If we want to verify a gold coin, we can use some chemicals on it and know if it really is gold or not, but regarding guitars such a mechanical verification is not 100% possible. There is an objective aspect on how to choose a flamenco guitar and there is another one that is completely subjective. The genuine assessment process for choosing a guitar includes 2 steps:
1) The technical aspect of how that guitar was builded, it’s dimensions etc. In other words: PLAYABILITY, which means:
a)Perfect bridge measurements, namely, the distances between the orifices as well as bridge proper height; a flawless fretboard and top setting.
b)Action (millimeters between 6th and 12 fret, etc)
c)General tension of the guitar while played "Pulsacion”. For practical purposes, I included the links of a Documentary entitled: “How to Choose a Flamenco Guitar” made at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto in which I talked these technical aspects between other important things.
2) The subjective aspect which involves the particular perception and taste of the guitar player. This has 2 aspects:
A) QUALITY OF SOUND (concepts like female & male, accurate tuning etc.) You can find more information about this subject in one of the past issues of my magazine at the following link: http://rdiaz.org/rdmagazine15-12oct12.html
This aspect includes also:
a)“Timbre” tone of every string.
b)Balance between trebles and basses in all 4 zones of the fretboard.
c)Quality & age of the soundboard or top, and back and sides wood.
d)Intonation & harmonics, sustain etc.
e)Projection & response.
f)Excellent bracing patterns or "abanicos" and how does it sounds the “golpe” or taping.
a)Kind of varnish (and how does it affects the sound etc)
b)Colors of wood & kinds of woods traditional and/or beyond.
c)Color of the Varnish (which for me its unimportant)
The equation: “This or that specific guitar = certain amount of money” is -in the best of cases- just something vaguely approximate only. It can’t be objectively established with certainty because if a guitar is as it has to be: Flawless and hand made, it is unique piece and therefore a work of art, same as an art painting work and therefore its value in money terms is very relative.
For me if a guitar has real quality is priceless, and any money you pay for it is just symbolical.
As an example here is a $32,500 dollars guitar made by Marcelo Barbero:
The price given herein for the guitar can be fair or not. It all depends on the motive you have to buy that guitar. Do you want it to make a show of how much money you have? Do you want it because it has a unique sound? Do you want it because it was built by one of the greatest luthiers of all times? Do you want it because you want to do a good investment?
Sometimes status or monetary interests are not compatible with the artistic ones.
So, really speaking, to choose a guitar you have only two options:
1) Follow the advice of your own guitar teacher or an expert advisor on the field (a person which you obviously trust)
2) Try your best alone and/or guided by brand names or by other people who, sometimes, pose themselves as knowers. In this regard, please imagine what would happen if you try to choose or buy a diamond on your own without the advice of an expert or a trusted person guiding you.
It’s obvious that the first is the best option. It’s very important that you evaluate FROM WHOM you are listening a referral for a certain guitar, because that will be impacting directly on you getting the desired results or not. Therefore, the most important thing is to know clearly: 1) From whom you are listening; 2) What is the qualification of that person?; 3) Which characteristics make him/her qualified to talk about flamenco guitars; 4) THE MOST IMPORTANT: Look to a VERIFIABLE data on that person.
In my case you can find that I have 500 video lessons (playing at least 100 different guitars) in one YouTube channel with about 4,149 subscribers (and over 2,530,000 views):
And another YouTube channel with 800 video lessons (playing other 100 different guitars) which has about 1,689 subscribers and over 818,900 views:
One of many success stories is that my students have played in TV here in Spain every year
And, as many of the readers of this magazine know, I work as a trusted advisor for one of the very few educational projects in Spain and in the world that provides grants for studying flamenco contemporary guitar and the only one established in Spain that provides flamenco guitar studies in English. The following is a link in which you can find more than 50 video-testimonials: http://www.cfgstudio.com/cfgs-becarios.html
All these facts talk by themselves about expertise and value perceived as a differentiation factor in my 25 years of professional experience. Make sure you can find verifiable data of the person you trust as your advisor before you buy a new guitar.
Now, regarding the objective criterion to choose a guitar I mentioned before, the following is some relevant data for you.
I had the honor and the opportunity to present for the first time in the history of the classical & flamenco guitar -in video format- a workshop/seminary at the Royal Conservatory of Canada, in which the subject of the characteristics & qualities that a good flamenco guitar should have were explained in detail.
This documentary is still the first and only one existing online on the subject.
“How to Choose a Good Flamenco Guitar” 15 Parts
Hope this dispels your doubts!