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Wee Lowden W35

Wee Lowden W35

Price: $---SOLD

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Hiscox case included

The Wee Lowden is the first small bodied guitar in the Lowden catalog. (By the way, *Wee* is an Irish term of endearment for something small.) The development of this guitar began nearly two years ago when Gary Lightbody (of the band Snow Patrol) contacted Lowden about building a guitar as a gift for Ed Sheeran, but George had been thinking about a small bodied guitar for years.

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Throughout the second half of the 1800s the guitar was, more than anything, a social instrument, played at gatherings and parties and often brought along when people travelled, and a small bodied guitar was de rigueur. Though it was a gut stringed instrument, and gut strings were expensive so the guitar was largely used by the middle class. Steel strings came into being later in the 1800s, but presented design challenges because they have considerably more tension than gut strings, and building guitars that held together and remained playable was a significant undertaking. In the 1890s two brothers who had immigrated from Sweden to Chicago, Carl and August Larson, were the first to solve these inherent problems and the steel string acoustic guitar was born, though it would take some time for it to become a commercial success. Martin Guitars changed its focus to steel string acoustics in 1929, but it really wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s, with the expansion of blues and folk music, that the acoustic steel string guitar really gained traction as a cultural phenomenon.

Small bodied guitars were favored in the 1800s because they were easy to play, easy to carry, and had enough volume for the *parlor* settings where they were primarily used. Later, when the guitar started to replace the banjo in acoustic orchestra settings, larger bodied guitars were developed that moved more air and had deeper bass response that suited the music. But there remains something very special about small bodied guitars. They have an immediacy and responsiveness that larger instruments can’t match, and are also very comfortable and more intimate to play.

George Lowden has been building flat top acoustic guitars for more than 40 years, and his relentless pursuit of tonal perfection has led to several innovations that have contributed to his guitars having a signature sound. Unique features include his own top bracing technique (which he calls dolphin bracing), and bridges that thread the strings horizontally (more like a classical guitar) rather than vertically. Lowden guitars are legendary for their deep, rich bass response, balanced midrange, and articulate three-dimensional trebles. There is a refinement to the Lowden sound that only comes from a master, a luthier who has spend years and years in the trenches honing skills to mastery and finally into a true art.

The Wee Lowden is the first small bodied guitar in the Lowden catalog. (By the way, *Wee* is an Irish term of endearment for something small.) The development of this guitar began nearly two years ago when Gary Lightbody (of the band Snow Patrol) contacted Lowden about building a guitar as a gift for Ed Sheeran, but George had been thinking about a small bodied guitar for years. For such a design, it was never a matter of simply shrinking one of his other models, and Lightbody’s request proved the impetus for him to develop a small bodied instrument.

To that end George sequestered himself alone on the coast of Northern Ireland to draw the shape and develop the design concepts uninterrupted. He knew from the start that he wanted to evolve the design to sound big and three dimensional (not boxy as small guitars often do), but he also wanted the articulate and present quality of a smaller guitar. He was wrestling with physics as he worked the ideas, but all the elements came together, and with careful selection of materials, the Wee really lives up to the Lowden name.

Our guitar is the W35, which is the premium model. The top is redwood, which can be an especially fine wood for an acoustic guitar, but it is very difficult to find the high quality redwood required to voice a guitar top. With the best redwood, though, the stiffness-to-weight ratio and structure of the wood can make a fantastically articulate guitar that is also warm and balanced and has ample sustain. George Lowden is—like all great luthiers—preternaturally good at wood selection and the redwood used in this guitar has stunning, fine, straight grain that seems to race across the top and leap into your eyes. There is also a subtle but beautiful abalone rosette that matches the Lowden aesthetic, which is founded on using handsome materials and letting the natural look stand forth, rather than coloring the guitar with ornaments.

The guitar has premium Indian rosewood back and sides. Indian rosewood can equal Brazilian when the best grades are used, and the advantage to Indian is that it is more readily available so a guitarmaker can use the best-of-the-best grade, whereas with Brazilian premium quality is almost impossible to find. The rosewood back and sides tonally balances and warms the sound of the guitar, and the traditional Lowden five piece mahogany and rosewood neck is a perfect full C shape that is wonderful in the hand. Too, I love the dark ebony neck and matching headstock veneer.

Tonally, it is remarkable how huge this guitar sounds. It doesn’t sound like a small bodied guitar, yet it retains the immediacy and responsiveness of a fine smaller instrument. It really is the best of both worlds.

Easy to carry, wonderful to play, with a big sound that belies its small size, this is a true player’s guitar. In fact, you really never need a larger guitar like you did in the early 20th century, because if you are playing live now you are mic’ed (and don’t have to compete acoustically with other instruments). And if you are playing for yourself, nothing can match intimacy of playing a small bodied guitar, and this is, indeed, a very fine one.

If you'd like to find out more about this item, just call or e-mail me. It would be my pleasure to talk to you about it.

Lowden guitars occupy a unique place in the pantheon of high-end flattops. With a loud and overtone-rich signature voice, unique construction details (including a split saddle and A-frame bracing of the upper bout), and a general vibe that differs from most classic American steel-strings, the guitars have found fans in such heavyweights as Pierre Bensusan, Paul Brady, Alex de Grassi, Richard Thompson, and many others. Lowden production began in 1974, and after several changes in management and manufacturing facilities, the guitars are now built in a small Northern Ireland shop under the direct supervision of company founder George Lowden.

Back & sidespremium Indian rosewood
Neck5 piece mahogany/rosewood
Bridgepremium Indian rosewood
BindingIndian rosewood
Headstock veneerebony
Finishhand rubbed
TunersSchaller M6 gold with ebony buttons
Scale610 mm
CaseLowden custom Hiscox case
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