Ed Sheeran has teamed up with a Northern Irish guitar company to launch a signature line of acoustic guitars.
The hitmaker made a surprise appearance at the Anaheim, California NAMM instrument conference to announce Sheeran by Lowden, a new range of high-quality handmade acoustics made by Lowden Guitars in Downpatrick, Co Down.
At the conference, Sheeran said he has been a fan of the handmade guitars since he saw Damien Rice playing them, but that they were always hard to track down. He went on to explain that he finally got his hands on one when Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody commissioned one for him in 2012 as a gift.
That guitar, called "The Wee Lowden", is now for sale. It is one of two designs and eight total models.
Sheeran posted a video to Instagram to explain why he decided to collaborate with the company.
He wrote: "I grew up wanting to play Lowden guitars, but they were so rare and so expensive I didn’t end up getting one til I was given one by my friend Gary from Snow Patrol in 2012. Through Gary I met George Lowden and he started making my tour guitars for me, which were amazing both on stage and in the studio.
"We have been talking for years about trying to make a guitar that was as amazing as a Lowden but in a price point that was the same as the regular guitar companies, and also be made in Ireland. We never thought it was possible, but George and his team managed it.
"I’m so honoured to launch our new guitar brand, Sheeran guitars by Lowden. These are without a doubt the best guitars at their price point, and just a joy to play.
"I hope you love them as much as me."
"There are fewer guitar bands and fewer artists using guitars now, and not as many kids picking up guitars," Sheeran added at the conference.
"That is something I would like to change by getting these great quality guitars, made in Ireland, into kids’ hands and encouraging them to learn and progress.
"To be able to work in tandem with a guitar company like Lowden to create a whole different concept has been a really cool experience."