The 5 Best Classical & Nylon String Guitars For Under $500

There are a lot of different factors that go into finding the best classical guitar for you, and budget is definitely one of them. If your budget is specifically limited to $500, you’re in luck because there are fantastic options out there from reputable brands like Yamaha and Cordoba that will fit right into your price range. Here are some of the best nylon-string and classical guitars for under $500 you can get your hands on:

Yamaha CG102

Yamaha is one of the best instrument-makers of all time; they are a Japanese brand that has made sorts of outstanding instruments for over a hundred years, and their guitars are no exception. The Yamaha CG102 is a reliable choice for anyone looking for a quality classical guitar on a budget. Here are some of the main features:

  • Top: Spruce
  • Back and sides: Rosewood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Nut width: 52mm
  • Scale Length: 25.6″

This guitar has a great sound for the price, thanks to the combination of its spruce top and rosewood body, which are very resonant woods that help give the Yamaha CG102 a full, rich tone. Because of its tonal qualities, you’ll find that cedar is one of the most popular woods used on classical guitars, and this guide certainly reflects this.

Yamaha CG102 Classical Guitar, Spruce Top, Natural
  • Nylon Strings
  • Spruce Top w/Nato Back and Sides
  • Upgraded Tuners
  • Natural Color

Cordoba C5 CD

The Cordoba C5 CD is a solid option for individuals looking for a full-sized classical guitar for under $500. Cordoba is one of the most famous manufacturers of nylon string guitars for people of all skill levels, and I think they are the best at what they do. The Cordoba C5 consists of:

  • Top: Solid Cedar
  • Back and sides: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Nut width: 43mm
  • Scale length: 25.6″

Since the C5 is one of Cordoba’s most popular models, and understandably so, you can also find different variations of it, including a spruce version as well as an acoustic-electric one that includes a cutaway. However, if you’re looking for something like that, I have some other recommendations for those kinds of nylon-string guitars later in this guide. It’s also worth considering that if you can afford to be more flexible with your budget and are willing to spend a little more, the Cordoba C7 is a wonderful guitar that typically goes for under $600.

Sale
Cordoba C5 CD Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Iberia Series
  • PERFECT ENTRY LEVEL GUITAR: Ideal for aspiring classical guitarists, as well as anyone looking for the warm sound of nylon strings and comfortable playability
  • POWERFUL TONE: One of Córdoba’s flagship models, the C5 is perfect as a first nylon-string guitar, this lightweight model is built with a solid Cedar top and mahogany back and sides to produce a clear, powerful tone with beautiful sustain
  • BEGINNER FRIENDLY NYLON STRINGS: Lightweight and comfortable to play, nylon strings are much softer than steel strings, ideal for beginners
  • 52mm nut width
  • Savarez Cristal Corum strings in High Tension, 500CJ

Takamine GC5-NAT

Another excellent authentic classical guitar you can get on a budget is the Takamine GC5, another well-known Japanese brand that’s more confined to making acoustic guitars than Yamaha’s broad scope. The Takamine GC5 is made from:

  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and sides: Black Walnut
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Laurel
  • Nut width: 50.8mm
  • Scale length: 25.6″

This Takamine guitar is one of the best classical guitars for under $500 because it has a spruce top, which is an excellent wood for giving guitars a bright, clear tone that is sometimes described as “bell-like.” However, make no mistake, this guitar can also excel in the bass and mid-range frequencies, and this instrument, in particular, sounds quite deep and rich.

Takamine GC5-NAT Classical Guitar, Natural
  • The GC5 is an elegant classical guitar that features deluxe cosmetic appointments, solid-top construction and a warm, resonant sound that will bring out the best in your music
  • An ideal choice for players looking for a refined and well-balanced classical guitar, the GC5 combines a fan-braced solid spruce top with rosewood back and sides to produce all of the rich, nylon-string tone players expect from a Takamine classical guitar
  • The comfortable mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability, while the dovetail neck joint provides superior wood-to-wood contact for better resonance and excellent structural stability
  • Other great features include a beautiful inlaid mosaic rosette, synthetic bone nut and bridge saddle, rosewood head cap, gold tuners with white pearl buttons and a luxurious gloss finish

