What exactly is the difference between these two guitars? Is it just the grade of wood and type of finish that's used for each model, or is there something else that sets them apart?

Seagull, please stop confusing me.
seems like there's more human interaction and care involved with the artist series, as they say they hand pick the tops. and cnc the bracing to tight tolerances. also they have different logos. while i haven't played the artist, it's the human element that is responsible for the difference between good and great guitars in many cases, so i hope i get a chance to try one.
^ You two pretty much have it spot on. Grade of materials, finishes, etc. have a lot to do with it. A larger amount of man-hours and attention to detail is mostly what you pay for though. For example, in custom guitars, you're paying mostly for the extremely particular and arduous work as well as how much care is being put into the guitar. Basically, more time and are = higher price.

That's not to say that the SWS aren't built well. I'm just saying that someone over in Quebec spent a lot more time creating that Artist series than the SWS.
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I've looked deeper into it. Everyone of you is definitely right. The Artist Studio actually seems to have ridiculously high grade woods for a moderately priced mass-produced guitar. From what I've been reading, most of them have a pretty high-grade bearclaw spruce top, and I love me some bearclaw.

By the way, does anyone here know what type of spruce they use? I hope it's engelmann.
^I belive its Engelmann, but don't quote me on that.

I tell ya what, if the Artist series are even better than the Maritime SWS, then they're an absolute steal for the price.
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