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There seems to be an endless number of builders for the higher end ($4000+)models.Can anyone shed any light on this subject.It seems to me that the market is very small and that the "little guy" is fighting for market share.I`m in the market for one and am having a difficult time trying to make up my mind since many models are not accessible to me to even be played.
 

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I'll take a stab at this, as I believe that it is the same reason why I won't make or sell accoustic instruments.

A good accoustic instrument is not something that can be mass produced, it requires a skilled, experienced luthier to craft it. This takes time and the luthier has to be paid for his/her work. They require allot of attention to detail, and each instrument has to be dealt with individually.

There are mass produced accoustic instruments that are fine for myself and probably alot of other players out there, but if you hand it off to a discerning accoustic player they may grimace at it. Of course not all mass produced accoustics are bad, but finding a good one may not be as easy as selecting a make and model.

This is not to say that it doesn't take a skilled craftsman to make a solidbody guitar either, but there is definately a a higher level of skill and maturity required to make a quality accoustic instrument.

So I guess 'my' answer to your question is that the price 'should' reflect the level of craftsmanship that went into producing the guitar. Even a little guy will need to be paid for his time, so I wouldn't expect a quality hand made instrument to come cheap at any level.

Also mass produced instruments cater to the current trends. If the instrument you are looking for is not a popular configuration, it may be that the factories are just too busy turning out their popular sellers to cover all of the bases.
 

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Try to play as many as you can. Last summer I was lucky enough to be in Montreal at the end of the jazz fest and there was an instrument show on at the same time with at least 20 luthiers there. Even at a local classical guitar society meeting I can usually try 5-10 instruments.
 
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