This affordable parlor size guitar is a collaboration with Lowden and pop superstar Ed Sheeran.
by Teja Gerken
May 14, 2019
With hits such as “Photograph,” “Perfect,” “Castle on the Hill,” and others, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has become one of today’s most successful recording artists and live acts. An accomplished guitarist, Sheeran often uses a loop pedal in performance, and while many of his songs feature pop-style production, an acoustic guitar is often the driving force behind his sound. Sheeran began playing Lowden guitars several years ago, which led luthier George Lowden to develop a prototype of the parlor-size Wee Lowden model (check out our demo of a WL-35x) in hopes that Sheeran, who has long preferred small guitars, would play it. Sheeran did indeed start using Wee Lowdens as his main guitar, and the size has become a popular model for the Northern Irish company. At last January’s Winter NAMM show, Lowden surprised the industry by coming out with a co-branded line of guitars with Sheeran, who hopes that by offering a relatively affordable version of his favorite guitar, his fans will be inspired to take up the instrument. Sheeran by Lowden instruments are built in a brand-new factory located near the Lowden workshop in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. We had a chance to check out one of the first Sheeran by Lowden guitars available in North America, a W01, courtesy of Gryphon Stringed Instruments.
The W01 has the same parlor-size dimensions as the Wee Lowden. Our demo guitar’s walnut back and sides had beautiful figure, and the cedar top had a rich color and even grain. While the W01 follows the Lowden template in many aspects, it has been simplified in several ways to allow for a much lower price. However, all the materials used are of very high quality, and the craftsmanship is excellent throughout. The W01 has no neck or body binding, a one-piece neck, a single-piece saddle, a simple rosette, and a satin finish.
The W01’s compact dimensions make it very comfortable, and the short 24-inch scale makes fretting-hand stretches much more manageable than on most full-size guitars. The guitar’s tone emphasizes midrange frequencies, and its quick response, typical of guitars with cedar tops, makes it a very lively instrument. It had respectable volume when I strummed open-string chords up the neck using a progression similar to Sheeran’s “Photograph,” and it had excellent definition and balance when I played it fingerstyle. Though the guitar doesn’t have the same level of attention to detail and sophistication as a standard Lowden (which costs four or five times the price of a Sheeran), it definitely conveys a good amount of the tonality Lowden is famous for: rich overtones, a fast attack, and excellent volume.
Overall, the W01 would be a fabulous choice for a beginning player, regardless of whether they want to play like Ed Sheeran. And it would also make an excellent instrument for anyone looking for a compact guitar with a full sound. Players who want to capture a bit of the Lowden vibe at a previously unheard of price should also check out the Sheeran line. In addition to the Wee size, Sheeran by Lowden instruments are also available in Lowden’s S body shape, and wood options include santos rosewood back and sides and spruce tops.
SPECS: Wee Lowden size body with 14-fret neck. Cedar top. Walnut back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 630 mm. (24-inch scale. 1.71-inch nut width. Enclosed chrome tuning machines. Made in Northern Ireland.$825. Sheeranguitars.com
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