Well, I've done it!
I've succumbed to some slick marketing and bought a new guitar. I didn't get sucked in by the marketing . . . but a new guitar couldn't hurt, right?
A Katoh MCG 200S, it looks and plays beautifully . . . and it's made in China.
For those willing to look beyond stereotypes and prejudices, it seems some things manufactured in China are of the highest quality. The Katoh range of nylon string classical guitars are exemplary instruments; crafted carefully to the highest standards, or so their blurb says.
As far as I can see they are right. The finish is brilliant. Nothing is overlooked. No blemishes. Quality components and a good sound.
My old Yamaha has had 40 years to bed in and mellow (even though a lot of that time it stood unloved in storage) and it sounds great. The Katoh is better . . . not by a lot, but noticeably so. Maybe the meticulous solid wood construction helps there. My Yamaha is plywood, as are all cheaper hollow acoustic guitars. The Katoh soundboard is spruce timber that supposedly gives it a brighter, clearer tone compared to cedar. It may very well do that but my ears are not up to the job of deciding. I just love playing it.
With respect to quality of finish and the sound it produces, the Katoh was exceptional value, compared to a 'name' brand like Ramirez (about a third cheaper). I hesitate to quote what I paid as my wife is quite likely to read this.
It's been in my hands for only two weeks. So far it is an absolute pleasure to play. I know a guitar will only give out what human fingers put in to it, but somehow it seems to add a little value even to my plodding efforts.
A magic flute? No, but a lovely guitar.
Sorry guys, but it seems Australia is the only place you can buy them. Maybe they are exported elsewhere under a different name.