VIDEO: Martin D-17M, Tanglewood Java TWJP E & Lowden 32SE Stage Edition demo

It seems that the 'simple brown guitar' is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. In times past plain looks and spec were driven by economic austerity and while that theme chimes today, this new 17 Series Martin is anything but 'hard-times' choices, costing the best part of £1,500. Beneath the no-frills appearance, lies a guitar that epitomises the modern, quality acoustic instrument.

The new Java mini-range is typical of Tanglewood and consists of four guitars: a parlour and folk in both acoustic and electro versions. Like many brands, Tanglewood has ukuleles within its range and the Java ukes come from a specific factory in Indonesia. So impressed was Tanglewood with the quality of the ukes, not to mention the wood choice, it commissioned these steel strings from the same facility. The result? Classy instruments whose prices belie their boutique looks.

As we reach the mid-point of 2013, Lowden builds signature models for Richard Thompson, Alex De Grassi, Pierre Bensusan and Thomas Leeb, for example, all of whom do things with the ol' flat-top that entertain and astound in equal measure. Lowden has been a family owned business based in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland since 2004, and is now very much back where it should be: at the top of the Brit-making pile. Here we take a look at the new 32SE 'Stage Edition'.

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