How to recognize a quality classical concert grade guitar?

When we decide to acquire a concert grade classical guitar we should take care that it is exactly as it should be, not only because it is a big investment, but also being guitar lovers that we are, we should be looking for a quality Spanish guitar. Here at our workshop, we take great care with every detail and we invite our clients to immerse themselves and closely study each guitar’s characteristics.

The first thing we should pay close attention to is the wood employed to build the guitar. Quality concert grade guitars are always built with all solid wood, naturally dried for several decades to ensure stability of the instrument. The soundboard is always made of spruce or red cedar. Back and sides are usually built with different types of rosewood, such as the Indian, Madagascar or cocobolo varieties, or European maple. Cypress is reserved for flamenco guitars. The neck is fashioned with the very light and strong Honduran cedar. A very important characteristic of a very high quality guitar is that the grain on the soundboard should be straight, fairly tight (less than 2 mm between lines) and with shiny crosshatching, this is a sure sign the wood was especially selected and is of top quality.

Guitarra clásica CC 38 | Felipe Conde, luthierThe neck of the guitar usually has a black wood (ebony) inlay, about 6 mm wide in the back lengthwise. This ebony piece reinforces the neck since this wood is very stable and very hard. It also improves the aesthetic of the guitar with the contrast of the dark and light colored wood.

Symmetry with respect to the axis of the guitar is also a sign that is was well built. We could say that guitars that remain upright and still when rested on their bottom end on a horizontal and even surface possess this quality.

When it comes to the sound, a quality concert grade classical guitar should satisfy certain criteria:

  • When you apply pressure on each string at the 12th fret they should produce an octave correspondent to the sound of each string plucked freely. You should be able to execute the harmonics corresponding to the 5th, 7th, 12th and the 19th frets, the only appropriate spots to execute harmonics.
  • The sound should be clear on each string and all frets without buzzing.
  • The sound should be sustained for as long as possible. If the sounds “dies” quickly, this is a sure sign of a low quality guitar. This point is closely linked to the intensity of the sound, probably one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a good concert grade Spanish guitar.

If you are looking for a concert grade Spanish guitar come visit Felipe Conde’s workshop and test any of our models in a comfortable and private setting.

Bibliography:

Villar, José. La guitarra española. Clivis Publications. 2nd ed. 2003. ISBN 84-89813-93-0

 

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