I actually played an Italian Koa somethign in Austin, I think an OM Grand…. and man, between mine and the african one I a b s o l u t e l y did not dig the third one (the koa one)…… Could definitely be because it was new, but it was incredibly cold, stiff, and shallow. I remember my guitar was extremely cold when I first got it and I felt really let down by the build for a year or two. I remember thinking, I have no desire to ever pick up a koa italian santa cruz again after that one lol.. . but I love to be surprised! It was a truly bad one. I’m surprised that they let it go like that… I guess that they just know sometimes these guitars need years upon years before becoming playable in a sense of enjoyment or musicality. Don’t take those as harsh words, they’re just my opinion, but I think an off the shelf martin would have mopped the floor with that one and I am not a big fan of martin or off the shelf guitars at GC.
I think maybe the italian spruce had a lot to do with it… they seem very young and cold and reluctant to play when brand new in my experience. I think Adirondack is a much better wood for the OM Grand because it is already thin, projective and focused… you wouldn’t want to marry that with cold and metallic. However, after about 5 years my Italian/Coco OM Grand with prewar bracing hide glue does sound a lot better…… like my guitar teacher wanted me to return it when I first got it it was so awful lol. I had faith though, and eventually it warmed and loosened up.