I happened to scrolling through my Instagram feed the other morning when I found the whole feed was saturated by acoustic guitars! This is quite normal when you follow guitar manufacturer around NAMM time but the guitar in question were the new Sheeran guitars (of course this is a Mr Ed Sheeran that seems to have dominated the music landscape for the better part of a decade).
I have to admit when I saw that Ed Sheeran had a range of signature guitars from world renowned guitar maker George Lowden on the way I felt a little apprehensive to say the least. What was the every-man of guitars doing putting his name on a £3000-4000 handmade guitar? Surely people wanting to pay that amount on a single instrument want it to say Lowden on the headstock? Upon further investigation I feel I was very wrong.
What changed my thinking? I felt this way initially because it states on the Lowden website that they only give signature models to artists that have been playing their guitars by choice for many years such as a certain hero of mine, Richard Thompson.
Ed on the other hand was given a Wee Lowden (a small but highly expensive guitar) gifted to him by Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody when he asked Lowden to build a small-bodied guitar as a gift for Ed Sheeran.
But these guitars aren’t truly signature models they are an entire range in their own right and not full fat Lowden guitars. They really are the every-man's guitar like the headstock’s namesake. Starting at £500 and reaching the not-so-heady-heights of £965, which to me is very much the sweet-spot of the guitar buyers budget.
What sets these guitars apart is the man in charge, George Lowden himself. He and his team’s attention to detail is probably the best the industry has to offer, but that is no good if the guitars are made overseas and slowly the quality slips over time like we have seen with other manufacturers ‘budget’ range. These on the other hand are made in Lowden’s factory in Northern Ireland. I don’t fully understand how they have made this possible (I’m doing my best to avoid the obvious joke about employing Leprechauns) but apparently they have streamlined a huge amount of the manufacturing process, and that they are building the guitars back and sides from laminate woods instead of the usual solid woods found on the higher end models. Solid woods can still be found in the construction of the tops of course.
There are two ranges that mimic the size and sonic characteristics of Lowden’s own designed guitar bodies.
The first being the Wee Lowden. This was George’s answer to the current wave of small bodied guitars making their way into players hands, popularised, of course by none other than Ed Sheeran. It’s a small guitar with a big voice. It does lend itself to the more casual player looking for a nice sounding guitar that travels well.
The S is an older design of George’s but one that I find is nearly perfect. It’s small enough to be forgiving to your hands because of it’s shorter scale and kinder to your shoulders due to it’s compact nature while still being big enough to project the low notes and sing when needed.
Both of these sizes have been replicated in this new range and each with four different models. It’s a very easy range to understand: the ’W’ is the Wee Lowden sized body and the ’S’ is the Small Lowden sized body. Each has a number given to indicate what combination of features you will be getting.
- 01 - Solid Cedar Top/Laminate Walnut back and sides - No pickup system
- 02 - Solid Spruce Top/Laminate Santos Rosewood back and sides - LR Baggs Element VTC
- 03 - Solid Cedar Top/Laminate Santos Rosewood back and sides - LR Baggs Element VTC
- 04 - Solid Spruce Top/Laminated Figured Walnut back and sides - LR Baggs Element VTC
I really feel these guitars are going to give other manufacturers a run for their money within their budget line. Having had personal experience with both body shapes and can testify to the quality standards Lowden insists upon all backed up with the word ‘Sheeran’ on the headstock I feel they really do have a winner on their hands. Let hope that those Leprechauns can keep up production ...oh damn it, I failed...