Why would I want to buy a vintage classical guitar?
The top ten reasons:
Reason 10. You'll save a tree, or at least part of a tree, assuming that's important to you. If it's not important to you, then skip this reason.
Reason 9. In general, most companies have figured out how to make things cheaper over the past 20-30 years and cheaper is not necessarily better for the end user...you.
Reason 8. The instrument is seasoned. In other words, if it was gonna develop a huge crack in the top, it would have already done so. And generally, older acoustic instruments sound better because they've loosened up.
Reason 7. More bang for the buck. To get an equivalent new guitar would cost at least 2-3x more.
Reason 6. Playing a musical instrument is good for you. Unless you're a really, really crappy musician - then it might not be so good. Why? Because your significant other will whack you over the head with it while you're sleeping. In that case it would still be better to have a guitar than a piano.
Reason 5. It's got character, patina, personality or whatever else you want to call it to anthropomorphize it.
Reason 4. You can stop wasting time online reading silly FAQs and improve yourself by learning how to play a a musical instrument.
Reason 3. It's kinda like recycling but you're on the receiving end of the recycled product rather than the trashing end.
Reason 2. Since you've wasted time reading this far you probably need a more constructive way to spend your time...like playing a guitar.
Reason 1. You NEED a classical guitar to be cool.

 

Are these high-end guitars?
You're kidding, right? These are not high-end guitars. These are not mid-range guitars (maybe low mid-range). These are the low-end (with a couple exceptions as noted) of the classical guitar spectrum and they are priced accordingly. If you're a professional classical guitarist (or think you are), these wouldn't even qualify as a travel/beach guitar but then again, professional classical guitar players play instruments worth about 20-50x as expensive as these. If you're a beginner and not sure if you're going to like playing classical guitar, these are the perfect guitar. If you're an advancing beginning classical guitarist and want an extra guitar you don't want to worry about, these are perfect. If you're buying a guitar for your bratty kid (or significant other) who hasn't managed to finish anything he or she started, these are perfect - you can even make up a story about it being owned by some famous classical guitarist that no one has ever heard about. If you're a collector, (does anyone actually collect classical guitars?) these are perfect. If you really want (and can afford) a high-end guitar, go here or here .

 

What if I find out I'm really crappy at playing classical guitar?
Did you think playing a classical was easy? First off, stop whining about it and then practice. And practice some more. And then practice some more. If you're new to music, you're gonna have to put in at least 5 hours (this is the absolute minimum - realistically, plan on twice the time) a week to see any results. If you're new to classical guitar and are a decent musician, put in at least 2 or 3 hours (here again, an absolute minimum unless you're a virtuoso musician) a week. Or sell the guitar. Fortunately with a vintage classical, you can probably get the $ out of it that you put in it (assuming you don't trash it). The great thing about playing music is that if you keep practicing, eventually the instrument sucks you in and then you're hooked, you'll want to play all the time and you'll stop whining and being a pain in the ass to all the people around you.

 

Who played the crappy samples?
I did. Get over it. At least be content to know that you'll sound better - probably a lot better. And for what it's worth, I'm a better piano player than guitar player - but at least I try.

 

I can't get the samples to play?
And you expect us to do something about it? Well, you're probably using Internet Explorer, right? You might want to try a real browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera). If you're using a real browser and are still having trouble, you can download the MP3 - right click the link and save link as. A word of warning before you waste the time downloading the MP3s, I suck at playing guitar and I recorded all the samples.

 

My classical guitar won't stay in tune, what's wrong with it?
Nothing, it's a classical guitar - a living, breathing beast. It's made of thin sheets of wood that contract or expand with differences in temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, sun spots, alignment of the planets...you get the picture. Some wag once said that classical guitarists spend half their time tuning their guitars and the other half playing out of tune. Although it's not quite that bad, sometimes it seems that may be the case. I remember seeing a video of Segovia tweaking his tuning mid-performance. You can try different tuning machines but it may not make a difference. You should make sure that the strings are firmly attached at both ends. And when putting on new strings, it can take a couple days for them to settle into place. Other than that, learn how to tune your guitar - it'll become second nature rather quickly. Our tuning technique is to use an A tuning fork for the 5th string and match the others to it. If, however, the guitar's really out of whack or someone lost the tuning fork, then we fall back to tuning from an in-tune piano. What about electronic tuners? Eh, we've tried 'em - the tuning fork technique works better and with the electronic tuner you can't as easily hear as you tune out the disharmony (an example with a piano - see step 2 and listen to the recording).

