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5 BEST Classical Guitars For Bossa Nova (All Budgets)

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5 best classical guitars for bossa nova title and picture showing a classical guitar

Bossa Nova’s soulful melodies and intricate rhythms demand a guitar that resonates with its essence. As a guitarist who has strummed countless chords and navigated numerous fretboards, I can tell you that finding the right guitar is crucial.

Here’s my take on the best classical guitars for bossa nova – some of my favorite classical guitars of all time.

Let’s start with a list of guitars that I’ll be mentioning today.

Best Classical Guitars For Bossa Nova – List

GuitarAmazonThomann
Cordoba GK StudioSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Cordoba F7 Flamenco IberiaSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Taylor 312CE-NSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Alhambra Premier Pro MadagascarSee on Thomann
Hanika Flamenco ZFSee on Thomann

Cordoba GK Studio

Why it stands out:

  • Pickup system: Fishman, for crystal-clear amplification.
  • Cutaway Design: Perfect for reaching those higher notes with ease.
  • Top: Solid spruce, offering a crisp, articulate sound.
  • Back & Sides: Laminated cypress, for a bright and resonant tone.
  • Fretboard: Rosewood, smooth and comfortable.

Out of personal experience, the Cordoba GK Studio is a gem for any Bossa Nova enthusiast. Its Fishman pickup system captures the guitar’s authentic sound, vital for live performances or recording sessions.

The solid spruce top combined with laminated cypress back and sides produces a sound that’s not just bright but also has depth – a must for the nuanced melodies of Bossa Nova.

The rosewood fretboard is a delight under your fingertips. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned guitarist, the playability of this guitar is remarkable.

Its cutaway design is not just aesthetically pleasing but also functionally brilliant, allowing easy access to the upper frets – a boon for intricate Bossa Nova melodies.

Official site of manufacturer: Cordoba Guitars.


Cordoba F7 Flamenco Iberia

Why it shines:

  • Top: Solid spruce, for a vibrant, energetic tone.
  • Back & Sides: Laminated cypress, enhancing the guitar’s brightness.
  • Fretboard: Rosewood, offering a familiar feel.
  • Nut width: 52 mm, providing a bit more room between strings.

The Cordoba F7 Flamenco Iberia is a nod to traditional Flamenco guitars but stands out in the Bossa Nova scene. Its solid spruce top is key to its lively sound, something that Bossa Nova guitarists will appreciate for those rhythmic, pulsating beats.

The laminated cypress back and sides add to this guitar’s brightness, making it perfect for cutting through a mix or standing out in a solo performance.

The F7’s playability is noteworthy. Its rosewood fretboard is smooth, and the slightly wider nut width (52 mm) is a blessing, especially for those with larger fingers or those who appreciate a bit more spacing for intricate fingerpicking.

Official site of manufacturer: Cordoba Guitars.


If you’re a college student and you’re looking for a classical guitar, you may also want to check out my article about the BEST guitars of this type for students.


Taylor 312CE-N

Key features:

  • Design: Grand Concert with cutaway, ideal for intimate settings.
  • Top: Solid sitka spruce, producing a rich, full-bodied sound.
  • Back & Sides: Solid sapeli, adding warmth to the guitar’s tone.
  • Fretboard: Ebony, known for its smooth playability and crisp response.

Taylor guitars have a reputation for their exceptional quality, and the 312CE-N is no exception. This model is a masterpiece for those who indulge in the subtleties of Bossa Nova.

The grand concert design with a cutaway is a perfect fit for the genre, providing a comfortable playing experience and easy access to higher notes.

The solid sitka spruce top is a big player in this guitar’s sound profile, offering clarity and resonance that’s ideal for the nuanced dynamics of Bossa Nova.

Solid sapeli back and sides complement this, adding warmth and depth. The ebony fretboard is not just a visual treat but also a joy to play on, providing a responsive and tactile experience.

Pickups and Extras:

  • Pickups: Taylor Expression System – Nylon, delivering natural and dynamic amplified sound.
  • Extras: Italian Acrylic Dot fretboard inlays, black binding, and a deluxe case.

