Avalon Guitars

Avalon Guitars

Avalon Guitars is the name of an acoustic guitar manufacturer based in Newtownards, County Down in Northern Ireland.


The company, Avalon Guitars Limited, was originally formed in 1989 as The Lowden Guitar Company Limited and operated from Bangor, County Down until 1990. From 1989 until 2003, the company produced approximately 15,000 Lowden acoustic guitars and for a brief period from 1992 - 1996 also produced a solid body electric bass guitar under the name Goodfellow. The Goodfellow brand was sold to the Shinseido Corp. of Japan in 1996 to allow the company to focus exclusively on making high quality handmade acoustic guitars using traditional methodology.

The workshops in Newtownards were purpose built to facilitate the traditional approach to luthiery adopted by Avalon (then Lowden Guitar Co.); the facility was laid out in the pattern of specialised Japanese guitars makers by the then Technical Manager Mitsuhiro Uchida - now one of Japan's foremost luthiers. Uchida also trained the apprentice luthiers, several of whom went on to develop their own guitar design talents which contributed significantly to the development of Avalon Guitars.

Due to limitations in the design licence agreement relating to Lowden Guitars, none of the company's luthiers were permitted to contribute design ideas to the development of the company's product range. To rectify this situation, the company created the Avalon Guitars brand in 2000 and invited design input from the group of the most experienced guitar makers working for the company at that time. The new range, called the Avalon Gold series, was launched in 2002. The first reviews of the range ("Guitarist" magazine (UK), April 2002; "Guitar Buyer" magazine (UK), June 2002; "Total Guitar" magazine (UK), June 2002) highly commended the range for its build quality and tonal excellence.

Product Developments

In response to the mass market development in guitar manufacturing made possible by advances in wood working technologies such as CNC, laser cutting and UV lacquer curing, the company designed and introduced a mass market version of the Avalon Gold series, named the Avalon Silver series. This series, manufactured in South Korea, received instant acclaim from the guitar media - the UK magazine "Guitarist", described the Avalon Silver series as "the best guitar in its price category".

Meanwhile, more innovative developments in acoustic guitar design where being introduced under the company's flagship Premier series of professional grade instruments, hand crafted in Ireland. Production of the Avalon Gold series was momentarily transferred to the highly respected Furch Guitars facility in the Czech Republic to allow Avalon's master luthier's to concentrate exclusively on high end custom acoustic guitars.

New designs included the Golden Gate Jazz guitar and the Millennium Oak model a.k.a. the "Green Guitar", introduced in 2005 which was commended by Flora Fauna International for the environmentally positive design and manufacturing approach for the way in which the design intentionally minimises production waste and promotes the use of sustainably harvested tone-wood. [http://www.globaltrees.org/downloads/Avalon%20Green%20Guitar.pdf] Further new designs were introduced in 2006 and 2007. The Americana [http://www.avalonguitars.co.uk/album/index.html] , a traditional OOO size model with 12th fret neck joint and retro styling was the first in a series of models that looked back to iconic US designs of the pre-war era. The more contemporary L32CMB model [http://www.avalonguitars.co.uk/albums/l32cmb/index.html] , featuring innovative cambered cutaway and soundboard details, evidences Avalon's unique design approach to contemporary luthiery.

Meanwhile, it was reported in the UK's "Guitar & Bass" magazine in 2006 that the Avalon Guitars luthier's in Ireland were making the very high-end Zemaitis acoustic guitars [http://www.zemaitis.net/limited-edition-zemaitis-acoustic-guitars.htm]

In late 2007, Avalon's 'Americana' series of retro-styled acoustic guitars gained industry recognition when the small body concert model in the series was selected by UK's "Guitar & Bass" magazine as Guitar of the Year - "Workmanship and detailing are immaculate ... A guitar that's an absolute smasher ... one of the best 00-styles we've tried. Period" the reviewer said. Fact|date=February 2008

Avalon discontinued all offshore produced models in 2007 to concentrate exclusively on making high-end handcrafted acoustic guitars from its workshop in Northern Ireland. It now specialises in developing innovative custom acoustic guitars.

Acoustic Guitar Body Shape formats used by Avalon

* Dreadnought (D)
* Concert (S)
* Grand Auditorium (A)
* Jumbo (L)

Cutaway (suffix C) and 12-string (suffix 12) versions of each model are available. Left-handed versions are available at no extra charge.

Product Range

The Avalon Guitars product range comprises the following series:
* Custom Premier
* Premier
* Legacy
* Gold Series
* Silver Series

Reference System
The letters for the body style above combine with the series number (see table) to create the product number. For example, an L320C is a 6-string Premier-series guitar with a Jumbo body style and cutaway. Electronics (pickup systems) can be fitted to all models.

Avalon Gold & Silver series models were retired from production in January 2007.

Artists Who Play Avalon Guitars

Avalon Guitars are played by some of the most famous names in music including Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, David Gray,Ricky Warwick James Morrison, The Corrs, Tom Baxter, Katie Melua, Michael Hedges, Teddy Thompson and Albert Lee. Avalon's are used prominently by fingerstyle virtuosos, traditional players and prominent Christian worship leaders including Roby Duke, Chris Tomlin, Tim Hughes and Stuart Townend.

External links

* [http://www.avalonguitars.com/ Avalon Guitars]
* [http://www.myspace.com/avalonguitars/ Avalon Guitars Myspace]

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