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.
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
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 kilometres 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!
To classical guitar players, whatever their skill level, Yamaha and Cordoba are big names. Barring a minority that prefers custom-made luthier instruments - concert performers, expert players and...
Some time back, I wrote about all the different Yamaha models of classical guitar covering a wide range - from the inexpensive, beginner’s C40II to the mighty GC Series models. Being so wide on a...