A gorgeous, powerful jumbo built with Madagascar rosewood and red cedar.
by Teja Gerken
October 16, 2018
Lowden’s O-size guitars feature the original body shape that luthier George Lowden used on his first instruments in the 1970s. With a width of 16½ inches at the lower bout and a depth of 4¾ inches, these jumbo bodies continue to be the basis of many Lowden models. We recently had a chance to check out a beautiful O-35 built with Madagascar rosewood back and sides and a red cedar top, courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments, in Palo Alto, California.
From the moment I opened its case, there was no question this O-35 was a special guitar. Though it has the understated appointments Lowden is known for, the guitar has the kind of elegance that can only come from extremely high quality woods working in harmony with first-rate craftsmanship. The guitar’s red cedar top has even coloring and tight, straight grain, while the Madagascar rosewood is dark and rich—the sides in particular displayed a beautiful, almost landscape-like grain pattern. The guitar includes Lowden’s typical five-piece neck and pinless bridge with split saddle (one short saddle for the first and second strings, a longer saddle for the third through sixthstrings), which Lowden feels offers improved intonation. The guitar also has the beautiful semi-satin finish Lowdens are known for.
This O-35 is an incredibly powerful guitar. Like most Lowden O models, it is very well-suited to playing fingerstyle, offering a quick response, even with a light touch, and excellent balance. But even when strumming the guitar with a pick, it appeared not to have volume limitations—the harder I played, the louder it became. These qualities have made O-size Lowdens a favorite among players of the seemingly disparate disciplines of fingerstyle and Irish-style backup, and this particular guitar did its job with a generous helping of tonal richness and complexity.
Overall, this O-35 is one of the best O-size Lowdens I’ve had a chance to play (I own a mahogany/cedar O-10 and have played dozens of others). Players looking for a powerful guitar for acoustic, unamplified settings will love the guitar’s power and volume, and anyone who loves beautiful woods will also appreciate the instrument.
SPECS: O-size body. Red cedar top. Madagascar rosewood back and sides. Five-piece mahogany and rosewood neck. Ebony fingerboard. Rosewood bridge with split saddles. 25.59-inch scale. 45-mm. nut width. Gotoh 510 tuning machines. Made in Northern Ireland. $6,639 list/$5,967 street. Lowdenguitars.com
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