Best Flamenco Guitars

The intricate techniques and infectious energy of flamenco guitar have captivated musicians and listeners alike for centuries. And flamenco guitars are works of art in themselves -- from intricate inlays to beautifully grained tonewoods, these are some of the world's most stunning stringed instruments. Whether you're looking for an instrument built like the most traditional guitars or would prefer a versatile guitar for many genres, here are the best flamenco guitars we've found.

Our Top Picks for Best Flamenco Guitars

Make

Model

Rating

Price

Full Review

Cordoba

F7 Flamenco

Cell

Yamaha

CG172SF Classical

Cell

Cordoba

GK Pro Negra

Cell

Cordoba

Fusion 14 Maple

Cell

Taylor

Academy 12e-N

Cell

Cordoba

GK Studio Limited

Cell

Takamine

GC-6CE

Cell

Journey Instruments

OC660M

Cell

Cordoba

Protege C1M

Cell

Cordoba

C5-CET Thinline

Cell

Cordoba F7 Flamenco -- Best for New Flamenco Players

Important Features

  • European spruce and cypress construction is a classic flamenco guitar combination
  • Pau Ferro fingerboard is comfortable to play with and looks similar to rosewood
  • Traditional fan bracing promotes great tonal balance
  • Fast, low action, and C-shaped neck makes it especially playable
  • It's an affordable instrument that offers excellent value

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Even new flamenco players will likely find it highly playable
  • Gloss finish lets you appreciate the grain of the wood
  • Its solid top will open up and sound richer over time
  • Inlaid rosette and gold tuners with pearl buttons make it a visually stunning guitar

Cons

  • If you want to perform with a band, you might prefer a guitar with electronics
  • As a fingerboard material, Pau Ferro isn't likely to hold up as well as rosewood

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Cordoba is one of the most prominent flamenco guitar builders, and it offers nylon-string guitars for players in every price range. The F7 is a great example of a midrange instrument that can deliver an impressive flamenco tone without breaking the bank. It has a solid European spruce top with smooth, quick responsiveness, and the cypress back and sides help to create the signature snappy sound of flamenco music.

Traditional fan bracing gives the F7 a rich, nuanced tone that projects effortlessly. And the F7 is highly playable, too -- the solid C-shaped mahogany neck is comfortable even if you have small hands. Cordoba gold tuning machines and a genuine bone nut and saddle are nice high-end touches.

Our Star Rating

We think this is the best guitar for new flamenco players on the list, and we give it four out of five stars.

Yamaha CG172SF Classical -- Best Budget Option

Important Features

  • It delivers excellent sound quality for a guitar in its price range
  • The versatile build is great for both classical and flamenco guitar
  • Solid Engelmann spruce top is incredibly responsive
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge give it a high-end look
  • Nato neck is lightweight and durable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's very affordable and a great value
  • Unique design makes it a good choice for the multi-genre player
  • Wider nut width lets you perform flamenco and classical fingerings with ease
  • It's made with a traditional tonewood combination

Cons

  • Dedicated flamenco guitarists might prefer a guitar with higher string tension
  • Plastic nut and saddle don't do much for tone

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Yamaha's guitars have a well-deserved reputation for excellent value, and this one is no exception. The CG172SF may have "classical" in the name, but it's one of the few flamenco guitars Yamaha makes. It has a solid Engelmann spruce top and laminated cypress back and sides. Notably, it has a broad enough nut width to make classical fingerings easier, too. This feature, combined with its light-tension strings, makes it a good option for budget-minded players who want to play both flamenco and classical guitar.

The CG172SF does have some surprisingly high-end touches. The Indian rosewood fingerboard is comfortable and playable, and the understated rosette adds just enough visual interest.

