Best GEAR Recommendations for Student Guitarists

© by Leo García

For the number of times I get asked for recommendations, you would think that I would just make a page like this. Well, here it is with links and brief descriptions of what I recommend to students as they get further into their guitar ambitions.

GUITARS – Up to about $1500, your best bet is a Cordoba student guitar. They are set up extremely well, are well-balanced and well-made, and they sound great. For a factory made guitar Córdoba has really cornered the market in quality because of how consistently good the guitars are at each price point. Both my children grew up playing the Cordoba fractional guitars and they are hands down the best out there. Now they use an all solid Cordoba C10 when they have their guitars at school or for travel but they do prefer to borrow my concert guitars when they are home. Lucky kids.

Spruce or cedar? It really depends on taste but the nuances of a truly great spruce or a truly great cedar concert guitar don’t make as big a difference in student guitars so I usually recommend cedars for their response, warmth, and open sound. Spruce will sound a bit more firm and it may take some playing to get the sound to open up a bit.

The C5 is there introductory model with a solid top:

Cordoba C5

The C7 and C9 are both a big step up for not much more:

Cordoba C9
Cordoba C7


Again, Córdoba’s humicase line is a great option. Even for traveling. But if you want a sturdier case and want the ease your nerves when checking the guitar, I would recommend a TKL Crossrock, Hiscox, BAM, or Visesnut or even a Carlton or Leona if you really want overkill. But for a student guitar it might be worth more than the guitar.

Humicase Hardshell Case
Crossrock Poly Carbon Case


STRINGS AND STRING WINDER – I’ve experimented with Savarez, Knobloch, Aquila, Galli, and a few others over the years but I seem to always come back to D’Addario. Some guitars don’t do well with higher tension strings but some sound great. Your left hand might appreciate normal tension if you practice a lot. Don’t forget the string winder. If you change strings once every week or two, you want one.

D’Addario EJ45 normal tension strings
D’Addario EJ46 hard tension strings
D’Addario String winder and clipper

NAIL FILES AND SANDPAPER – You need a rough diamond or glass file (I’ve used the same one for over a decade), this specific sandpaper, and a nail buffer to get your nails to a glass finish. I’ll cover shaping in another post but you check this post out if you want to get to the bottom of it.

3M 500 Grit Open Coat Sandpaper

Nail Buffer

Revlon Nail File

CAPO – I think the Schubb classical capo is the best one. Classical guitar capos are different than steel string capos because the contour of the neck is more flat in a classical.

Schubb classical capo

TUNER – I think most electric tuners work the same way. I like the Korg tuner because the battery fits in the attached part and the tuner is super slim.

Korg Pitch Clip


METRONOME – You would think that the sheer number of metronome apps available would render this metronome obsolete but I love it. The percussive click is so satisfying and if you are tired of staring at screens, this is the way to go. By the way, what do you call a dwarf who hangs out in the subways of Paris?

Seiko Quartz Tuner

FOOTSTOOL AND SUPPORTS – For the most part, I still prefer using a footstool and the one below is my favorite. It’s solid and adjustable. I’ve experimented with most of the supports out there and while they do provide some comfort because you can sit in a more centered way, the idea of suction cups possibly popping off while performing has always stopped me from fully embracing them. However, I know many performers who love them.

K&M Footstool

CHAIR – This is more important than you think. Face it, you are going to be sitting for many hours of your day if you practice a lot. I’ve searched and searched over the years for a chair that was comfortable, affordable, adjustable, ergonomic, practical, and passably stylish to use in a performance. So far, while it’s not perfect it’s what I’ve settled on until I find better. I love that it is adjustable and it tilts slightly forward to promote better posture.

Adjustrite Practice Chair

MUSIC STAND – There are plenty to choose from but I stay away from the wire music stands where you can’t write or balance more than a few scores on. Who needs that type of frustration? So I prefer the old school Manhasset. I have several in the house but my favorite is the lower one because it is good for performing. It does not block the performer like the higher stands and it sort of sympathetically resonates a bit if you listen.

Manhasset Music Stand

While that doesn’t quite cover all the gear, it’s a start. I’ll post another soon with fake nail, recording, and other stuff that I’ve found useful in my practice room…

Disclosure: some links earn a commission and as a KinderGuitar educator I offer Cordoba guitars to my students.