Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Hannah Kim

Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by Hannah Kim » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:52 am

Hi, everyone,

I am thinking of getting a new CG for a beginner around $300~700 and would like some advice.

I know that professional luthiers' pricings are well over $1000 or even $10000, but I don't think I am ready for those beauties yet... :D
...as I am scared that I might "destroy" the instrument out of the clumsiness of a beginner. :|

Right now, I have the Yamaha CG101A classical that someone gave me.
Just wondering if I should stick around with the one I have or should purchase a new, better one. (if it could be any better around my price range, that is) :D

For many of you who are excellent guitar players with excellent guitars, please don't be annoyed by my silly question as I am a beginner (like I've said before). :)

If you have had any good experiences or recommendations with CG's around the price range above, letting me know would help me tremendously!

Thank you so much, :guitare:


Hannah Kim

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djajasoekarta
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Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by djajasoekarta » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:44 am

I reccomend a Japanese fabricated classical guitar such as kodaira or Matsuoka. Their student range are at your cost. By their experience, the guitar should work well. I have a 1990's kodaira & it sounds great :D

Or if you have a time & link, the luthier in South east Asia would be your best choice. They offer Solid Body guitar under $700 too

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Ramon Amira
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Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by Ramon Amira » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:35 pm

I would recommend the Cordoba C7 or the Alhambra 1C. They both are approximately in the $500 range, and either one would be a substantial improvement over the Yamaha, without breaking your bank account.

Ramon
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ChiyoDad

Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by ChiyoDad » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:25 pm

There are two general paths to upgrading.

The first path is incremental upgrading. In other words, you buy modest upgrades as you progress in skill. You might start with a $150-$300 guitar, then buy a $500-$700 guitar, then buy a $1000-$1500 guitar, then buy a $4000 guitar. The drawback in this are that you may have to sell your older guitar to afford the new one. You'll take a loss with each and selling can be a hassle.

The second path is what I call quantum-leap upgrading. You train aggressively on the fundamentals for a few years on a properly set-up instrument, then you go straight to a luthier-built instrument which can start from $2000 but usually is about $4000. This, of course, entails delayed gratification which few people care for. There are some who will disagree, but I and the teachers that I know would consider your CG101A to be good for your first few years if you are a complete guitar noob, as long as the guitar has been properly set-up.

I'm also an advocate of the second path because, this early in the game, your musical tastes could take you anywhere. What if you later realize that you want a bright tone? What if you want a darker tone? What if you discover you're more of the hybrid metal-on-nylon sort and you want a shallow-bodied 14-fretter with an LR Baggs pickup and a tap plate? Biding your time will let you sample lots of guitars while you are still developing your basic skills.

If you do want to spend $300-$700 now, my first choice would be a classical student guitar from Francisco Navarro Garcia of Paracho, Mexico*. These can be purchased through Ron Hudson at Memorial Music in Texas. You can Google him, call him, and see if he can cut you a nice discount. These go for about $650. The only thing I don't like about these guitars are that they use inexpensive tuning machines like those found on $300 guitars.** My second choice would be a used instrument but you would need the help of an experienced player or amateur luthier to verify that you're buying a bargain and not overpaying.


* Don't confuse Francisco Navarro's guitars with the J.Navarro guitars being sold at auction sites and brick-n-mortar stores. These are imported by SAGA from China.
**I should mention however that I've seen cheap Chinese tuning machines on $1000+ guitars. These seem to be one of the first areas for cost saving.

Ramon Amira
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Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by Ramon Amira » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:37 pm

"There are some who will disagree, but I and the teachers that I know would onsider your CG101A to be good for your first few years if you are a complete guitar noob, as long as the guitar has been properly set-up."

Count me among those who would disagree. At least with respect to "quantum-leap upgrading." If one is going to "delay gratification" (but more importantly delay the great benefits of playing and learning on a better instrument) then one should at least have a guitar with some reasonable minimal qualities that I feel that Yamaha lacks.

Either of the two guitars I mentioned previously are of sufficient quality to respond properly and help the student to develop proper playing technique. Naturally the Yamaha is fine as a starting point for "incremental upgrading."

For the record, I agree with the "quantum-leap upgrading." Provided the initial guitar is of sufficient quality to proceed for what might be a fairly long time.

Ramon
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gabasa
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Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by gabasa » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:57 am

Here's my two cents worth.

Jeff Sigurdson in Vancouver has a reputation for building great student model classical guitars at a great price point. If he were to build a guitar from cedar and rosewood, (not master grade), use decent tuners and apply a very thinly lacquered finish, it would have the same playability as his more expensive guitars. It might also have a more plain look with less purfling, etc. He's a very skilled luthier who's built hundreds of guitars and his student models are surprisingly great sounding instruments. It might cost a little more than the top end of your budget, but you could enjoy it for years to come.

da23will
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Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by da23will » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:37 am

Hey ChiyoDad, just curious as to what you mean by a "properly set-up" instrument. Are you referring primarily to the distance between the strings and the fingerboard?

And in connection with this, Prominent Critic, I have an Alhambra 1C which I'm pleased with, but I note that the strings are further from the fingerboard than many other guitars that I have picked up - the action, in other words, is quite high. Given that you deal in Alhambras, I was wondering whether, in your experience, this is common to the 1C (or the lower end Alhambras), or is it impossible to generalize like this?

