The percussive fingerstylist’s guitar features an innovative hybrid top design.
by Teja Gerken
September 28, 2017
Lowden guitars have long been the instruments of choice for many fingerstyle guitarists, and the Northern Ireland company has offered signature models for Pierre Bensusan, Alex de Grassi, and Thomas Leeb for several years. Its latest signature model is a collaboration between luthier George Lowden and percussive fingerstylist Jon Gomm.
Those who have seen Jon’s YouTube videos (his “Passion Flower” has received more than 12 million views) may have noticed the worn-out state of the trusty Lowden O32C that has been his main guitar for many years. A couple of years ago, Jon brought the guitar to the Lowden workshop to have some work done to it, and before long, plans for a signature model were hatched. The resulting guitar is like no other Lowden. Although the Jon Gomm Signature Model uses the same jumbo-size O-style cutaway body as Jon’s original guitar, it has different tonewoods and features an innovative double top that Lowden calls a “hybrid” top. Consisting of two layers of wood (spruce on the outside, cedar on the inside) the top is not only stronger than a standard top (an important factor for Jon’s percussive playing), it also combines the tonal characteristics of both types of wood. And, in an effort to avoid using endangered tropical woods, the guitar has American black cherry back and sides and a five-piece maple neck with thin rosewood reinforcement strips. The guitar is available set up with Keith banjo tuners for the first and second string, like Jon’s personal guitar, but our demo instrument came with a standard set of Gotoh tuners.
The Jon Gomm Signature Model is an incredibly powerful guitar. O-size Lowdens always have a big voice with a lot of volume, but this guitar felt like it was turbocharged with a few extra decibels. But it wasn’t just loud, it also had a complex and balanced tonality that sounded great at any volume. The guitar’s neck has the standard half-round Lowden profile, which has a bit more girth than some modern low-profile necks, but it is very comfortable to play. Thanks to its five-piece maple-and-rosewood construction, it is also exceptionally stiff, and it didn’t budge a bit even as I moved between different tunings. Overall, the Lowden Jon Gomm Signature Model guitar is a really fine fingerstyle guitar, equally suited to modern percussive techniques or more traditional styles.
SPECS: O-size body. Hybrid spruce-and-cedar double top. Dolphin-shaped X-bracing. American black cherry back and sides. Five-piece maple and rosewood neck. Ebony fingerboard. Bocote bridge with split saddles. 25.59-inch scale. 45-mm. nut width. Gotoh SG 381 tuning machines. Made in Northern Ireland. $5,705 list. Lowdenguitars.com
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