5 Best High-End Classical Guitar Options

Looking for the Best High-End Classical Guitar?

In A Rush? Check Out The Number 1 Pick Here:

Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case
  • Solid European spruce top with solid Indian rosewood back and sides
  • Lattice braced top and raised ebony fingerboard for easy playability when accessing upper frets
  • Stunning flamed maple wedge
  • Hand inlaid Mother-of-Pearl "Esteso" Rosette
  • Includes hard shell Cordoba humidified arch top wood case

The classical guitar (sometimes known as a Spanish guitar) is a nylon string guitar. Classical guitars are often favored by those interested in fingerstyle guitar, flamenco guitar, and a whole host of other musical styles. Whether playing the Renaissance music of John Dowland or “Shape of My Heart” by Sting, the classical guitar is a mainstay in most guitar collections.

Finding the best classical guitars can be tricky, particularly when you are looking to buy something on the high-end. Unfortunately, many people gravitate toward the big guitar manufacturers e.g. Fender and Martin, although those companies rarely offer great classical guitars. These companies excel in making electric and steel string acoustic guitars, but not so much the traditional classical guitars.

Thankfully, there are some great high-end classical guitar choices out there, and we have selected 5 of them. These have all undergone extensive testing from both us and experienced classical and flamenco guitarists.

Best Seller
Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case
Editor Choice
Godin Arena Mahogany CW QIT Classical Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Best Budget
Ortega Guitars Family Series Pro 7-String Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Nylon Classical Guitar w/Bag, Right, Full (RCE133-7)
Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case
Godin Arena Mahogany CW QIT Classical Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Ortega Guitars Family Series Pro 7-String Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Nylon Classical Guitar w/Bag, Right, Full (RCE133-7)
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Best Seller
Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case
Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case
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Editor Choice
Godin Arena Mahogany CW QIT Classical Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Godin Arena Mahogany CW QIT Classical Acoustic-Electric Guitar
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Best Budget
Ortega Guitars Family Series Pro 7-String Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Nylon Classical Guitar w/Bag, Right, Full (RCE133-7)
Ortega Guitars Family Series Pro 7-String Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Nylon Classical Guitar w/Bag, Right, Full (RCE133-7)
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Cordoba C12 SP Acoustic Classical Guitar – Best Classical Guitar

Cordoba C12 SP Classical, All-Solid Woods, Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Luthier Series, with Humidified Hardshell Case
  • Solid European spruce top with solid Indian rosewood back and sides
  • Lattice braced top and raised ebony fingerboard for easy playability when accessing upper frets
  • Stunning flamed maple wedge
  • Hand inlaid Mother-of-Pearl "Esteso" Rosette
  • Includes hard shell Cordoba humidified arch top wood case

The Cordoba C12 SP is a thing of beauty and by far one of the very best classical guitars on the market. It isn’t cheap, but if you are looking to play classic flamenco music, we don’t think you’ll find anything much better. It sounds beautiful. It has that genuine classical tone to it as the spruce top makes for a bright, crisp sound preferred by flamenco guitarists. We can easily see this classical guitar being rocked by some of the best flamenco guitar players in the world.

Product Highlights

The Cordoba C12 CP classical guitar is made from a combination of solid woods, each carefully selected to ensure a great tone from the instrument. This means:

  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Spruce
  • Back: Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Ebony

These woods complement each other perfectly to ensure that the player can get that amazing, bright crisp tone that is expected when you play flamenco guitar. Pure classical players are going to love the brightness of the tone, especially when playing fingerstyle. Although, the guitar’s sound is just as amazing when you decide to employ heavy rasgueados as well. Each and every note will sing true.

This isn’t an affordable classical guitar, but it is easily one of the best on the market. When you hold a Cordoba guitar in your hands, you will know that this is a company that strives to produce only quality instruments.

