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This article was originally published in issue #18
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A good classical guitar is an important purchase. But where do you start if all your previous experience has been with buying electric guitars or steel strung acoustics? Giorgio Serci reviews two top contenders for your money from the prestigious Rodriguez range.
Manuel Rodriguez is a world-renowned guitar manufacturer from Madrid. The family has been producing guitars since 1905 and is one of the most popular classical guitar brands in the world. The company's range includes classical, flamenco and Maccaferri models and one of their winning characteristics is the consistency in quality, tone, playability and attention to detail as well as the very wide price range. Whether you're looking for a studio guitar or a fine concert instrument, Rodriguez will have a few different models for you to try and choose and we elected to look at two very differently priced instruments to give you some idea how they compare.
Rodriguez MR10 Caballero (see image)
The Rodriguez MR10 Caballero is a full size (4/4) classical guitar with a lovely natural look with a gloss finish and contrasting wood colours derived from its Canadian solid cedar top, an Indian rosewood headstock, fingerboard, bridge, bindings and mahogany back and sides.
As well as back & sides, the Rodriguez features a mahogany neck, too. The former meets the upper bout in a fluid manner. The use of a bone nut and saddle, as well as the rosewood fingerboard and bridge, help improve note length and the action on our sample was quite good, straight from the factory, though this could be easily lowered for an even better playability, if desired. Finishing off the technical details, the guitar's machine heads are silver plated and seemed very reliable.
The MR10's sound is quite powerful, well balanced and resonant - especially considering the low-mid price range this guitar falls into. This model would be a perfect instrument for the beginner or the intermediate student and it would be particularly well suited for playing the classical repertoire.
Rodriguez BC1 Cedro
The Rodriguez BC1 Cedro is also a full size (4/4) classical guitar but with a Cutaway and a built-in L.R. Baggs 'Element' pick-up. The price is quite a bit higher, so let's find out why.
While it features a similar looking solid Canadian cedar top to the MR10, its differences include multi-layered Indian rosewood bindings (front & back) headstock and bridge, which are elegant and contrasting in colour. It also sports a Honduras cedar neck, which meets the upper bout in a fluid and ergonomic manner with a unique curvilinear design typical of Rodriguez guitars. The ebony fingerboard makes the guitar looks very elegant, too, but most importantly, it makes this a very resonant instrument.
Both the nut and the saddle are made of cow bone for an improved sustain. Possibly of major interest to GI readers, electric guitarists would find this guitar easier to play than many classically styled guitars, thanks to its narrow and comfortable neck. This means that while it is particularly indicated for the classical repertoire, this instrument would also be perfect to play Brazilian music such as Bossa Nova, Samba, and fingerstyle in general.
All in all, the Rodriguez BC1 is a very versatile instrument, which makes it a particularly good buy. It would be perfect for recording but just as good for live and amplified concerts, thanks to the reliable built-in L.R. Baggs 'Element' pick-up. This fine pick-up features a built-in tuner, a notch filter which helps fighting feedback and three band EQ. The battery compartment is really easy to access, as well, making battery replacements extremely easy and fast.
It took me no time to tune it and to feel at ease with its action, with a very good setup straight from the factory. Tuning was made easier also thanks to its accurate classical style (gold plated) machine heads, which look stunning.
This guitar would be ideal for the professional classical guitarist looking for a plug and play instrument to do amplified concerts. Similarly, this would be a great addition to an electric guitarist's arsenal, as a live or recording instrument. On this note, the best means to record a classical guitar such as this one is by using one or, even better, two condenser microphones for a pure, acoustic outcome, leaving the built in pick-up for live shows only.
These are both fine guitars and do everything you would hope they would. Counter intuitively, we've given the higher marks to the more expensive model and we've done that because it really is such a versatile instrument that you could use for a lot of different roles.