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When you think about a bunch of campers huddled around a campfire with a guitar, the guitar you imagined likely looks very similar to the Yamaha C40. This instrument looks like it belongs out in the vast wilderness, firmly in the hands of a rugged cowboy. The fact that it is cheap and durable is undoubtedly another factor that it can do well in the outdoors. Consider the sound and the feel; there is no denying that the classical acoustic guitar by Yamaha is a value pack.

But how does the instrument hold up under intense scrutiny? The model has its pros and cons that depend a lot on individual circumstance. If you are curious as to whether or not the Yamaha C40 is worth all the hype, then check out our review. We take a close look at how the guitar works, what makes it unique, how much it costs, public perception of the product and a comparison to other popular brands.

What is the Yamaha C40 and How Does It Work?

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Yamaha is one of the oldest and widely known companies around. The Japanese company founded itself in 1887 as a piano and reed developer. Since these beginning, the company has taken on a wide range of musical product, from guitars to drums. More than that, they have diversified their products to include motorsport equipment and electronic products. So what kind of reputation does Yamaha have? Yamaha products typically sound and function much better than their price warrants. The Yamaha C40 guitar is no different.

A Yamaha C40 is a traditional classical guitar. So what does that mean? Though they look similar to acoustic guitars, classical guitars have many minor differences which alter the sound of the instrument. This style of guitar fits best with softer music, so it is not for everyone. Before reading any further into the review, you should be familiar with the basics of how a classical guitar operates. Luckily, we organized some of the critical ways that the classical acoustic guitar differs from its steel-string cousin.

The Difference Between an Acoustic Guitar and a Classical Guitar

Guitar and a pillow

Image by Kari Shea from Pixabay

The first way that classical guitars differ from acoustic guitars is the strings they use. Most acoustic guitars use steel-based lines, which give them a louder brighter sound than traditional guitar strings. These strings, which they make out of nylon on the three high strings G B and E, produce a much softer, more mellow sound than standard guitars. As such, they are perfect for fingerpicking songs favorite in folk and indie pop music. Most of the time classical guitars also cost less than acoustic guitars.

If you plan on strumming your guitar with a pick like Bruce Springsteen or John Lennon, then it will not sound particularly useful. The nylon will mute a lot of the tonality in your notes when you strum chords. Plucked notes sound much better on the classical guitar. This reason is why traditional music like flamenco, Spanish and mariachi musicians usually use a version of the classical guitar.

Fretboards on classical guitars are also much more extensive so they are not suitable for many individuals with smaller hands. The shape also differs from more popular steel string acoustic guitars —classicals are broader at the body which requires that you hold them differently. There are a lot of differences between the acoustic and classical guitar that you should consider before buying. But, if you love the price and sound of the instrument type, then take a closer look at what makes the Yamaha C40 unique.

What Makes the Yamaha C40 Unique?

In addition to being an affordable entry-level guitar for those interested in learning, the Yamaha C40 guitar comes with a package of useful accessories. Included with the classical instrument is a digital tuner, carrying case, and CD for new players to listen along and play. They cover the front of the device with spruce. They made the back section and sides out of a dark, rich Indonesian mahogany. Rosewood from Japan makes up the bridge and fretboard of the instrument.

Adverse action is a frequent problem with cheap guitars. The action on a guitar is an indication of how high or low the strings raise off the fretboard. If an action is too high, then it can cut people’s fingers — even experienced musicians with calloused hands. Many inexpensive models come with an action that is too high and needs to be taken to a shop to be adjusted. Luckily, the Yamaha C40 features a shallow action. This feature is ideal for new guitar players because it does not require much pressure to push down.

The tone of the Yamaha C40 is another impressive aspect of the instrument. Once again, the guitar sounds far better than it has any right to, considering the low price. The notes come through crisp and clean for a classical — though not as lovely as steel-string acoustic models. It also stays in tune through heavy usage. This tuneage is thanks to the solid headstock with its open-geared chrome tuning cylinders and Pearloid keys.

How Much Does the Yamaha C40 Cost?

Man playing the yamaha c40 guitar

As we mentioned before, the Yamaha C40 is one of the more reasonably priced models for a classical guitar of its quality. At retail value, the Yamaha C40 costs around $139.99. Prices for used models of this classical guitar vary depending on the condition and the seller. Most good deals will offer them around $50-$80 for a used model in acceptable condition.

What Do Other Musicians Think of the Yamaha C40?