About The Cordoba C12 SP Guitar Features

We’ve spoken about the woods in this nylon string guitar, and you already know how well they work with one another. However, there are a wealth of other features that are worth knowing about:

  • Comes complete with a hard shell case, humidified to protect your guitar.
  • Raised ebony fretboard. This makes it easier to reach the upper frets
  • As the guitar is made only from solid wood, every one looks unique.
  • Bone nut
  • 19 frets

What We Like About The Cordoba C12 SP

We love almost everything about this classical guitar. We love the way it looks. We love the way it sounds. We love how this is the perfect accompaniment to any music that demands a nylon string guitar.

This is a guitar that feels great to hold in the hands and play. The solid construction ensures that it will sound just as great in a few decades as it does the day that you pick it up.

Of course, it also comes with the Cordoba seal of quality. It may be a newer company than some of the other guitar manufacturers (formed only in 1997), but they are a company that is well-regarded by modern flamenco guitarists.

What We Don’t Like About The Cordoba C12 SP

The only major issue (and we are really clutching at straws here), is the price. It is significantly more expensive than most of the other high-end classical guitars that we’ve featured on this list. Although, there is a reason for it. This guitar is constructed to an incredibly high quality. All classical guitarists love it, even if it is going to make a healthy dent in their wallets.

Other guitar reviewers agree with us. There isn’t a whole lot wrong with the Cordoba C12 SP. You won’t find a better high-end classical guitar.

Pros:

  • Perfect for any classical playing style
  • Beautiful sound
  • Comes complete with a humidified case
  • Constructed from quality, solid wood.

Cons:

  • Very expensive

Godin Arena CW Classical Nylon String Guitar

Godin Arena Mahogany CW QIT Classical Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • Back and Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Top: Solid Spruce Top
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Q1T electronics

Do you know what irritates us? The fact that people rarely talk about Godin guitars. It is a shame, really. Godin produces some of the best classical guitars in the world. The Godin Arena CW is proof of this. If you are looking for an electro-acoustic guitar, then we doubt you’ll find something better than this one.

Product Highlights

Perhaps the real highlight of the Godin Arena CW is the inclusion of the preamp system. The Godin Arena CW makes use of a Godin-designed pickup and preamp system, and it is remarkable. There are some acoustic guitars, particularly Spanish guitars, that are electro-acoustic and they sound very ‘tinny’. Not the Godin Arena CW. It may be an acoustic-electric, but the expressive sound still shines through. It really offers a superior tone.

That’s just the electric part. Even if you don’t have the electronics turned on, the Godin Arena CW shines. The nylon strings being plucked against the beautiful mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard sounds beautiful. The solid mahogany neck offers a real depth to the tone, allowing anyone who listens to you strum this quality guitar to get lost in the music.

In the right hands, this modern classical guitar can hit a wide variety of tones. If you are ever lucky enough to get your hands on this nylon-string gem, you will enjoy a beautiful percussive sound, allowing this guitar to be the centerpiece of any solo composition.

Features

As one of our top classical guitars, the Godin Arena CW makes use of a wealth of features to ensure that it offers some of the best sound quality in the classical guitar world, including:

  • Solid spruce top
  • Mahogany wood back
  • Wild cherry sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • 25.66″ scale length
  • 2″ nut width
  • Cutaway to allow you to reach the upper frets with ease.

If you’ve been looking into classical and flamenco guitars for a while but don’t want to spend the cash needed for the Cordoba C12 SP, then this is one of the best classical guitar deals.

What We Like About The Godin Arena CW

We love the sound. Although, let’s be honest, all of the best classical guitars are going to have a great sound. It is just that we enjoy how the Godin Arena CW sounds even when you have it amplified. Normally when an acoustic guitar features electronics, it never sounds brilliant when connected to an amplifier. With a lesser preamp, you can lose some of the beauty and lushness of the natural guitar sound. You can barely tell the difference with the Godin Arena CW.

What We Don’t Like Godin Arena CW

We do wish that this nylon string guitar came with at least a gig bag. All solid wood guitars should have a gig bag or a case with them, seeing as you really don’t want that wood drying out. Still, it shouldn’t cost too much extra to get one.

