Cordoba C5 vs C7 vs C9 vs C10 vs C12 Review

Which Classical Guitar is Best

Cordoba has been hand-crafting classical guitars since 1997. They combine the best of Spanish luthier traditions with modern improvements and materials. If you want to buy a guitar that offers excellent sound for the money you’ll spend, you won’t go wrong with one of theirs. Let’s take a look at five popular models to see which one is the best for you.

Cordoba C5 Acoustic Nylon String Classical Guitar with Gig Bag

Cordoba C5

Cordoba C5

If you’re just beginning to play classical guitar, the Cordoba C5 is hand-made especially for you. It’s part of the Iberia series, just like the C7 we’ll review below. At 39 inches long, it’s a full-size guitar with Savarez Cristal Corum High Tension 500CJ nylon strings. Those strings mean it has light action so you won’t need calloused fingers to enjoy playing it.

Although the C5 is the least expensive guitar out of the five in these reviews, it’s built with quality wood, not laminates. The solid Canadian cedar top is a material often found on classical guitars. The back and sides are made of mahogany, which gives this instrument power and rich tone.

The neck is also mahogany, while the fingerboard is durable rosewood. Mahogany helps transmit the energy from the strings right into the cedar top. The saddle is made from bone, and each saddle is unique to each guitar.

Inside the guitar you’ll find Spanish-style fan bracing, a method that lets the cedar top vibrate freely. With the combination of the fan bracing, the mahogany, and the cedar top, Cordoba makes sure the C5 sounds dynamic.

Besides the great sound you’ll hear, there little details that make the guitar beautiful to see. For one, it has Mother-of-Pearl inlays on frets 5, 7, and 9. The gold tuning machines have pearl inlays as well. The rosette around the sound hole is an inlaid mosaic, not a print. And the body of the guitar is finished in a polyurethane high gloss.

The C5 comes with a two-way truss rod that you can adjust with the included Allen wrench. The rod changes the amount of relief, or bow, in the guitar’s neck. You might need to do this if your climate is very different from the manufacturer’s. (They maintain their shop between 45 to 65% humidity, perfect for guitars.) Most adjustments are microscopic, less than 1/8-inch.

More features of the Cordoba C5 classical guitar:

  • Also available left-handed
  • Since each guitar is hand-made, visit a dealer or shop to replace a saddle or nut
  • Cordoba offers a 3-year warranty
  • Guitar comes with a gig bag for transport and storage

 

Cordoba C7 CD Acoustic Nylon String Classical Guitar

Cordoba C7

Cordoba C7

If you’re an intermediate-level player, you may prefer the C7 over the C5. While both are part of Cordoba’s Iberia series, the C7 has a key difference that gives it better sound. Although it has a solid Canadian cedar top like the C5, it has rosewood back and sides. The rosewood gives the guitar a brighter, warmer tone than the mahogany on the C5.

Inside the C7, you’ll find Spanish fan bracing just like on the C5. This style of bracing is common on acoustic classical guitars because it makes the guitar more responsive.Also like the C5, the C7 has nylon Savarez Cristal Corum strings and gold tuning machines. The solid mahogany neck helps transmit the action of the strings on the frets right down into the body of the guitar.

Cordoba guitars are made to sound good and look beautiful. The fingerboard and binding are made of rosewood, with mother of peal inlays on the 3, 5, 7, 9, and 12 frets. The rosette around the sound hole is an inlaid wooden mosaic. And the body of the guitar has a high gloss polyurethane finish.

The C7’s interior has a two-way truss rod that you can adjust with an Allen wrench. The rod changes the amount of bow, or curve, in the guitar’s neck. You might need to make a tiny adjustment to the rod if your climate is very different from the manufacturer’s. (They say they maintain their shop between 45 to 65% humidity, perfect for guitars.) Most adjustments are microscopic, less than 1/8-inch. Cordoba suggests visiting a dealer for help if you’re aren’t experienced in adjusting a truss rod.

More features of the Cordoba C7 classical guitar:

  • Since each guitar is hand-made and unique, visit a dealer or shop to replace either a saddle or nut—there are no drop-in replacements
  • Cordoba offers a 3-year warranty
  • Guitar comes with a gig bag for transport and storage

 

Cordoba C9 CD/MH Acoustic Nylon String Classical Guitar

Cordoba C9

Cordoba C9

While Cordoba C9 is part of the Luthier series, instead of the Iberia like the previous two guitars, it has some features in common with the C5. The top of the guitar is built from Canadian cedar and the neck, back, and sides are solid mahogany, not laminates. The bridge and fingerboard are made of rosewood. You may be wondering why this instrument is considered appropriate for concerts while the C5 is a learner’s guitar.

Part of the answer lies in the way the guitar is made. The Luthier series guitars are built with Spanish heel construction. This means that the top is affixed to the neck, then the sides are added, and finally the back is attached. The interior of the C9 features the same Spanish fan bracing seen in the C5 and C7. This type of build allows for dynamic sound with a balanced tone.

