Play Classical Guitar - Learn Classical Guitar
George Harrison Guitar By Ramirez
Learn to Play Classical Guitar
The Classical Guitar is one of the oldest instruments, it developed from the stringed instruments of Africa and Arabia, gradually being refined and improved to its current form by the great Spanish guitarists of the 19th Century. Most notable among these are Torres (Player and Luthier) and Jose Ramirez III (Luthier).
The instrument is stringed from bass E to high E, the strings being E, A, D, G , B and E as seen from left to right on the image. You thread the strings through the bridge and wrap the bottom end under the string then under and over it for 3 turns, the final 1 inch to 1.5 inches is pulled tight and laid along the bottom of the bridge. The next string is inserted through the bridge and its end is wrapped over the loose end of the previous string in order to hold it in place. The top end is passed over the nut and pushed through the hole in the machine head, loop the end around the string and tighten the machine head, use the string to overlap the loose end as you wind, the skill is in not over tightening initially. The string should need a further 3 or 4 full turns to tighten, Once tightened the loose end is always cut off on Classical Guitars, for appearances sake. You string from base E to top E and always replace all strings at once, if one is broken, this is due to the brightness of the string changing with wear and time. The tone of the instrument will not be balanced if you do not change all strings together. You should have fun learning to play your classical guitar
All images from Amazon
Playing Classical Guitar
If you are not sure which instrument is best for you, I suggest that all guitarists should begin with a Classical Guitar. If you can Play Classical Guitar you can play any guitar!
The Classical Guitar is ergonomic to play, if sat correctly on a square backed chair, and using a footstool for the left foot. The left arm and hand are totally free to move up and down the instruments neck. The Classical position is easy on the body, but like any other repetitive task you should get up and move around periodically, to avoid cramping and repetitive stress injuries.
In order to play Classical Guitar you will need a guitar, a case, a footstool, spare strings, an instruction book, music, a tuner, a metronome, a guitar stand and a music stand. I would advise you to find a good instructor, but you could also learn on-line, there are many free lessons on You Tube, and both sheet music and tabs can also be found on the web often very cheap or free. If you get music for free it should be in the public domain, the exact timing of this depends on the copyright laws in your country.
For the entertainment of those who have read this far I have included a video of Per-Olov Kindgren playing Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven on the Classical Guitar. Beautiful! If you are interested in the correct playing position I suggest watching videos of great guitarists such as John Williams, Andres Segovia and/or Julian Bream.
I was lucky enough to get sat so close to John Williams as a schoolboy at a concert in St Albans Abbey, that I could reach out and touch him. He was the one that got me started!
Buying a Classical Guitar
Selecting the right Classical Guitar is important, it has to sound right and it has to feel right, and a lot of this is personal preference. If you have friends or parents that play then getting advice is easy, you should ask them to allow you to feel and practice a few notes on theirs. If this is not an option for you, find a good music shop in your nearest city, town or village go in and ask to try some of the instruments, and try to get the feel of them. The store will usually have staff members that can play, if you are not accomplished enough, or are too embarrassed. Once you have got an idea about the instrument that you think suits you then make a note of the make and model and check with other musicians you know to see what they think of them from experience. You could always leave me a note in the comments section if you would like my opinion.
Many of the instruments that I have listed below are good quality, but fairly inexpensive models that are currently being offered at reasonable prices by Amazon, or for auction on eBay, so it is a good idea to bookmark this page.
In some music stores the instruments are handled and played by many people before they are sold. The advantage of buying them here is that the instrument you get will be new and unused, it will be delivered direct to your home, plus it is also backed by Amazon's warranty so you can return it if you are not satisfied.
Comparison Of CG40 to CG111C Yamaha Guitars
Comparison of the sounds of a CG40 and a CG111C This clearly shows the difference between a good low priced Classical Guitar and a better (mid range) Classical Guitar. The sound and timbre of the music improves with the better wood and material. Could you tell? Like most things you get what you pay for. The CG40 is still an excellent first choice for the young guitarist, and had you not heard them back to back its tone would be perfectly acceptable.
If you really want better tone then the more expensive the guitar, in general, the better the tone will be. Yamaha guitars are excellent, as their quality control is second to none. The elite guitarists still prefer handmade instruments from top quality luthiers, but these guitars are variable, and are to be advised only if you have a really good ear, and are wanting a guitar built to suit your style of playing. I would not advise any guitarist to go this route until they have mastered the instrument, and/or if the money is no object to them.
Beginner to Intermediate Classical Guitars from Amazon
This is a selection of good and very reasonably priced Classical Guitars from Amazon, the 1/2 size is for children from 4 to 8 and the 3/4 from 8 to 12 (approx) anyone else should use a full size Classical Guitar. This selection is aimed at the beginner and those on a limited budget. The next section is guitars for the more serious and gifted players.
