Nylon string guitars are an interesting beast. From the entry level models you often see in schools through to exquisite handmade instruments, they can have a huge variance in specs and quality. Specifically made for the Australian market, Katoh has been producing classical guitars for over 30 years and seems to have created a strong following for their reliable instruments that don’t cost the earth. From their Professional series, let’s have a look at the Madrid.
The Madrid arrived in a deluxe plush lined hard case (this particular example being a classy faux brown leather look) that was a super snug fit and a great addition to the overall package. The guitar itself features a solid European Spruce top, solid Indian rosewood back and sides, and a mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard. As a full gloss guitar, the Madrid has an elegant and refined look with additional appointments such as a bone nut and saddle adding that extra touch of class. I was very impressed with the finish and detailing with tasteful binding, rosette and veneer work all looking clean and precise.
As a full size classical guitar, the Madrid is light and comfortable, and the neck is substantial without being big and awkward. The whole instrument feels stable and responsive, and the intonation was great. Tuning seemed reliable and the new set of Savarez strings seemed lively. Open chords, arpeggios and bigger voicings up the neck were clear with nice sustain. For those with more of a contemporary feel, the Madrid also responded beautifully when played with a pick (hopefully that’s not too blasphemous!). Either way, it’s a pleasing instrument for both traditional styles and those wanting a nylon string tone in an atypical setting.
Of course, the Madrid isn’t a super high-priced, custom nylon string – and nor does it purport to be. But as a mid-priced classical guitar, it’s streaks ahead of your typical entry level models and indeed keeps up with many other big branded guitars in a similar price range. The guitar plays nicely and has a clear tone that would suit players from beginner levels through to the more advanced guitarist. I really think the Madrid sits in a great position at its price point and is pleasing both aesthetically as well as in the tone department.
Hits and Misses
Focused and clear tone