As someone who’s played various guitars, I can vouch for the 312CE-N’s versatility. It’s not just a Bossa Nova guitar; it’s a guitar that will cater to a wide range of styles while maintaining its character.

Official site of manufacturer: Taylor Guitars.


Alhambra Premier Pro Madagascar

Why it’s a top pick:

  • Top: AAA solid cedar, providing a warm, mellow tone.
  • Back and Sides: Solid Madagascar rosewood, for a rich, complex sound.
  • Fretboard and Bridge: Ebony, ensuring durability and sustain.

The Alhambra Premier Pro Madagascar is like a fine wine in the world of classical guitars. Its AAA solid cedar top delivers a warmth and mellowness that’s hard to beat, perfect for the expressive tones of Bossa Nova.

The solid Madagascar rosewood back and sides are not just visually stunning but also contribute to a rich, complex sound.

  • Neck Profile: Ergoneck, designed for comfort.
  • Machine Heads: Schaller Grand Tune Classic Hauser, offering precise tuning.

This guitar is a testament to Alhambra’s craftsmanship. The ergoneck profile is a standout feature, offering unparalleled comfort during long playing sessions. The Schaller Grand Tune Classic Hauser machine heads ensure your guitar stays in tune, no matter how passionately you play.

Official site of manufacturer: Alhambra Guitars.


Hanika Flamenco ZF

Notable Features:

  • Top: Solid spruce with lattice technique, enhancing projection and clarity.
  • Back and Sides: Handpicked cypress, for a bright, responsive sound.
  • Fretboard: Grenadilla, offering exceptional playability.

Hanika’s Flamenco ZF is a marvel of German engineering and craftsmanship. The solid spruce top with lattice technique not only looks exquisite but also enhances the guitar’s projection and clarity – crucial for the intricate melodies of Bossa Nova.

The handpicked cypress back and sides add a bright and responsive character to the guitar.

  • Neck: Cedro, known for its stability and lightweight nature.
  • Machine Heads: Rubner R2-SE, providing reliable and precise tuning.
  • Bridge: Flamenco invert bridge made of Indian rosewood, enhancing the string vibration transfer.

The detailing on the Hanika Flamenco ZF speaks volumes about its quality. The solid ebony headstock is not just about aesthetics; it adds to the guitar’s overall sustain. The top and back binding in rosewood not only secure the guitar but also add a touch of elegance.

Special Features:

  • Finish: Body with high gloss lacquer and top with shellac high gloss finish, offering a striking look.
  • Made in Germany: Signifying quality craftsmanship.
  • Case Included: A handy addition for the traveling musician.

From my experience, a guitar’s build and finish can greatly impact its sound and playability. The Hanika Flamenco ZF, with its meticulous construction and beautiful finish, is a testament to that.

It’s a guitar that not only looks stunning but also delivers in terms of sound quality and playability, making it a fantastic choice for Bossa Nova.

Official site of manufacturer: Hanika Guitars.

Best Classical Guitars For Bossa Nova – Comparison

FeatureCordoba GK StudioCordoba F7Taylor 312CE-NAlhambra Premier ProHanika Flamenco ZF
Top MaterialSolid SpruceSolid SpruceSolid Sitka SpruceAAA Solid CedarSolid Spruce with Lattice
Back & SidesLaminated CypressLaminated CypressSolid SapeliSolid Madagascar RosewoodHandpicked Cypress
Fretboard MaterialRosewoodRosewoodEbonyEbonyGrenadilla
Scale Length650 mm650 mm648 mm650 mm650 mm
Nut Width50 mm52 mm47.6 mm52 mm52 mm
Machine HeadsGold-platedGold-platedTaylor Expression System – NylonSchaller Grand Tune Classic HauserRubner R2-SE
CutawayYesNoYesNoNo
Pickup SystemFishmanNoneTaylor Expression System – NylonNoneNone
ColorNaturalNaturalNaturalNatural High GlossNatural with High Gloss Finish
ExtrasItalian Acrylic Dot Inlays,Ergoneck Neck Profile,Solid Ebony Headstock,
Black Binding, Deluxe CaseNitrocellulose Varnish Top, CaseRosewood Binding, Shellac Finish

Which One Would I Get?

young bossa nova guitarist

When it comes down to making a choice among these fantastic guitars, my heart leans towards the Taylor 312CE-N. I have a long-standing love affair with Taylor guitars, and this model, in particular, resonates with me on multiple levels.

