Cordoba C1M 3/4: Small enough but is it good enough?

Cordoba is particularly well regarded for its entry-level classical guitars which fall under its Protege line. The Cordoba C1M 3/4 is a student-level guitar with three-fourths the scale length of a full-size instrument, aimed at children and those of petite build.

With its compact size, the Cordoba C1M 3/4 nylon-string guitar is great for players with smaller hands, mainly children and adults with smaller hands. Even adults with ‘normal’ hands may prefer playing with a 3/4 size guitar for its comfort and playability. A player new to the guitar can get frustrated if they play on an instrument that isn’t the correct size.

Specifically, older children in the 8-11 group will find the 3/4 size comfortable enough to not only play on but also easy enough to jump to a full-size guitar when the time comes.

Check price of C1M 3/4 on Amazon | C1M 3/4 on Sweetwater

A quick look at the Cordoba C1M 3/4

It is light and easy to use. It is a comfortable size for a young beginner. And the price is affordable. The sound is rich and full due to its mahogany back and sides with a real spruce top. This is a great student guitar at a very affordable price. Today’s tutors wholeheartedly recommend the C1M to their students looking for a smaller scale guitar.

In addition to the spruce and mahogany, which are good woods for a guitar, the C1M has a slim neck profile, a traditional-looking rosette and a matte polyurethane finish. Incidentally, the M in the name C1M stands for ‘matte’. There is an identical model from Cordoba called the C1 (without the M) which has a gloss polyurethane finish (and is slightly more expensive).

For a beginner guitar, the C1M comes with an adjustable truss rod for neck stability, a feature found in more expensive guitars if at all. It comes fitted with high tension Savarez 500CJ strings which are a good fit (although unusual – normally, beginner guitars tend to come with medium tension or even light tension strings.)

The C1M is all in all about these strong attributes that matter in a beginner guitar:

  • Well built
  • Affordable
  • Good sound
  • Comfortable size
  • Easy to play
  • Great strings
  • Reputed brand

A closer look at the Cordoba C1M 3/4

Like any regular classical guitar, the C1M is a nylon-string instrument in conventional style (not a cutaway design) with a reduced scale length, a flat radius and a slightly narrower nut width (48 mm instead of 52 mm). It is a small body guitar but otherwise built to traditional recipes of classical guitar construction.

Unlike steel string guitars, nylon string guitars are lightly built. The soundboard vibrates more freely. The fan bracing pattern gives the center of the soundboard more surface area to vibrate and respond to the tension of the strings.

Besides, nylon strings are easier on the fingertips than steel strings. That makes it easy for children to start off their guitar education with a nylon-string, reputed and affordable instrument like the C1M.

We’ve already seen the distinction between the C1 model (glossy finish) and the C1M model (matte finish). There is yet another closely related Cordoba model called the Cordoba C100M which also has a 3/4 version.

Although not commonly seen on retailer sites, it may crop up in your searches. The C100M is similar in many ways to the C1M including the scale length of 615 mm (24.2”) but smaller in overall length. Making it possibly more comfortable to hold and play for small hands. It is pricier though.

You can see the differences between the Cordoba C1M and the C100M in the table below (while also understanding the C1M’s key features.)

C1M 3/4C100M 3/4
Body TopSpruceSpruce
Back and SidesMahoganyMahogany
Top Bracing PatternFanFan
Soundhole Diameter84mm (3 1/3″)84mm (3 1/3″)
Top BindingBlack ABSBlack ABS
Scale Length615mm (24.2″)615mm (24.2″)
Neck ShapeC ShapeC Shape
Nut Width48mm (1 7/8″)48mm (1 7/8″)
Truss RodDual ActionDual Action
Fingerboard MaterialComposite or Pau Ferro (South American tonewood)Composite or Pau Ferro (South American tonewood)
FinishSatin PolyurethaneSatin Polyurethane
Bridge MaterialComposite or Pau FerroComposite or Pau Ferro
Nut MaterialCompositeComposite
Saddle MaterialCompositeComposite
Tuning MachinesCordoba Gold with Pearl ButtonsCordoba Gold with Pearl Buttons
StringsSavarez Cristal Corum High Tension 500CJSavarez Cristal Corum High Tension 500CJ
Upper Bout Width260mm (10 1/4″)254mm (10″)
Lower Bout Width340mm (13 3/8″)340mm (13 3/8″)
Body Depth Upper Bout80mm (3 1/8″)87mm (3 3/8″)
Body Depth Lower Bout85mm (3 1/3″)87mm (3 3/8″)
Body Length457mm (18″)445mm (17 1/2″)
Overall Length953mm (37 1/2″)914mm (36″)
Country of OriginChinaChina

Praise for the Cordoba C1M

User reviews, by and large, are heavily in favor of the Cordoba C1M 3/4. Users comment on the quality build and the robust sound. The 3/4 size, as noted, makes it convenient for young players.

Many crossover players from the acoustic/electric side, looking to expand their sound palette with nylon strings, love the playability and the price of the C1M.

Some typical comments (paraphrased):

For someone just learning to play guitar, this guitar is very comfortable and very light. Highly recommend it for people starting out.

My 11-year-old granddaughter is learning guitar and she loves it. Easy to tune and fits her perfectly. The 3/4 is much easier for her to play.

I purchased this guitar for my 9-year-old son and he loves it.

If you’re just starting out or you’re a person with smaller hands, this guitar is worth the price.

I have small hands and I purchased a 3/4 size guitar. It’s fun.

Here is the Cordoba C1M 3/4 in action.

Check price of Cordoba C1M 3/4 at Amazon | Cordoba C1M 3/4 at Sweetwater

Cordoba C1M 3/4 vs Yamaha CGS103A

Of course, Cordoba isn’t the only option out there if you’re looking at 3/4 size classical guitars. But surprisingly, in an otherwise crowded marketplace with so many brands vying for your attention and wallet, there aren’t too many choices in 3/4 size guitars.

Sure, Cordoba’s mighty rival Yamaha is a big presence with its famed CGS103A model, a favorite of teachers and students for years. The Yamaha has an even smaller scale length (585 mm) than the Cordoba C1M and is equally reputed as a brand and ruggedly built.

The smaller scale length of the CGS103A can be an advantage for really small hands, although making the leap to a full-size guitar in due course can be a trifle tougher.

While the C1M comes fitted with Savarez Corum High Tension strings, the Yamaha comes with Savarez D’Angelico Light Tension strings.

So with two reputed companies, known for their quality, value for money and consistency of build, your choice will come down to the sound and playability. Which is a purely personal and subjective thing.

Yamaha guitars in general have a warmer, mellower sound to them while the Cordobas have a brighter, extroverted sound. The Yamaha CGS 103A may be easier to play for small hands with its really short scale length as well as the use of light tension strings. (I have a full review of the Yamaha CGS103A if you’re interested.)

For a broader discussion on the two big brands, see my article Yamaha vs Cordoba: Which one?

The Cordoba C1M in a nutshell

As any number of satisfied users will tell you in reviews and forums, the C1M is great value for money at its price point of around the $150 mark. It is smaller, comfortable to hold and play and the sound is great. Most tutors will have no hesitation in recommending it for beginners.

Cordoba quality controls are generally considered excellent and you should get a good piece to hand.

Keep your C1M within a temperature range of 60 F to 85 F, and relative humidity of 45% to 65% as the manufacturer recommends. And you should have yourself some happy years of playing a nicely built guitar.

If you’re interested in the even smaller Cordoba Mini II, read my article Small Size, Big Fun which is a detailed review of a delightful model.


Happy plucking!

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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