Our Star Rating

We think this affordable flamenco guitar from Yamaha is the best budget option on the list, and we give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Cordoba GK Pro Negra -- Best High-End Option

Important Features

  • Solid Indian rosewood back and sides offer incredible tonal detail with deep bass response
  • It comes with a humidified archtop hardshell case to preserve the guitar
  • High-tension design and fast low action make it a great instrument for the dedicated flamenco guitarist
  • High-end electronics make it easy to perform with other musicians
  • Solid European spruce top is amazingly responsive

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's made of all solid wood for a rich, complex tone
  • It's easy to plug in and play
  • Even un-amplified, it produces decent volume and projects well
  • It's one of the most visually beautiful guitars on the list

Cons

  • It may be too expensive for some guitarists
  • Some buyers have noted that it arrives with somewhat high action

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

The GK Pro Negra is the signature guitar of flamenco superstars the Gipsy Kings. Advanced players will delight in its powerful and warm tone with a rich bass response. This guitar features a solid European spruce top paired with solid Indian rosewood back and sides.

And of course, like most high-end Cordoba guitars, it comes with Torres-style fan bracing. The solid mahogany neck adds some warmth to the string energy as it's transferred to the body, and it's capped by a highly playable ebony fretboard.

This flamenco guitar is stage-ready thanks to the Fishman Prefix ProBlend System, a top-notch electronics system that faithfully amplifies every detail of your playing. A bone nut and saddle and Cordoba premium gold tuners round out this impressive package.

Our Star Rating

We think the GK Pro Negra is the best high-end flamenco guitar on the list, and we give it five out of five stars.

Cordoba Fusion 14 Maple -- Best Crossover

Important Features

  • Unique crossover guitar is effectively a step between a flamenco guitar and a steel-string
  • High-tension string design supports snappy flamenco tone
  • Pau Ferro fingerboard and binding provide a beautiful contrast with the pale spruce top
  • Solid spruce top opens up over time, and layered maple has a better sound than laminated maple
  • Excellent electronics make it a performance-ready instrument

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Given its high-end features, it's an excellent value
  • Classical body style with cutaway is incredibly playable
  • Fan bracing delivers a traditional flamenco tone
  • It's an easy transition for people who play electric guitars or steel-string acoustics

Cons

  • Some players might prefer a more warm tone compared to maple's crisp projection
  • For a flamenco purist, it may feel too much like a traditional acoustic

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

As genre-bending artists have become more commonplace, plenty of players find themselves wanting to branch out. And if you're used to playing acoustic guitars with steel strings, the jump to playing a traditional nylon string can be more difficult than it looks.

Thankfully, the Cordoba Fusion 14 Maple's crossover design makes the transition a smooth one. This nylon-string guitar features a nut width that's between that of most classical guitars and steel-string guitars, and its slim neck is more comfortable for the steel-string guitar player. And a Venetian cutaway makes fret access significantly easier, too.

In terms of tonewoods, the Fusion 14 is a quality guitar. The solid spruce top is made of the especially responsive, creamy white European spruce. The layered figured maple back and sides add visual interest, and they also support a bright tone and clear projection. This is a great guitar for the gigging player, too -- the onboard Fishman Presys Blend system is an excellent choice for natural and highly detailed live sound.

Our Star Rating

We think this is the best crossover guitar for players who are used to electrics and steel-string acoustics, and we give it 4.5 out of five stars.

Taylor Academy 12e-N -- Most Comfortable to Play

Important Features

  • Solid Lutz spruce top and layered Sapele back and sides create a balanced tone that works well for flamenco
  • Taylor's specialized version of fan bracing creates responsive, sustain-rich sound
  • Built-in armrest makes it especially comfortable to play
  • NuBone nut and Micarta saddle deliver a tone that's rich in harmonic content
  • It comes with Taylor's ES-B electronics with a built-in tuner

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Lutz spruce top is tonally balanced and very responsive
  • Given its quality features, it offers great value
  • Taylor's unique bracing patterns for guitars with nylon strings give it a distinctive tone
  • It comes with high-quality electronics with a built-in tuner

Cons

  • Since it has greater sustain than traditional flamenco guitars, it may not be right for all players
  • Some guitarists might prefer a back and sides made from a more traditional tonewood

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Taylor probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you picture flamenco guitar manufacturers. However, when you look at the specs on the Academy 12e-N -- one of the few nylon-string models Taylor makes -- you'll see that it's set up to be a highly successful flamenco guitar.

