I cannot try any of these guitars because they are not stocked where I live, but I've narrowed it down to
Gibson Robert Johnson
Can you offer any advice about these instruments, sound wise and playability
It's unfortunate you are not able to play these to compare. Playing and hearing is really the best way to decide. If you can do a road trip to a place that carries them (and many other kinds) then do it. For the amount of money these cost, again, it's worth the trip.
I cannot comment on any of the models mentioned since I haven't played them. If they were electric guitars then it would be easy, but an acoustic is a personal choice. In your profile it says you like to play the Blues. Why not the Gibson Robert Johnson? It's an L-1 and you can't get any more to the point than that! It's unfortunate, but when I hear Martin I first think folk music - not blues.
After looking at the Gibson Robert Johnson and Martin 000-18 I am noticing the Gibson is a 12 fret guitar and the Martin's are 14 fret guitars. I would not have expected this difference from a narrowed down search. A 14 fret guitar will give you a little more reach to the upper frets because the neck meets the body at the 14th fret. A very good discussion about the differences between 12 and 14 fret guitars can be found in the old ....
If you haven't already done so, read reviews for each model. Harmony-Central is a good place to start and Google will reveal others including YouTube reviews. YouTube might be the place to go to actually hear differences and listen to what the players think.
Thanks a lot John, I am a bit of an obsessed blues player, and I do like the feel of a shorter neck, I had read about these guitars and was thinking a couple have mahogany bodies and one is rosewood, I wonder how much of a different sound that would be. As far as a road trip I would have to fly over to the US from AUstralia, :) because I have talked to the distributors and they say "We can order one in for you" but no one stocks them.
Being in Australia, why not check out Maton Guitars?
Maton is a great idea - and I believe Walden has a good presence in Australia...http://www.waldenguitars.com/dealers_australia.html
Enjoy the hunt!
Have played a few of those, but nothing really grabbed me.
the Maton I played that I liked was $4500, lots more saving to do :)
pulled the trigger on the Gibson :)
Being a blues player, you done real good.
I love it, I have not put it down since I got it. Of course I need to take it to my guitar tech to set it up to my liking, but other than that it is a thing of beauty and my finger tips are burning, even though I have pretty thick callouses already.
All this talk on the net about "RJ never played an L-1" of " I wouldn't buy a guitar with a signature on it" pale into insignificance once it is in my hands, and even the hassle of looking after Nitro Cellulose finish is actually a positive for me!