Children's Classical Guitars
It is better for children to be given real instruments to play rather than toy ones that do not make music. Children are intelligent and will know the difference. The toy which often costs as much or more will quickly get discarded when the child finds it can not make real music.
If you give a child the gift of a real small instrument they may amaze you like the brothers Gibb who started young and became the Bee Gees!
The Amigo is a real cut down guitar to allow children to learn to play on an instrument suited to their small hands and arms.
Half Size Guitars
The smaller guitars come as either 1/2 size or 3/4 size. The 1/2 is suitable for children as young as 5 and the 3/4 for around 8 or 9 some will prefer this size even as adults. Note the size does not matter they are real instruments, but they do require strings of the correct size.
The Hohner is a children's guitar that is 1/2 of the size of a full size and some petite people even find these easier to play than a full size as adults.
Left Handed Guitars
Left Handers would find the strings to be in the reverse sequence once they turn it around to play what for them is the more normal stance. Many learn to play right handed, but there are instruments designed to be strung left handed.
The bridge height often needs to be adjusted as well as the order of stringing, and the nuts are usually made wider for the Bass strings than the Treble so if a guitar is re-strung then these would need to be reversed too.
The Stagg is a Left handed model that will save having to re-string a right handed model to suit the left handed player. Since it was designed this way you will not have to worry about whether the bridge can be reversed or not, which can be an issue with some models of other makes of guitar.
Intermediate to Advanced Guitars from Amazon
Better guitars are made with stiffer sides and backs, this entails the use of harder woods which reflects more of the sound back towards the sound hole at the front. The face board should be made of a softer more bendy wood as this is going to act like the cone in a loudspeaker and pass the sound out to your audience in front of you. The finer quality instruments are made of more expensive harder woods typically mahogany, rosewood, ebony for the fretboard etc. The face board is usually softer spruce and cedar are common. You should be looking for solid wood and fine quality craftsmanship, in this regard it is hard to beat Yamaha who have become very skilled in making quality instruments..
More Up Market Yamaha Guitar
Classical Instruments most often use Spruce for the front, however the Ramirez firm started using Cedar and this has fast become a popular alternative. The Cedar develops its maturity faster than Spruce which takes longer to mellow. Many players use both choosing the sound they feel best suits the feel of the music.
This model is Yamaha's 201 with a spruce front, the spruce will gradually yellow/darken up and may end as almost orange, this is a feature of the wood and adds to its beauty. A really good value guitar for the money.
Yamaha 151S Guitar
Yamaha labels the same model guitars with a number in this case 151S so the guitar will have a spruce top if you want a Cedar top look for the 151C once on Amazon.
Acoustic Electric With Cutaway
This guitar is a Classical Guitar with cutaway by Yamaha it has a cutaway to allow a higher left hand position (musically speaking). It also has a pickup and can be amplified.
For those musicians that prefer an electric instrument Yamaha make this fine cutaway Classical Guitar this is ideal for the solo performer or those guitarists that play in an ensemble where the guitars natural voicing will not be sufficient.
Professional Standard Classical Guitars From Amazon
There are certain guitar makers, Ramirez is one of the best, that have standards above and beyond the norm. I have selected a few of the top models for the truly professional players out there.
The Famous Ramirez 4NE
This model guitar was introduced by Jose Ramirez III who was considered to be one of the best luthiers ever.
This is the guitar that was designed by Jose Ramirez IV who first used the asymmetrical fan for the top face. It is their best selling model.
The Collectible Anniversary Series By Ramirez
The 125 anos is becoming scarce it celebrated 125 years of Ramirez guitar building and was offered at a great price as a limited 125 only release. New ones are hard to get now. If it is not available you may be able to find one on eBay.
The 125 anniversary guitar is based on the 4E design of Jose Ramirez IV and is much better value for the purchaser.
The Ramirez 2NE
Another great Ramirez model for the discerning player. The 2NE is always available if production is up to demand!
Ramirez make many of today's top Classical Guitars and this is one of their great value models.
Ramirez Cutaway Guitar
This is a Ramirez made with a cutaway that lets the player reach the higher frets on the treble strings. Some argue that these instruments lose tone as a result. They usually come with pre-amplifiers so they can be played plugged in as a consequence.
For those who want to have the added feature of a built in preamplifier ready for the professional performer.
The Ramirez George Harrison
So impressed was he with Ramirez guitars George Harrison commissioned one. You can but an identical one to his (same materials) from Ramirez here.
Ramirez had such a Global reputation for excellence that George Harrison commissioned a guitar from them. You too can have the same model.
Great Bargains on Guitars and equipment from eBay
It is possible to get the guitar you really want at a great price from eBay, of course there is a higher risk it may not be perfect, but many minor blemishes can be easily fixed and you can get much more for the money.