Appreciate you sharing your experience. It also helps to add to our knowledge base and we get to vicariously visit Savage through you
Some things that stood out to me from your visit:
-The Barthell you really set your heart on didn't live up to your expectations. This should be a lesson for anyone in the market that our preconceived ideas, expectations, perceptions of audio recordings, etc. can be quite deceiving. Buying online is a risky ordeal and we should let our ears and fingers do the final judging rather than merely trying to gather information online.
-You've discovered the critical lesson that price can be quite subjective in the classical guitar world. More money doesn't mean more guitar, so it is important to not be swayed by market value or perceived value.
-In terms of what you're looking for, it seems you are trying to find a guitar that will really wow you in terms of volume and response. Although these factors are important, I've come to discover that what really keeps me coming back to a guitar is the beauty of tone/timbre, especially in the trebles. I've often found that the most beautiful sounding guitars are not necessarily the loudest. Then again, sometimes these super loud/responsive guitars can seem loud to the player but not much different to the audience.
-In terms of workmanship, my experience with Luthier made guitars is that you're bound to find some workmanship flaws - some minor or some more noticeable. For me this is just a sign that it is a handmade instrument rather than something that is mass produced. Many factory guitars I've played actually are more immaculate than most luthier guitar's I've observed, though there are some luthiers that are exceptional in their workmanship. Personally, I'd be more forgiving toward these workmanship flaws that are often only visible when you look up close. I'd be more concerned with sound and playability. The point is, I wouldn't allow concerns over workmanship to cause you to pass on a potentially amazing guitar.
Thanks for sharing. Hope the right one will eventually come along. Until then, there is great value in increasing your exposure to what is out there.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening