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The 10 Best Yamaha Classical Guitars for Every Player

yamaha classical guitars

Yamaha classical guitars have earned their place in legacy guitar-making dating back to the 1940s. Musicians worldwide prefer Yamaha for their reliability, tonal excellence, and overall playability. This reputation for quality makes Yamaha a trusted choice for anyone seeking a classical guitar that balances affordability with exceptional performance.

Yamaha offers a wide range of classical guitar models to suit various skill levels and preferences. From affordable entry-level options to handcrafted, premium instruments, there’s a Yamaha classical guitar for every player. But among them, there are only 10 that can be considered their best:

After you are done choosing your guitar, check out some of the best songs to learn on the classical guitar.

Yamaha CGX122MC  – $429

One of the lower-priced models on this list, the Yamaha CGX122MC is still a versatile classical guitar with a combination of quality tonewoods, advanced electronics, and player-friendly features.

Image By Yamaha

Key Features

Construction

The CGX122MC boasts a solid cedar top known for its rich, warm tone. The choice of nato wood for the back and sides further enhances the warmth in the guitar’s tonal profile.

Classical Body Shape

The CGX122MC features a traditional classical guitar body shape, which provides a comfortable playing experience and a timeless look.

Electronics

The CGX122MC is equipped with Yamaha’s System 61 preamp and piezo pickup system. The preamp features a 3-band equalizer, enabling players to fine-tune their sound.

Natural Matte Finish

The guitar features a natural matte finish that not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also allows the wood’s natural characteristics to shine through.

Chrome Tuners

The chrome tuning machines are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, ensuring stable tuning.

This Guitar Is Perfect For Small Venue Stage Performers

The onboard electronics, body size, and balanced tone and price point make this guitar a good pick for players who perform on small stages casually.

Pros and cons of the Yamaha CGX122MC

Pros

  • The mid-frequency control allows for further tonal adjustments, enabling players to tailor their sound to suit their preferences and the musical context.
  • The CGX122MC features a comfortable neck profile, making it accessible for players of various hand sizes and playing styles.
  • It’s near the lower end of the price range for high-end classical guitars, making it more appropriate for budget-conscious musicians who want quality sound.
  • The guitar features an elegant design with a natural finish, allowing its tonewoods to shine through, and understated but tasteful rosette and binding details.

Cons

  • Unlike some competing models, the CGX122MC often doesn’t come with a hard or padded gig bag
  • It doesn’t quite match up to the truly high-end guitars when it comes to quality.

Yamaha CGX122MS  – $429

Image By Yamaha

The Yamaha CGX122MS is the same model as the Yamaha CGX122MC. However, this one comes with a spruce top, whereas the CGX122MC comes with a cedar top, leading to a slightly different sound.

Key Features

Construction

The CGX122MS is identical to the CGX122MC, except it boasts a solid spruce top instead of a cedar top. This contributes to a clear, resonant, and well-defined tone compared to the warmer tone of the cedar. The nato back and sides of the guitar complement the spruce top with warm and resonant tones.

Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge

The fingerboard and bridge are made of rosewood, known for its durability and smooth playing surface. It also adds warmth and depth to the overall tonal character.

Three-band EQ and Tuner

The preamp system includes a three-band EQ (bass, middle, treble) for fine-tuning the guitar’s amplified sound. Additionally, it features a built-in tuner for convenient and accurate tuning on stage.

We also suggest you check out our blog about the most accurate tuners.

Quality Hardware

The guitar is equipped with chrome-plated tuners and a set of durable strings, ensuring stable tuning and reliable performance.

Matte Finish

Just like its cedar counterpart, the CGX122MS features an attractive matte finish that not only enhances its visual appeal but also allows the wood to resonate more freely, contributing to its overall sound quality.

This guitar is perfect for small venue stage performers

As this model is almost the same in specs as the CGX122MC, this is suitable for the same player base. Those who prefer a brighter, clearer tone would take this model over the CGX122MC though.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha CGX122MS

Pros

  • The ergonomic design of the neck facilitates easy playability and comfortable fretting.
  •  Features a built-in tuner for convenient and accurate tuning on stage.
  • The CGX122MS is built with quality materials, ensuring long-lasting durability.
  • It’s a versatile guitar capable of producing a wide range of tones suitable for classical, fingerstyle, or other acoustic genres.

