A few years ago before I got myself a mortgage and had cash to splash, I decided I was going to get myself a high end acoustic.
After doing a lot of research and playing, I got myself a Lowden O35C custom. It is a lot like the Bensusan model, but it has a Spruce top, and a narrower nutwidth. It has the SLE neck (extended fingerboard), and all the abalone appointments that were available at the time. It is beautiful, amazing, all I could ever dream of, you get the picture!
A couple of years later, I was out drinking in Belfast. We'd started at around 10:00 AM that morning (don't ask), and in the mid afternoon I went out for a walk to try and clear my head. To cut a long story short, I came back to the pub with the Martin. It's a fabulous guitar with a huge booming sound. A cannon! I never take my creditcard out with me on the piss now...
Anyway, my nephew decided he wanted an acoustic guitar soon after. We went shopping, and came home with a Tanglewood TW-45 DLX. It is a small body guitar, with a cutaway and onboard preamp and pickup.
The Tanglewood is just an amazing instrument. It hasn't the complex sound of the Lowden (someone should start a thread on the European versus American acoustic guitar tones), and given the smaller body it hasn't the boom of my Martin. What it has is a beautiful balanced lively sound, that just makes you want to play it and play it. The neck is very slim and comfortable. It is constructed from all solid woods (mahogony back and sides, cedar top, rosewood fingerboard), and cost less than a quarter the price of the Martin.
Now, being realistic, it is not the first guitar I'd pick up if I had all three in front of me and an urge to play.
The Lowden is wonderful for fingerstyle, and not so good with a pick. I won't go on about it, you've played Lowdens, you know the craic.
The Martin is great for strumming, and even though many believe the big Martin Ds aren't such good fingerstyle instruments, I enjoy it for that... but it really excels when being played with a pick. It's not balanced in terms of tone, it's bottom heavy but that's what D size guitars are all about. As an aside, Michael Hedges, arguably one of the best known finger style guitarists used a D-28 which sort of nullifies the whole theory but we'll move on!
The Tanglewood is excellent for fingerstyle, great for strumming, and is amazing plugged in. It's really balanced across the spectrum, is very comfortable to play, and it's cedar top gives it a warm and very vibrant tone. Playing lead licks on it is just fantastic! The slim neck and lively sound nearly makes it feel like you're playing an electric!
It was made somewhere in the far east, and it didn't cost a huge amount of money when you consider the price of guitars... but it is a fantastic all-rounder. I know it seems to be a silly thing to say, but it's a 'fun' guitar to play. While playing in an acoustic group a couple of years ago, I borrowed the Tanglewood to use for the plugged in sessions, and it ticked all the boxes for me.
I'm not sure if my ramblings will have helped you or not, but there you go!
Ps: Probably just do what all the forums tell prospective guitar buyers to do... "Go and play as many guitars as you can and buy the one you like best... bla bla bla"