Many thanks.

Ramon Amira
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Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by Ramon Amira » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:14 pm

Yes, that high action is common not only to the 1C, but to all Alhambra guitars in general. They have a high saddle, so lowering the action is not difficult.

It should be noted that Jose Ramirez guitars also tend to have high action.

Ramon
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ChiyoDad

Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by ChiyoDad » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:04 pm

da23will wrote:Hey ChiyoDad, just curious as to what you mean by a "properly set-up" instrument. Are you referring primarily to the distance between the strings and the fingerboard?
http://www.hillguitar.com/website/news/ ... setup.html

I would add to all the above the selection of strings suited to the guitar and the player. Strings can help compensate for tonal shortcomings in an instrument or enhance existing tonal qualities. The right tension can make it easier for the player. The action should be set according to the tension used.

Derry

Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by Derry » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:08 pm

will throw my 2 cents in here and recommend a Takamine 132,, have owned one for several years and it will certainly hold its own and surpass many other instruments in your $$$ range when you buy pre-owned,, a very balanced instrument for the music you will be playing for the first few years,,

Derry

ChiyoDad

Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by ChiyoDad » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:30 pm

Derry wrote:will throw my 2 cents in here and recommend a Takamine 132
Good solid recommendation on the least-expensive guitar that's still made in Japan. I might be wrong but I think you get a lifetime warranty with it as well if bought new at $880-$990. I've seen used ones sell for $400-$500.

Another retailer for Navarro guitars in Texas is Tom Nunez who owns La Falseta. I haven't spoken to him in a while but he should have them.

da23will
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Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by da23will » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:47 pm

Thanks ChiyoDad and Prominent Critic for your replies.

PC, you say that the high action is common to the Alhambras, but can easily be lowered. I take it, though, that the high action found on the guitars is not considered beyond what is reasonable? That is to say, I assume that many players find the high action on the alhambras acceptable. Or is it your experience that many players playing Alhambras (and especially beginners/intermediate players) lower the action (by having the saddle adjusted)?

Also, ChiyoDad, you mention that the "action should be set according to the tension used". Just to clarify that, do you mean that, as a general rule, high action - low tension go together; or is it that a high action will often suit high tension strings? If you could just explain a little further for me what you meant by that statement, I would be grateful.

Thanks for your assistance.

ChiyoDad

Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by ChiyoDad » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:16 pm

da23will wrote:Also, ChiyoDad, you mention that the "action should be set according to the tension used". Just to clarify that, do you mean that, as a general rule, high action - low tension go together; or is it that a high action will often suit high tension strings?
The harder the tension of the strings, the lower you can go usually set the action.

Lowering the action theoretically can lower the volume of a guitar. I haven't yet perceived any volume change in guitars where I have lowered the action. In general, most people perceive an increase in volume with harder tension strings. I have perceived the same for the most part. I also believe however is that harder tension strings could decrease the volume of a guitar. It depends on whether the tension inhibits top movement. This is hard to objectively assess without good measuring equipment.

I don't think most players should be concerned about the matters I discussed in that last paragraph. My opinion is that any such changes are imperceptible to the player and the general audience. They are also trifling relative to the overall challenges of developing as a musician. Your 1C is a good guitar. After you get it set-up, you should then get on with your studies.

saibharath

Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by saibharath » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:40 am

i would re command u the yahama c70 guitar which i am using right know as an beginner..its sounds very beautiful.There are many other models also you can just look at the below website

https://www.yamahamusicindia.com/produc ... egoryId=26

:D :D :D :D :D :wink:

Hannah Kim

Re: Guitar recommendations for a beginner

Post by Hannah Kim » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:55 am

Thank you all for the excellent replies!!! :D

All of the postings provided a lot of helpful information for how I should go about upgrading CG~

- Thank you, ChiyoDad and Prominent Critics, for your different views on when to upgrade~ I did find myself nodding when I was reading both of your replies :)

- Thank you, djajasoekarta and Derry, I will give it a chance and try out the CG's made in Japan like the Takamine brand if I come in contact with them.

- Thank you, gabasa; unfortunately, the budget I have is all the budget I could use :( but I will remember your recommendation and refer back if I save up more money later!

- da23will, thank you for the great question you posed! :D That gave me a heads up on the high action on some CG's.

- saibharath, thank you for the reply. If I buy a new CG, though, I think I am staying away from Yamaha's for now. I am not saying I hate them or anything, but since I am learning a "classical" guitar, I might as well as try an instrument made from makers that have more credit with making CG's.

After reading all the posts, I decided to wait just a few months more to make decision on buying a new CG. I probably will wait till summer and then upgrade; the reason is that I really want my own guitar that I bought for myself. Personally I think it will be more meaningful to continue playing that way. If I don't have a budget change by then, I will decide on Cordoba, Alhambra or a Takamine (if I like how it sounds... I tried some cheap Takamine's at Guitar Center and hated it :( but I am sure not all Takamine's sound like that...hope it was just that the particular model was trying to match up its cheap pricing of one to two hundred and something dollars...)

Once again, thank you ALL for the great replies, they helped tremendously!! :D

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