How in the world am I supposed to find a good guitar at the right price? Where's that panic button...I need to push it!
No you don't. :) I know local sources for great guitars and I will help you find the right one.. But you still want to be an informed consumer right?
Nobody wants to buy a lemon. We're all intelligent people here; all we need is a bit of information... so here is a short "Classical Guitar 101".
What to look for:
Nice flat top of solid wood - no warping. Although scratches aren't pretty, they won't affect the tone. Solid wood tops sound better where as laminate tops don't vibrate well and don't produce great sound. Solid Cedar Top or Solid Spruce top? It's up to you. What do your ears like?
Hard wood body - it's what'll be sending out the sound. Mahogany is good.
Strings - The strings on the guitar at the store will probably be a cheapo set, but luckily changing strings is not a big deal. Cheap sets stretch out faster and easier and they don't have great tone capability, they may also not have a good feel. Look for string brands like D'Addario Pro Arte series for better quality sets.
Action - Action is the distance from the string to the neck. If the guitar has a really high action you're going to have to push really hard to make the notes clean and clear. If the action is too low the strings will buzz a lot against the frets while you play.
Intonation - This refers to the ability of the strings to sound in tune. If a guitar isn't made accurately or if it has old or cheap strings the guitar will not be able to be played in tune.
Tuning pegs - Pegs stretch and loosen strings. If they aren't decent they won't hold the tuning.
Size - Sizing of classical guitars for children is a little on the complicated side. Every child's build is a bit different and guitar makers kind of do things their own way sometimes. I will measure your child and find something that's the right size with a little room to grow. ...because children tend to do just that.. grow and grow and grow!
Enjoy the process. And just know that I will be there to help you every step of the way.