The Cordoba C9 is a popular choice with the intermediate to early-advanced player. It certainly has its fan base. Since I’ve always been curious about the reasons for its popularity (as also its older brother, the C10) I did a walk along the inter webs to research it.
Who is the C9 for really? The Cordoba C9 has a solid cedar top and and solid mahogany back and sides, so it is not a ‘laminated’ guitar. It is part of the company’s Luthier Series aimed at advanced players and concert guitarists. Its high quality-to-price is an added attraction.
There are comparable models at any price range and the C9 has worthy opponents. Including its own cousins – the C7 at the lower end and the C10 slightly above it. It stands its ground because it comes with sizeable advantages like construction, weight, price and a fan base.
If you were considering the Cordoba C7 as an option, I suggest that you take a look at my comparative review of the C9 vs C7.
The C9’s features at a glance
|Body top wood||Solid Western Red Cedar|
|Sides and back wood||Solid Mahogany|
|Fingerboard & bridge wood||Indian Rosewood|
|Neck wood||African Mahogany|
|Fingerboard inlay||Mother of Pearl Side Position Markers|
|Scale length||25.6″ (650 mm)|
|Number of frets||19|
|Tuning machines||Cordoba Premium Gold tuners|
|Nut & Saddle material||Bone|
|Width at nut||2.04″ (51 mm)|
|Strings||Savarez Cristal Corum High Tension 500CJ|
|Rosette design||Pearloid Esteso Weave pattern|
|Top purfling inlay||Padauk, Maple and Black|
|Side & back purfling inlay||Maple and Black|
|Sound hole diameter||84 mm (3 1/3″)|
|Truss rod||Dual action|
|Hard case||Cordoba Polyfoam Case|
|Intended buyer||Intermediate to advanced|
|Affiliate links||Cordoba C9 Cedar top at Amazon|
Cordoba C9 Spruce top at Amazon
Cordoba C9 Cedar top at Sweetwater
Cordoba C9 Spruce top at Sweetwater
It’s a jump-up but is it concert ready?
From an earlier intermediate stage, the C9 is definitely a worthy step up. It is feature-rich and highly regarded. But are we pushing it if we claim it to be a concert guitar?
We are, I think. For all its excellent qualities, the C9 – for no fault of its own – simply does not have the aura along with the commanding price tag of a concert worthy instrument.
Accomplished guitarists save their ultimate drool for names like Kenny Hill, Marcus Dominelli and a few dozen more names from across the pond. Even the over achieving elder brother, the C10, has an edge when it comes to sound quality.
If at all it’s possible to be objective about the sounds classical guitars make, any experienced hand will tell you they’ve heard better sounding (and costlier) guitars than the C9.
And there’s the key point: the price. This price is a steal for a guitar of quality. That we’re even considering talking about it in concert terms is a huge compliment, I should think.
While you wait for your turn to reach that super expensive concert guitar, the C9 will fill in the intervening years for many an intermediate player. Given half a chance and given its popularity, any rising guitarist won’t be able to strike it off their final shortlist easily.
A deeper look at the Cordoba C9
The C9 is made in a small boutique workshop. It is an all-solid wood Spanish style guitar with a solid Canadian cedar top and solid mahogany back and sides. As mentioned, the C9 is for the serious intermediate or advanced guitarist looking to upgrade. A “concert-level instrument at an affordable price” as the company website says.
Most Cordoba models come with a Spanish-stye fan bracing. The bracing is the particular arrangement of wooden struts below the top wood, an arrangement optimised for generating great volume and resonance.
The fan bracing pattern allows the centre of the soundboard more surface area to vibrate. When the soundboard is responsive, the guitar sounds louder. The C9 comes with a lightweight, two-way truss rod that allows you to adjust the guitar’s neck.
Taking all that into consideration, the C9 comes across as a superior instrument although lightweight in construction (again like most Cordoba guitars). Its sound has been described as something with a punchy midrange.
The C9 comes fitted with Savarez Cristal Corum strings 500J, a crisp sounding set of great strings.
The aesthetic of the guitar is noteworthy. Cordoba has taken its looks as seriously as its playability, it appears. The appearance reeks of the stature it aims to reach.
The 1920s-inspired pearloid rosette design adds a vintage touch. The red purfling and the gold-and-black tuning machine look tasteful and classic. The glossy polyurethane finish is quiet but noticeable.
Cordoba is going all out in the detailing of the C9 to tell you to take it seriously as a worthy, superior instrument. And many agree that it is so. At the affordable price it is at, it’s easy to forget that it’s actually a highly recommended, well attested guitar.
A lightweight polyfoam case comes with it for ease and comfort in travel.
And then some options…
There are two variants of the C9 that might hold some interest. One is the spruce version C9 SP for a brighter sound that lovers of a spruce-top enjoy.
And the other is a C9 Parlor version which is Cordoba-speak for a slightly smaller guitar for adults with small hands. This is a particularly excellent guitar for that purpose with a reduced scale length of 630 mm instead of the regular 650 mm.
A reduction of 20 mm may not seem like much but it provides players with a shorter frame good reach and playability across frets without losing the full bodied sound in any appreciable way.
So as against ‘toy versions’ like the 1/2 guitar or 3/4 guitar, the Parlor-size variant is a serious guitar from any manufacturer because the 630 mm size is taken seriously by luthiers and players alike. (Even top luthiers like Marcus Dominelli offer 630 mm guitars in their range.)
If you’re considering a 7/8 (630 mm) guitar, I highly recommend my fuller discussion of 630 mm guitars. It gives tips and suggests options on the broader topic.
It’s just possible that you may be eyeing the C9’s older brother the Cordoba C10, another popular model near the very top end of the company’s line of classical guitars. I have a review of the Cordoba C10 with all its key features and attractions. You should check out that article if you’re interested.
For a different experience, if you can increase your budget a little (but less than you’d pay for a C10), you can get arguably a better guitar – made in Bulgaria. Read my review of the Kremona Fiesta classical guitar as an excellent option to consider.
This is the way Bach sounds on the Cordoba C9, resonant and rich.
So there we have it – the C9’s features, its price and its ambition to woo the serious, advanced student. The C9 enters the stage with a promise of a beautiful concert instrument with an affordable price tag.
If I were one such student, would I be tempted to try? You bet I would. Thousands of others already have and they’ve gone home happy. The online forums are full of them. The C9 is a popular model in the Cordoba stable and understandably so.
Its features-for-the-price balance is impressive. And it’s a Cordoba at the end of the day. As much as Yamaha was prized as a top brand in the years gone by, Cordoba has won for itself a great name in the last few decades. And the C9 stands among its top selling models.
(Nothing wrong with Yamaha by the way. It’s growing strength to strength.)
So, will the C9 give you good company as you burn the midnight oil bent over the instrument, figuring out Barrios and Villa-Lobos? Yes. Will you enjoy its sound and playability through the years to come? Yes.
Is it the perfect guitar? No.
Sadly, no one has ever made that one yet. Inasmuch as you got to the C9 from whatever you were playing on earlier, some day you will move on to greener pastures from the C9. Just the way it is.
Check out the prices at Sweetwater:
Check out the prices at Amazon:
I have some more reviews of intermediate-level guitars in case you want to check them out.