Is the 630 mm Classical Guitar a Serious Option For an Adult Player?


In the past decade or so, the smaller size 630 mm classical guitar has been gaining ground. More manufacturers are offering it now. I too have mulled about owning one, although my finger span is just over 8″ and I probably don’t need it (going by a popular rule of thumb). Anyhow, a little research does no harm, does it?

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Is the 630mm classical guitar a serious option worth considering? Some concert guitarists play the 630 mm for a reason: they have small hands. A 630 mm guitar enables them to reach the strings with ease without sacrificing fidelity. High-end luthiers too have stated that a 630 mm guitar does not imply a tonally or physically weaker instrument.

There have always been scaled versions of the guitar to suit adults with small hands as well as children: 640 mm, 630 mm, 620 mm, 580 mm and even much smaller sizes. Many of the smaller versions were meant to be initial guitars for children of 5 years and above, meant to be grown out of.

The 630 mm guitar is NOT among them. It is more a destination guitar, if you will. Specially for adults with small hands or a short overall frame. Does the shaving off of a mere 20 mm from a full size of 650 mm offer any real benefit though?

Is the 630 mm a compromise guitar?

Let’s get the terminology out of the way first. The 630 mm guitar is also known as the 7/8 guitar as also a Parlor guitar. All mean exactly the same thing, at least most of the time. (I saw the German brand Ortega offering ‘7/8 models’ only to find out that they were 615 mm, not 630 mm. So check the mm always, to be sure.)

Secondly, let’s drop any guitar from our discussion that is less than 630 mm (with names like 3/4 guitar, 1/2 guitar, 1/4 guitar, etc). These ‘fractional’ guitars are for really young children, often 8 years or less, who will be outgrowing them as they themselves grow.

With that said, it’s proper to ask the question: What makes the 630 mm instrument so legit then?

The difference of 20 mm from the 650 mm norm is too small to affect sound projection or anything else. For practical purposes, the 630 is very much a full size instrument.

Why scale down at all, then? Comfort is the simple answer for adults with small hands – the kind of comfort in the basic holding of an instrument that breeds confidence and accuracy.

The advantages are a few:

  • The player is not struggling with the instrument and constantly coming to terms with it
  • When well made, the sound quality is as good as a full size equivalent instrument
  • The player performs with confidence. Increased playability is a great advantage

So if you’re an adult with a shorter frame, it makes sense to look for a 630 mm guitar, whatever the level you’re at. It is a full fledged instrument on its own. It is not a compromise.

Here are a few popular options.

Four great 630 mm guitars

Yamaha CS40II 7/8 for beginners

This is a spruce top guitar for an adult guitar beginner at an affordable price. A child may probably need a smaller instrument like 580 mm (3/4) or even less – depending on the child’s age and height. A 7/8 instrument is almost full-size and more suitable for an adult.

Yamaha’s factory-built guitars, and this one is no exception, are robustly constructed and known to last a long time.

The more popular C40II (without the ’S’) is among the best selling classical guitars of Yamaha. It is a highly regarded student guitar for its intonation, consistency and value for money.

The CS40II is a smaller-sized, 7/8 variant of its popular cousin. While the scale length (the distance between the saddle and the nut) is 630 mm, the fingerboard width is also a little smaller at 47.5 mm (1 7/8”). To a musician with smaller hands, every mm makes a difference in playability!

Note: This product is listed as currently unavailable at Amazon and not even listed on other major online stores. Not sure why. Could be because we are in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic now.

FeatureDescription
Top woodSpruce
Back and sidesMeranti
FingerboardRosewood
BridgeRosewood
Scale length630 mm
Fingerboard width47.6 mm
Yamaha CS40II classical guitar key features

Cordoba C9 Parlor for intermediate students

Cordoba makes 7/8 variants of some of its leading models, Cordoba C9 Parlor and Cordoba C10 Parlor, as well as Cordoba Dolce.

(If you are interested, I have a review of the full-sized C9 here.)

The description of the C9 Parlor says it all: 7/8-size 6-string Acoustic Nylon-string Classical Guitar with Mahogany Back and Sides, Canadian Cedar Top, 1.96″ Nut Width, and Natural Finish. The nut width is noteworthy because that is pretty much 50mm, the standard width on a full size guitar.

The C9 or its cousin C9 Parlor is not a beginner’s guitar. It is not even for an advanced beginner. It is squarely for the intermediate or early advanced student of the instrument.

It is constructed with quality tone woods. It has a solid cedar top. The solid mahogany back and sides help in overall projection. It has a full-bodied response.

Bernard Werner of ThisIsClassicalGuitar.com says he was surprised by the C9’s “above average volume from what I expected… and better than average tone for a mid-range factory guitar.”

The C9 Parlor is also a gorgeous looking instrument with its mother-of-pearl Esteso rosette inlay and gold tuners with ebony buttons. You can check the price of Cordoba C9 Parlor at Amazon. Or check out Cordoba C9 Parlor at Sweetwater.