Pros:

  • One of the best electric flamenco guitars
  • Beautiful solid wood finish
  • Made in Canada, tremendous customer service
  • Proper classical guitar tone

Cons:

  • Should come with a case or gig bag.

Ortega Guitars RCE133-7

Ortega Guitars Family Series Pro 7-String Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Nylon Classical Guitar w/Bag, Right, Full (RCE133-7)
  • RCE133-7 - 7-String - Solid Top Acoustic-Electric Nylon String Gutar - Family Series Pro - w/ Bag
  • Solid Spruce Top, Sapele Back & Sides, Natural Satin Finish
  • Nato Neck, Natural Satin Finish - Walnut Fretboard & Bridge - Maple Binding & ABS Purfling
  • Full Body 650 mm Scale - 102 mm Body Depth - 60 mm Nut Width - 19 Frets - 2-Way Truss rod - Gold Plated Tuning Machines w/ Black Buttons - Fan Bracing - Ortega MagusPro preamp/pickup system with built-in tuner - Venetian Cutaway
  • Includes Free Deluxe Gig Bag

The Ortega Guitars RCE133-7 is considerably cheaper than the previous two options. This is because Ortega isn’t quite as big of a brand. However, if you are looking for high-end classical guitars where you won’t be blowing a hole in your bank account, then the RCE133-7 may be perfect for you.

This is a 7 string guitar, so it offers something a little bit different from what we have already discussed.

Product Highlights

As mentioned, this is a 7-string guitar. Since a lot of flamenco styles require heavy arpeggio usage, the 7 strings make it a touch easier to pull off some sounds. That 7th string will reduce the need to have awkward finger placement. Although, it can also contribute to the guitar’s unique tone.

This is another one of those acoustic electric guitar options, and while it doesn’t sound as beautiful as the Godin Arena CW does when amped up, the sound still does sparkle. We can’t help but feel that this classical guitar may be the perfect choice for the classical guitar student who is looking to break into performing for the first time. As we said, it isn’t expensive, but it still has that mellow sound that many flamenco classical styles demand.

In order to keep the price of the Ortega Guitars RCE133-7 low, some compromises have needed to be made with the wood selection. While this nylon string guitar is still going to have solid wood, it is mostly walnut, nato, and spruce. Although, they do offer great sound quality. and you can still get that traditional classical sound from it.

Features

Here are the features of the Ortega Guitars RCE133-7:

  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Nato
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Scale length: 25.5″
  • Included gig bag

It comes with a basic set of nylon strings, although we recommend that you upgrade to some thicker nylon strings if you want to get the most from the guitar. Acoustically, the guitar sounds as if a little is ‘trimmed off’ of it when you use thinner nylon strings, particularly when you are amplified.

What We Like About The Ortega RCE133-7

As a 7-string flamenco guitar, the Ortega RCE133-7 gives you much more range when you play. If you have never played a 7 string guitar before, then you’ll be in awe at how easy it is to hit more complicated arpeggios and chords.

Considering the Ortega RCE133-7 doesn’t use optimal woods for classical guitars (to keep the costs down), it does offer a surprisingly balanced tone. So, you’ll have no issues playing traditional classical music, or sprucing things up to be a bit more modern.

What We Don’t Like The Ortega RCE133-7

We’ll put aside the fact that not everybody enjoys playing a 7 string guitar. We understand that it can be a completely different experience if you aren’t used to it. This isn’t really a major issue with the Ortega RCE133-7 as you know what you are getting into.

The problem is the strings that it comes with. We wish that Ortega would have included thicker strings on this guitar, just to show how great it sounds. Alas, they didn’t. We can’t help but feel that many people will test this guitar, hear the thinner tone, and not realize that they are holding one of the best nylon string guitars. Such a shame.

