Everyone has a good word to say about Alhambra guitars. Their student model 5P, their conservatory model 7P and their concert model 11P are all popular and respected in their categories. All are made in Spain and sold in over 70 countries.
The Alhambra 7P classical guitar is the high end of the company’s Conservatory line which also features the 4P, 5P and the 6P models. The Alhambra 7P is an all solid wood classical guitar that is a serious step up for an intermediate guitarist. With its superior craftsmanship, Spanish bracing, great choice of tone woods, balanced sound and reasonable price, the 7P is a true all rounder and exceptional value for money.
I have been known to recommend a 7P to a friend or two over even the ‘concert model’ 9P. Of course, the 9P is a louder and nicer instrument in some ways. But it does not go enough distance, in my view, for the extra money it asks us to shell out. The 7P is a great instrument for an intermediate level player. And I honestly think the next step up for a 7P owner will be a handcrafted luthier made guitar, not another factory-built guitar.
I should know, because I am a 7P owner and it’s one of the most beautiful and satisfying guitars I’ve ever had.
Check price of Alhambra 7P at Guitar Center. If you’re interested in the Student line of Alhambra guitars, I’ve written a full review of the 5P model which can read up.
Great tonewoods, great construction
The Alhambra 7P Classic (as the cedar version is known) is one of Alhambra’s 50 Anniversary commemorative models designed to celebrate half a century of Alhambra Guitars in 2015. The guitar is based on a classical design from the 1970s. It features a world-class solid cedar top and a solid Indian rosewood body.
The neck is made from African mahogany and reinforced with ebony, which can be seen with a mirror or by removing the nut. The nut and the saddle are made from Melamine, which is an “excellent transmitter of sound and known to enhance projection.” With golden machine heads and an exquisite rosette, this guitar is a polished and refined Alhambra instrument.
The choice of Red Western Cedar or German Spruce for the top is up to the player. Both provide an excellent sound and will open and develop with use – the more you play the guitar, the better it sounds. Red Cedar develops more rapidly into a warm, rich tone, while Spruce provides added brilliance and top end, with a faster response.
This handmade Spanish nylon-string guitar also has a U profile neck that makes it easier to slide up and done the fingerboard easier.
Top wood: Solid Red Cedar
Back/Sides: Solid Indian Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany with ebony reinforcement
Scale Length: 650mm
Nut Width: 52mm
Country of origin: Spain
Alhambra guitars: Made in Spain
Alhambra guitars are built by hand at the Alhambra facility in Muro de Alcoy, Alicante, Spain, not too far from the coast of the Balearic Sea.
Built using the traditional Spanish classical approach with the sides tightly integrated into the neck, the Alhambra 7P features either a Red Western Cedar or German Spruce top, paired with Indian Rosewood back and sides and an ebony fingerboard. This guitar is a full 650mm scale length with 52mm nut width.
The solid spruce top on the Alhambra 7PA gives excellent note definition and interesting overtones while the rosewood back and sides impart a warm tonality.
The Alhambra Model 7P is also available in Cypress construction for the Flamenco player, as the model 7FC. The 7P carries a gloss finish, and the hardware includes gold plated tuning machines with ebony buttons.
The cedar top version is named 7P Classic and the spruce top version 7PA.
Incidentally, while Alhambra is possibly the leading and most familiar name that comes to mind when we think of ‘Made in Spain’ classical guitars, there are certainly other worthy brands. If you want to take a few minutes to get a better overview of other similar brands, read my article on 9 Made in Spain Classical Guitars You Should Know About for details.
The sound of Alhambra 7P
To an advanced student, the 7P’s power and warmth of tone will certainly appeal. This is a comfortable instrument, not heavy, with great playability. Its all solid wood construction has made it a great hit with intermediates looking for a quality instrument to expand their skills, technique and repertoire on.
Its rich sound is no doubt due to the choice of superior quality woods as also to an innovative cross-bracing system. There is more resonance to the guitar because the top wood moves more freely. The lacquer finish also probably helps in the transmission of sound.
This is a popular model with serious students at a certain level. Here’s a brief video of how the Alhambra 7P sounds like:
The guitar comes from Alhambra with D’Addario EXP44 Extra-Hard Tension strings installed. These are excellent strings and for the first year or two in my case, I was extremely happy with this string set. Later, acting on some online advice that seemed interesting, I tried out Savarez Alliance 540J Hard Tension strings. These strings are my choice now. They give my 7P better tone, volume, and sustain. I love them!
