When I think of every guitar I own or have owned, my pride and joy is my wonderful Lowden F12C that my wife bought for me.
It was Sunday 18th October 1998. We had been to see Eric Clapton at Earl’s Court the night before and the Sunday saw a long awaited trip to the London Acoustic Guitar Centre. I was always reading reviews of guitars and found that Lowden guitars seemed to be everything I wanted an acoustic guitar to be. George Lowden’s Guitars are one of the best things to come out of Ireland and are renowned for their pure tone and quality but are very expensive and are limited to the more exclusive guitar shops.
Having played a few high end guitars in the Acoustic Centre, I found the Lowdens to be everything and more they were reported to be. Then my wife asked which one I’d buy if I had the chance. It was a no brainer – I would have to go for the Lowden. Then, to my utter surprise and delight, she said go on then, buy one.
This was completely out of the blue and put a whole new perspective on the trial as it turned the dream into a reality. Just to be sure I was making the right decision I tried the other makes of guitars again… and again… and again. After spending three hours playing every guitar in the shop I finally decided the Lowden was truly the only one to go for.
This was and will always be my pride and joy, the smell when I open the case is wonderful and the tone from its’ Spruce top and Mahogany back and sides is unbelievable.
However, there is another guitar maker (Luthier) from Ireland that is even more elusive than Lowden and he is Dermot Mcilroy.
I have never seen a Mcilroy guitar for sale in a shop in the UK so it was ironic that I first got to try one whilst on holiday in Australia. I went into the Acoustic Inn guitar shop in Perth to try some Australian made guitars. The shop assistant didn’t bring the Mcilroys to my attention at first but after playing a few of the Aussie offerings he brought out the big guns. I think they need to be sure you have an idea of how to play before they risk the more exotic offerings – and at $7000 each, it’s not hard to see why.
Playing the guitar was like magic – it felt like it instantly added ten years to my playing experience and felt like it was impossible to play a wrong note on the fretboard. It looked, felt and sounded wonderful and is the closest thing to my own Lowden guitar I’ve ever had my hands on.
Mcilroy guitars are relatively new, as Dermot only set up his business with his wife in the year 2000. Not surprising is the fact that for the ten years prior to setting up Mcilroy guitars, Dermot worked for Lowden Guitars. It is therefore, highly likely he was involved in the building of my own Lowden guitar in 1998. It’s a small world – even if you do have to go to Australia to realise it.
If I were ever in a position to buy another high end acoustic guitar, it would be a Mcilroy P series – this is my dream guitar. It would never replace my Lowden but rather would compliment it perfectly. But that’s just a dream – perhaps I’ll put one on my Christmas list.