While many will likely not be in favor with the Yamaha C40’s second appearance, its sound and performance continue to impress people to this day. There are some aesthetic features on the instrument that are lacking. The binding on the guitar is just black paint. The rosewood on the fretboard of the guitar is ebonized, which means they stain the wood of the board with a black wash. The oils and dirt on your hands — plus the friction of playing — cause this black wash to rub off the guitar after only a few weeks of playing.

Still, the sound continues to impress. Honestly, the music from the Yamaha C40 compares to other classical guitars in the $600 price range. Nothing rings out too sharply and the notes off smooth and pretty when plucked. Unfortunately, some models might be defective. A broken screw can lead to buzzing sound in some models, and it may need to be taken care of separately. Or, if your retailer offers a replacement or refund, then you can take that option.

If you are an experienced player looking an upgrade to their classical guitar, then this model is not meant for you. They laminate the wood instead of using solid body wood. This feature is common in cheap guitars and usually involves the instrument will not project its volume quite as loudly. But, it is also important to keep in mind that this instrument is a beginners guitar. If your someone new to playing the device, this is a great option to get your feet in the water.

How Does the Yamaha C40 Compare to Other Classical Guitars?

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In this section, we compare the Yamaha C40 to some other types of classical guitars. Keep in mind that many of these models in this part cost a great deal more than the Yamaha model. By including these models, we hope to expose shoppers to some more higher-end models, in case they are not looking for a cheap beginner instrument.

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If you are looking for an upgrade, or are confident that you can learn and grow with your guitar, then the Taylor Academy series may be a good investment for you. However make no mistake, the guitar is an investment. With a price of $699.99, the Academy 12e-N Grand Concert Nylon definitely in the high range of beginner guitars. But, Taylor places a much higher emphasis on craftsmanship with this model. There is no denying that this guitar sounds better than the Yamaha.

If you are worrying that buying a cheap guitar for your child will discourage them from playing it, then the Taylor Academy Series 12e-N Grand Concert Nylon is an excellent choice for you. However, the guitar is not one hundred percent perfect. Some users reported that the guitar has a squeaky sound when plucked up on the high e string.

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The Ibanez AEG10NII Grand Concert classical guitar offers professional features for a low price $299.00. If you anticipate that you will play small gigs with your classical guitar, then the Ibanez model is a good fit. It features a Fishman Sonicare pickup for plugging into an amp or PA system. A built-in turner also helps reduce time spent tuning in between songs.

The has fairly rich tones, but deep and clear for a classical. However, experienced musicians warn that the tone of the instrument is not as rich as some of the higher end models. But this setback is to be expected from its low price range.

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Like the Ibanez AEG10NII Grand Concert, the Cordoba C5-CET Thinline classical guitar offers a built-in tuner and input/output capabilities. At $399.99, the Cordoba model costs a little more than the Ibanez. The Cordoba specifically engineer their guitar for playing Spanish music. From the construction, the bracing, everything about the Cordoba C5-CET Thinline’s design gears itself toward the to the rapid movement of Latin music. Mahogany and cedar structures provide a gorgeous sound. The tones are warm and responsive.

Closing Thoughts: What We Think of the Yamaha C40

Ultimately, we believe the famous saying “you get what you pay for” rings true for the Yamaha C40. These are one of the most affordable instruments on the market right now, and that did not happen by accident. Yamaha had to cut some corners when making this product. No one denies that the instrument is cheap, mass-produced and unsuitable for professional musicians. But, the guitar sounds better than anything something with a plywood interior has a right to at its price.

Experienced musicians aside, if you are someone who is entirely new to playing guitar, then you should buy the Yamaha C40. The pack has everything you need to learn, and the playability of the guitar will not destroy your fingers during the process (but get ready for some calluses). However, keep in mind that the substantial nature of the classical guitar’s might be too big for some children or adults with small hands.

If you are a curious experienced guitar player that wants to try their hand at a classical version of the instrument, then buy the Yamaha C40. You may outgrow it in a year or two if you keep up the practice, but the guitar’s affordable price means you can upgrade easily, or decide it is not for you without suffering a financial loss.

We hope our review has been helpful during your search for a new classical guitar. Ultimately, the decision to purchase a Yamaha C40 is up to you. Though we think the guitar package is an excellent value for its price, we understand that some people may be looking for a more long-lasting beginner guitar — one that grows with them, instead of needing a replacement. The Yamaha C40 is no that guitar, but it is an excellent learning guitar for people to experiment with while learning.

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