This question troubles many.
People ask themselves
"How much should I spend? after all I may not intend playing the guitar professionally."
What if I buy an expensive guitar for my child and then they give up, I've wasted my money.
These are both valued arguments so lets see if we can shed some light onto the subject.
A musical instrument is one of the few things left in life where the saying
You get what you pay forstill holds true.
Always remember; Makers of Classical and Flamenco guitars can only charge a higher price for their instruments if they are a musically improvement over their previous model!
I'll give you an example.
You go into a jewellers to buy a diamond ring. There are hundreds of rings of all different sizes and shapes. There are even rings which look like diamonds but are not. That's ok though the assistant will guide you explaining each ring and there is always a price tag to help understand its worth.
Now ask yourself this. When you get home and show your possession to family and friends will they be able to see that your ring is so much better than any other of the same design? Or to find out its true worth, as the years go by, will you have to have it valued?
With a musical instrument it is different.
Now let us relate everything to Classical Guitars.
Outwardly all Classical Guitars look the same, yes there are slight differences in colour, the shape of the guitars head may be slightly altered or you will see different coloured rosette but ostensibly to the untrained eye they all look the same.
So what else can we look for?
A guitars most important quality is its voice!
As guitars get more expensive they improve in 2 areas.
1. Their voice. Quality of sound, projection, coloration, depth, call it what you will but the voice improves.
2. Ease of play. Higher quality guitars are much easier to play, the guitar is more responsive and the strings are easier to press etc.
But I'm a beginner I can't hear any difference between one guitar and another.
This can be a problem so for you my advice is this.
Buy an instrument that has a Solid Top! this information will be on the label and also the assistant will know. If the assistant doesn't know leave the shop!
Your upper level as far as price is concerned should be, unless money is no object in which case you are probably not reading this, £300.
Try all the guitars in the shop up to this price level and choose the one that appeals most to YOU! Remember you are the one who is going to have to sit with the guitar every day for the next few years not your mum and dad or a close friend.
Ok I think I have outgrown my first guitar now what!
Is your guitar beginning to sound a little sad or you feel that everything you try to do is hard work?
Yes this is the time to check out your bank account.
What happens is as you spend more time with the guitar your musical ear improves, you are now, because of all your practice, able to discern a greater variety of musical sounds, you have become interested in the quality and colour of sound and your ear compares sounds heard at concerts and on discs with that produced by your guitar.
That little voice inside your head says to you "Not very good are you! All these years of practice and you still sound yeuk!"
Don't worry it isn't you, your guitar is no longer able to to keep up with your progress, you have outgrown her ability. I like to refer to my guitars in the feminine
What you now need is an instrument that is capable of producing a quality of sound far in advance of your abilities. As you ear starts to hear these new sounds your progress on the guitar will improve tremendously.
Well remember you are now able to hear better than when you first started and my advice would be to look in the range of £300 to £600. You may feel that your ability exceeds guitars in this price range, that's great, wait save and buy a more expensive instrument one that appeals to your ear.
Is it worth me buying a guitar for more than £600?
This is decision time because we are now getting into serious money. Remember the saying "You get what you pay for" Then ask yourself:- How often do I play my guitar? Of all the thing in life that I enjoy doing, which makes me the happiest?. Then your income will decide how much you can spend on an instrument.
Guitars around £1000 are much improved over lower priced instruments.
They have a higher level of responsiveness and are the starting point of a different class of instrument. After this we step quickly into the hand made concert market. Yes in the hand made market there is a huge difference as well. But that is another story.
Find a guitar studio that needs YOU! as a customer. Treats YOU! as an individual and who have the right skills and knowledge. A studio who wants the best for you not the most profit from each sale. When you find this studio STAY LOYAL! or next time you need something they may have gone out of business.