If someone put a gun to my head and asked me to choose between keeping this guitar or all the rest of the gear I own, I’d choose the guitar, without a moment’s hesitation.
Amazingly, Maurice Macartney – one half of Ramshackle Crow – made the sides of it when he worked at the Lowden factory back in the 80s. There was a cosmetic flaw with the guitar, so it ended up being left in the factory common room for the employees to play. The badge inside says “FOR ALL LOWDEN EMPLOYEES” instead of the normal Lowden label. As it turned out, the only person who ever really played it was Maurice. One day, the other guys there and George Lowden himself just said something to that effect – that he was the only guy who ever touched it – so he should take it home. So he did.
In 1988, as a 14-year old, I watched Maurice playing this guitar one night in Bangor and my jaw just hit the floor. I’d never heard anything like it. It made such an impression on me, and sealed my desire to become a guitarist, to be able to play like that.
Cut to a few years later… Maurice was moving away to Belgium, selling up all his music stuff. He called me and offered me the chance to buy the guitar – which I did without a second thought. It was the instrument that got me through university years. It has been through the wars a bit – a mistake by someone at the factory when I got a strap-bolt drilled into it meant that the wood split all the way round the sides, but again some incredible skill by Sam Irwin and later Jon Dickinson saved the day.
So now, 22 years after the guitar changed hands, we’ve come full circle. This O10 is the guitar I’ve used almost exclusively to play all the parts on the record that Maurice and I have made together. There’s something I really like about that.
The sound of the instrument is indescribably wonderful – deep, rich, but with a crisp top end. I’ve never heard a better acoustic guitar. It’s a delight to play, and always captivates those that get to play it. I feel so privileged to have it, and this whole record is a celebration of it as much as anything else.