Benchmark: Valencia VC204H – Mixdown Magazine
Lyrics by Peter Hodgson
Australasian Music Supplies | Expect to pay: $125
Once upon a time, if you were a kid learning the guitar, you had a classic nylon-string acoustic. The student-priced electrics and amps were usually pretty clunky and basic (the built-in distortion was a luxury…a gritty, harsh, brittle-sounding luxury) plus you really wanted to start something that wouldn’t hurt your little hands. anyway .
Nylon-string classical guitars have traditionally been the de facto first choice for newcomers, and for good reason – they provide an affordable, comfortable and, above all, stylistically versatile entry point into guitar theory. and the practicalities of navigating the fretboard in the cleanest way possible. , and all without a flimsy built-in distortion in sight.
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The guitar market may have come a long way in recent years, but Valence, a longtime player in the game, is still ubiquitous in this type of guitar building, specializing in affordable guitars for beginners, and high enough in quality to hang on to even when it’s time to move on to something more advanced. . But Valencia has evolved and evolved over time, and the new VC204H is a perfect example of how to create player-friendly nylon-string acoustics in 2022.
Today, even beginner guitarists are looking for more in playability and neck shape, and with this guitar, Valencia more than rises to the challenge.
The VC204H is a full-size nylon-string acoustic guitar with a nato back and sides (the back is subtly arched which is a nice comfort feature for the player). The top is sitka spruce in a rich orange hue that nicely offsets the more walnut look of the nato. There is gold helix rosette decoration around the rosette, because what’s a nylon acoustic without a beautiful rosette, huh?
The neck is really interesting: it is made of jabon with a pair of teak reinforcement strips, much like the double “skunk stripes” found on much higher end guitars. The fingerboard is ebony mahogany (essentially mahogany stained to look like ebony) and the 19 frets are nickel. If you’re used to seeing stainless steel or nickel silver frets on guitars, remember this one is designed for nylon strings which are much softer on the frets. So it wouldn’t really make sense to put more expensive materials on this particular handle.. There are side dots from the fifth box to the twelfth.
The bridge is also blackened mahogany with a plastic saddle, while the tuners are nickel plated with cream buttons. Overall, it’s an attractive, well-built version of this particular family of instruments.
I have to admit a bit of nostalgia picking up this guitar. It took me back to my first nylon string acoustic. Damn, it’s even feels the same and I may or may not have taken a deep, satisfying whiff of the rosette. Please don’t judge.
The first thing an experienced guitarist will notice about this guitar is the neck shape. It’s not your standard “classic beginner” neck, which is usually very wide and presents some challenges for smaller hands. Instead, it’s specifically designed to fit smaller lugs, with a narrower 45mm width at the nut bringing the strings closer and easier to reach at the end where this instrument will see most of its playing action. And the actual neck shape is super comfortable, plus a flatter D-shape that gives players a roomy feel on the neck, reinforcing proper thumb placement and making it easier to hold hands in an ergonomic position. It’s easy to play barre chords higher on the neck, or glide across the neck in more complex classical pieces.
But the easy playability of those first three frets, where many beginners tend to spend their time, is particularly noteworthy. This smaller neck also made it much easier to capo than a traditional classical guitar, which will definitely come in handy for anyone looking for a good writing guitar.
The string spacing is nicely ergonomic for fingerstyle, and the weight and body shape sits comfortably on the leg when seated – precisely what you’d want in a guitar of this type.
Tone level, it sounds good. It’s not necessarily brimming with sustain, but it’s typical of this type of guitar, and the note decay on the higher strings is very even and musical. In terms of providing an awesome vehicle from which to learn correct finger technique and voice technique, it’s absolutely ideal. Unlike so many other classical guitars that truly punish all but the cleanest fingering, the VC204H is forgiving enough to provide a friendly playing experience without reinforcing bad habits.
As an entry point into the guitar world, you’d be hard pressed to find something that fits better in your hand and with that kind of edge. When you factor in the price (just over a hundred dollars) and with the level of quality displayed here, it’s pretty hard to argue, both as a first guitar or as a nice entry-level classical guitar for the House. .
While it may not be the absolute pinnacle of concert hall sound projection and fullness across the entire frequency range, it far exceeds its purpose of being a comfortable classical guitar. on which students can learn their trade, and the build quality is something that will see it. the test of time.