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Cedar-top jumbo is a powerful fingerstyle guitar.

by Teja Gerken
July 21, 2016

In about 1998, I found myself having difficulty getting enough volume when playing fingerstyle guitar in unamplified performing situations, so I set out to find a guitar that would allow me to be as loud as possible. I soon learned that it’s important to consider the style a guitar will be used for when discussing volume. For example, a guitar that might be incredibly powerful when driven hard with a flatpick may not offer much volume and tone when played softly, and a guitar that responds well to a soft touch may reach its dynamic potential well below the attack of a pick. I had played a few Lowdens owned by other guitarists, and I was a big fan of Pierre Bensusan, so I thought that perhaps a jumbo Lowden made with cedar and mahogany (similar to Bensusan’s original “Old Lady”) would be a good starting point. I played a lot of guitars during my search, and was happy to finally find this O-10, which delivered everything I was looking for.

I bought the guitar brand new, and it has been a great companion ever since. I’ve played few guitars that deliver similar acoustic power when played with no amplification, and the guitar is my go-to instrument when I know that I need to be loud, whether it’s a solo performance or a jam with other acoustic instruments. I sometimes wish that the guitar had a cutaway and slightly wider string spacing at the saddle (like Lowden’s optional “Fingerstyle” neck specs), but since I have another guitar (a Custom Shop Martin OM) with those features, I find that these two instruments complement each other very well. The O-10 records exceptionally well and is featured on both of my CDs, On My Way and Postcards. I’ve had a couple of different pickups in the guitar over the years, and it currently has an L.R. Baggs Anthem SL system.

The guitar doesn’t have the sweetness or focus associated with great American guitars, but it has a diffuse “wildness” that, combined with its volume and extremely honest character (it doesn’t hide poor playing technique), creates a totally unique sonic signature. Besides working out wonderfully in the way that I’d originally hoped, the guitar also turns out to sound great amplified, and it works very well for strumming with a pick.

SPECS: Jumbo body. Cedar top. Mahogany back and sides. Five-piece neck. Waverly tuners (nonoriginal). L.R. Baggs Anthem SL electronics. Pinless bridge. Two-piece saddle. georgelowden.com


Category: Instruments & Gear

Comments and Discussion

Posted by James Dean on
Beautiful guitar, sound and playing. What strings do you use?
Posted by Turbo on
The Lowden guitars made between 1989 and 2004 were made by the same workshop and luthiers who are now making Avalon guitars. In my opinion, Avalon improved on the Lowden designs they had previously made. Three years ago, I compared the Avalon L32 against the Lowden O32 in the same shop.....and the Avalon was superior. I'd buy an Avalon any day. (www.avalonguitars.com)
Posted by TejaGerken on
Hi Michael,
Thanks for your comment. Lowden has a fairly wide dealer network, so you should be able to find one reasonably close to where you are. I believe there is a list at http://georgelowden.com, so that would be the best place to start!

Teja Gerken
Peghead Nation
Posted by Michael Shea on
Where can I get one. It sounds beautiful.
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