the sound is when I stop counting, I get around 6-10 seconds of tone.

-Doug

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Hi Doug, I redid the testing with individual strings. I found the bass strings ring on for 15-17 secs. The nylon strings are fine at around 10.

What I find is when I start playing, any open lower strings start resonating in sympathy with the plucked strings, even if I'm not playing them. They stop when I happen to fret them and then they resonate on, on their own again, until I fret them again, or mute them with my picking hand.

I also scrubbed the frets and fret board with a scrubbing brush, especially the nut, and that seems to have improved it slightly.

Can you tell me if your Yamaha CGX-171CCA has a completely straight saddle? Or is it slightly offset (down on the left when looked at front on) to compensate for intonation? If I can find a decent Classical guitar with a straight saddle, I can just switch the strings around to make it a lefty.

But if it's compensated, I can't. I think most of the better guitars have compensated saddles, but entry level ones often have straight ones. There is a store here who would get me one like yours if I ordered it, but I would need to know if the saddle is straight first.

BTW, the ebay special ($40) I bid too late on, came up again, but somehow, the moment of GAS had passed, and i didn't even bid.. Neither did anyone else. I also wondered why the first buyer's purchase had fallen through, which put me off a bit.

If he reduces the price, it might be worth the trouble to put in a bid and go and check it out.

I could always give it away to a local children's home if it wasn't much good. I'm all heart...dumping dodgy guitars on the innocent and unsuspecting.

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Hi Carol,

My saddle goes straight across except the place where the G strings sits has been angled back so the G string is slightly longer than the others. The saddle itself has been filed or machined or bevelled under the G string. It would be very simple to replace it with a straight saddle and then file the D string position so that when you turn it into a lefty, it'll be the G that is compensated again.

I have a suggestion for you to try for your resonant bass strings. Loosen the strings and lift the saddle out of the slot. Put a piece of soft cardboard or felt under the saddle where the bass strings sit, then replace the saddle and tighten the strings. The cardboard may reduce the transfer of the bass strings' vibrations a bit. If it works or helps, you can then file the saddle to compensate for the raised action caused by the cardboard.

Worth a try, in any case.

Also, try to find where on the body that the resonance seems to start from. After strumming the guitar, press the palm of you hand on various places of the body to see if one specific area helps to dampen the resonance. Once you find this spot, you can then pay a neighorhood kid to push on that spot while you play. Depending on the wages in your area, it may be cheaper than buying a new guitar. :whistling

-Doug

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Great ideas Doug thanks. I'll definitely try the cardboard under the saddle trick. Also, I don't think I'd need to pay a local kid, I could get the cat to sit on it - she likes to do that. It might making playing difficult though.

Maybe I could strap her down, nice and snug....hmm.. I'd have to put a gag on her too, or she'd start complaining. She always was an ungrateful grump, and has never appreciated my tender loving care.

Interesting about the saddle on your Yamaha - I'm not sure yet whether that is good news or bad - from a financial GAS point of view. If I went that route it'd mean I would be playing it with the cutaway on the wrong side. That would look a bit odd, but that's nothing new for me.

That could be a go-er (ancient Aussie lingo) = That might work (the boring version). Also, I'd have to buy it without playing it first which I've never done before.

No that's not true, I bought my favorite lefty guitar without playing it first - Tanglewood TW 145ASC-LH acoustic electric Premier Series, cedar top on ebay for ~ $140, I think. It was cheap anyway. The first time I picked it up I knew it was a go-er (no translation needed now) - playability and sound. It ticks every box. Except the Classical guitar box......:)

My first decent lefty is hanging on the wall gathering dust.

Nice guitar, spruce top, but the sound was always a bit iffy to my ears (ancient Aussie lingo for 'I didn't like it much') - a loose translation. I think that was probably because it was spruce top and not cedar. And it never felt very comfortable to play. I don't know why. It's bigger than the cedar top. That might be part of the reason - Dunno. I think I'll sell it to fund any future GAS attacks.

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