Today I walked into Archambault on St-Catherine and picked up my first truly high-end guitar, a Takamine EC132SC Acoustic/Electric Classical, pictured here. Actually I had gone there earlier in the week to buy strings for my old guitar, then made a detour into the guitar room, found the high-enders (that is, guitars for over a thousand dollars) in an almost impossible-to-find corner near the cash, took this one down from the rack, and immediately fell in love with its sound. This is so rare, I tell you.* Today I swallowed hard and bought it. It's comparable in sound to my old guitar, a soft, warm-sounding mahogony & cedar Yamaha classical that retailed for maybe $450 20 years ago. This one though is richer with more high end (treble). Even with the cutaway (which usually reduces volume by about 30%), it has more resonance than the Yamaha, due to its rosewood construction. The main thing though is that it's so much more playable, as my old guitar through gradual warping has developed irreparable high action (strings far from the fretboard) making it harder to play.
Anyway, I spent the evening noodling around, playing more effortlessly than ever, discovering new licks, new possibilities. It's like wearing a new eyeglass prescription for the first time -- everything so much clearer. My playing is instantly more expressive than ever before -- I can give more to the vocals, everything. I had no idea how much I was hampered by that other guitar. (Which nevertheless, for most things, was not that bad...only there comes a time when "not bad" is not good enough!)
For anyone who plays at all well, I can only recommend a professional, high-end instrument. It makes things so much easier. Even for a beginner, to avoid discouragement, a good instrument is a must: the kind that provides 90% of the ease and sound quality for, say, half or even a third the price of the best. We always pay so much more for that final 10%! But by the time you get to the point where that extra 10% makes all the difference to how you want to sound, you'll have a good, precise idea on what instrument to lay down all that extra cash.
* Maybe steel string players have an easier time finding the guitar for them. The North American acoustic guitar market is almost overwhelmingly steel string, leaving pretty slim pickings, even in large stores like Archambault, for people like me who happen to prefer, for their own music making at least, the feel and sound of nylon. (Lo contrario in Spain or Latin America.) But then for steel string players that may mean there are more bad choices out there to confuse them...