Ladies & Gentlemen, I am a 53 year old secondary school teacher from Liverpool, UK, and have owned various guitars all through my life, mainly electric. That said my playing is still **** <please insert an appropriate word or phrase of your choice here, as any term I would use would probably draw the attentions of a moderator>. So I am a 'guitar for pleasure' person, (who apparently has 'GAS'!).
My dilemma is that I recently went to a local guitar shop to source a 3/4 classical guitar for my (great) nephew, but ended up buying a Santos Martinez SM80 guitar for myself. I have never 'played', (that being an inappropriate word in my case as would be evidenced if you ever heard my 'playing'), a nylon string guitar before but absolutely loved it. So much so that for the past week and a half or so I have been unable to put it down, or stop searching the internet for everything classical guitar related - leading to my new found presence in this forum.
I have just broken up for the summer holidays, but instead of doing my 'assigned' jobs around the house, or making preparations for the new term in September, (which, as always, will probably be last minute in any case), I am finding I am unable to concentrate on anything but classical guitar. And I don't even like classical music! Well I didn't think I did.
I have a guitar which is less than two weeks old and I already know that I HAVE to upgrade, (and I know that wiser heads around here will urge patience and the need to fully explore the boundaries of my current guitar more - but you must understand that I have now obviously developed some form of illness)
When I was supposed to be spending a day in school, sorting stuff out, on Monday, I ended up driving from Liverpool to Stafford, (a 3 hour round trip), to visit the Stafford Classical Guitar Centre, a.k.a. the very charming house of Adrian and Selina, This was all because there didn't appear to be any local stores which really specialised in classical guitars, and I just had to discover what lay beyond my starter guitar. Although Adrian and Selina weren't around at the time of my visit, I found myself in the very capable hands of Sandra, (and Sandra if you are a member of this forum you have my heartfelt thanks for a truly wonderful experience - even though you have in part contributed to my current 'condition'!).
Sandra had already prepared a number of Alhambra and Sanchez guitars for me to try and needless to say I could discern the different qualities compared to my current 'starter' guitar. All left me with the desire, (sorry 'need'), to upgrade. However, as opposed to being content with the limits of my budget, represented by an Alhambra 5P, I just had to try the 6P, 7P and 9P. The Alhambra 7P was a revelation - an obvious step up from everything else, but the 9P ... Well it is my own fault for trying that. The addiction is now complete.
So here is my quandry. I want an Alhambra 9P, (or equivalent), but have a budget which maxes out at the 5P level. To put some figures on that, £550 tops! Wiser heads will probably tell me to be patient and wait for something to come along in my price range, second-hand. But that could be a long wait!
My line of thinking is that, in the Alhambra range at least, the leap in terms of perceived tonal quality seems to relate to the 7P and 9P guitars being of an all wood construction, (I know there are other factors involved, but this is the major one which jumps out), and I also know that all wood models are available from other companies at prices substantially below the £800 - 900 or so for an Alhambra 7P or a minimum of £1150 for a 9P. So could I get an all wood Alhambra 7P / 9P alternative at a price within my budget? My on-line research has thrown up the following:
Hannika 50 MC - £468
Kremona Fiesta - £475
La Patrie Collection - £529
Alhambra 7C - £619 (which would be a stretch as it is a bit above my limit)
The issue is that although Liverpool has a fair number of music stores there are none which stock any of these guitars, (or the likes of Cordoba). I would have to drive over 2 hours to try out a La Patrie, and there is no chance of me getting my hands on a Hannika or Kremona.
If you have read this far through my voluminous post - thank you, and well done! Having spend the past two days scouring the internet and this site to try and find out anything I can about these guitars, my head is now reeling, and I feel the need for alcohol!
At the moment my head says I should purchase an Alhambra 5P (£550), as I have played and enjoyed that guitar. However, my heart wants something it can't have at the moment, an Alhambra 9P, (and for me both this and the 7P overshadowed the 5P). So the crux is if anyone has experience of the above guitars, (which I am unable to physically try out), as an alternative to the more expensive Alhambra models please let me know!