A Classical guitar is a Musical instrument from the guitar family. Also called Spanish guitar.

The classical guitar is distinguished by a number of features.

  • It is an acoustic instrument. The sound is amplified by a sound box.
  • It has six strings. A few classical guitars have eight or more strings to expand the bass scale, allowing lute music written for lutes with more than six courses of strings to be played.
  • The strings are made from catgut (made from sheep intestine, despite the name), or much more commonly these days nylon, as opposed to the metal strings found in some other forms of guitar. These strings have a much lower tension than steel strings. The lower three strings ('bass strings') are wound with metal, commonly silver or bronze. Some less common stringings use a fourth wound string.
  • Because of the low tension of the strings the neck can be made entirely of wood, not requiring a steel truss road.
  • The neck tends to be broader than with steel string guitars, making more complex work easier, but requiring a left hand position which ultimately makes the guitar less stable to hold. The fretboard is flat, not curved.
  • The strings are usually plucked with the fingers. Serious players shape their fingernails so that they contact the string in a certain way to achieve the desired tone.

Classical guitars can be equipped with an electronic pickup, which is sometimes used by performers in noisy environments. Either a piezoelectric pickup is placed under the bridge, or a microphone is suspended within the body.

The heyday of the classical guitar repertoire lies in the 19th century. Some guitar composers are:

  • Dionisio Aguado 1784-1849
  • Leo Brouwer 1939-
  • Matteo Carcassi 1792-1853
  • Fernando Carulli 1770-1841
  • Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco 1895-1968
  • Napoleon Coste 1806-1883
  • Mauro Giuliani 1780-1840
  • Luigi Legnani 1790-1877
  • Miguel Llobet 1878-1937
  • Joaquin Rodrigo 1901-1999
  • Fernando Sor 1778-1839
  • Francisco Tarrega 1852-1909
  • Heitor Villa-Lobos 1887-1959

Because of the relative scarcity of pieces, guitarists often play transcriptions of music originally written for other instruments. Lute transcriptions from the baroque era are common, because the fingering of the lute is similar.

Classical guitar players: