How To Choose Between Cordoba C7 and C9

The Cordoba C7 classical guitar is closer to a beginner’s guitar  while the Cordoba C9 is closer to a performance level guitar. That’s about all I knew when I began my research into these popular brands. As usual, there is a lot to share.

What are the key differences between the C7 and C9? The major difference is in the choice of all solid woods for the C9 as against a solid wooden top for the C7. The wood for the back and sides is solid Mahogany for the C9 and Rosewood for the C7. Aesthetically, the rosette of the C9 features a sophisticated 1920’s inspired design and the tuning machine is one of gold with black buttons.

If you’re deciding between the two models, you should know all the minor differences too. As also the huge similarities that the two models share. What exactly is the price difference of about $300 (at the time of writing) all about? Is the cheaper C7 a bargain? Or is the costlier C9 a bargain? If you were to choose between the two, which one should it be?

All about differences

This is a listing of the key differences in terms of the features of the Cordoba C7 and C9.

Sides and backSolid mahoganyIndian rosewood
SeriesLuthier SeriesIberia Series
Rosette designPearloid Esteso Weave patternAll wood traditional
Hard caseCordoba Polyfoam CaseCase sold separately
Tuning machinePremium Gold with Black ButtonsGold and black
Top purfling inlayPadauk, Maple and Black4-ply Maple and Black
Side purfling inlayMaple and Black3-ply Maple and Black
Back purfling inlayMaple and Black3-ply Maple and Black
Intended buyerBeginner to early intermediateIntermediate to advanced
Affiliate linksC9 Cedar at Amazon
C9 Spruce at Amazon
C9 Cedar at Sweetwater
C9 Spruce at Sweetwater
C7 Cedar at Amazon
C7 Spruce at Amazon
C7 Cedar at Sweetwater
C7 Spruce at Sweetwater
A comparison of differences between Cordoba’s C9 and C7 models

Cordoba’s intent in making these guitars is revealed when you look at which Series each guitar belongs to. The Iberia Series (targeted at beginners) is where the C7 resides. Nothing wrong with that. Iberia is a fine Series with quite a few popular and value for money instruments.

On the other hand, the C9 resides in the Luthier Series a level of quality guitars aimed at would-be concert guitarists. That of course is a boundless market with well known concert artists owing $10,000+ luthier-made instruments. The price tag of the C9 is obviously not aimed at that market. But the commercial intent is clear. And many an upcoming guitarist will gladly get their hands on this popular model given a chance.

I did a full review of the Cordoba C9 – feel free to check it out.

All about similarities

Here’s a listing of what’s common between the C7 and C9. It is equally revealing.

Common FeatureDescription
Body topSolid Western Red Cedar
Sound hole diameter84 mm (3 1/3”)
Scale length648 mm (25 1/2”)
Number of frets19
Truss rodDual action
FinishGlossy Polyurethane
Nut and SaddleBone
StringsSavarez Cristal Corum High Tension 500CJ
Country of originChina
Common features of Cordoba C9 and C7

Is the C7 a bargain?

The C7 is meant for an advanced beginner or early intermediate guitarist. It is not price-targeted at an absolute rank beginner, who has enough competitive alternatives (including some from the Cordoba line) to choose from.

Not just price, but in terms of tonal quality and general handling, the C7 will be more appreciated by a guitarist with some experience. The solid cedar top is what we’re looking at for now for a like-to-like comparison with the C9 and it is a great choice with its warm, classic nylon-string sound.

Its solid top of cedar (as against laminated wood) is already a step up from the novice world. The C7’s traditional fan bracing under the top wood makes for great resonance and big sound. A two-way truss rod at this level of guitars is a handy feature to take care of its long term neck orientation issues. A sleek glossy finish is a lovely touch.

As found in more expensive guitars, the nut and saddle are made of bone, not plastic. And like every Cordoba guitar, the C7 is built light.

It’s easy to see why, for the advanced beginner and the intermediate player, the C7 may be considered to be of great value and suitability. If not a downright bargain at this price point.

Is the C9 a bargain?

The C9 is an all-solid Spanish style guitar with a Canadian cedar top with mahogany back and sides. It is made in a small boutique workshop. It is for the serious intermediate or advanced guitarist looking to upgrade to a “concert-level instrument at an affordable price” (as the company website says).

The all solid wood construction along with the Spanish fan bracing and Spanish heel construction set apart the C9 as a different and higher order animal. In this sense, the C9 can hardly be compared to the C7. This is a vastly superior instrument – with a punchy midrange and easy playability.

Whether it is a concert instrument or not can be up for debate not because the C9 has any quality issues but it’s more to do with a whole lot of heavy weight contenders for the concert stage out there. But there is no doubt that it is a well deserving and affordable option to many an ambitious guitarist as its popularity over time has shown.

The C9 (or for that matter, even the C7) comes with Savarez Cristal Corum strings 500J, a crisp sounding set of great strings.

Even the looks reek of the stature it seeks to reach. The 1920s-inspired pearloid rosette design adds a vintage touch. The red purfling and the gold-and-black tuning machine are tasteful and classic. A lightweight polyfoam case comes with it for ease and comfort in travel.

Cordoba is going all out in the detailing of the C9 to tell you to take it seriously as a worthy, superior instrument. And we agree that it is so. At the affordable price it is at, it’s easy to forget that it’s actually a fine, well attested guitar.

I have a full and detailed review of the Cordoba C9, if you’re interested.

Which is the right one for you?

Both the C7 and C9 are truly great choices to the levels they are meant for. The prices are a giveaway of not only the work and quality of materials that have gone into construction but also a reflection of whom each instrument will appeal to.

If a beginner gets his or her hands on the C7 because a kind uncle gifted them one for Christmas or a birthday, they should really throw up their hands and celebrate! For this one will last years and keep them company as they come to terms with technique and musicianship.

To an advanced beginner or an early intermediate student, the C7 is a quality instrument at a great price. Not that they don’t have other options to consider. There are always other options. But it’s safe to say that the C7 should certainly be a contender, featuring on final shortlists before purchase. There’s no surprise in this, frankly.

It is when we get to the more advanced intermediate guitarist (advanced or intermediate? These terms are so woolly!) that the C9 enters the stage with its promise of being a beautiful concert instrument with an affordable price tag. If I were one such student, would I be tempted to try? You bet I would. Thousands of others have and gone home happy. The C9 is a popular model in the Cordoba stable, understandably so.

Its features-for-the-price output is impressive. And it’s a Cordoba at the end of the day. As much as Yamaha used to be prized as a top brand in the years gone by, Cordoba has won for itself a great name in the last decade or so. And the C9 stands among its top selling models.

(Incidentally, Yamaha isn’t going anywhere. It remains a top brand and continues to pull its weight. But that’s a different story… )

So is it the C7 or the C9 for you? Just take an honest look at where your skill level stands. And the answer should be blindingly obvious.

Check out the prices:

C7 Cedar at Amazon | C7 Cedar at Sweetwater
C7 Spruce at Amazon | C7 Spruce at Sweetwater

C9 Cedar at Amazon | C9 Cedar at Sweetwater
C9 Spruce at Amazon | C9 Spruce at Sweetwater

Happy choosing and happy playing!

Narayan Kumar

Narayan Kumar is a passionate classical guitarist and an online research buff. He is also one half of the online classical guitar duo DuJu who put out guitar duets regularly on their YouTube channel. Read more about Narayan.

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