There is an understated aesthetic of elegance and beauty to the 7P that is true of higher models like 9P as well. The 7P ticks so many boxes in terms of craftsmanship, build, sound quality, volume and such that I have no hesitation in saying it will meet the demands of an advanced student of the classical guitar.
Depending on where you buy it from, you should get a soft gig bag or a hard shell case along with it.
All things considered…
The Alhambra 7P was designed from the vintage predecessors of the 70’s. Inspired by the past it may be, but it is a product of today’s construction methods and techniques. It is a conservatory level guitar made in Spain with a precise and balanced sound.
The African Mahogany for the neck reinforced with an ebony strip is a unique feature. With its golden machine heads and detail in the bindings and rosette, this is also an aesthetically pleasing guitar. It looks like an elegant concert guitar.
And the sound… it’s a serious step up for the advancing student. It has a very Spanish sound – rich, warm, loud and clear. For intermediate performers and serious hobbyists, the 7P is a rewarding instrument to invest in. If you’re considering an Alhambra 9P to just get to the next level, I’d still tell you to just get a 7P – the price difference is hard to justify, in my opinion.
I’ve sat for hours in a store playing 7P and higher up models and I kept returning to the 7P again and again. I don’t think it was only because of the price. I’m among those who believe Alhambra makes very fine instruments at their various price points. I’m sure you will be very happy with a 7P simply because it’s in that sweet spot of price and great quality.
It is far better than the 6P, and not too much behind the 8P or the 9P. Did I mention I heartily recommend it for the intermediate guitarist?
Note: It’s a pity that my much loved Alhambra 7P is a thousand kilometers away locked up in a house on a hill. Due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, I’m unable to reach for it and play it let alone share with you fresh photos or audio samples recorded on my trusted Zoom recorder. Some other time, hopefully.
On a related note, if you want to learn some great intermediate-level pieces for the classical guitar, read my suggestions here: Repertoire Ideas For Intermediate Players.
Happy Spanish times!
14 thoughts on “Alhambra 7P Classical Guitar Review: Exciting Option For Intermediates”
Is the P and PA different colors
The 7P is a cedar top and the 7PA is a spruce top. So the colors will be different. Kind of orange-ish for the cedar and closer to cream-offwhite for the spruce.
I am surprised the Alhambra 7P does not have a bone nut and saddle.
Thank you for this. What would you suggest as a luthier-model step up from this, as you mention in your review?
There are many step-ups from here, Tom… my personal favourite would be an Amalio Burguet 1A or an equivalent Camps model.
Good to hear. Thank you.
…Looking at a Camps on Reverb…does $2200 for a mint condition 2022 CL20 sound reasonable to you? Thanks again for the suggestions. These are rare, obviously.
Hi Tom: Although I have no direct experience with that particular model, its appears to me at this level and for a brand like Camps, it is a typical price. Anything in the $2000-$2500 range is what you’d expect to pay. Enjoy!
How would the 7P compare to a Yamaha GC22 or GC32?
Hi Dennis: the GC32, in my opinion, is a fine step up from the regular Yamahas. I have used it in the past and for a ‘commercial production’ guitar it had a rounded tone and easy playability that I liked. I’ve been playing the 7P for many years now and is a go-to guitar for me. That skews it heavily in my favor. I really think it’s a fantastic instrument in touch, feel, sound and responsiveness. I use Savaraze HT strings on it and is hard to beat in terms of value of money as well. I could be seriously biased here, though… 🙂
I will have a Grade 8 exam and the guitar I’m using right now was bought years ago (Yamaha CG142C FYI). I am thinking of buying a new guitar to use for about 5 years before owning a customized guitar. I tried the Cordoba C10 (cedar top) and found the sounds pretty good, but there are no stores that can let me try Alhambra 7P. So I wonder which one would you choose?
This is a frustrating problem in many countries – that certain brands are not simply available. I think the 7P would have been a better choice for its tone and feel (as subjective as those can get, for sure). Yet, at conservatory and a little beyond level, the C10 is a surprisingly good guitar in its price range. I have loved it and I know a handful of advanced students and talented players who are very happy with it.
I have a chance to purchase a 7c with mahogany back and sides, how would it compare to the 7p thats rosewood?
I’d say go for it. Back and sides have a lesser impact on the sound if the wood is basically a known one. Rosewood and mahogany are standard options. The difference should be subtle I’m convinced.