The rosette around the sound hole contains mother-of-pearl inlaid in a vintage-style pattern based on the famous Domingo Esteso style of the 1920s. The 5, 7, and 9 fret markers have pearloid inlays. The gold tuner pegs are perfect for tuning the Savarez Cristal Corum nylon strings.

If you want a classical guitar appropriate for performances but with a reasonable price tag, the C9 might be just what you want.

More features of the Cordoba C9 classical guitar:

  • Since there are no drop-in replacement parts, visit a dealer or shop to replace a saddle or nut
  • Cordoba offers a 3-year warranty
  • Comes with a polyfoam case for transport and storage

 

Cordoba C10 SP/IN Acoustic Nylon String Classical Guitar

Cordoba C10

Cordoba C10

The C10 is also part of Cordoba’s Luthier series. Instead of cedar, it has a solid European Spruce woodtop with Indian rosewood back and sides. The spruce and the rosewood together make for warm, bright music. Rosewood, in particular, offers a full-range frequency response, while the spruce is perfect for a clear sound with lots of power.

Like the other guitars above, the C10 has the Spanish fanpattern bracing on the inside. Andlike the C9 above, the C10 is made with Spanish heel construction, a superior method that lets the guitar vibrate as a one-piece whole.

The neck is made from pure African mahogany, a wood that carries the energy from the strings straight to the top surface of the guitar. The fingerboard is made of ebony with an Indian rosewood bridge. The gold floral tuning machines have ebony buttons that match the fingerboard. With these excellent, top quality parts, expert build, and clarity of sound, the C10 is considered a concert-level instrument for serious classical guitarists.

You may notice that the C10 has other features in common with the C5, C7, and C9 guitars. The inlaid elegant mother-of-pearl rosette around the sound hole is similar to the vintage design that appears on the C9. There are also pearloid inlays on frets 5, 7, and 9, and Savarez Cristal Corum nylon strings.

But the C10 is a cut above the other guitars we just reviewed. The C10 isn’t just a pretty instrument. As Cordoba says, this is an heirloom guitar to last you a lifetime.

More features of the Cordoba C10 classical guitar:

  • Since each guitar is hand-made, visit a dealer or shop to replace a saddle or nut
  • Cordoba offers a 3-year warranty
  • Comes with a polyfoam case for transport and storage

 

Cordoba C12 SP Acoustic Nylon String Modern Classical Guitar

Cordoba C12

Cordoba C12

We’ll wrap up these reviews with the C12, a top of the line, full-size, handmade classical guitar. It has significant differences from all the previous models, right down to the humidified archtop case that comes with it. To start, flip the guitar over and take a close look at the back. Sandwiched in the rosewood back is a flamed maple wedge. It’s beautiful, but it also has a purpose.

Maple, depending on its density, adds brightness to the guitar’s sound. Combine the maple with the European spruce top and the Indian rosewood back and sides and you’ll have an even better tone. Then, instead of Spanish fan bracing, the C12 has a lattice-braced top. Lattice bracing makes a guitar more sensitive to frequencies. It also makes it sound louder. When you play the C12, you don’t need an amplifier.

While the ebony fingerboard on the mahogany neck is pretty when matched with the gold and black tuning machines, it has a purpose, too. It’s raised so that it’s easier for the musician to play the upper frets. Similar to the C10, there are pearloid inlays on frets 5, 7, and 9, and Savarez Cristal Corum nylon strings. Of course, the body is finished with a high gloss polyurethane.

More features of the Cordoba C12 classical guitar:

  • Since each guitar is hand-made, there are no drop-in replacement parts, especially not the bone saddle and nut
  • Cordoba offers a 3-year warranty
  • Comes with a premium humidified hard case with plush interior for transport and storage
  • Right-handed only

 

Recommendation

If you are a beginning guitarist and want a full-size classical guitar made from real wood, not laminates, take a look at either the C5 or C7 in the Iberia series. While the C7 is generally recommended for intermediate players, its price isn’t out of reach for most beginners. The main advantage of the C5, however, is that it works for both right and left-handed players.

If you’re an intermediate-level guitarist looking for a better instrument, either the C7 or C9 would be a step up from the majority of beginner guitars. The C9 is great for performances, solo or in a group. It also comes with a better case.

If you’re an advanced classical guitarist, your choices depend on your budget and the quality of sound you want. The high-end C12 is much less expensive than similar guitars from other brands but it has excellent clarity of sound and lots of power. It also comes with a humidified hard case, perfect for keeping it in top condition. The C10 has a warmer, richer sound than the C12 and its price tag is significantly smaller.

Click here to purchase Cordoba C5 on Amazon.com!

 

Click here to purchase Cordoba C7 on Amazon.com!

 

Click here to purchase Cordoba C9 on Amazon.com!

 

Click here to purchase Cordoba C10 on Amazon.com!

 

Click here to purchase Cordoba C12 on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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