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This is another topic that could easily fill a book, but you can typically begin with the materials used in construction (such as premium timbers such as Sitka spruce, maple, mahogany and rosewood). As an example, highly figured maple backs and sides will certainly command higher prices than relatively plainer woods. What's more, certain woods are now in short supply, like Brazilian rosewood, so an instrument built using this particular wood will command a premium price.
Another important aspect in the price-to-performance ratio is whether the instrument is built by a skilled craftsman using hand-picked timbers. The best handmade guitars will take much longer to produce than those which are mass-produced in an assembly-line environment, since a gifted luthier will spend a great deal of time selecting each piece of wood used in construction, as each will play an important part in the complex tonal structure of the instrument.
Guitar pricing is also influenced by the quantity and quality of the ornamentation. As an example, Martin's D-50 K2 Deluxe features a top of bearclaw spruce and solid, highly figured flame koa for its back and sides, with herringbone pearl rosette and grained Ivoroid body binding, a solid mahogany neck with solid black ebony fingerboard and mother-of-pearl and abalone heart inlays. List price? $47,500 (but you know the saying: If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it).
That's not to say that you can't get a great-sounding acoustic for a lot less money - a lot! It's just that some musicians (like the guys with the hit records) want the very best one-of-a-kind instrument. For us "normal" musicians, quality comes with a much lower price tag than that, though pinching pennies is not the way to get a great acoustic sound.
If you buy a premium quality acoustic from one of the top companies like Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Guild, Ovation, Takamine, and a few others, you will more than be rewarded with superb tone and wonderful playability!
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