Bring the Music of ‘Coco’ Home With These Cordoba Guitars

Pixar's new movie 'COCO'

So you’ve taken your family to see Coco (after reading our 10 Things Parents Should Know, of course) and now your kid is eager to play the guitar too, right? Well, now you can get yourself—I mean, your kid—a guitar like the one Miguel plays in the film!

Cordoba has created Coco-inspired guitars, available in two different sizes. The Coco x Cordoba Acoustic Guitar is a 7/8 size and sells for $169. The Coco x Cordoba Mini Acoustic Guitar is about 1/2 size and sells for $129. Both are available online from Guitar Center and Music & Arts.

Coco guitar
My daughter was very excited to try out the Coco x Cordoba Mini Acoustic Guitar. Photos: Jonathan H. Liu

My daughter’s motivation to learn guitar actually didn’t come from Coco, but actually because one of her teachers at school had a guitar in his classroom. She decided she wanted to try learning and taught herself a few chords, but the full-size guitar was a bit too large for her to handle. We managed to find a used guitar at Goodwill, but it’s still a little big for her, and she didn’t really like the steel strings. So when GeekDad was contacted to try out the Cordoba guitars, I jumped at the opportunity.

Coco Guitar details
The mahogany-topped version doesn’t have outer edge decorations, but has a lovely, rich color. Photos: Jonathan H. Liu

The mini acoustic guitar has nylon strings and a 22.8″ scale length. It’s available with either a spruce or mahogany top—the spruce top has a little more decorative edging, and both versions have some laser engraving details that look like the guitar from the movie. (The headstock doesn’t look like a skull as in the movie version, but it does have a little skull engraved on it.) The spruce version looks a little more like Ernesto’s guitar in the movie, though it’s not totally white, but I do like the warm look of the mahogany as well. And, of course, Ernesto’s guitar is a bit large for Miguel (as you can see in the Coco image at the top of this post), but it’s much easier to play a guitar that isn’t so big.

Coco Guitar case
The guitar case has backpack straps for easy carrying. Photos: Jonathan H. Liu

The guitar comes with a shoulder strap, as well as a soft case that has backpack straps for carrying.

Coco Guitar truss rod
The truss rod can be adjusted with an Allen wrench. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The guitar also has a two-way truss rod that lets you adjust the amount of bow in the neck of the guitar using the included Allen wrench. Being a guitar novice myself, I’d never seen this before, but after reading about how it works, it made sense to me: if the neck is bowed too far forward, it’s a lot harder to press the strings down onto the frets; if it’s too far back, you get more buzz and rattle because the string is too close to the frets. So far we haven’t had to adjust it but it’s nice to know that we can tweak it if needed.

Daughter playing Coco guitar
My daughter practices a new tune on the Mini Acoustic Guitar. Photos: Jonathan H. Liu

We’ve been plucking away at it (my daughter is quite possessive of it, but I get Dad Tax rights) and it’s a joy to play. The sound is quite nice, and I like the feel of the nylon strings. I play viola and mandolin, so I have some experience with string instruments, but have always been more drawn to classical guitar than strumming chords. The proportions of this guitar feel a little like a classical guitar, though the strings aren’t actually farther apart—I think it’s just because the entire guitar is shorter but the strings have the same spacing. The nylon strings are definitely a little easier on the fingers for my daughter.

We were also sent a coupon for a few free lessons at Guitar Center, though we won’t have a chance to use those until my daughter’s out of school, but then you wouldn’t be able to consider the Coco guitars as a gift idea yourself. I’m curious to see how the lessons go, though with my daughter’s already full extracurricular schedule, we may not be able to make it a regular event just yet.

Rory Bristol received the 7/8 size guitar, and here’s what he has to say about it:

Trying out the Disney•Pixar Coco x Cordoba 7/8 Acoustic Guitar has been an enlightening experience. I started thumbing strings almost 15 years ago, and have never been sick of the harmonies of picks, frets, taps, fingers, and strings that come along with a well-loved instrument. That said, the degree of my passion has varied, as life’s many interests have pulled me in different directions. I’ve never played a nylon guitar before, so I was skeptical. The thing is, I can already tell that this guitar has renewed my energy for the guitar.

Cordoba’s 7/8 Coco-inspired guitar. Image: Rory Bristol

First off, she’s beautiful. The mahogany body is full of color and makes the spruce top really pop. The engraving on the spruce is inspired by Coco of course, but it’s not overwhelming. When I first heard of the Cordoba line, I was afraid they’d all look cartoony and ridiculous, but I think this is a modest and (dare I say?) elegant design.

The Cordoba is an acoustic guitar, which is nice on the ears, but goes a step further and has nylon strings. The combo is wonderful, producing a sound which is smooth and buttery, leaving my ears longing for more. I worried that the strings would feel rubbery and brittle, but the smooth feel of the nylon is natural and comfortable for under-calloused fingers.

Nylon strings are quite different from typical metal strings. Image: Rory Bristol

As you can see in the picture above, some of the strings are nylon wrapped in metal, which is normal for a nylon-stringed guitar. The others are nearly invisible, which suits me fine, since I don’t look at them anyhow, but might be hard for someone picking up a guitar for the first time. It’s easy to get over, though.

Another thing you’ll notice about nylon strings: They’re tied in place. Typical metal strings have a knob at one end, which nests into the guitar, and you tune the loose end. Nylon strings have two loose ends, and have to be tied on first. Thankfully, the guitar came stringed, and I didn’t have to figure that out without seeing it first.

I will note that it was not shipped tuned. This is good news. If it had come in tuned, or even close, the strings would have been much too tight for storage, which is hard on the instrument.

A closer-up look at the body, featuring the ‘Coco’ inspired design. Image: Rory Bristol

The only thing about this guitar that left me scratching my head is that it’s an odd size. It’s advertised as a 7/8 guitar, but measures closer to an overlarge 3/4. This is fine, of course, as the difference between a 3/4 and a 7/8 isn’t terribly noticeable. I actually prefer it, as I dislike feeling like I’m playing with one hand in my neighbor’s lap, and the shorter neck is easier to play on.

Overall, I think the quality, style, and feel of the guitar make it a great value for a full-sized someone to play and own, whether they’re learning or just looking for a fun and comfortable new friend.

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