Pros:

  • Affordable high-end classical guitar
  • Sounds good when amped up.
  • Can work with a range of different musical styles.
  • 7 strings

Cons:

  • Not everybody likes 7 string guitars
  • The included nylon strings are awful

Yamaha Classical Guitar – GC22C

Yamaha GC22C Classical - Natural
  • 6-string Nylon-string Classical Guitar with American Cedar Top
  • Ebony Fretboard - Natural
  • Rosewood Back and Sides
  • Mahogany Neck

Moving swiftly on with our list of the best nylon string guitars, we have the GC22C from Yamaha. Yamaha is a company that has its fingers in a lot of pies in the instrument world (and outside), and it doesn’t matter whether they are making a steel string guitar, electric guitar, or a nylon string guitar, you know that you are getting something brilliant from them. The Yamaha GC22C is easily one of the best classical guitars on the market.

Product Highlights

We have seen some people argue that Yamaha over-engineers their classical guitars, although we dispute that. Yes, Yamaha puts a lot of effort into designing their guitars. They take a lot of time selecting the right materials, components, etc. However, it is all worth it. The end result is a traditional classical guitar that produces a good sound.

Yamaha Guitars don’t quite have the beauty that some of the other guitar manufacturers do, but that’s fine with us. With the GC22C (and their range of other classical guitars), it is certainly a case of function over beauty. This guitar sounds wonderful, and we reckon that any person with experience with flamenco guitar could get their hands on this and agree that it is one of the best classical guitars around.

That’s not to say that this classical guitar doesn’t look good. It does. It is hard not to look good when you are made from a stunning hand-selected solid rosewood back and sides, solid cedar top, solid mahogany neck, and an ebony fretboard. We suppose that you can say that the GC22C has an understated elegance to it. Not the most beautiful of classical guitars, but one that you won’t be able to take your eyes off of.

Features

We have already talked about the woods that make up the Yamaha GC22C, so you already know the main appeal of this guitar; solid woods that help offer a balanced tone. The combination of woods ensures that you are going to get a lot of volume popping out of that sound hole too.

Outside of this, Yamaha doesn’t include any ‘major’ features. This is just your standard, albeit very good, classical guitar. You get 19 frets over a 25.5″ scale length. Perfect for classical and flamenco styles (or just about any other acoustic style you want).

The Yamaha GC22C also comes with a gig bag, letting you keep the GC22 in great condition. Although, you may want to give it an upgrade to a proper case later on.

What We Like About The Yamaha GC22C

We’ve always enjoyed Yamaha instruments, and the Yamaha GC22C is no exception to that rule. While their guitars rarely are the most beautiful options on the market, there is no denying that Yamaha knows how to source the right woods to build a guitar. You won’t be blowing minds with the looks, but you’ll be blowing minds with the gorgeous tone. Pick this up, and you will see why so many people regard Yamaha instruments as quality instruments.

What We Don’t Like About The Yamaha GC22C

The Yamaha GC22C doesn’t have a truss rod, which provides little adjustment on the neck. This is typically the case with most classical guitars. It is a bit annoying, but as long as you keep the Yamaha GC22C in the right conditions, it isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.

Pros:

  • Superb sound quality
  • Responsive fretboard
  • Loud guitar
  • The solid cedar looks tremendous

Cons:

  • Doesn’t look amazing
  • No truss rod

Cordoba 45 Limited

Cordoba 45 Limited Classical Acoustic Nylon String Guitar, Espana Series (made in Spain) with Humidified Hardshell Case
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Black and White Ebony Back & Sides
  • Gloss Polyurethane
  • Made in Spain
  • Savarez Cristal Corum strings in High Tension, 500CJ

We couldn’t help ourselves, we had to wrap up our list with another classical guitar from Cordoba. This company truly is the best when it comes to making classical guitars, and the Cordoba 45 Limited is more evidence of that.

Product Highlights

Where do you go to hear the best flamenco classical guitars? Spain. That’s right. Guess where the Cordoba 45 Limited is handmade? Yep. Spain. Some of the best Spanish luthiers have poured their hearts and souls into ensuring that the Cordoba 45 Limited is up there with the best classical guitar options in the world.

