Most helpful positive review
74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
In terms of bang-for-buck, simply the bee's knees.
on 13 August 2010
Arriving in rural Brittany for my precious one week's summer holiday, I let out my usual sigh of regret that we didn't have space in the MPV for a guitar - usual because, no matter how much space we do have, in my wife's firm opinion it is never enough for a guitar.
This time, I had an idea: I went A.W.O.L. one morning, found the local music shop and persuaded them, for a small fee, to let me borrow the cheapest guitar they had in the shop for a week. The lady looked a little bamboozled at my pig French, but eventually handed over a smart looking crimson classical guitar, which subsequent inspection revealed to be a Stagg C542.
And as I marched triumphantly back into our camp didn't I look like the grandest tiger in the jungle. The guitar retailed for next to nothing, and so I really wasn't expecting much, but the Stagg did a bunch of things that the buyer of a $50 guitar really has no right to expect:
*you can get it in tune and it stays in tune, right up to the twelfth fret. This sounds odd, but it is a technical business getting a guitar correctly intoned: the frets have to all be in exactly the right place, both in relation to each other and in relation to the bridge. Generations of young learners have had to battle with guitars that a permanently out of tune: they might sound okay for root five chords, but out of whack for root six chords, or might go progressively out of whack the further up the fretboard you go. The Stagg I played was absolutely spot on.
* It has a low, clean, playable action: again, cheap guitars routinely (used to) have warped necks, bowed soundboards and strings which sat half an inch above the fingerboard and still buzzed like crazy when you tried to fret them. The Stagg's fretboard is dead straight, low, fast and clean as a whistle.
* It sounds nice. Sure, it ain't AAA grade solid cedar (the spec says basswood, and I suspect it's ply) but if you're a beginner you simply won't be able to tell the difference. The treble strings ring crisply, the bass strings have a pleasing baritone bark to them, and chords are nicely balanced with plenty of sustain.
If you are starting out on the classical guitar (or, really, any other guitar) you simply cannot go wrong with the C542. Even if you leave it in the drive and back the car over it, it's only $50 for a new one, and in terms of playing dynamics it'll be a long while before you outgrow its capabilities. I've been playing enthusiastically for 24 years - admittedly not much on nylon string - but this little fellow absolutely hit the spot for a week of unwinding in the french countryside.