Classical Guitar

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The classical guitar is a six-string chordophone instrument of the guitar family. It features nylon strings and is played with the fingers or nails, producing a warm and melodic sound. The classical guitar is commonly used in classical music but also finds its place in various genres, including flamenco and folk.
History of the Classical Guitar
The classical guitar shares its common ancestry with other plucked lute-like instruments and records of instruments resembling the guitar date back as early as Ancient Egypt. The first known reference of these instruments being called ‘a guitar’ began in the 15th century in Spain where the flamenco guitar is still most commonly associated. The simplistic early shape of these stringed instruments were called a ‘vihuela’ and had just four strings. In the 1700s, a six-string variant became popular and subsequently the ‘torres’ was developed. Spanish luthier and guitarist, Antonio de Torres, extended the neck and enlarged the body of these early guitars to create what we can recognisably consider a modern guitar. The classical guitar began to take form in Europe with this six string addition. It was briefly predated by the baroque guitar, a five-string guitar that had a more delicate sound than the ‘vihuela’ which made it popular with classical composers. When the classical guitar’s improved design arrived, composers such as Mozart, Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach were writing new works for it in the late 1700s. As guitarists began experimenting, new finger picking techniques were developed in the 1900s, instead of strumming the instrument with a plectrum. In the 20th century, classical guitarists like Julian Bream were instrumental in continuing the instrument’s notoriety as a solo instrument as music artists in popular music began to release records. The classical guitar is still most commonly played with nylon strings and a thinner body than its pop music counterpart.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

$200 - $2,000

Hear the Classical Guitar

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How to Play

A type of guitar with nylon strings and a smaller body than a steel-string acoustic guitar, played with the fingers or a pick.

In Popular Music

The classical guitar can be heard prominently in pop music songs like ‘Keep Your Head Up’ by British singer-songwriter Ben Howard from 2011. Guitarist Mason Williams frequently played his popular instrumental piece ‘Classical Gas’ on classical guitar from 1968.

Famous Players

Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream, John Williams

Close Relations

Acoustic Guitar, Flamenco Guitar
Video Credit: Michael Lucarelli
Understanding the Classical Guitar




15th century






Instruments of Music

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