The Cordoba 45 is visually striking. You perform with this in your hands, and people won’t be able to take their eyes off of you. This is a guitar that you’ll proudly want to have on display. Just look at that beautiful black and white ebony headstock. You won’t find that on many other classical guitars. It also really helps to add to the tone and, in our opinion, the sound from the Cordoba 45 Limited is unique. Unique in a good way.

The Cordoba 45 offers a crystal-clear tone, coupled with a good amount of bass and heavy sustain, something that you will rarely find on other classical guitars. So, you can really experiment with the sounds that you produce from the Cordoba 45.

Features

Cordoba produces the best classical guitars in the world, so it is clear that a lot of thought has been poured into producing this guitar. Here are the feature highlights:

  • Bone nut
  • 25.6″ scale length
  • Solid European spruce top
  • 3.5″ soundhole
  • Black and white ebony sides
  • Cypress interior
  • Spanish solid cedar neck
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Indian Rosewood bridge

All in all, this is a tremendous guitar.

On top of all this, you get a brilliant case from Cordoba that will keep your 45 Limited in perfect condition.

What We Like About The Cordoba 45 Limited

Seriously? Everything. It is one of the most beautiful classical guitar options. There aren’t that many other companies using the black and white ebony as a tonewood, so not only does the Cordoba 45 look good, but it sounds beautiful too.

This is a guitar that you will truly treasure for the rest of your life.

What We Don’t Like About The Cordoba 45 Limited

It is a Cordoba guitar, so you already know that it is going to be a bit more on the expensive side. Our main issue is that the Cordoba 45 Limited is tough to get your hands on. It is a limited edition model. So, if you want to get your hands on what we believe is the best classical guitar option for unique tones, then you’ll need to snap it up quickly.

Pros:

  • Unique tonewoods
  • Comes with a tremendous case
  • Beautiful fretboard that ensures the best sound
  • Large soundhole with a gorgeous cypress interior offering great tonal quality.

Cons:

  • Limited edition
  • High cost

How To Choose Classical Guitars

We have given you plenty of classical guitar choices. Since you are looking for the best classical guitars at the upper end of the price spectrum, chances are that you already know how to choose a classical guitar. However, we figured we would wrap up with a few tips to help make your purchasing decision easier.

We aren’t going to bore you with details about action, nuts, etc. here. That is basic stuff for anybody that is experienced with a guitar. We just want to give you a few additional things to think about.

Stick to Reputable Classical Guitar Manufacturers

As you went through this list, you will probably notice that outside of Yamaha, we haven’t mentioned any of the ‘big’ brands such as Martin, Fender, etc. We know that they produce great steel string guitar choices, but they make terrible classical guitars.

When you are looking for the best classical guitars, always purchase from companies known only for their classical guitar options e.g. Cordoba, Ramirez, Esteve. The problem with non-nylon string guitar specialists is that they often make nylon string guitars to steel-string standards, and it rarely sounds good. This is because the strings demand a completely different set-up, types of wood, etc.

We are sure that you already knew this, though.

Do You Need An Acoustic Electric?

While it is nice to hook up your classical guitar to an amp, you have to consider the extra cost. While we have highlighted a few classical guitars with preamps built into them, we are aware that this adds to the overall cost. This means that there is no sense in getting an acoustic electric classical guitar if you are never going to be hooked up to an amp Sometimes, if you want to keep that great tone, sticking a microphone in front of your guitar will be better.

Always Opt for Solid Woods

Whenever you buy a classical guitar at the upper end of the pricing spectrum, always get a solid wood guitar. Solid wood guitars are perfect for flamenco and general classical guitar music and they have far, far better sustain and volume. Your music is just going to sound so much better.

For a good comparison of the tonal differences between solid and laminate wood, watch this YouTube video:

Do You Need a 7-String Guitar?

We know that 7-string classical guitars are not for everybody, hence why we only included one on this list. However, if you are looking to expand your guitar arsenal, it may be worth considering a 7-string, especially if you play a lot of fingerstyle guitar. The extra string makes hitting certain sounds so much easier.

