Well, the saga continues. As per my last post, I've been wrestling with whether or not to sell my Gretsch Silver Jet to help fund the purchase of the new acoustic. I had essentially decided that I'm in no hurry so I'll take my time with my Gretsch to make up my mind, and if I choose not to sell it at least I know that when it comes time to buy my good acoustic I've got the Martin D35 in the cross hairs. In the meantime, I've continued to test drive a variety of acoustic guitars, and have specifically sought out some of the guitars recommended by y'all in this thread. In the past couple of weeks I've played a ton of guitars including (but not limited to) the following: - Martin - D-18 (another one) -HD-28 - HD-28 Clarence White - HD-16R LSH - D-28 (another two) - D-35 MP Gibson - J15 - J35 - J45 (2 more) - Hummingbird (3 more, including 1 Custom Mystic version) - Deluxe Songwriter Studio (3 of them) - AJ gold Also, a few Guilds and Taylors, and a bunch of other Gibbys and Martins that I don't remember. Additional research has highlighted the following: 1. There sure can be a big difference between guitars, even when they are all the same make and model. As much as I'm sure this is true and due to subtle differences in wood etc.... 2. Guitar shops would sell more guitars (at least to me) if they took the trouble to keep their instruments strung with fresh strings. A $3000 guitar with dead strings sounds like crap, regardless of craftsmanship and materials. I estimate that about 50% of the guitars I've tried have dead, corroded strings on them that make them impossible to test drive. 3. Having initially fallen in love with the D-35, I've now played a bunch more Martins, especially the HD28 and D-35 MP. Of all the Martins I've played the basic D-35 is still my favorite. The Clarence White HD28 is the 2nd best so far, and the shop I was at had discounted it by $1000 because it had been hanging on the wall so long. Hard to pass up a $4500 guitar going for $3500 when I'm already looking at spending close to that, but frankly I prefer the least expensive D35. 4. The Gibson AJ was nice. Even comparable to the D35 in terms of volume, projection, articulation. But all things being equal, I still prefer the D35. 5. Still like the Hummingbirds, at least the ones with fresh strings on them. In the same vein, although I've dismissed J45's as not being my cup of tea, I've now played 2 that I like quite a lot. Both had fresh strings, but beyond that, they just sounded better than the 2-3 I had played previously. Still not enough to make me want to spend large money on one. 6. FMA suggested that I try a Gibson Songwriter. I had played one previously and was uninspired. I played another one last week and remained uninspired. BUT...today I played 2 more SW's and loved them. They looked quite different from one another - one more of a dark yellow hue and the other quite pale in colour - but both sounded great. When I say they sounded great I mean they hit all the key points that I love about the D35 - loud, bassy, articulate, rich and complex. A little less bright and articulate than the Martin, but similar nonetheless. This maybe should not be surprising since both are dreadnaughts with Sitka spruce tops and rosewood back/sides. The SW is described as a "small" dreadnaught but didn't seem appreciably smaller to me. Both the SW and the D35 are similarly priced ($2500 vs $2700). Three things working in favour of the Gibson Songwriter: 1. Gibson already has electronics but the D35 will require more money to have a pickup added. That increased the price difference to a more significant value (approx. $400-500). 2. The Gibson is WAY prettier than the D35. Parallelogram inlays, abalone rosette, moustache bridge, snazzy tortoise pick guard, crown emblem on headstock. Nice! Also, the SW is IMHO prettier than the Hummingbird in that the HB is a little over the top (gaudy, in a good way). 3. The 2 Songwriters that I loved are being sold at a large national chain (L&M) that is currently offering 0% financing on Gibson products. That offer ends at the end of this month, and in fact, I'm leaving town mid-next-week so if I want to take advantage of that offer I need to act soon. I'll do some more Songwriter research tonight, and I'll go back and play both the D35 and the SW again. That said, if I had to make a decision today I'd say, "Yes!" I'm going to sell my Gretsch to raise money and, as of this moment, I'd take the Songwriter over the D35. In a blind test it would be damn close, but with all the little extra factors I'm leaning heavily towards the Songwriter right now. I'll keep y'all posted.