Cons

  • The nut width on the CGX122MS is a bit narrower compared to some other classical guitars.
  • The electronic components are a bit less nuanced than higher-end systems, leading to a less nuanced amplified sound quality compared to Yamaha’s high-end guitars.

Yamaha GC22 S – $1429

Image By Yamaha

The Yamaha GC22S is a distinguished classical guitar made with a combination of premium tonewoods, traditional construction techniques, and meticulous attention to detail.

Key Features

Solid Top Construction

The GC22S features a solid European spruce top which is renowned for its tonal clarity, responsiveness, and projection. 

Hand-Finished Detailing

Each guitar is carefully crafted by skilled luthiers, ensuring consistent quality and playability.

Ebony Fingerboard and Bridge

The GC22S features an ebony fingerboard and bridge, known for their durability, smooth feel, and ability to enhance the sustain and articulation of the notes.

Traditional Fan Bracing

The guitar employs traditional fan bracing, a construction technique that enhances the guitar’s projection, responsiveness, and tonal balance.

Spanish Heel Construction

The GC22S employs a Spanish heel neck joint, a traditional method known for its structural integrity and the way it allows the neck and body to resonate as a unified whole.

This guitar is perfect for players with a taste for aesthetics

The Yamaha classical guitar GC22S appeals to musicians who are picky about their guitar’s design. The ebony fingerboard and precise intonation make it a choice model for players who like to play fast, complex passages.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha GC22S

Pros

  • Typically comes with a hardshell case, providing protection and convenience for transportation.
  • Understated but elegant aesthetic details, such as a rosette made of natural wood inlay and tasteful body binding.
  • Each GC22S undergoes a thorough hand-finished process, ensuring that every aspect of the guitar, from the fretwork to the finish, meets Yamaha’s high standards.
  • The GC22S is known for its precise intonation across the fretboard, ensuring that notes ring true and chords sound harmonious.

Cons

  • As a higher-end classical guitar, The GC22S is relatively expensive.
  • The GC22S is an acoustic-only guitar, lacking built-in pickups or preamps for amplification.

Yamaha GC12 C – $949

Image By Yamaha

The Yamaha GC12C is a highly regarded classical guitar known for its exceptional craftsmanship and tonal excellence.

Key Features

Traditional Spanish Design

The guitar’s design adheres to traditional Spanish construction techniques, ensuring optimal resonance and projection.

Premium Tonewoods

The GC12C is crafted using high-quality tonewoods, including a solid European Spruce top and solid American Mahogany back and sides. This combination offers a balanced and articulate tonal profile.

Resonance-Enhancing Design Elements

The guitar incorporates several design elements aimed at maximizing resonance, including a soundhole rosette crafted from traditional wood marquetry.

Deluxe Hardshell Case

The guitar comes with a high-quality deluxe hardshell case, offering excellent protection and portability for the instrument.

Refined Aesthetics

The GC12C boasts a refined and classic appearance, characterized by a natural finish and intricate detailing, reflecting Yamaha’s attention to both visual and sonic appeal.

This guitar is perfect for players switching from steel strings to nylon guitars

The GC12C appeals to musicians who are used to the narrow neck of a steel string guitar and are switching to classical guitars. 

Having trouble restringing your guitar? Click here to learn how to string your guitar properly. 

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha GC12C

Pros

  • The GC12C produces a transparent, balanced sound with rich harmonics, making it suitable for a wide range of musical styles and settings.
  • Features a slightly narrower nut width compared to some classical guitars, providing a comfortable fretting experience for players with smaller hands.
  •  The GC12C’s tonal characteristics make it suitable for a wide range of musical styles.
  • The GC12C is equipped with high-quality tuners, ensuring accurate and stable tuning, which is crucial for maintaining optimal sound quality.

Cons

  • The high-gloss finish on the GC12C requires extra care to avoid scratches or smudges, which is a consideration for those who prefer a more low-maintenance option.
  • The GC12C doesn’t come with built-in electronics, a disadvantage for players who require amplification for live performances or recording sessions.

Yamaha GC32 S – $1899

Image By Yamaha

The Yamaha GC32S is an exquisite classical guitar featuring premium tonewoods, meticulous construction techniques, and thoughtful design elements typical of Yamaha’s GC series of handcrafted classical guitars.

