Ibanez GA35TCE Review: Compact Entry-Level Classical

If you're anything like me, you've probably seen videos of some incredible classical guitar performances and thought, "Man, I wish I could do that." By getting the affordable Ibanez GA35TCE, starting your musical road becomes easy and achievable.

Well thanks to Ibanez, the only thing standing between you and being a classical guitar virtuoso is about $300 (and thousands of hours of practice, but hey, it's about the journey, not the destination, right?).

Sure, Ibanez can't do the practicing for you, but they have made it more affordable than ever to get your hands on a guitar to start your journey to stardom.

Today's article will be a deep dive into the Ibanez GA35TCE, one of the best and more cost-efficient classical-style guitars on the market today!

I'll discuss the pros and cons of the product and then move on to some considerations to make before you buy. Finally, we'll take a look at some comparable guitars and see how the Ibanez stacks up.

Product Overview

Ibanez GA35TCE

Average Overall Rating: 4.5/5


  • String Type: Nylon
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Body Shape: Thinline Cutaway Classical
  • Top Wood: Spruce
  • Back & Sides Wood: Sapele
  • Neck Wood: Okoume
  • Electronics: Ibanez AEQ-2T (preamp), Undersaddle (pickup)

Why I like it

  • Highly affordable
  • Narrow neck profile makes it easier to play tricky chord voicings
  • High-quality tonewoods
  • Decent tuning stability
  • Compact design makes for convenient playing and transportation
  • Dependable electronic components

What I think could be improved

  • Might benefit from an action, bridge, or truss rod adjustment
  • Prone to feedback at certain amp volumes or settings
  • Not particularly loud acoustically

The Ibanez GA35TCE is a thinline acoustic guitar with nylon strings. It sports a spruce top with mahogany back and sides, a tried-and-true combination of tonewoods that makes for a nice natural projection.

It has a particularly narrow neck for this style of guitar, which is certainly on-brand for Ibanez guitars. Playability is almost always prioritized in their designs.

It even has Fishman pickups and a preamp powered by one 9V battery. The electronic component has a built-in tuner, phase switch, volume dial, and 2-band EQ. We'll go into more detail about the electronics momentarily.

Features & Benefits

Ibanez GA35TCE

Here are the top 4 aspects of the Ibanez GA35TCE that make it such a quality classical guitar.

Narrow Neck 4/5

Ibanez necks are known for being compact, lightweight, and more narrow than other guitar necks.

A classical acoustic guitar usually has a substantially wider neck than a typical acoustic guitar, and the Ibanez GA35TCE neck lies somewhere in the middle.

So why does this matter? Well, it all contributes to the guitar's overall playability. For musicians who are more accustomed to steel string acoustic guitars, the Ibanez will not be too much of a transition.

The narrower neck also makes it easier to pull off tricky chord shapes and riffs.

Furthermore, the neck doesn't intersect with the body until the 14th fret by the low E string, and the 17th fret by the high E string. This gives you easy access to the entire neck, allowing you to take full advantage of the guitar's scale length.

Compact Size 5/5

This is certainly a beautiful guitar, as are many classical guitars on the market today. The dark violin sunburst design complements the Nyatoh neck nicely, and the headstock and tuning pegs have an elegant appearance.

The GA35TCE has all the aesthetic appeal of your boilerplate classical guitar but in a slightly smaller package. At just under 20 inches long and 15 inches wide, it doesn't quite classify as a mini guitar, and in my opinion, this is a good thing.

Its shorter scale length and thin body make this guitar more convenient and compact than most other classical guitars. This is in line with the Ibanez tradition of making guitars with lightweight materials, efficiently designed and optimized for playability.

There's just something novel about being able to give a fully-fledged performance on a guitar that is slightly smaller than its contemporaries. Being able to do less with more definitely gives you a leg up, especially when your gigging schedule means you need all the convenience you can get.

The thinner body makes the guitar easy to play and transport, and it's even suitable for younger players who might not want to be weighed down by a bulky instrument.

Tone Woods 4/5

This workhorse acoustic guitar sports a winning combination of spruce, Sapele back and sides, and a Nyatoh neck. This ensemble of tonewoods is known to provide a good natural projection, with an even balance of lows, mids, and highs.

