At the intermediate to the advanced stage of classical guitar capability, a player starts to yearn for a higher quality instrument. A proper luthier-made instrument, like a Marcus Dominelli or Kenny Hill, may still be too expensive to justify as a purchase.
What seem within grasp are the ‘factory-made luthier-style’ classical guitars: a top of the line Yamaha or Cordoba (GC32 and above for the Yamaha, C12 for the Cordoba), a Jose Ramirez Estudio, an Amalio Burguet Concert 1A and so on. All around the $2,000 mark, give or take a few hundred on either side.
This is the elite company of guitars that the Spanish-made Alhambra 11P belongs to. It is at the highest end of factory-made Alhambra models.
All Alhambra guitars are proper Spanish guitars in the sense they are actually made in Alicante, Spain. The widely respected Alhambra range of classical guitars starts with their Student Line and the next step up is the Conservatory Line to which the popular 5P and 7P models belong. The Concert Line features the 8P, 9P, 10P and 11P models. Beyond these are the luthier guitars of the Professional Line.
The key difference between these models and Lines is the wood selection. This is done in accordance with the price range of the instrument: better quality woods for higher-end models.
As befits a top of the line product, the 11P is well put together. The workmanship is excellent and so is the fineness of the finish. The careful choice of tonewoods is evident in the quality of the sound, that many say is pretty full-bodied and loud. The company-speak calls it “a powerful and delicate sound… with high-level attributes for interpretation.”
Features at a glance
|Top wood||Solid Western red cedar/Solid German spruce|
|Sides and back||Indian rosewood|
|Bridge and nut||Bone|
|Scale length||650 mm|
|Number of frets||20|
|Machine heads||Gold plated|
|Strings||D’Addario EXP 44 Extra Hard Tension|
|Country of origin||Spain|
Features that matter
As can be seen from the table above, the Alhambra 11P is made of solid woods: an Indian rosewood body, fine-grain Western red cedar top with a rich, dark ebony fingerboard. The evenness of the grain in the cedar top is noteworthy.
What’s not obvious from the table is that the 11P’s fingerboard is longer than that of a standard classical guitar. It extends over the sound hole for an additional fret – the 20th fret. This expands the instrument’s range somewhat for advanced players giving them further reach up the higher registers.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of this model is the heel. The Alhambra 11P’s heel is made of 5 different pieces instead of the usual single piece in most models. It is part of the traditional construction system called Tacón Español for structurally strong construction and a robust sound. There is internal ebony reinforcement in the neck of the guitar as well.
The choice of the D’Addario EXP44 strings is a good one. Outfitting classical guitars with hard tension strings is not common practice but very typical of Alhambra guitars.
The 11P comes with the saddle and the nut made of bone, a traditionally used material for good vibration-transfer capabilities. Overall, the guitar is known for its increased volume and responds well to the demands of an advanced guitar player.
The finish of this model is often commented upon by owners, who call it ‘classy’ and ‘refined’.
Alhambra 11P demo
Alhambra 11P vs 10P comparison
With all classical guitars that are commercially produced, there is always discussion about two models with adjacent model numbers. Questions are debated if the lesser number model is deficient in any significant way or if the costlier version is justified for the price paid and so on.
In the opinion of many, the difference between 10P and 11P is mainly cosmetic. It’s really the same guitar, they say.
As already noted, the 11P has an extended fingerboard that goes over the soundhole to accommodate an additional fret for further reach. The 10P has a normal fingerboard of 19 frets. Again, the 11P has an “additional green line in the binding and inlays” which the 10P does not have.
So, in many ways, the 10P may well be considered the same instrument at a lesser price. Of course, both are fine instruments of professional, high performance quality. Both models feature good power and projection as well as a clean and colorful sound and great sustain. These are pretty much close to being concert guitars.
The 11P is a very classy instrument targeted at the most demanding players and even the professional ones. The design and the materials used are top-notch. Built to last, the 11P will be a perfect companion for years to come to those who fall under its spell.
Opinions online of Alhambra 11P
The reason for holding a high opinion of the 11P is the same reason why any Alhambra classical guitar is held high. Alhambra guitars are alluring in that their sound captures the evocative and native spirit of Spain. The Alhambra sound is earthy and full, warm and direct – with character and personality. It is an authentic Spanish voice. What’s not to like?
There have been occasional mutterings about the 11P’s loudness being a deterrent for some folks. They find the guitar is too ‘big’ in its sound and good only for those with an aggressive style of playing. For subtleties and refinement, these users do not believe it is the right choice.
Yet others have commented on the high action of the guitar, finding it uncomfortable to play. Most guitars aimed at advanced players tend to have a higher action because it is believed such players have the necessary skill to tame it and make it sing. The 11P certainly falls in this category of instruments.
When it comes to action height, the traditional rule is that with greater action height you get greater volume. While a smaller action height makes the guitar comfortable to play on, even for novices.
Other typical responses from the web (paraphrased) on the Alhambra 11P:
The 11P Alhambra guitar captures the Spanish sound with deep, resonant basses and firm, clear trebles. Its voice is one of strength and punch.
Its quick responsiveness makes it easy and fun to play.
It’s a beautiful guitar, the sound is deep and resonant, and the craftsmanship is excellent.
The fit and finish of this instrument is perfect. The fingerboard goes over the sound hole in order to introduce an additional fret that is required for some musical pieces.
It’s a piece of art. It is very light, beautiful and the playability is fantastic.
I have an Alhambra 10P, which is the same guitar without some of the decorative marking of the 11P. A wonderful guitar with a very solid feel, very long sustain and playability.
You won’t always find the 11P at your regular, favorite online stores. In the US, Spanish imports like the Alhambra may be difficult to locate. Here’s a state-wise guide to Alhambra dealers in the USA:
If you want to know about other prominent brands of Spanish origin, read my article on 9 Made in Spain Classical Guitars.
For a different experience from the other side of Europe, there’s the Kremona Fiesta to consider – it’s from Bulgaria and a very fine guitar. Read my review of the Kremona Fiesta here.
Read about Alhambra’s own exciting option for early intermediate guitarists: the Alhambra 7P review. If you want to go past factory-built guitars, however good, and evaluate custom-built ones, read my piece Luthier Guitars to Consider.
Happy Spanish sounds to you!