Key Features

Spanish Heel Construction

This classical guitar employs the traditional Spanish heel-neck joint. This meticulous construction technique enhances resonance, sustain, and overall projection by ensuring a seamless connection between the neck and body.

Bone Nut and Saddle

The GC32S is equipped with a bone nut and saddle, which contribute to the guitar’s superior sustain, and resonance, and give it a warmer tone.

Delicate Rosette Design

The rosette design is elegantly crafted, adding a touch of visual refinement to the instrument’s overall aesthetic.

Nitrocellulose Lacquer Finish

The guitar is finished with nitrocellulose lacquer, a premium finish that not only protects the wood but also allows it to age gracefully, enhancing the instrument’s tonal character over time.

Hardshell Case Included

The guitar comes with a high-quality hardshell case, providing secure protection during storage and transport.

This guitar is perfect for collectors and professional performers

The high-end crafting, materials, and design make it great for players who need an exceptional axe to deliver their best performance on stage.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha GC32S

Pros

  • The GC32S is equipped with high-quality Yamaha tuning machines
  •  The Yamaha GC32S offers impressive sustain, allowing for expressive playing and dynamic range.
  • Due to its balanced tonal characteristics and responsive playability, the GC32S is a versatile instrument.
  • The combination of quality tonewoods and expert construction results in a guitar that projects a powerful and articulate sound

Cons

  • The GC32S is a high-end instrument with a price point outside the budget of most casual players.
  • The non-cutaway design can impede players used to cutaways with its lack of accessibility to higher frets.

Yamaha GC42 C – $4299

Image By Yamaha

The Yamaha GC42C stands as an exquisite testament to the artistry and craftsmanship that is poured into Yamaha classical guitar models. An excellent choice for players who seek an instrument of uncompromising quality and beauty

Key Features

Solid Cedar Top

The GC42C features a solid cedar top, a tonewood known for its warm and rich tonal characteristics. 

Hand-scalloped Bracing

The GC42C is equipped with hand-scalloped bracing, a meticulous crafting technique that optimizes the top’s resonance and responsiveness.

Mahogany Neck

The neck is constructed from mahogany, a stable and reliable wood choice.

Gold-plated Tuners

The high-quality, gold-plated tuners not only offer precise tuning stability but also add a touch of elegance to the guitar’s overall appearance.

Bone Nut and Saddle

The use of bone for the nut and saddle contributes to the guitar’s clarity and sustain, as well as providing a solid foundation for the strings.

This guitar is perfect for players who want perfection in build and material

The Yamaha classical guitar GC42C is not for most, as most would rather pick a model with some limitations but half the price. But for a player who wants durability, elegance, and playability all maxed out, this model is for them.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha GC42C

Pros

  • The GC42C is handcrafted by skilled luthiers in Yamaha’s esteemed Custom Shop, ensuring meticulous attention to detail and top-tier construction.
  • The GC42C delivers impressive projection, making it suitable for both intimate settings and larger performance venues.
  • The GC42C features elegant appointments such as intricate rosette and purfling, adding to its visual appeal and showcasing the attention to detail in its design.
  • The fretwork on the GC42C is executed with precision, ensuring accurate intonation and comfortable playability throughout the entire fretboard.

Cons

  • The GC42C falls into the higher-end range of classical guitars, making it a significant investment for players.
  • The string tension on the GC42C is slightly higher compared to other classical guitars. This can affect playability for individuals with specific preferences or physical considerations.

Yamaha GC82 – $8000

Image By Yamaha

The absolute cream of the crop of Yamaha’s handcrafted classical guitars, the Yamaha GC82S represents a harmonious blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern precision engineering. Its choice of tonewoods, meticulous construction, and attention to detail make it well worth its price.

Key Features

Solid European Spruce Top

The GC82S boasts a top crafted from high-quality solid European spruce. This tonewood is prized for its responsiveness, providing a rich, well-balanced sound with clear projection.

Solid Rosewood Back and Sides

The back and sides are constructed from solid Madagascar rosewood, contributing to the guitar’s warm, resonant tones and adding depth to its sound profile.

Fan Bracing Pattern

The guitar employs a carefully designed fan bracing pattern, optimizing the distribution of vibrations across the soundboard for optimal tonal balance and projection.