To start, the grand concert body of the 12e-N is similar in shape to the bodies of most classical guitars. High-tension strings and an African ebony fingerboard make it comfortable and fast-playing. A built-in armrest helps to ward off fatigue during even the longest of practice sessions.

Our Star Rating

We think this acoustic-electric is the most comfortable guitar on the list, and we give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Cordoba GK Studio Limited -- Best Midrange Option

Important Features

  • The slim neck and deep cutaway make it a highly playable acoustic-electric
  • The solid spruce top is bright and responsive
  • A bone nut and saddle help support excellent tone
  • Fan bracing patterns support both resonance and detail
  • Intricate rosette, Cordoba gold tuning machines, and maple binding make it especially beautiful

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It's made with the input of one of the best flamenco bands in the world
  • Ziricote (back and sides) is a classic tonewood choice for flamenco guitars
  • It's one of the best-looking relatively affordable Spanish guitars
  • Its high-end electronics sound much more natural than plain piezo pickups

Cons

  • The best flamenco guitarists will probably prefer all-solid guitars
  • Players with larger hands might prefer a thicker neck

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

For many guitarists of all ability levels, the best flamenco guitar options are out of reach. However, a quality midrange guitar can be a great compromise. You get a high-quality, natural tone without the immense price tag. This guitar is a more affordable version of the Gipsy Kings signature guitar (and a slightly upgraded version of the Cordoba GK Studio Negra).

It has a solid European spruce top and laminated ziricote back and sides for balanced sound with a pronounced low end. An Indian rosewood fingerboard is beautiful and playable, and the C-shaped neck is comfortable even for players with small hands.

Like all of the GK Cordoba guitars, this one is built for the performer. Its cutaway gives you easy fret access, and the Fishman Presys Blend system gives you remarkable control of your on-stage sound.

Our Star Rating

We think this is the best of the midrange flamenco guitars we've found. We give it four out of five stars.

Takamine GC-6CE -- Best Unique Design

Important Features

  • Takamine undersaddle pickup with three-band EQ is great for performance
  • The solid spruce top will open up and sound better over time
  • Sleek neck and Venetian cutaway make it highly playable
  • Open-gear tuners and a deep natural finish give it a classic look
  • Compared to most other flamenco guitars, it's very affordable

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It can be used to play flamenco or classical guitar
  • It comes with decent onboard electronics
  • It's one of the more affordable solid-top guitars with nylon strings
  • Oval soundhole has a unique impact on tone

Cons

  • The neck is shaped like those on classical guitars, and some players might find that cumbersome
  • Some players might prefer a more traditional wood for the back and sides

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Takamine is a well-respected maker of acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars, but the brand hasn't ventured too far into the world of flamenco guitars. The GC-6CE might appeal more to classical guitarists, but some of its features make it a great guitar for flamenco. To start, its oval-shaped soundhole is designed to "sculpt" the notes you play, leading to a focused response that players of flamenco guitars will likely appreciate.

The top of the GC-6CE is solid spruce, which is fairly typical for classical guitars and flamenco guitars alike. However, the back and sides are made of black walnut. This is an interesting choice, but it works for flamenco -- black walnut has a "bell-like" treble end that sounds a lot like that of maple, and its crisp projection will get your playing noticed. This is a great multi-genre instrument if you want to explore flamenco while building your classical repertoire.

Our Star Rating

We think this is one of the flamenco guitars with the best unique design feature, and we give it three out of five stars.