The Best Traditional Classical Guitars – Our Verdict

If you’re looking for the best classical guitar, then you need to pick up the Cordoba C12 SP. It is virtually unbeatable, and considering the quality of tone that it offers, very affordable. If you are looking for something ever so slightly cheaper, then the Godin Arena CW could also be an option.

FAQs

Which company makes the best classical guitars?

Cordoba, by far, produces the best classical guitars. Although, you shouldn’t expect anything less from handmade guitars made in the home of Flamenco music, Spain.

Is it worth buying a classical guitar with a pre-amp?

If you want to hook directly up to an amp, then yes. Although, if you aren’t connecting up to an amp and mostly playing acoustic, it may not be worth the extra cost.

Which wood offers the best tone for a classical guitar?

Any denser wood that offers great sustain would be good for a classical guitar. Mahogany, cedar, and spruce work well. Always opt for solid wood. 

Bestseller No. 1
Yamaha C40II Classical Guitar, Full Size, Natural
  • Spruce top
  • Meranti back & sides
  • Rosewood fingerboard & bridge
  • Gloss finish
Bestseller No. 2
Fender FA-25N 3/4 Size Nylon String Acoustic Guitar, Beginner Guitar, with 2-Year Warranty, Perfect Beginner Guitar for Kids that is Easy on Fingers, Includes Free Lessons, Natural
  • One right-handed FenderFA-25N 3/4 Size Nylon String Acoustic Guitar – a perfect beginner guitar for both kids and adults
  • Backed by a 75 year legacy of quality and craftsmanship -- the FA Series has all the sound and style of Fender's iconic acoustic guitars with specially designed features for beginners.
  • This beginner guitar comes with a free subscription to Fender Play that includes free lessons with thousands of instructional videos to build your skills by playing the songs you love
  • This smaller ¾-size body acoustic guitar is ideal for children, beginners, and players with small hands -- making it easier to learn and play -- at home or on the road.
  • Includes open-gear tuning machine for accurate tuning, with a walnut bridge for a smooth tone; the easy to play "c" shaped neck and super soft nylon strings offer a gentle introduction to learning guitar.
Bestseller No. 3
Ernie Ball Ernesto Palla Black & Gold Ball-End Nylon Classical Guitar Strings 3-Pack, 28-42 Gauge (P03409)
  • Includes 3 individually wrapped sets.
  • Nylon guitar strings for classical guitars.
  • Basses are wound with 80/20 Bronze for brighter tone. Trebles are black nylon.
  • Medium tension.
  • Equipped with ball-ends for easy installment.
Bestseller No. 4
Yamaha Student Series CGS103AII Classical Guitar, Natural
  • Spruce Top
  • Meranti Back & Sides
  • Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge
  • Natural Finish
Bestseller No. 5
D'Addario Guitar Strings - Pro-Arte Classical Guitar Strings - EJ46TT Dynacore - Silver Plated Wrap, Composite Dynacore, Titanium Nylon Trebles - Hard Tension, 1-Pack
  • CLASSICAL NYLON STRINGS - Pro-Arte’ Dynacore strings offer a traditional classical string foundation, elevated with modern advancements in production technology, to create a truly unique, contemporary tone.
  • TITANIUM NYLON TREBLES - Utilizing Dynacore twisted multifilament nylon basses and titanium trebles, Pro-Arte’ Dynacore strings provide unparalleled intonation and responsive attack, as well as distinct balance and increased resonance in the top-end.
  • TIE ENDS - Dynacore sets features tie-ends, Dynacore multifilament material, and silver-plated copper wrap wire.
  • EARN REWARD POINTS - D’Addario Pro-Arte’ Dynacore classical guitar strings come with a code on the recyclable, resealable VCI bag, which you can register to earn Players Circle points.
  • MADE IN THE USA – Our classical strings are made in the USA—drawn to exacting specifications at our New York production facility.

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