Taylor’s reputation for crafting exquisite guitars isn’t just about their aesthetics; it’s about the exceptional sound quality and playability they offer.

The Taylor 312CE-N stands out for its blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern features. The grand concert design with a cutaway is perfect for the intimate yet expressive nature of Bossa Nova.

The solid Sitka spruce top and solid sapeli back and sides create a sound profile that’s rich, full-bodied, and yet perfectly balanced – ideal for the nuanced rhythms and harmonies of Bossa Nova.

What truly seals the deal for me is the Taylor Expression System – Nylon. This pickup system captures the guitar’s natural acoustic sound with incredible fidelity, making it an excellent choice for both live performances and studio recordings.

Furthermore, being a USA-made guitar, it assures quality and durability, which is crucial for an investment in such an instrument.

In summary, the Taylor 312CE-N isn’t just a guitar; it’s a companion for the musical journey, especially for a style as soulful and intricate as Bossa Nova.

But if you’re on a VERY tight budget, you can always check out the Harley Benton CG200 & CG300. These are extremely cheap.

Its superior sound quality, combined with my personal preference for Taylor guitars, makes it my top choice among these exceptional instruments.

FAQ

old man playing bossa nova guitar
How important is the type of wood in a Bossa Nova guitar?

The type of wood plays a crucial role in shaping the guitar’s sound. For Bossa Nova, spruce or cedar tops are popular for their bright and warm tones, respectively. The choice of wood for the back and sides, like rosewood or mahogany, also contributes significantly to the overall tonal quality, offering richness and depth.

What are the key features to look for in a Bossa Nova guitar?

Key features include a responsive top wood for clarity and warmth, a comfortable neck profile for ease of playing, and a well-balanced sound that suits the nuanced rhythms of Bossa Nova. Additionally, the guitar should have a good string action and playability to facilitate complex fingerpicking patterns.

Do I need a nylon-string or steel-string guitar for Bossa Nova?

Bossa Nova is traditionally played on nylon-string classical guitars. Nylon strings offer the soft, mellow tones and subtle nuances ideal for this genre. While you can play Bossa Nova on a steel-string guitar, it will have a different sound and feel.

Is a cutaway design beneficial for playing Bossa Nova?

A cutaway design can be beneficial, especially for playing higher notes on the fretboard, which is common in Bossa Nova music. However, this is a matter of personal preference and playing style.

How does the size and shape of the guitar affect Bossa Nova playing?

The size and shape can influence the guitar’s sound and playability. Smaller-bodied guitars, like concert or grand concert models, often provide a more focused sound and are easier to handle, which can be advantageous for the intricate playing style of Bossa Nova.

Can I use an electric-acoustic guitar for Bossa Nova?

Yes, an electric-acoustic guitar can be used for Bossa Nova, especially in a band setting or when amplification is needed. Ensure the guitar has a good acoustic tone and a pickup system that accurately captures the nuances of Bossa Nova.

Conclusion

Remember, the ‘best’ guitar is a subjective choice, deeply intertwined with your playing style, preferences, and the particular nuances of the music you wish to create.

I’m sure that some of you will disagree with me that these are the best classical guitars for bossa nova. It’s all very subjective. What model would you choose? Leave a comment down below!

Whether you’re a seasoned Bossa Nova guitarist or just beginning to explore this enchanting genre, each of these guitars offers something special. Consider their specifications, yes, but also listen to your heart and hands – they are, after all, your primary tools in making music.