Price paid: $ 249
Purchased from: Guitar Center (Tacoma, WA)
Features — 10
This guitar is a standard-size classical with a cutaway, on-board tuner, and pickup system. It has a solid cedar top, which sounds significantly better than spruce IMHO. I've been playing guitar for 40 years and believe that this guitar deserves better than an 8.1 overall, especially in the under $500 price range. I tried guitars that cost over $1000 and they weren't as smooth to play nor did they sound as good as this one. I believe that it would be very difficult to get a better guitar without spending A LOT MORE money.
Sound — 10
Acoustically, this guitar sounded great, perfect for small, intimate performances. The tone is warm and balanced with good sustain. The bass strings can overshadow the treble if you are a little too bold in your style, but that is a problem that has always troubled classical guitars. Electrically, this guitar sounded great also. I suggest that you plug directly into a PA channel rather than go through an "acoustic" amp. The tone was a little bright when plugged, but adjusted well. The electronics are active and reproduce the acoustic sound well once the adjustments are made.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The C5-CE has a very smooth action that is low for a classical with no buzzing. I bought mine used, so I can't speak to the factory set-up, but I ALWAYS suggest that you take any guitar to a good luthier for a set up. The fit and finish were excellent and the workmanship is beautiful. I'm sure in this price range that the back and sides are laminated, but the top is solid and that's what really counts. Let's keep in mind that laminates have wonderful resistance to changes in temperature and humidity that can trouble solids.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I haven't owned this particular guitar long, but I feel it will last well and be very reliable. Once again, the laminates are a real help here. They reflect the sound well and resist warping or changes of any kind due to temperature and humidity changes. There is also a truss rod in the neck that many old-school classical players dislike, but it adds to the toughness of the guitar and makes the action more adjustable. The electronics seem well done and like they will last. The guitar seems solid and well made overall and I'm certain that with proper care I'll be set.
Overall Impression — 10
After 40 years of playing and performing, owning many guitars, and loving guitar music above all other forms, I am very impressed with the C5-CE. I think it will more than fill the bill for any serious player, no matter what level. I know that Cordoba's Iberia series is not well regarded by many old-school classical players because they use truss rods in their necks, but that adds to the guitar's reliability and fine-tuned action. So, get over it! This guitar is perfect for the player/performer who is on a budget. Les's be honest, most of us will NEVER own a $20,000 hand-made Spanish classical guitar!