Delicate Rosette Design

The rosette features an intricate, tasteful design, adding a touch of visual elegance to the guitar’s appearance.

Gold-Plated Tuning Machines

The GC82S is equipped with high-quality, gold-plated tuning machines, ensuring stable tuning and adding a touch of luxury to the instrument.

This guitar is perfect for players rolling on money

The most expensive Yamaha guitar, few would risk playing it on stage and damaging it. This is mostly for collectors with deep pockets.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha GC82S

Pros

  •  Each GC82S is individually crafted by skilled artisans at Yamaha’s workshop in Japan, ensuring consistency and quality control.
  • The high-quality tuning machines and precise craftsmanship ensure that the GC82S maintains stable and accurate tuning even during extended playing sessions.
  • Whether in a studio recording setting or on stage, the GC82S is capable of delivering a clear, articulate sound that can be tailored to suit various musical styles and genres.

Learn more about different guitar-playing styles here!

  • The combination of high-quality tonewoods and expert craftsmanship results in a rich, warm, and resonant tone.

Cons

  • The GC82S is by far the most expensive classical guitar made by Yamaha, and few can afford it.
  • Like many high-end classical guitars, the GC82S requires more maintenance and care than lower-end models.

Yamaha NTX5 – $1999

Image By Yamaha

The Yamaha NTX5 is an exceptional electro-acoustic nylon-string guitar equally suitable for classical, jazz, flamenco, and a variety of other musical styles.

Key Features

A.R.E. Treatment

Yamaha’s A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) technology is applied to the top wood. This process simulates the aging of wood, enhancing the instrument’s resonance and projection, akin to a well-seasoned vintage guitar.

Slim Mahogany Neck

The guitar features a slim-profile mahogany neck that offers excellent playability and comfort. This design makes it easier for players to navigate the fretboard, especially those accustomed to narrower neck profiles.

Cutaway Design

The single-cutaway design allows for easy access to higher frets, enabling players to explore a wider range of musical possibilities.

Electronics

The NTX5 is equipped with Yamaha’s Atmosfeel™ pickup and preamp system, which delivers a natural, acoustic sound when amplified.

Gotoh® Tuners

The high-quality Gotoh® tuners ensure stable and precise tuning, enhancing the overall playing experience.

This guitar is perfect for players who want quality plugged performance

The electronics in the NTX5 give the player a lot of tone control. This makes the model great for players who perform lots of plugged shows.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha NTX5

Pros

  • It has a 3-way Pickup/ Mic Blend Control. This allows players to blend the undersaddle pickup and microphone, giving them control over the guitar’s amplified sound and allowing for a more personalized tone.
  • The NTX5 is designed to minimize feedback, making it suitable for live performances even at higher volumes.
  • The NTX5 features an elegant rosette and a natural satin finish, giving it a refined and classic appearance.

Cons

  • The depth of the body is a bit shallower than the typical classical guitar, leading to a different resonance and lower volume.

Yamaha NCX3C – $1049

The Yamaha NCX3C is a versatile and meticulously crafted classical guitar designed for players seeking a professional-grade instrument with exceptional sound and playability.

Key Features

Solid Cedar Top

The NCX3C features a solid cedar top, a choice of tonewood known for its warm and resonant qualities. This top wood contributes to a rich, full-bodied tone with excellent sustain.

A.R.E. Treatment

Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) process is applied to the top wood, enhancing its tonal properties and providing the guitar with a more mature, vintage-like sound.

Cutaway Design

The NCX3C features a Venetian cutaway, allowing for easy access to the higher frets.

Onboard Electronics

The NCX3C is equipped with Yamaha’s System61 electronics, featuring an under-saddle piezo pickup and an ART (Acoustic Resonance Transducer) contact sensor. 

Hardshell Case Included

Yamaha provides a hardshell case with the NCX3C, ensuring safe transportation and protection for the instrument.

This guitar is perfect for players who want quality plugged performance

Similar to the NTX5C, this model also excels at plugged performance. But this one offers a warmer, more mellowed tone.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha NCX3C

Pros

  • High-quality gold-plated tuning machines enhance tuning stability while also adding a touch of elegance to the overall aesthetic.
  • Yamaha’s System61 electronics system provides a natural, transparent amplified sound suitable for stage performances.
  • It offers a wide tonal range, allowing players to explore various musical genres and playing styles with ease.

