Saturday, September 24, 2011


NGD - stands for New Guitar Day... and it isn't quite accurate.  I've been on vacation and therefore away from blogging.  The NGD took place just before I left on vacation (more about that later) and I am sooooo excited.  And it was only a new guitar for me...

Some of you realize that I am a huge fan of Lowden Guitars.  George is a genius and has a design that is different enough from anything else out there to be uniquely his own with a distinctive sound.  He was also the first steel string builder to use cedar for tops to a significant degree - again a different sound than the more traditional spruce tops of most American designed guitars.  Lowdens aren't for everyone, but they work for me.  I've been playing a Lowden as my primary guitar since 1987 when I bought an L25C from  little music store in New Hope, PA that was going out of business.  That first guitar, which I deeply loved, was stolen in Philly in '99.  At that point, a friend loaned me another Lowden while the company built me a very beautiful replacement that I also love and have been playing since receiving it in 2000.  After the theft, I watched for my guitar to show up and still do check e-bay and craigslist every now and then, hoping to run into it again.  It really was my guitar but I have, for the most part, given up hope of ever seeing it again.  There was something special about the guitars built by the Lowden company in the late 80's and I've been hoping to get one at some point.  Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to purchase one so when I've seen one come up for sale, I've longingly said... "Oh well..."

A few weeks ago I came across an ad on a guitar forum looking to trade a Lowden S10 from that era for a Taylor.  Normally this wouldn't be much of a possibility as Lowdens are significantly more expensive than Taylors.  This particular Lowden was pretty beaten and had a few issues that made it less desirable and therefore worth a little less... and I had a Taylor 314CE for a back-up guitar, although not the particular model the other individual was looking for.  I dropped him a note anyway and what do you know, we were able to work out a trade.  Off went the Taylor to Colorado and the Lowden made its way to California.

The guitar arrived and it is as I expected.  It is a "lower" end Lowden with two piece neck construction rather than the typical 5 piece Lowden neck and  had come from the factory with a pickup and two little holes in the side for controls, the controls having been removed, leaving two little holes - see the left photo.   That also meant a different saddle arrangement as Lowdens are designed with a split saddle for better intonation.  At that period in time, there were no under-the-saddle pickups that worked with split saddles so Lowdens with factory pickups from that era had a single wider saddle rather than their standard split arrangement - see above.  Also, there were some Lowdens from that era that had problems with the bridges coming loose.  An easy but very undesirable fix was to drill holes and use bolts to solidify the joint.  That had been done to this guitar.  It also shows the wear and tear of 25 years of hard play and the finish is worn and scratched.  She looks as if she'd been through a war.  And the hard case is beaten, cracked, and has a few holes.  All of that brings the value down and puts it closer to the trade range of a Taylor 314CE (what I had to trade).

Here's the most important info about the guitar.  It sounds AMAZING!  It is every bit a Lowden from the late '80's.  Even the under-the-saddle pickup, which I typically don't care for, sounds good.  It is the perfect backup guitar for my primary Lowden and I am sooooo happy with the trade.  It could even become my primary gigging guitar.  FWIW, I heard from the person I traded and he is thrilled with the Taylor so everyone is good.

So, what does a Lowden sound like?  Listen to the songs in the player in the right column and you can hear both my 87 guitar and the 2000 guitar.  Heartbeat is a good example of the newer guitar and Celtic Dreams and Call Down Thunder are the old one.  You can guess at the other songs.

1 comment:

Fernando said...

Nice one - congrats!