The spruce top balances the sound out to provide an even tone.

This is perfect for that classical sound, because you'll want every nuance of your playing to be captured. All your dynamics, vibratos, ghost notes, and flourishes will be projected equally by the tonewoods, so that your instrument can speak for you just how you intend.

I've noticed that there's a decent amount of midrange clarity, which is important for any acoustic guitar, as guitars fill up the midrange of the frequency spectrum more so than the high or low frequencies.

Ibanez has always done an impressive job of keeping their prices low while still keeping a high benchmark of quality for their instruments. Spruce, sapele, and Nyatoh are all affordable woods that also look nice and last a long time.

Electronics 5/5

The Ibanez GA35TCE acoustic-electric guitar features some very solid electronic components, especially for the price. It comes equipped with pickups and a preamp from Fishman, one of the most trusted names in guitar electronics.

The guitar sounds just as good plugged in as it does naturally. The Fishman pickups bring out a high-end sparkle in the nylon strings, and they retain a rich low end as well.

You can use the onboard EQ to adjust the bass, mids, and treble for an even more fine-tuned sound. Experiment around with these settings to see what sounds best for your playing style.

A fingerstyle performance can be interpreted all sorts of different ways depending on the feeling behind your playing, so it helps to have a tone setting that compliments your unique interpretation of the song.

Thanks to the Fishman pickups, the amplified sound quality of the GA35TCE is quite impressive overall. The nylon strings sound good with blues, classical, jazz, and many other styles of music. Amp up to join a band or give a solo performance. Either way, you'll be satisfied with this pickup system.

Oh, and having an onboard tuner never hurts. They covered all the bases!

Things to Consider Before Buying

Ibanez GA35TCE

As with any instrument purchase, there are some things to consider before you buy. Here are the most important things to keep in mind as you decide whether this is the right guitar for you.

Type of Guitar

The Ibanez GA35TCE is a classical guitar, which means it is set up to have nylon strings. This is a bit different than a typical acoustic guitar, which is set up for steel strings.

So which style of guitar should you go with? Let's compare and contrast these two styles to help point you in the right direction.

Steel-string acoustic guitars are a bit louder naturally, as steel strings have more high end resonance. They also have more sustain and natural overtones. They're suitable for picking and fingerstyle and can be found in a wide variety of musical styles throughout the world, including country, rock, pop, and singer/songwriter.

Nylon string guitars, while still quite popular, are a bit more specialized. The nylon strings have a softer, mellower, more muted tone. They're often associated with classical, flamenco, Bossa nova, and other more relaxing or easygoing styles of music.

Since the nylon strings are softer and thicker than steel ones, classical guitars are more suited for fingerstyle than for playing with a pick. Newer players who want to learn fingerstyle may prefer the less abrasive touch of nylon strings.

Still not sure which style of guitar is best for you? Try looking up some videos of guitarists playing each one; it'll help you find out which sound you prefer.

Acoustic or Electric

The age-old question: Should I get an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar? Well, the Ibanez GA35TCE can fill both those roles – to an extent.

As an acoustic-electric guitar, it can of course be played acoustically or amplified, but for the most part, it can only be played with a clean tone. These types of guitars usually sound a little wonky when you start to add a lot of distortion or overdrive to the signal.

If you aim to play heavier genres of music like punk or metal, then a conventional electric guitar will be more fitting for you. The Ibanez GA35TCE is best suited for those who like playing music that's a bit on the softer side – pop, jazz, lounge, and the like.

Acoustic guitars do, of course, have one huge advantage over electrics: They're more convenient to play. You can spontaneously jam out with your acoustic guitar without needing to lug around an amp or cord, and with an acoustic you can play music literally anywhere in the world.

The Ibanez is a great choice for bringing your breezy tunes with you to the weekend getaway at the lake or beach. And since it's an electric as well, you can even play jam sessions and gigs with it.


Musical instruments can be quite expensive, but fortunately, Ibanez tends to keep things budget-friendly.

