Which tone wood to use is a simple decision in my case. I prefer spruce for the top and rosewood on the sides and back. This narrows it down to about a million similar guitars! I like a bigger body for sound projection. Spruce handles heaving picking well and but doesn't work as well with finger picking unless you deploy finger pick - in my opinion. Rosewood matches the spruce well as it yields even separation of the voices with well defined treble tones. However, each instrument will vary within the same line and model. This could be the double edge sword of guitar buying which often leads to buyer analysis paralysis if you become obsessed with lilliputian details.
For me, ornamentation isn't really something I look for in an instrument. Sure, I love beautiful inlays but that is more pleasing to the eye whereas we are trying to please our ears! I want the guitar to function like it is an inevitable extension of my body and as Michael Hedges so appropriately said, "allow me to dream aloud." For me it is important for the instrument to have a fast feeling neck that is easy to navigate. The tone should be lively yet warm yet be able to kill banjo's (well... Almost!). As usual, my needs are subjective to my ear and personal preferences [that's the disclaimer here!] Lastly, I don't want onboard electronics. My feeling is that in the coming years the ability to electrify an acoustic guitar will change 10 fold.
Prime Rosewood below!
I already own one acoustic guitar that has a HUGE Fishman electronics hole in my instrument and I regret that decision only because that system installation required a abysmal hole in my guitar that reminds me of a sewer cover. At the this time, manufacturers have addressed electronics issue with less cumbersome systems less invasive systems. I am hopeful and enthusiastic about the future but still just want a simple acoustic only guitar. No holes in my guitar unless they are sound holes. The holes thing is a rule for me... A sound hole is fine but that it is for me. Afterall, you don't see Stradivarius violins with batteries, tone and volume gris gris. Therefore, my list of potential guitars are as follows:
Collings CJ SS
Taylor 814 spruce top
This is just the beginning as I am willing to change this whole set up around if I find a guitar that meets the tone objectives.
Look at the holes in this Vintage Martin!
So my quest begins. Stay tuned!