Ed Sheeran made a rare public appearance on Friday to announce that he is giving away two signed guitars made by revered Northern Irish guitar maker Lowden.
Sheeran is taking a break from music following the birth of his daughter Lyra with his wife Cherry Seaborn in September last year. However, he broke cover to mark his two year partnership with Co. Down-based company Lowden, his chosen brand of acoustic guitar.
Two instruments, signed by the pop superstar, will be given away at random via the comments section on a YouTube video chat between Lowden founder, George Lowden, and Sheeran. The chat took place on Friday afternoon.
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Both guitars were played by Ed during recording sessions and another of the family-run company's creations appears in the video for his surprise track Afterglow, which was released in December.
"I've actually got a Lowden guitar in every single room of the house… they’re scattered around, because it’s just nice to walk into a room and have a beautiful instrument there that you can pick up and play," Sheeran revealed in his YouTube chat with Lowden.
Paying tribute to Damien Rice and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, who both play Lowden guitars, he added: "It was important for the 13-year-old in me being able to get the quality of a Lowden guitar but also it not be an unachievable feat. I personally think it’s better than anything else in its price bracket."
Sheeran and Lowden Guitars have also announced upgrades to the Sheeran by Lowden range of guitars, including the addition of Indian rosewood on four models.
"For me to try to set up a new workshop to make the guitars here (in Northern Ireland) was a big challenge. But we're two years down the line now and everything is going very well," Lowden said.
"We’ve got a really good team now who have been trained from scratch and have developed high-tech ways of making the Sheeran by Lowden. It’s a whole different ball game."
Commenting on the build process, he added: "The guitars still feature hand touches, though. We still carve the internal struts with Japanese chisels, for example, so there's a kind of mix of high tech and traditional skills."
"That’s the thing I really like about Sheeran by Lowden," added Sheeran. "Most guitars at this price point are not always wood on the sides or back. This is actual, real, wood with real finish. I’m just so grateful to be able to work collaboratively with George on these and make them exactly what they need to be."
Lowden Guitars dates back to 1961 when George started making the instruments with his boat builder father using fishing line for strings.
He opened his first workshop in Bangor, Co Down, in 1977.
Lowden guitars are now sold across the world and have been played by stars including Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and Eric Clapton.
The Sheeran by Lowden range has enjoyed huge success since its launch in January 2019 and has won numerous accolades and awards, including a prestigious Queens Award for Enterprise and an Irish Times Innovation Award, announced last week.
RTÉ's Nationwide programme will air a special report on Lowden this March.
To be in with a chance of winning one of these one-of-a-kind instruments, watch this video before 5pm on Friday 12 February and comment on the video to share what song you would play if you were lucky enough to win the prize.
The two lucky winners of the signed guitars will be selected at random and announced via Sheeran by Lowden's Instagram and online at sheeranguitars.com.