This is going to sound stupid but playing a load of guitars and picking the 'best' isn't really a priority for me. If I did that I'd no doubt leave with a standard USA tele. But that's not what I'm aiming for.
(That being said I probably will nip into somewhere like Frailers, see if I fall in love with a ballpark sound).
Here's my reasoning: most guitars around that price point are likely to be 'acceptable' from a sound/playability viewpoint. Right?
I've been playing that long that I'm not averse to a skinny neck, or a fat neck. Medium frets, vintage frets. I'll adapt! Plus, you can make most guitars sound a certain way if you really try, and by the same rule no guitar is going to be so versatile that it will do everything perfectly. So why not roll the dice?
Aesthetics is the real issue here because this is a romantic purchase. 25 years of playing and finally I get a pretty decent guitar that I won't be treating like crap. Part of that aesthetic appeal will certainly be the knowledge that it's a very well made instrument for the price, I will say that much.
Problem is I have no clue as to what represents good value over 150 pounds sterling.
Will go and research some of the suggestions made. Thanks guys.