The GA35TCE retails for just over $300, putting it on the mid-low end of the pricing scale for acoustic guitars. All around, it's a great buy. For those in the market for a nylon string guitar, this one will arguably give you the most bang for your buck.

It has decent tone woods, keeps its intonation, sounds great, and even comes with good electric components. Ibanez definitely packed a lot of things to love into this affordable little package, and I appreciate that!

Similar Items/Alternatives

Let's look at some similar guitars to the Ibanez GA35TCE and discuss how they stack up.

Yamaha SLG200NW

Yamaha SLG200N Silent Guitar

Enter Yamaha, another time-tested company with a long line of affordable, high-quality instruments. The SLG200NW is an extremely unique offering from Yamaha: a nylon string guitar that's expressly meant to be played with an amp.

This "silent guitar" has a carved-out mahogany bodying neck with a rosewood fingerboard. It has a strikingly minimalist design, as well as a lightweight build.

You can use this guitar to practice in near silence since there's no sound hole for the strings to resonate.

But it's when you amp up that the magic really happens. You can dial in the perfect tone using a variety of the Yamaha SLG200NW onboard tone controls. There's a built-in tuner and several different reverb settings as well.

The Yamaha SLG200NW nylon-string silent guitar brings the nylon-string sound to a full band setting in a very unique way, perfect for practice and for classical players in a touring ensemble. It might be just what you're looking for.

Cordoba C7

Cordoba C7

The Cordoba C7 is a high-end classical guitar that I'd recommend to more seasoned players. While the Ibanez makes a great first guitar (or just first classical guitar), the Cordoba C7 is mid to high budget, so it's a better fit for intermediate or even advanced players.

What makes this a step up from entry-level classical guitars? It's the meticulous craftsmanship put into every aspect of the instrument.

The rosewood fingerboard with a gloss finish is smooth and perfectly playable. The guitar comes with the ideal nut and saddle adjustment right out of the box, so the string action is perfect right when you pick it up.

No fret buzz or unwanted muting here. The Canadian cedar top also looks simple yet elegant, fitting in perfectly with the classical guitar aesthetic.

Just about any fingerstyle player will love the Cordoba C7 and if you set aside $160 more, you'll get a cutaway and electronics built into the Cordoba C7-CE guitar.

Taylor Academy 12e-N

Taylor Academy 12e-N

Taylor is in the conversation for best acoustic guitar company in the world. They have a very high bar for sound quality and playability, and as a result, the Taylor Academy 12e-N sounds simply amazing.

It's light, ergonomically designed, and perfectly adjusted to make every note sound good. The solid spruce top and ebony fingerboard are simple yet effective, and the tuning pegs keep their intonation for impressively long periods of time.

This is a good pick for someone who wants a dependable, top-of-the-line nylon string guitar and doesn't mind paying a premium price for it. That said, it's always a good idea to try out a guitar before you buy it, just to make sure it performs how you'd like it to.

If you do have a chance to get your hands on a Taylor Academy 12e-N, you'll see why I speak so highly of it. The solid spruce top provides a nice natural compression, so all your notes pop equally loud out of the sound hole just like with Taylor Academy 12E classical acoustic guitar.

The onboard tuner, pickups, and preamp work flawlessly as well. You'll find a 3-band EQ on the side of the guitar, with a robustly responsive interface.

It's also compact and lightweight, as Taylor Guitars tend to be, making it a comfortable fit for musicians of all shapes and sizes.

In Conclusion

Ibanez GA35TCE bridge

Now back to the real star of today's show, the Ibanez GA35TCE. While it may not be as high-end as the Taylor or Cordoba, it's still an amazing guitar in its own right.

It also comes at a fraction of the price of many of its competitors. Ibanez built a fantastic instrument for the practical consumer who just wants an instrument that sounds good for a great value.

I appreciate the fact that Ibanez not only made a classical guitar that is affordable and accessible to everyone, but they didn't skimp on the quality either! The GA35TCE is impressively playable, and the onboard electronics are no joke.

But don't take my word for it. If you do your own research, you'll find tons of reviews from happy guitarists who are just as blown away as I am at this guitar's value.

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