If you’ve been hunting for a great classical guitar for under $2000, you might just be in luck.
Maybe you’re looking for a reasonably affordable upgrade, or maybe you’ve never touched a classical guitar before and you’re looking for a fantastic first model.
Either way, the Cordoba C12 could be the perfect guitar for you.
Let’s find out!
At a Glance…
✔️ What we like: Sounds high-end; its tone is unbeatable at this price point.
❌ What we don’t like: Highly experienced players may have issues with the action.
- Adjustable two-way truss rod
- Elevated fingerboard
- Completely hand-made
- Comes with Humicase
Our Verdict: The Cordoba C12 is as close as you’ll get to a pro guitar at this price point. If you’re working with a tight budget, it’ll be a hard task to find a guitar that’s even close to having the same quality of sound!
Who is the Cordoba C12 SP Best Suited To?
If you’re an intermediate student or serious beginner, the Cordoba C12 could be your perfect classical guitar. The reason I’m specifying “serious” students is that you should make sure you’re committed to learning before splashing over a grand on a well-made guitar (unless you’re made of money, of course, then you can splash away).
Although it’s relatively affordable, I wouldn’t recommend the C12 for young kids. Solid-wood guitars require extra maintenance, so I’d say this one would be ideal for more experienced students (around 12 years of age or older).
You can change the action to suit you but, if you’re a flamenco player, it might not go low enough so just bear that in mind!
Features & Benefits
Body & Neck
In terms of aesthetics, I really can’t complain. When it comes to buying a classical guitar, the first thing I look at is the rosette. Well, the C12’s beautifully inlaid mother-of-pearl ring of gorgeousness certainly doesn’t disappoint (yup, ring of gorgeousness, that’s what I called it).
I also love the flamed maple wedge that adorns the back of the guitar. Nice touch, Cordoba! I really can’t complain about the materials either. The C12 is made from spruce (top), Indian Rosewood (back and sides), and mahogany (neck), so it’s a pretty durable model.
I know a lot of classical guitarists are put off by Chinese-made instruments because of the horror stories about the quality of craftsmanship (AKA, when they haven’t been hand-crafted at all). However, I can confirm that this guy is impeccably crafted, considering its price. In all honesty, students struggle to tell the difference between the C12 and a model ten times its price (even I did at first, lol).
Its fingerboard is raised to allow for much better playability than cheaper Cordoba models. You can reach the higher register fairly easily. Although I have to say the fingerboard might not be raised enough for very experienced players. Don’t get me wrong, pros would probably enjoy playing around on the C12 but it wouldn’t be their gigging guitar.
Ultimately, its playability is miles above any other classical guitar under $2000 but it’s not quite a Douglas Scott.
Okay, let’s talk tuning. A well-crafted guitar can still disappoint if it’s tuning isn’t up to scratch (I’ve been there too many times). Luckily, I don’t have a bad word to say about the C12’s tuning. Depending on where you buy yours from, you’ll probably experience a bit of slipping in the first few weeks.
Other than that, the gold tuning pegs are excellent quality and hold intonation perfectly after the strings have settled. We’ve also got all 19 frets (thank god)!
I love that the Cordoba C12 has a lattice braced top. If you’re a beginner and you’ve got no idea what I mean by that, it’s essentially just a lightweight form of bracing that gives the guitar a much thinner top. As a result, the C12 has so much more volume than other models at this price point.
The raised fingerboard gives the guitar brilliant sustain as well. I’m incredibly impressed by the C12’s tone. It has a sweet, warm tone and a powerful dynamic range. You’d have thought this guitar would have a much higher price tag!
- Body Material: Spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides with flamed maple wedge (also available with cedar top)
- Neck Material: Mahogany
- Fingerboard Material: Ebony
- Pickups: None
- Bridge: Hardtail
I’ve already touched on the fact that pros would probably need the fingerboard to be better raised. The only other limitation of the C12 that I picked up on is the Savarez Cristal Corum Hard Tension 500CJ strings (Woah that was a mouthful). Although they’re widely popular amongst pros, I have a feeling students might struggle with the higher tension at first.
Don’t get me wrong, I love these strings – the tone is well balanced from the lower to the higher register but it’s just something to bear in mind. They do sound great straight out of the box though, so it’s swings and roundabouts!
Popular Questions About the Cordoba C12
All Cordoba classical guitars are made in China. However, the C12 is from Cordoba’s Luthier series – a series of completely hand-made guitars.
I understand that Chinese crafters have a bit of a bad rap for mass making their instruments but, in my opinion, Cordoba stands out from the rest.
In all honesty, as long as a guitar is well crafted and sounds great, I’m really not bothered about where it comes from.
The C12 and the C10 are completely different sounding guitars. Aside from the price, the most notable difference is in the sound of these guitars. The C12 is a heck of a lot louder and has much better sustain. However, the C10 does come in a parlor size and there’s an option for left-handed players whereas the C12 is for righties only, unfortunately.
In a nutshell, I think the C12 is a better guitar because of its lattice bracing and raised fingerboard. Plus it comes with the Cordoba Humicase which is essentially one of the best classical guitar cases on the market.
The C12 has a scale length (distance between the nut and saddle) of 650mm and a nut width (the width of the guitar’s neck just before the headstock) of 52mm. The standard scale length of most classical guitars is around 660mm, so the C12 is a tiny bit shorter than some other models but the majority of players wouldn’t even notice.
A Brilliant Intermediate Classical Guitar
I’m utterly impressed by the Cordoba C12. Considering its price tag, it’s one of the best intermediate guitars I’ve ever reviewed. It’s honestly so close to meeting pro standards! If a guitar is easy to play and sounds fantastic then it’s always a winner in my books.
The C12 is a brilliant intermediate guitar. In fact, if you’re a serious adult beginner, the C12 might be a great option for you too. You’d probably never have to upgrade (unless you go pro). Anyway, I’d better stop myself from blabbing on about this guy!
Here’s my verdict – you won’t find a better classical guitar for under $2000.
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Fiona is a musician and writer. When she’s not working, she’s either playing the ukulele or finding another instrument to add to her collection.