What is you budget BTW?
I can't see myself justifying a buy over R15k. I think if I'm patient I might even get a well looked-after 2nd hand somewhere for slightly less, which would be awesome.
Checking out a Breedlove D20SR in the coming week, so we'll see.
Sounds good, don't underestimate a solid Japanese Tak. They still one of the the best bang for buck acoustic guitars IMO.
2nd hand, or seriously negotiated, these are the only ways to go. the best guitar in my collection sat on the wall at 22, i bought it for 15. this was a long time ago, and it would now cost me around 36/37 to replace.
i haven't played a breedlove before, but have also heard good things about them. and, of course, the takamines have a good rep. i've recently purchased a tokai cat's eye acoustic and i'm seriously impressed. you can check out a review online here:
(i think i posted it previously in this thread, apologies if i did...)
in terms of what to look out for, in my humble opinion:
- build quality, first and foremost. you don't want a guitar that's going to fall apart in three or four years, no matter how good it sounds. nooks, crannies, joints, frets, check for lifting and wear, check the fit and finish, have a good look at the detailing, etc
- you'll be able to tell if the thing will hold itself together for a while, especially if it's already a few years old
- of course, distinguish between wear and ageing
in terms of how it sounds:
- it should hold tune well
- you are after good note separation when you strum or pluck a chord, or you'll end up with a muddy sound
- do you want something bright? deep and warm? lots of projection? easy to play? body size and shape will play a part in all of that, and you can research a lot of that online before hitting the streets
- other than that, rely on your ears and your arm hairs (mostly your arm hairs)
in terms of your budget:
i always have, and always will, recommend one thing; play guitars both above and below your budget. you might find something well worth spending that little extra on, on the other hand you might find something that offers an extreme bargain.
good luck, and have fun