E komo mai!
Nice to see another slacker here.
Ozzie Kotani tried to stay true to the nylon tradition of slack key when he released his first albums. The story goes that he had a difficult time matching the volume of other artists who played on steel strings and that's why he switched from his Takamine cutaway classical to a Taylor. I prefer slack-key on an inexpensive classical guitar myself. It sounds more authentic to my ears.
Are you looking for a historical
short-scale guitar or just a short-scale guitar?
If historical, then you're probably looking for an instrument that would have existed from the early to mid-1800s. Most of the guitars played by the paniolos
(who came after or about 1832) would probably have been similar to the Torres FE-18 made by Kenny Hill. You could give him or Larry Darnell a call at the phone number of the Hill Guitar website
. It's a over your budget though at $5,450.
is also on the forum and he makes smaller-scale early-period instruments that might fit your budget. He has a 629mm 1834 Luis Panormo available.