I am in the process of trying to find myself a new guitar to purchase.

I currently play a Fender DG14S TF guitar. This is a solid top "beginner" acoustic. It's actually a very good guitar, I have no complaints about it. Holds a tune well, good tone, etc. It was purchased second hand from a relative.

My sister has caught the music bug, so I feel that this would be a perfect time for me to upgrade, and then she can have the Fender. I have been playing for some time now and I feel it is time to get my own personal guitar that will stick with me for years to come.

My criteria in looking for a guitar are as follows:

-Material: Solid top, back & sides preferred (not overly concerned with type/grade)
-Cutaway: Preferred, but not necessary
-Shape: Dreadnaught (preferred, as this is what I currently play, but not necessary)
-Electronics: doesn't matter either way*
-Color/looks don't matter (although I do love the look of a black guitar... )
-Price range: < 2000$ preferred (I make decent money but I am still a Uni student after all)

*When it comes to electronics, I have been unable to find a higher-quality guitar without electronics installed, but I definitely would not mind paying less for no electronics!

I mostly strum/flatpick and self-accompany to country, folk, singer-songwriter stuff, occasionally the odd rock/metal song if it doesn't sound too bad on acoustic.

With this in mind, I have recently been eyeing up the Martin DCPA4. I have tried some Martins before in the music store near my house and enjoy their sound as it best suits my playstyle.

I have a small issue however. Everywhere I look on the web it seems to state that this has solid back/sides; however, the specifications form Martin list the back/sides simply as "Sapele". This usually means that they are laminate with outside/inside layer Sapele, as I have discovered in my browsing. For example, the Martin DCPA4 Rosewood lists the back/sides as "Solid East Indian Rosewood.

My questions:
-Would I be sacrificing some quality on the DCPA4, and would it be worth the extra 200$ (not much in the grand scheme of things) to get the DCPA4 Rosewood? (I do like the look of the Rosewood better )
-Is there any models similar to this that do not come equipped with electronics? This isn't as important to me, as I would probably install them on my own at some point but I feel it is worth considering
-Can you suggest some similar guitars at around the same price (or even under) that would fit (most) of this criteria? I'm quite new to the gear acquisition game but I plan to do lots of shopping/playing in the near future (I am not particularly set on upgrading, just dreaming and getting an idea for the moment )

Thanks for any input! I realize there are 10000 "help me find guitar plz" threads but considering I do have some specific questions I feel this warrants its own post

TLDR: help me find guitar plz
I don't worry too much about solid b&s, though most guitars in that price range come that way. - IMO there is very little relationship between price and tonal quality in standard factory guitars, so you just have to trust your ears ,not rely on specs for tone. Even individual guitars vary in both tone and neck angle within the same model, especially in Martin, so buying by mail order is a chancy business. - I would never buy a Martin that way.

The difference in price of those two guitars only reflects differences in timber and maybe cosmetics. I'm pretty sure the sapele model would be solid at that price, but it wouldn't bother me either way if I liked the sound. Whether you prefer sapele or rosewood is entirely subjective. I'm a fingerpicker, and in Martins I have found more sapele/mahogany models I like than rosewood, you might be just the opposite.

Have a look at some Taylor models, they are about the same price and quality, but tend to have a more open sound. I prefer the Taylor bolt-on neck, as it is very easily reset.
Thanks for the reply, I will take that into account when I get closer to deciding. I still plan on visiting some of the stores nearby and trying out plenty of different models within my price range. I'm not set on any of these features that I mention, it is more of something to base my decision off of/where to start looking. The solid wood back/sides is included more because I already have a solid top, but if I find something that outright beats the tone of my current guitar and plays great I won't be afraid to skip out on all-solid.

I'm not exactly "set" on spending 2k on a guitar, I simply want to upgrade to something that will be of high quality, have great sound, and will last me a long time. I don't want to skimp out and find myself wanting a new guitar in 2 years.

I haven't looked at many Taylors because they seem to be more expensive to get the specs of a Martin at this price range; however I hear they have great, consistent quality so I will definitely take a look when the time comes.

At this time I am simply trying to get ideas so thank you for your suggestions.
FWIW, I think your reply shows the right attitude - trust your ears, not the price and the name on the headstock, and try to be objective when comparing with what you already have. The last time I looked at acoustic guitars, I took mine down for comparison, and came home without a new one. Taylor and Martin prices are competitive, so I would expect them to have the "quality" at the same price, if not the same specs. While I'm not a particular fan of the Taylor sound, I really like their bolt-on/shimmed neck construction. It means that if the instrument's geometry deteriorates (it goes banana-shaped) it can be easily and cheaply fixed. OTOH, the neck angle on Martins varies, and a low neck angle might mean a warranty repair for the first owner (in the US, not so good here in Oz) or an expensive fix for a non-original owner. My "best"guitar, a Bourgeois, has a bolt-on neck and is one of the reasons I chose it.
Interesting, I've never paid much attention to details like neck construction, etc but I can see that it is obviously an important aspect that I've been overlooking. I will keep this in mind as well when I begin my search. I appreciate the advice
I purchased a D41 Martin over 20 years ago. It needed a neck reset right from the start, however I couldn't pass it up because the tone was incredible. We managed to get the action good with a very low saddle and some grooves in the bridge pin holes (bit of a butcher).

I have finally had the neck reset along with the fingerboard resurfaced and re-radiused, a refret (stainless steel jumbo), and all the bindings reglued (all had come loose), a loose back brace fixed. I expect the guitar to be delivered on Tuesday

Hopefully you will never need to go through all of that to find your dream guitar! Well, maybe you will own it long enough and play it enough to at some point require a refret (that part was $200USD)

Yes, you should shop around until you find "the" guitar for you, just as I did.


Bought one today for $364 NEW. The craftmanship is splendid. ALL WOOD (cherry back and sides, Cedar top). Great tone and sounds very much like my Taylor Big Baby top end (not quite as prominent but very sweet) but a thicker bottom end. I love it so far. I have to admit the "amber" color of the guitar didn't appeal to me but it's a true sweetheart.
@Backslider - I hope I'm able to find a guitar that I will be able to get that much use out of, that would be ideal. Best of luck with your "new" guitar when you finally get it.

@TobusRex - I'll definitely keep an eye out, I've heard lots of good things about Seagulls. Thanks for the suggestion, glad it's working well for you.
Quote by maccartm
@Backslider - I hope I'm able to find a guitar that I will be able to get that much use out of, that would be ideal. Best of luck with your "new" guitar when you finally get it.

Thank you! It arrived this afternoon and I am extremely happy with the repair work. I had forgotten just how beautiful this guitar was and now it is even better.

I showed it to my wife, who had never seen it before. She was amazed with how good it looked for a 25 year old guitar, almost as new.

When you come to needing a refret, pay the extra for stainless as I did ..... you will never wear them out.