LOWDEN F-25 INDIAN ROSEWOOD / CEDAR #20651
Is this the Emerald Isle of Acoustic Guitars? Craig Carroll investigates.
Full review and independent analysis of the Lowden f-25 Rosewood/Cedar by Australian Guitar magazine.
The cedar sound board, generally speaking as no two woods are the same, is less stiff than the commonly used Sitka spruce, which allows the strings to sparkle delivering excellent responsiveness of each string when played softly, lending itself to delicate fingerstyle guitar playing. The shallow profile neck and low action also facilitates this playing style however it will suit other styles such as jazz, folk and bluegrass with the Indian rosewood back which compliments the cedar to deliver a fuller deeper sound without compromising clarity. Bending the strings required a bit of effort so blues and rock players might have some issues. Best for fingers and picks where a soft attack is required.
Putting the F25 through its paces, produced some warm, dark, beautifully overtoned, saturated and extremely nuanced sounds where the notes seem to cascade into each other. The harmonics had plenty of sustain. Overall the guitar had plenty of volume with rich, round bass notes but the main feature is the sheer clarity of each note that shines through. There is no muddiness and the sound doesn’t break up when strumming at loud volume. Like a fine red wine it is rich, full-bodied, warm and powerful. The F25 it is very loud and focused. To look at the phosphor bronze strings and gold hardware sparkles across the dark ebony fretboard and feels great under the fingers to play. The matt finish is also nice under the hand for creating rhythmic taps and slides across the body and the understated decoration may/may not be to your expectations for the price depending on your taste. Overall it is beautiful to play and a nice bit of kit for any professional after a top of the range acoustic guitar.
THE COST OF LOVE
The main concern for the buyer will no doubt be the price and no thrown in pickups means you’ll have to shell out more dough to play live if you can’t sit and use a mic.
For most home players or studio recorders the price will undoubtedly be excessive unless you have the cash and really want that one perfect guitar to last you the distance that won’t disappoint it’s worth a serious look. In terms of other well-known brands I would prefer to own a Lowden for the exceptional hand made quality, modern bridge, mat finish and brilliant sound.
WHY YOU’RE GONNA WANNA BUY IT
Flawless build quality and sound. Great string clarity and the low action is a dream to play. An aspiration for any acoustic guitar aficionado to own.
WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER FIRST
Top of the line product comes with a top of the line price. Competitors at a similar price range have pickups included.
Lowden guitars have a history that sounds like a marketing tale from a hipster boutique beer label. However, Irish-born George Lowden is an actual person. He made his first guitar in 1961 at just ten years old. Although it had fishing line for strings, bent over nails for frets, and a square soundbox, it would later inspire him at the age of 18 to become a self-taught luthier. Travelling to France and Japan, he honed his craft, learning the importance of using Japanese laminated steel hand tools to reduce the stress on the wood and adopted dolphin arched bracing to even the stiffness over the soundboard. He almost lost it all through the ’80s where the hair metal craze sent buyers nuts over the electric guitar, leaving bespoke acoustic sales in the dust. Now there is a renewed interest in the acoustic guitar, with players incorporating rhythmic scratching and tapping of the guitar body, melodic harmonic string tapping used with traditional strumming and finger picking styles that has taken acoustic guitar playing into a new era.
Lowden’s high-quality hand built acoustic guitars in Downpatrick Northern Ireland are well sought after due to their build quality, sustain and quality tone woods. The F25 is from Lowden’s Original series started in 1976 with more understated looks including the 22, 23 and the 32 models. The “F” denotes the medium folk-sized body and the number denotes the Lowden code for the side and back/top wood combinations.
Opening the included high-quality Hiscox hard case amidst the inner plush silver velour, you are greeted with a curvacious mid-shaped red cedar soundboard surrounded by figured mahogany binding with a simple rosette of sycamore, walnut, rosewood and mahogany, which is also echoed in the thin purfling. This model is also available in a cutaway body, left-handed and two pickup types as optional extras. Modern appointments on top of the body include a non-obtrusive clear scratch plate and pinless rosewood bridge for easier string changes, reduced string breakages and even sound transfer. The saddle is split angled to assist with intonation between the wound and unwound strings. Casting your eye along the phosphor bronze strings is a dark ebony 650mm length, 20 fret finger board that joins the body at fret 14 with figured mahogany binding (56mm at the neck joint). This shallow profile neck is uninterrupted by position markers which are only on the top edge giving it a clean look. This brings you across the 45mm width bone nut to the rosewood veneered headstock beautifully matched with gold GOTOH 381’S tuners with matching ebony buttons.
Out of the case, the back and sides are made from a deep chocolate coloured East Indian rosewood with the back of the neck featuring a beautiful five piece Mahogany neck including two Rosewood strips for stability and aesthetics. In terms of depth, 398mm for the lower bought, 1054mm at end of the pin and 120mm at the soundbox. The whole guitar has a hand rubbed satin finish and weighs just 2kgs.
BEST IN THE HANDS OF
The rosewood/cedar pairing, that delivers a full sound with string clarity together with the low action is perfect for fingerstyle and jazz players who need string definition, beautiful harmonics and sustain. Because of the low action and flatter style neck bending the strings is not ideal so blues players might seek elsewhere.
WHY IT’S ON THE TOP SHELF
Lowden’s quality and careful selection of woods, has been beautifully handcrafted to produce the crème de la crème of acoustic guitars without being ostentatiously ornate with the go to Abalone inlay overload. Like an Apple computer that is designed inside and out, the hand curved “dolphin” bracing internally delivers the fullness of the Lowden tone. When topped with the pinless, split bridge the clarity and sustain is hard to beat.
Gladesville Guitar Factory
02 9817 2173