Fender CN-140SCE

Unlike the previous guitars, the Fender CN-140SCE isn’t actually a traditional classical guitar; instead, it’s an acoustic-electric nylon-string guitar with a nice cutaway. These features technically make it a different instrument than a true classical guitar, but it mostly feels and functions the same. Here’s what you should know about this specific instrument:

  • Top: Solid Cedar
  • Back and sides: Laminated Ovangkol
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Walnut
  • Nut width: 43mm
  • Scale length: 25.3″

If you’re not a classical guitar purist and merely want a gorgeous nylon-string guitar you can practice with, you’ll get a ton of enjoyment from this instrument, especially if you enjoy flamenco guitar. A ton of people will also benefit from this guitar’s electric aspect since classical guitars aren’t the loudest instruments out there, and the Fishman preamp is super nice for controlling the EQ of your sound. I think this is a huge benefit to one of these types of guitars. Being under $500, this acoustic-electric is a really good value, in my opinion, especially since it comes with a case!

Sale
Fender CN-140SCE Thinline Concert Nylon String Acoustic Guitar, with 2-Year Warranty, Natural, with Case
  • Thinline concert body with cutaway
  • Solid cedar top with classical fan bracing
  • Ovangkol back and sides
  • Thinner, easy-to-play neck with rolled fingerboard edges
  • Fishman Classic Design pickup/preamp

Ibanez GA34STCE-NT

Ibanez is yet another world-famous Japanese brand that’s more commonly known for its electric guitars, but they are also known for making excellent and affordable nylon-string guitars, too. Like the Fender, this is an acoustic-electric with a cutaway, allowing you to easily access the frets beyond the 12th one without the body getting in the way. This Ibanez acoustic-electric nylon-string guitar features:

  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back and sides: Ovangkol
  • Neck: Okoume
  • Fingerboard: Purpleheart
  • Nut width: 43mm
  • Scale length: 25.6″

This Ibanez nylon-string guitar is a bit more affordable than the Fender but still sounds impressive, especially since you can still control the bass, mids, treble, and volume. The built-in tuner is a nice touch too! If you’re specifically looking for a spruce-top guitar, give this one a closer look.

Ibanez GA34STCE-NT GIO Series Classical Guitar – HH Infinity R – Black Night
  • The GA34STCE is a GA Series classical electro-acoustic guitar from the worlds leading guitar brand, Ibanez.
  • Style and Substance: Featuring a thinline cutaway classical body with a purpleheart fretboard for comfort and playability. Spruce top with Ovangkoi back and sides for easy hand movement and great tone.
  • Ideal for beginner & intermediate / Ibanez design every guitar, affordable or professional – with sound quality, comfort, style and ease of use in mind. Creating music at any level inspires passion.

Conclusion

There you have it – here is an excellent group of the best classical guitars for under $500 that you’re sure to love. Although these are primarily full-sized guitars, I know that these brands offer shorter-scaled instruments that are more suitable for beginners with smaller hands.

That being said, if you’re a beginner, intermediate, or even an experienced adult who is budget-conscious and looking for a lovely nylon-string guitar, you can’t go wrong with either. To give you a quick recap of the best classical and nylon string guitars under $500, you have the following:

  • Yamaha CG182C
  • Cordoba C5 CD
  • Takamine GC5-NAT
  • Fender CN-140SCE
  • Ibanez GA34STCE-NT

Regardless if you’re a cedar or spruce lover or a traditionalist versus someone looking for something more modern, you can find an instrument bound to suit your preferences.

In the event that you don’t choose one of these exact instruments, I hope that this guide leads you to the perfect one for you. There are a lot of beautiful classical guitars out there; it’s hard to be limited to just a handful of them – you can also check out these classical guitars for under $1000 if you have the budget for something even better.

Just be sure to store them properly, such as in a classical guitar case with a humidifier, and do routine maintenance; by doing so, any guitar should serve you for a very long time.

If this is your first nylon or classical guitar, don’t forget to pick up some accessories that you’ll need – I’ve compiled a list of essential classical guitar accessories you should look into that will definitely make your life easier and help you be a better player.

You may also want to consider looking into a beginner’s classical guitar method if you haven’t already; these will show you the ropes and systematically introduce you to new techniques and musical pieces that are designed to keep you improving.