omlove wrote:dilettante1000, thanks for chiming in. One thing I do notice after joining the forum and reading a lot of threads is that there are perhaps a lot of difference between US and Europe. In US we don't have access to a lot of good luthiers in Europe and vise versa. Also there are different attitudes towards brand names - for instance Australians may be more in favor of Maton while Americans may be more in favor of Martin. A $1000-2000 (dollar, not pound) steel string guitar in US is just the starting point, also factory only - as I don't think I can find any American luthier to build a custom with $2000 as baseline. I do not recall seeing any Collings at $2000 either even though it's certainly "factory guitar". Things may be different in Europe and since classical guitar is "Spanish" guitar in a way, I think it could be more popular there therefore more affordable.
It seems clear that there is a big difference in CG when it comes to what is well-known, or available in the average urban guitar shop, comparing the USA to Europe. This is mainly down to who controls the market as a distributor. It's a bit more varied when it comes to steel strings, but not much - the same familiar names still dominate.
But I'd hazard to argue that demand for specialist, luthier-made instruments of either category is relatively small, and so the availability is equally restricted. There just aren't that many top-end guitar shops in the USA, or the UK, or wherever; 90% of music shops sell the common brands, because most of their sourcing goes through one or two distributors, and the biggest demand is for the best-known names.
Remember, Martin and Gibson count their production per year in hundreds of thousands. As far as I know, no CG manufacturer even comes close to this, with the possible exception of Yamaha. Most 'names' in CG sell a few thousand, or hundreds, dozens or, in the case of the top luthiers, probably no more than a dozen or so a year.
So, thank goodness for the internet. This opens up the market on an international scale and makes almost any brand available almost anywhere. Though it is nice ( 'better?' ) to be able to go in to a store and try dozens of guitars, the nearest place I can go to for this in my part of the UK is at least a two hour drive away. An hour or so will get me to some very good steel strings. I have successfully bought on the internet and have yet to be disappointed with my choices.
A proper luthier-built steel string in the USA can't realistically be made for $2000 and be worth the seller's while: allowing 120 hours for production, and 20 guitars a year, it wouldn't pay the maker to bother. Then you have to add distribution costs.