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This article was originally published in issue #51
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Lowden revealed the ‘FM’ series early in 2017 as a slightly shallower bodied and slimmer necked version of its ‘F’ model guitars, providing the classic Lowden sound but in a smaller form factor, available as part of the 35 and Mastergrade wood based 50 series of instruments.
Incredible build quality and woods
Amazing tone and dynamic response
Shallower neck profile is extremely comfortable
Classy good looks
Included Deluxe Hardcase
Worth every penny
High quality tuners
We wish we could afford one!
Lowden revealed the ‘FM’ series early in 2017 as a slightly shallower bodied and slimmer necked version of its ‘F’ model guitars, providing the classic Lowden sound but in a smaller form factor, available as part of the 35 and Mastergrade wood based 50 series of instruments. The team at Guitar Interactive received an FM35 to review and tasked Tom Quayle with carefully hiding his wallet before giving it the once over. Here is what he thought.
The F model Lowden has become a very popular shape with players due to its distinctive sound and projection, comfortable body shape and playability. Available in both the 35 and 50 series, the ‘F’ is the middle-sized body, in-between the smaller ‘S’ and larger ‘O’ designs produced by the company. New for 2017, Lowden now offers a further choice with their ‘FM’ body, based on the ‘F’ model but with a slightly shallower upper bout and slimmer neck profile for players looking for the Lowden punch and focus in their sound but with even more comfort and easy playing feel.
The FM-35 we received featured stunning AAAA Cocobolo back and sides with a AAAA Sitka Spruce top, a 5-piece Mahogany and Rosewood neck with an Ebony fretboard, beautifully finished with Maple and Ebony binding. As with all the Lowden guitars we’ve looked at here in Guitar Interactive, this model is the very essence of classiness and restraint. Where other manufacturers will slather a guitar in overblown extravagance, Lowden offers a simpler yet more effective approach with Maple body binding, beautifully executed purfling and a gorgeous Abalone and Rosewood rosette. This is matched with the excellent Gotoh 510 tuners finished in Gold with Ebony buttons and Ebony head facings on both the front and back of the headstock.
The FM shape takes the ‘Shallow neck carve’ and ‘Narrow neck option’ from the F design and makes it a standard feature, with a 43.5mm nut width and 56mm at the 14th fret. The neck itself is slightly slimmer than the standard model for a more approachable feel for those with smaller hands and player more used to an electric style neck. The slightly reduced upper bout on the body gives the guitar a slightly more vintage look and feel while retaining the sound of the bigger F body that many players love very effectively indeed.
Build quality is everything we’ve come to expect from Lowden, with excellent wood choices, incredible fretwork and finishing and a truly exceptional playing experience that you can only get from an acoustic of this level. The Cocobolo back and sides are simply stunning to behold, without ever stepping into the ‘over-the-top’ territory that Lowden so expertly avoid. As with all Lowden’s, there are simple design features that reassure that your investment will last a long time. A reinforced soundhole and clear pickguard give no obvious visual impairments, but ensure that your beloved instrument is protected in its most easily damaged areas for example.
Tonally, the FM35 is truly a delight that every guitar player should get to experience. You get all of the punch, clarity and projection of the standard F guitar, with a surprising amount of bottom end and warmth, given the shallower upper bout. The mids are very pronounced, giving the guitar a huge sense of detail and dynamic range that makes you play more musically as the guitar responds so well to every nuance of your playing. There are a richness and smoothness here that is very addictive indeed making it easy to understand why people will part with large sums of money for acoustics at this level. Tuning and intonation are obviously excellent across the board given the level of build quality and those Gotoh 510 high ratio tuners.
It might seem like a lot of money to part with in order to get hold of an FM-35 or even more for a Mastergrade wood based FM-50, but it really is the only way to get this level of tone and playability in a single package. You really do get what you pay for. The combination of classy looks, amazing build quality, more inviting body dimensions, incredibly comfortable neck profile and world-class tone don’t come cheap and for those that can afford it, the FM-35 represents the pinnacle of acoustic guitar craftsmanship and sound. This is a really beautiful instrument that will be an object of desire for many guitar players. Another ball hit out of the park for Lowden.