Sheeran By Lowden Equals Edition: What is it?
As befits one of the biggest-selling artists of recent times, Ed Sheeran doesn’t just have a single signature guitar: he has a whole range! But Ed’s a pop artist you moan, why on earth would we be interested?
The answer to that lies in the title: Sheeran by Lowden. If you didn’t know, George Lowden is unquestionably one of the world’s top acoustic guitar makers – and has been for many decades.
While the Sheeran range pares down the ingredients and design, what you’re getting here is a stage-ready electro-acoustic built to the same exacting standards as a pucker Lowden for a fraction of the price. And it’s not made in a hurry in the far east either. No, these guitars are made at Lowden HQ in County Down, Northern Ireland. Interested now?
Our Equals Edition model here is a 3,000-only limited run, but aside from a few details like the ‘=’ inlay at the 7th fret, laser butterfly flourishes on the heel cap and truss rod cover, and a unique to this model inner label, it’s exactly the same as the standard W-04 (which will cost you £90 less), the smallest of two body sizes currently offered.
It’s based on the full-blown Wee Lowden, the smallest guitar in their range, which uses a 24” (610mm) scale length, the same as a Fender Jaguar if you want an electric comparison.
Yes, a few pounds shy of a grand ain’t cheap in anyone’s book, but the Sheeran by Lowden range kicks off with the acoustic-only cedar/walnut W-01 at £655 which like all the models in the range comes with a sturdy gig bag included.
It comes across as a very functional, purposeful and road-ready instrument with zero bling or unnecessary features. The top is solid Sitka spruce while the figured walnut back and sides are actually a five-piece walnut and mahogany lamination.
Edge binding is deemed unnecessary. But the neck is high-quality quarter-sawn mahogany, one piece save for an added heel stack, while the fingerboard, bridge and headstock facing are dark brown ebony.
Despite the far lower price than a full-blown Lowden, these Sheeran guitars use the same finish which starts off as gloss but is cut back by hand to the super smooth satin we see here. A finish like this means there’s nowhere to hide: no sunbursting or translucent colours to mask shoddy sanding or file marks.
Sheeran By Lowden Equals Edition: Performance and verdict
The crisp, clean craft continues to the fretwork that uses a medium gauge wire superbly installed on the acoustic-standard 16” radius fingerboard. It actually feels quite electric guitar-like, the ‘C’ profile quite full in the hand with a nut width of 43.6mm and a string spacing of 36mm which splays out to 54.5mm at the bridge.
While the .012-.053” gauge strings are probably bigger than most electric players use, the shorter scale here gives a pretty slinky and bend-friendly feel, and you certainly don’t have to stick to 1st-position cowboy chords.
• Taylor GS-Mini-e
Made in Taylor’s Mexican factory, the GS-Mini is a down-sized Grand Auditorium with a 23.5” scale and optional Taylor ES-B electro system. It comes in three solid top/layered back and sides wood combinations and includes a gigbag.
• Sheeran By Lowden W02
The assured UK build, performance and even the durable high-quality gig bag here adds up to a higher quality experience certainly, and the top-notch Baggs system here is above much of the competition.
The combination of the compact size and scale length makes a lot of sense for the practising musician – a full-size dreadnought feels huge in comparison – but if you think you’re going to be short-changed in the sound department, think again. While you don’t get that big low-end of a dreadnought, there’s a well-balanced depth here that makes for a rather good recording guitar too – almost as if it’s been pre-EQ’d.
You’ll be in for a treat when you want to plug in. LR Baggs doesn’t mess about, and the discrete Element electro system with its soundhole-placed mini-preamp with volume and tone controls is the perfect partner. Along with a flexible film under saddle sensor there’s some tricky stuff going on in that preamp, too, and plugged into an acoustic amp or larger PA, it sounds much bigger than its size suggests, with little piezo ‘quack’. It’s a very credible electro-acoustic sound indeed.
MusicRadar verdict: Aside from being very fashionable, small body guitars make for great travel or house guitars but when they’re made as well as this, with an excellent electro system and almost electric guitar-like playability, you have to question why you still bash away on your dreadnought. Superb UK craft with sounds to match. Thanks, Ed – oh, and George!
Sheeran By Lowden Equals Edition: Hands-on demos
Sheeran By Lowden Equals Edition: Specifications
- TOP: Solid Sitka spruce
- BACK/SIDES: Figured walnut five-piece laminate
- NECK: Mahogany
- SCALE: 24” (610mm)
- TUNERS: Enclosed die-cast, chrome
- FINGERBOARD: Ebony, ‘=’ inlay at 7th fret/16” radius
- FRETS: 21, medium
- BRIDGE: Ebony w/compensated Tusq saddle
- PICKUP: LR Baggs EAS VTC
- CONTROLS: Soundhole‑mounted volume and tone
- FINISH: Natural satin
- CONTACT: Sheeran by Lowden Guitars