Cons

  • The narrow waist and slightly shallower body compared to traditional classical guitar lead to a different feel and projection from a full-sized, deeper-bodied classical guitar.

YAMAHA NCX5 Classical guitar  – $2000

Image By Yamaha

The Yamaha NCX5 is a sophisticated and expertly crafted classical guitar, designed for musicians who demand a high-caliber instrument that offers outstanding sound quality and playing comfort.

Key Features

Solid Spruce Top

The NCX5 boasts a solid spruce top, renowned for its bright, clear tone and dynamic range. This top wood choice ensures a crisp, articulate sound, ideal for expressive playing.

A.R.E. Treatment

Like the NCX3C, the NCX5 benefits from Yamaha’s Acoustic Resonance Enhancement (A.R.E.) technology. This process enriches the spruce top, giving the guitar a more developed, aged sound, often sought after by professionals.

Sleek Cutaway Design

The NCX5 features a Venetian cutaway design, providing effortless access to the upper frets and facilitating advanced playing techniques.

Advanced Onboard Electronics

 This guitar is equipped with Yamaha’s advanced System63 electronics. This setup includes an under-saddle piezo pickup and multiple sensors that capture the guitar’s natural acoustic sound for amplified performance without losing quality.

Luxurious Hardshell Case

Yamaha includes a premium hardshell case with the NCX5, ensuring the guitar’s safety during transport and storage.

Plugged Performance

The NCX5 excels in amplified settings, delivering a clear and resonant sound. Its electronics system is designed to accurately reproduce the guitar’s natural acoustic tone when plugged in.

Pros and Cons of the Yamaha NCX5

Pros:

  • High-quality hardware ensures stability in tuning and adds a refined look.
  • System63 electronics provide a faithful and transparent amplification of the guitar’s natural sound.
  • Versatile in terms of tonal range, it caters to various genres and styles, much like the NCX3C, but with a distinct spruce top character.

Cons:

  • The spruce top, while offering clarity, may lack the warmth some players prefer in a classical guitar.
  • The sleek design, while ergonomic, may feel different to players accustomed to traditional, bulkier classical guitars.

Yamaha classical guitars are more than just musical instruments; they are a testament to a legacy of craftsmanship and innovation. From entry-level instruments to their high-end concert-grade models, Yamaha consistently delivers quality and reliability. With their exceptional tonal quality, comfortable playability, and wide range of options, Yamaha’s classical guitars continue to be a top choice for musicians worldwide.

These guitars are just from Yamaha. Have you checked out some of the best classical guitars of 2023?

How do tonewoods differ from each other?

Different tonewoods used in classical guitars can significantly impact the instrument’s sound. Here, we’ll compare several common tonewoods and discuss how they affect the sound of classical guitars:

Spruce

Spruce is one of the most popular top woods for classical guitars. It’s known for its bright and articulate sound with a strong projection. Spruce often has a clear and focused tone with a good balance of treble and bass.

Cedar

Cedar is another popular choice for the top wood. It tends to produce a warm, mellow, and sweet tone. Cedar-topped classical guitars have a more pronounced midrange and are often favored by fingerstyle players for their responsiveness.

Mahogany

Mahogany is often used for the back and sides. It produces a warm and dry sound, with a strong emphasis on the midrange frequencies. Mahogany can yield a more focused and concise sound compared to other tonewoods.

Rosewood

Rosewood is commonly used for the back and sides. It’s known for its rich, lush, and complex sound with pronounced bass and sparkling treble. Rosewood adds depth and resonance to the guitar’s tone.

Maple

Maple is occasionally used for the back and sides. It provides a bright, clear, and well-defined sound. Maple can add clarity and sustain to the guitar’s tone, making it suitable for certain playing styles.

Walnut

Walnut is used for the back and sides, offering a balanced tone. It typically falls between the warm tone of mahogany and the bright tone of maple, making it versatile and adaptable to various musical genres.

Ovangkol

Ovangkol, a less common tonewood, offers a warm and articulate sound. It provides a balanced response across the frequency spectrum and can deliver both strong bass and clear treble notes.

Yamaha Classical Guitars FAQ

Rafsan Ahmed

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