Three Lowden Pierre Bensusan Signature Models Arrive
Here at The North American Guitar, we’ve seen many Lowden guitars come and go over the years, and despite never being a Lowden dealer, we find ourselves with more in our London showroom than ever before. To add to this, the most peculiar factor is that of the seven guitars, three are iterations of the Pierre Bensusan signature model.
This prompted us to delve further into both the guitar and the brand and, in doing so, found a wonderful story of an artist and luthier striking a chord with one another and working together on a journey that has spanned over four decades.
This story began in 1978, just four years after George Lowden started his brand, when Alegerian-French born fingerstyle maestro Pierre Bensusan stumbled across a Lowden guitar in a shop in Paris. This guitar was a model S-22, though it would today be regarded as an O-22, which he has since dubbed the ‘Old Lady’. The guitar quickly became an intrinsic part of his sound. Pierre’s approach to gear and playing lead him to establishing a relationship with George as he was a believer in using one guitar and learning with it to find a specific voice and the accompanying avenues of expression.
“I believe in having one instrument, and having that one instrument become your voice. Make it change as you wish; it’s not necessary, because you want a different sound, to go to a different guitar. It’s more interesting to make that instrument reach different colours as you adapt your playing with it”
It was in this journey of sonic exploration that Pierre reached out to have his original guitar modified by George in 1989 with a cutaway and the wider fretboard that now characterises his subsequent models. His ethos of effectively collaborating with the instrument itself certainly shows off in live performances and even in the way he holds his beloved ‘Old Lady’, so in 2009 when he and George set out to create a new guitar to better suit Pierre’s changing needs it was clear that it had to be something very personal and very special indeed.
This brings us to the guitar we now see in triplicate in our showroom. Built to a slightly smaller ‘F’ body shape and featuring some more modern appointments such as the beveled armrest, the guitar is a fingerstyle haven. These two key structural changes were born from shoulder issues Pierre had developed over years of playing a larger bodied guitar, and so comfort and ease of playing were paramount in the design of the PB signature. The guitar typically showcases a beautiful set of Honduran Rosewood back and sides and an Adirondack Spruce top, combined with a 5 piece neck made up of exquisite Flamed Maple which is of course topped with an Ebony fretboard with a 1 3/4” nutwidth, ideal for fingerstyle playing.
I say typically as the newest of the three guitars features a set of Madagascar Rosewood back and sides with all the other specs lining up with the norm. The eldest of the three features a fantastic Stereo ‘Carlos’ pickup and with its age has attained a lovely, slightly warmer patina to its Adirondack Spruce top and has certainly opened up as a guitar in step with this. All three are in wonderful condition and play superbly. The timeless combination of Rosewood and Spruce gives the guitar a lovely full and balanced tone with wonderful clear and bright trebles, aided by the Ebony board, perfect for intricate and melodic playing as one would expect from Pierre himself. The guitars also respond well to a flatpick and more chordal paying with the string spacing and nut width allowing a bit more room for fiddly voicings, as well as being very well suited for dropped and open tunings. In all we are pleasantly surprised and very happy to have these great Lowden guitars in store and look forward to them finding new homes in due course.
Side note, if you haven’t already heard Pierre Bensusan’s playing, be sure to check him out! There’s good reason he is held in such high regard as a fingerstyle player and if you’re looking to expand on playing in DADGAD tuning, he’s one to hone in on.
For more information on these three pre-owned Lowden Pierre Bensusan Signature Models, please get in touch by calling (0) 207 835 5597 or by emailing us here.