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The Lowden "Hybrid Top" Jon Gomm Signature Model
"My Hybrid Top signature model is the most epic sounding guitar I've ever heard. Melodies are breathtakingly clear, the bass is huge and it all just fires out of the guitar like a rocket. The spine-tingling harmonics and rich warm midrange are gorgeous. Holding this guitar, the potential musical power feels literally awe inspiring, I feel like King Arthur holding Excalibur for the first time. We did it!" - Jon Gomm
Jon says if it wasn’t for discovering Lowden guitars, he wouldn’t be an acoustic guitarist. “I was playing mostly electric while studying at The Guitar Institute, when I went to see Nick Harper play, and the tone he had was so big, such deep bass, such sparkling highs, and such dynamic range, and I went home and plugged in my electric and it felt like a toy in comparison. So I had to hunt down the guitar Nick was using, which was a Lowden, and the guitar I found was Wilma, my beloved Lowden O32C, and she’s been my only live and recorded instrument for the past 16 years.”
Jon got to know George Lowden and his craftsmen when Wilma needed major surgery - a new fingerboard after countless refrets. The whole Lowden crew went to Jon’s show in Belfast, and so the mutual respect between master luthier and master musician was formed.
When George approached Jon about a signature model, Jon was delighted: “It’s the greatest honour I have received in my career.”
Having seen the man’s innovative approach to playing, George, himself a true innovator as a guitar designer, suspected Jon might have some inventive ideas. And he wasn’t disappointed.
The signature model is a jumbo ‘O’ size, cutaway, with the unique spruce/cedar Hybrid Top, black cherry back and sides, maple 5-piece neck and ebony fingerboard. Handmade in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.
The challenge was to build a stronger top to withstand the rigours of modern guitar techniques, but without sacrificing sonic quality. Some builders are using thicker tops, or extra bracing struts, but this always compromises the tone.
Jon had the idea to use two thin sheets of wood, perfectly laminated together, but with the grains of the two sheets offset at an angle (George’s precise angle is top secret!) to hugely increase the strength of the top.
And just because it was possible, Jon suggested: Why not use a layer of spruce on the outside, and cedar inside? Would we get the durability and projection of spruce, with the warmth and soul of cedar?
George set to work on two guitars: One with this groundbreaking ‘hybrid top’, and one with a solid spruce top.
On blind testing, the difference was clear. Not only did the hybrid top guitar sound as good, it was even better in some ways. Jon certainly preferred it. “Both guitars were beautiful sounding but the Hybrid Top was actually louder and sustained longer. It had a stronger, deeper bass and the projection was insane. I was completely blown away.”
So here it is, the world’s first spruce/cedar Hybrid Top guitar. A stronger and incredibly resonant instrument, with no change to George Lowden’s legendary bracing pattern.
Jon expressed his desire to George to use sustainable, non-rainforest-habitat timber. George chose Black Cherry from the forests of Illinois, for its tonal qualities (having the warmth of mahogany and the projection of rosewood) and its beautiful colour and lustre.
Jon chose maple for neck - Along with George’s 5-piece design, maple offers maximum stability making it the perfect choice for the modern player who uses multiple tunings. It’s also a sustainable wood, and not taken from habitat rainforest. With the comfort and speed of the much-loved Lowden neck profile.
Jon says: “I’m asked a lot how I get my hammer-on and tapped notes as clear as plucked notes. Well, technique helps, but the frets are perhaps the most important factor. The secret weapon.” These frets are slightly taller than the usual acoustic guitar frets, which allows for a higher velocity hammer-on.
The signature model also has 21 frets. Why? Why not.
Choose neither, one or both of these extras:
1) Bill Keith Locking Banjo Tuners, on the 1st and 2nd strings. So much more than a gimmick - a way of conjuring ethereal sounds and impossible melodies from your guitar. Handmade in Woodstock, New York.
2) Fishman Rare Earth Blend pickup system. The foundation both of Jon's live and recorded sounds. With its superb combination of a beautifully voiced magnetic soundhole pickup and a super hi-fi condenser mic, this system can discreetly control and blend the guitar and percussive sounds.
Find your nearest Lowden dealer here: http://www.lowdenguitars.com/dealers