FeatureDescription
FinishGloss Polyurethane
Top woodSolid Canadian cedar
Back & sides woodSolid Mahogany
Body bracingFan bracing
Number of frets19
Scale length24.8″ (630 mm)
Tuning MachinesCordoba Premium Gold tuners
Bridge MaterialEbony
Nut/Saddle MaterialBone
Nut Width1.96″ (50 mm)
StringsSavarez Cristal Corum High Tension 500CJ
Case IncludedPolyfoam Softshell Case
Overall Length38″ (965 mm)
Key features of the Cordoba C9 Parlor classical guitar

Cordoba C10 Parlor for intermediate and advanced players

The Cordoba C10 Parlor is for the intermediate/advanced player looking for ease and playability in a quality instrument.

The smaller Parlor version is pretty much the same as the bigger and more famous C10 with its all-solid wood construction and a warm tone. With a solid Canadian cedar top and solid Indian rosewood back and sides, the C10 Parlor has a responsive soundboard for louder intonation.

Like the C9 Parlor, the C10 Parlor too is aesthetically pleasing with its mother-of-pearl weave rosette of a vintage 1920’s design.

Bernard Werner of ThisIsClassicalGuitar.com in his review of the C10 Parlor says it has a “more rich and sustained sound compared to the C9 Parlor. The upgrade is worth it in my opinion.” And goes on to say he’d “happily recommend it to my smaller sized students or those looking for a  smaller guitar.”

The Savarez Cristal Corum 500CJ strings are an excellent choice. A polyfoam case is thrown in to sweeten the deal. You can check the price of the Cordoba C10 with a polyfoam case at Amazon. Or check it out at Guitar Center.

FeatureDescription
FinishGloss Polyurethane
Top woodSolid Canadian cedar
Back & sides woodSolid Indian Rosewood
Body bracingFan bracing
Number of frets19
Scale length24.8″ (630 mm)
Tuning MachinesCordoba Premium Gold tuners
Bridge MaterialEbony
Nut/Saddle MaterialBone
Nut Width1.96″ (50 mm)
StringsSavarez Cristal Corum High Tension 500CJ
Case IncludedCordoba Poly foam Case
Overall Length38″ (965 mm)
Key features of the Cordoba C10 Parlor classical guitar

Cordoba Dolce for the advanced beginner

This is a great 7/8 option for the more advanced beginner of the classical guitar, perhaps.

Unusual for its price range, the Dolce has a solid cedar top (not laminated). Also unusual for the price range is the two-way truss rod, for adjusting neck angles over a period of years.

Like all Cordoba guitars, the Dolce is lightweight though well constructed with the typical Spanish fan bracing that the company seems to love. It is a great instrument to experiment with the shorter 7/8 size at not much of a price – if you have small hands and haven’t already tried a smaller guitar. Check out the price of Cordoba Dolce 7/8 at Amazon. Or check it out at Guitar Center.

FeatureDescription
FinishGloss Polyurethane
Top woodSolid Western Red Cedar
Back & sides woodMahogany
Body bracingFan bracing
Number of frets19
Scale length24.8″ (630 mm)
Truss RodDual action
Bridge MaterialPau Ferro or Rosewood
Nut/Saddle MaterialBone
Nut Width2″ (50 mm)
RosetteAll Wood Traditional
Tuning MachinesCordoba Gold with Pearl Buttons
ColorNatural
Key features of the Cordoba Dolce classical guitar

And then some from high-end luthiers…

If you’re looking for concert quality guitars that are 7/8, you’d be glad to learn that many top luthiers make this variant. Among them you could consider:

Kenny Hill

Douglass Scott

Gregory Byers

Marcus Dominelli

You don’t hear bad rap reviews or comments from reputed players or luthiers about the 7/8 size (630mm) classical guitar. It’s because there’s nothing bad to say, folks. Simple as that.

To know Nylon Plucks’ preferred model for adults with small hands (and why), read our best guitar for adults with small hands.

If you’d like to check out some full size options too, make sure to read our review of 14 models of classical guitars at various price points.

Happy 630 mm hunting!

Nylon Plucks

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.

4 thoughts on “Is the 630 mm Classical Guitar a Serious Option For an Adult Player?

  1. I have a Cordoba C10 parlour for my daughter and quite enjoy the sound and playability. The sound is quite big for the size and has it’s own unique character than I enjoy even over my other luthier guitars. The C10 palour is a cedar top and my other guitars are spruce tops, so that might be one of the reasons.

  2. Both the C9 and C10 are so highly rated by users that this comes as no surprise to me. Volume and projection are the features that everyone seems to be happy about. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Thanks for the article. Just thought I’d mention that in the listing of short-scale-guitar-making luthiers the first and last names of Douglass Scott are reversed–this is of course easy to do as he seems to have two “first” names! I have a 645mm scale Douglass Scott myself, which is a very nice guitar.

    I also have a shorter scale (628mm) New World Player—a well-made factory guitar made in China under the guidance/sponsorship of Kenny Hill. Also a very nice guitar and substantially less expensive than the Scott, being factory-made.

    1. Thanks for the correction, Ron. I have made the change. Incidentally your comment for some reason ended up in my spam box, so didn’t notice it earlier. Apologies.

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