Thank you all for your thoughts on my José Mercado. This guitar is very playable with excellent projection, separation and sustain. The overall tone is on the warmer-fuller side. I have had a variety of string sets on her and find Savarez Alliance Cantiga NT best so far.
The top is highly checked, but it appears to be superficial. I'm not sure how others my feels about such cosmetic issues. For me, it is just part of the life of this 51 year old guitar. (To think I was a junior in high school when she was built!)
I returned to classical guitar a year ago at the age of 67 after a 45 year hiatus. I find it difficult to describe guitar tonality. Much like fine wine, I cannot describe it in the terms of a connoisseur, but I know what I like and what sounds good to me. So this Mercado has been a real delight--and similar to my recollection of the Velazquez (and Papazian) that my teacher had many years ago.
My attempts to hear back from Earl Klugh have not been successful to date.
John Edwin Snyder, Denton, TX USA (Student)
1966 Mercado ex. Earl Klugh
1971 Ramirez 1a (#4567 JG)
2016 Cervantes, Hauser
2017 Hanika 58CC