 

Do you recommend any particular brand of strings, polish, cleaners, etc?
Our sorta default string is the D’Addario Pro Arté normal tension,
silverplated wound clear nylon, EJ45. They have a good sound, good feel, are reasonably priced and a good baseline for string experimentation. Depending on the personality of the guitar, we also use Augustines or Gallis - both very nice. We get our strings at Strings by Mail - good selection, price, service and reasonable shipping. For cleaning/polishing, depending on the job, we use Virtuoso Cleaner or Polish, Guitar Finish Restorer Plus or Dr. Duck's Ax Wax. For serious cleaning of the fretboard, we use #0000 steel wool and VM & P (Varnish Maker's & Painters) Naphtha. We originally used boiled linseed oil to oil the fretboard but that stuff has a limited shelf life and develops a pretty nasty stank - eeewww - anyway, now we use Dr. Duck's - much nicer smell and works better. Oh, and we use microfiber polishing cloths.

 

Do you offer a warranty?
In a word, no.

 

Do you accept returns?
If you really, really hate a guitar you bought from us, well, we will take it back (notify us within 6 days of receipt) and send you a refund but ya gotta pay return shipping and we're gonna dock you a 40% PITA (pain in the ass) fee assuming the guitar is returned in the same condition that it left us (remember, we have lots of pictures). In other words, if you really don't like it, you're better off reselling it on Ebay or giving it to your arrogant, egotistical, but much more talented, friend or relative - yeah, you know who we're talking about.

 

Do you have any suggestions for learning classical guitar?
Yes. Practice. A lot.

Sometimes you need motivation. The best way to motivate yourself is to buy lots of guitars and arrange them in your space so you can't walk without tripping over one - you'll have to pick one up. Then you may as well play it. Do this often enough and you'll learn classical guitar.

Of course, there are lots of books out there. My current list in no particular order: Guitar Lessons Books 1-3, Sagreras (a good beginner book); Diatonic Major and Minor Scales, Segovia (oh yeah, this is a fun one); Classical Guitar Pedagogy, Glise (more of a reference book); Pumping Nylon, Tennant (technique); Kitharologus, Iznaola (technique); 100 Graded Classical Guitar Studies, Noad (pretty good selection of differing levels of pieces); 25 Melodic and Progressive Studies - Carcassi, Henry (looks good but haven't used yet); Beatles for Classical Guitar, Beekman (more difficult than it looks but a great book); Parkening Plays Bach, Parkening (challenging); 12 Songs for Guitar, Takemitsu (yikes!).

There are also a lot of sites that have public domain classical guitar music. You'll have to judge for yourself if you think the transcriptions are accurate or appropriate for your skill level. A few possibilities - Yates, Eriksson, huge list of sites

And there are some good instructional websites, one of the better ones I've seen - learnclassicalguitar.com

But sometimes you need inspiration. There are lots of videos on YouTube, ranging in performance quality from eh? (as in "eh, what were they thinking?") to pretty damn good to utterly amazing. If you don't want to try classical guitar after watching Aussel, then you're wasting your time here.

And you can always find a teacher. But to learn any instrument, as in trying to achieve anything worthwhile, you gotta want it. A teacher can help to push and guide you along but if you're not self-motivated, no teacher can force you to play unless, of course, you're into that sort of thing.

 

Can I use your photos for my archive of classical guitars?

Yes, you may use our photos for any archive or online museum or historical info and so on - it'd be nice if you'd give us credit. Any other use? Contact us.