Journey Instruments OC660M -- Best for Travel

Important Features

  • Carbon fiber build prevents warping and cracking due to temperature and humidity
  • Unique wedge-shaped design is deeper than a dreadnaught and allows powerful projection
  • The top-quality build makes it a professional-grade travel guitar
  • A low-profile neck makes it play like most other flamenco guitars
  • It will collapse to fit in most overhead compartments

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Carbon fiber has a different feel compared to most flamenco and classical guitars
  • It's highly optimized for travel
  • Its sound quality is excellent, especially given the fact that it isn't made of wood.
  • Ebony bridge pins and other high-end appointments make it a standout

Cons

  • It's fairly expensive for a travel guitar
  • Many players believe the best flamenco guitar options are made of more traditional materials

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Many of the best flamenco instruments are made with the finest tonewoods. But if you like modern takes on classic designs, you'll love the carbon fiber OC660M. The whole guitar is made of carbon fiber, making it a lightweight and sleek-looking instrument. But its best feature might be the fact that it's collapsible -- the neck detaches from the body, allowing it to fit in an overhead compartment.

Though it's ready for travel, this unique guitar doesn't skimp on quality. An undersaddle transducer delivers enviable live sound, and a top-notch bone nut and saddle help shape its incredible tonal quality.

Our Star Rating

We think this is the best flamenco instrument for travel, and we give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Cordoba Protege C1M -- Best for Kids

Important Features

  • Very affordable starter guitar for kids and even small adults
  • The all-laminate build also makes it a great durable travel guitar
  • Traditional fan bracing means it still delivers a quality flamenco tone
  • Rosewood fingerboard is comfortable to play with and looks great
  • A slim C-shaped neck is good for players with small hands

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • For its price, it offers excellent value
  • High-end touches like gold tuners with pearl buttons make it an especially nice-looking instrument
  • High-tension strings make it better suited to flamenco than most classical guitars
  • Its smaller size makes it easier for kids to learn guitar

Cons

  • A laminated top won't sound quite as good as spruce
  • Its smaller size means the tone can get a bit thin

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Many of the best flamenco musicians started young, and new guitarists do well when they have a playable instrument. This half-sized guitar is ideal for smaller children who are just starting out. The shorter 22.83" scale length is more manageable, and the durable laminated spruce and mahogany build still manages to sound remarkably full.

As is the case with most classical guitars, the nylon strings on the C1M are perfect for learning children -- the nylon strings cause much less irritation to their fingers.

Our Star Rating

We think this is the best option for kids on the list, and we give it three out of five stars.

Cordoba C5-CET Thinline -- Best Thinline Guitar

Important Features

  • Solid cedar top gives you a warmer, mellower tone
  • It's affordable and an excellent value
  • High-tension strings make it a good fit for flamenco
  • Slim mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard is highly playable
  • It has unusually good electronics for the price

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Bone nut and saddle support great tone
  • Fan bracing and high-tension strings are great for flamenco
  • A slim body is easier to handle onstage
  • It's one of the more affordable solid-top models

Cons

  • The sound is a little lacking in bass response
  • Some buyers have noted that this guitar arrived with intonation issues

Brief Review & Star Rating

Review

Most flamenco and classical guitars are full-bodied instruments that can start to feel unwieldy. But the thinline body of the C5-CET avoids that pitfall. Though it's remarkably slim, it still has an impressive tone thanks to its solid Canadian cedar top and laminated mahogany back and sides, as well as traditional fan bracing.

The C5-CET is a great affordable stage companion, too -- its Fishman Isys+ electronics give you plenty of options for sculpting your sound. Plus, the slim neck and cutaway make playing in any genre effortless.

Our Star Rating

We think this sleek model is the best thinline on the list, and we give it 3.5 out of five stars.

Buying Guide: How Do You Choose a Flamenco Guitar?

Are Classical and Flamenco Guitars the Same?

