Boy howdy, as my sister-in-law would say. There's a lot of knowledge around here on the more arcane aspects of wood technology and acoustics.
In my experience of rooting through a hundred music stores, the occasional time when you find a cheap (under $250 lets say) guitar that really sounds GREAT...most often its a Yamaha. Wish I'd bought all of them I've run across.
I've gotten to like the sound and feel of western cedar top guitars quite a lot. Good ones are very warm. A couple of you have mentioned it as an "also used"--is there a downside to cedar--durability perhaps? I've got a cedar top mandola that's very nice. And I know an old guy hereabouts who builds fiddles with cedar tops, which get NO FINISH WHATSOEVER. (or maybe he brings 'em out and passes them around while they're incomplete--but I think they're done.) They are terrific fun to play, with a great live response--the word I think of is gritty, but I mean it in a good way. They aren't Strads, they're fiddles. I want one. Anybody else seen this approach?