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How to choose a great classical guitar

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How to choose a great classical guitar

The musician who decides to start a relationship with a handcrafted classical guitar must make sure that the instrument he takes home will be the perfect complement for his art, his talent, his creativity and his life. 

In our handmade guitar building workshop, we will guide you on the different aspects that are fundamental for the decision-making process when choosing a good guitar.

Choosing a handcrafted concert classical guitar: a guide

It is very important that you study well the characteristics of the guitar: sound, exterior and interior finish, woods used, rosette construction, varnishing, bridge, etc. 

Visual examination of the guitar

To do this, you should start with a visual examination, which we will explain in the following points. 

  1. Pay attention to the finish. It is essential that it has no bumps, scratches or scuffs. Take a good look at it from all sides. Do not forget to pay attention to the wood grain of the top. 
  2. Examine the strings and make sure that the action is correct so that it is not uncomfortable and does not fret. Examine the comfort at fret 1 to see if the nut is high or low, and also check the string height. The reference is usually the 12th fret (the distance from the 12th fret to the string). 
  3. Examine the neck: check that it is completely “straight”.  You can detect this straightness by following the line of the strings or by looking from the headstock downwards, placing the guitar vertically. Actually, the neck has a small curvature that from this point of view is perceived as straight.   
  4. The bridge is one of the most important parts, and you have to make sure that it is well glued. To check it, you can put a piece of paper between the top and the bridge. The height of the bridge should be just right. You can press on the 12th fret to see if it wobbles and check the perfect fit of the guitar. 
  5. Do not forget to look at the sides of the neck to check that the frets do not cut when you pass your hand, because it would mean that they have used wood that is not very dry. 
  6. You should also check that the headstock has no looseness, that there are no jumps and that there is no lack of pressure so that it does not go out of tune. 
  7. Don’t be shy: don’t be shy to look inside the guitar. You can shake it to check that there is nothing loose inside and, if necessary, dare to use a dentist’s mirror and a flashlight to see inside the case. 

Sound check

Now let’s test the sound: 

Try playing notes individually on the 12th fret of each string. Examine the sound and check that it sustains. If the notes suddenly cut off, we may have discovered “wolf notes”.  

You should also test the octavation of the notes by comparing that one octave interval: playing the notes on the strings in the air previously tuned and their octave on the 12th fret. 

Check the balance or volume of each note along the fretboard, starting with the first string. 

It is important that there are no “wolf notes”: notes that do not sound good, their sustain falls faster than desired and the fundamental harmonic goes out very quickly.

Order your concert classical guitar

All these checks are not easy in a first examination of the guitar, so we recommend the advice of a professional luthier.

In our workshop, we will be happy to demonstrate the quality of our instruments and answer any of your questions. You will also be able to follow step by step the construction of your guitar. 

We always recommend that you do not test the guitar by playing a difficult piece. The important thing is that you can pay more attention to its sounds than to the interpretation of the piece. Do not get carried away by the emotion of the chosen melody, but focus on checking the sound quality of the instrument. 

Start by playing some simple, open chords and arpeggios with some open strings in the middle frets and not in first position to appreciate how the bass and treble brightness are maintained. 

It is also interesting to try some strumming to observe sustain and play some scales to continue experimenting with bass and treble. Examine the overtones and check how perfect the overtones sound. 

At this point you can play a piece you know well to compare it with the sound you are used to when you have played it on other guitars. 

We guarantee that, if you follow these steps, you will have verified that the instrument you have chosen gives you what you are looking for in a classical guitar, your relationship will be perfect, and you will never want to part with it.

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