If you aren't sure what the difference between a traditional flamenco guitar and a classical guitar is, you're not alone. Generally speaking, flamenco guitars have thinner tops, and they have greater string tension. The high tension gives the sound of a flamenco guitar a much sharper attack than that of a classical guitar. Classical guitars, on the other hand, tend to have impressive sustain.

That said, you can play flamenco on a classical guitar or another nylon-string guitar, too. In addition to classical and flamenco guitars, you'll see "crossover" guitars like the Cordoba Fusion 14. These nylon-string guitars are designed to play more like a steel-string.

Which type you choose depends on your playing needs. If you primarily play flamenco music, a flamenco guitar like the Cordoba GK Pro Negra is a great choice. If you want to play classical and flamenco (or if you just want more sustain), a classical-like the Takamine GC-6CE is a versatile option. And if you're used to playing traditional acoustic guitar, you might find that a crossover like the Fusion 14 is the best fit.

What Tonewoods Do You Need?

In most cases, the best flamenco guitar tops are made of either spruce or cedar. Solid European spruce (also called solid German spruce) is typically found on the finest flamenco guitars.

The material used for the backs and sides varies considerably depending on the price range of a flamenco guitar. More expensive models sometimes have rosewood backs and sides for a rich and complex tone -- the GK Pro Negra is a good example. Cypress is another common material in the flamenco world. It's highly reflective and helps create the sharp attack that flamenco players are known for. The Cordoba F7 is a good example of a guitar with a cypress back and sides.

Some of the best flamenco music comes from guitars with backs and sides made of ziricote. This excellent tonewood has a rich bass response while offering sparkling highs reminiscent of Brazilian rosewood. It also has the unique quality of what sounds like a natural reverb. The Cordoba GK Studio Limited is a great example of a flamenco guitar made with ziricote.

Less specialized nylon-string guitars like the Taylor Academy 12e-N will usually have backs and sides made of material you'd often see on steel string guitars. The 12e-N has layered Sapele back and sides.

Playability Features to Consider

Easy playability is one of the most critical things to consider when selecting any guitar. You likely know that guitars with low action tend to be easier to play. It's worth noting that guitars designed for flamenco tend to have lower action than guitars designed for classical music, but a good setup can make just about any guitar comfortable to play.

In some cases, you might find that a thinner-bodied guitar like the Cordoba C5-CET Thinline is easier to manage on stage. Similarly, cutaway-equipped instruments like the Cordoba GK Studio Limited can make playing further down the neck significantly easier.

If you're used to playing steel-string acoustics, the relatively thicker necks of classical and flamenco guitars may take some getting used to. However, crossover models like the Fusion 14 often have thinner necks that steel-string players will find familiar.

What About Electronics?

The original flamenco guitars were designed centuries ago to be played for flamenco dancers. They needed to be loud enough to be heard over a room of people dancing. Now, if you're choosing a flamenco guitar for performance purposes, you'll likely want one with decent-quality electronics. When playing with other instruments, simply playing an acoustic guitar through a microphone is generally a hassle, and the sound quality isn't likely to be great.

However, if you're a solo performer, you might prefer to play through a microphone. After all, you just about never see a classical performer play plugged in -- a mic tends to be better at picking up every nuance of your playing.

In Conclusion

So which of these is the best flamenco guitar? We think you'd be happy with any of the great options above, but our top choice is the Cordoba GK Pro Negra. This outstanding guitar is the signature instrument of one of the best flamenco bands around, and it's made of some of the best tonewoods the world has to offer. Every feature from the Torres-style fan bracing to the high-end electronics is optimized for the flamenco performer.

However, if you want a versatile instrument that sounds just as good playing different genres as it does playing flamenco, we think the Cordoba Fusion 14 Maple is a worthy runner-up. Thanks to its comfortable playability and unique nut width, guitarists from all different genres are likely to find it highly intuitive to play.

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