Avalon / Lowden Comparison

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GTCGTC Frets: 8

I’ve just taken delivery of a new 2018 Avalon L2-20 lefty which I bought on eBay at a very competitive price.

The guitar is jumbo-sized – with solid spruce top and solid rosewood back and sides. The finishing and components are top notch and, although I normally play smaller guitars, it felt very comfortable from the off.

It is early days yet, but I would say it is at least on a par with my other handcrafted guitars from Lowden and BSG. I’ve heard that Avalon are supposed to be more of a flatpickers guitar, but the L2-20 suits my light fingerstyle playing to a tee. The Lowden heritage is obvious

I understand that seller is currently listing the same lefty model on eBay in a cutaway form and may also shortly be listing a slightly smaller version. Details (including contact info) can be found by doing an eBay search on “Avalon Lefty”. I understand some "righties" may also possibly be available.

Do any other forum members have any experience of comparing Lowdens with Avalons?

 

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  • Andy79Andy79 Frets: 29
    What are your thoughts? You have one of each 
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 8
    Andy79 said:
    What are your thoughts? You have one of each 
    Early days yet - I've only had the Avalon for a day or so whereas I've had the Lowden F23c since last year and I've had plenty of chance to play around with different string sets and set up. 

    However, my initial impression of the Avalon is that it is very much on par with the Lowden in terms of build quality, finish, playability and tone. The tone of the Avalon is crisper and cleaner whereas the tone of the Lowden is more complex and a bit warmer - but that is probably just down to the tonewoods (spruce and rosewood on the Avalon, cedar and walnut on the Lowden).

    I've just got the original D'Addario strings on the Avalon and need to do a few minor set-up tweaks. I'm currently using the Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension strings (Low Tension) on the Lowden - but have got a set of the new Lowden brand strings on order to try (11's - the 12's are sold out)
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 127
    GTC said:
    Andy79 said:
    What are your thoughts? You have one of each 
    Early days yet - I've only had the Avalon for a day or so whereas I've had the Lowden F23c since last year and I've had plenty of chance to play around with different string sets and set up. 

    However, my initial impression of the Avalon is that it is very much on par with the Lowden in terms of build quality, finish, playability and tone. The tone of the Avalon is crisper and cleaner whereas the tone of the Lowden is more complex and a bit warmer - but that is probably just down to the tonewoods (spruce and rosewood on the Avalon, cedar and walnut on the Lowden).

    I've just got the original D'Addario strings on the Avalon and need to do a few minor set-up tweaks. I'm currently using the Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension strings (Low Tension) on the Lowden - but have got a set of the new Lowden brand strings on order to try (11's - the 12's are sold out)
    Be interested to hear what you make of the Lowden strings. Have a set on a f35 at the moment. Early days to be honest. I got some from reidys as they had stock of the 12’s. Lowden should have them next week. Are the Santa Cruz round core?

    i had a L2-20 for a few days (got damaged in delivery so had to go back), lovely guitar and build etc was spot on. If you have a cedar walnut F I’d not say a worth while comparison to spruce rosewood (and new) Jumbo is really possible. There’s a lot of differences between the two right there. Should be a nice companion to each other though. 

    I love my Lowden, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to an Avalon at some point down the road. I wish Avalon did a short scale on their small body guitars though. I’d like something smaller than my F and with a shorter scale  

    When you put the lowden strings on, the coloured ball ends are not the same order as D’Addario! I’m used to d’addario so almost messed up. God only knows why they did that. 

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  • GTCGTC Frets: 8
    brucegill said:
    GTC said:
    Andy79 said:
    What are your thoughts? You have one of each 
    Early days yet - I've only had the Avalon for a day or so whereas I've had the Lowden F23c since last year and I've had plenty of chance to play around with different string sets and set up. 

    However, my initial impression of the Avalon is that it is very much on par with the Lowden in terms of build quality, finish, playability and tone. The tone of the Avalon is crisper and cleaner whereas the tone of the Lowden is more complex and a bit warmer - but that is probably just down to the tonewoods (spruce and rosewood on the Avalon, cedar and walnut on the Lowden).

    I've just got the original D'Addario strings on the Avalon and need to do a few minor set-up tweaks. I'm currently using the Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension strings (Low Tension) on the Lowden - but have got a set of the new Lowden brand strings on order to try (11's - the 12's are sold out)
    Be interested to hear what you make of the Lowden strings. Have a set on a f35 at the moment. Early days to be honest. I got some from reidys as they had stock of the 12’s. Lowden should have them next week. Are the Santa Cruz round core?

    i had a L2-20 for a few days (got damaged in delivery so had to go back), lovely guitar and build etc was spot on. If you have a cedar walnut F I’d not say a worth while comparison to spruce rosewood (and new) Jumbo is really possible. There’s a lot of differences between the two right there. Should be a nice companion to each other though. 

    I love my Lowden, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to an Avalon at some point down the road. I wish Avalon did a short scale on their small body guitars though. I’d like something smaller than my F and with a shorter scale  

    When you put the lowden strings on, the coloured ball ends are not the same order as D’Addario! I’m used to d’addario so almost messed up. God only knows why they did that. 

    The Santa Cruz strings are round wound - but the core to wrap diameters on the wound strings are varied to give a more balanced tension giving them quite a different feel. 

    Re smaller shorter scale guitars - I pondered on a Lowden S or Wee, but instead I've got a custom Brook Torridge on order (redwood / ovangkol) - due later in the year.

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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    I have 5 Avalons
    In my opinion, they vary more between themselves based on the tonewoods and the body size and 12 or14 frets, than they vary from Lowdens. 
    I have not played a Lowden that sounds as good as my favourite Avalon 

    NB: 4 of my Avalons are Lowden-style (other than the pin bridge), the other is a D300A
    But: they have made some non-Lowden-style guitars, so probably best to constrain the comparison to their Lowden-style models
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 8
    A week on and comparing my new Avalon Pioneer L20-20 with my 2017 Lowden F23C ( and taking into account the differences in body size and woods) I've concluded that the main difference between the two manufacturers is ,,,,,, marketing! Lowdens are much better publicised and more widely distributed. As a result there is an impression of them being more desirable. This does, of course, have a knock on affect on the second-hand resale price.

    I suppose it is a bit like comparing Furch (well-marketed) with BSG (low-key) - two high-end Czech manufacturers who started together and eventually went their different ways.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    GTC said:
    A week on and comparing my new Avalon Pioneer L20-20 with my 2017 Lowden F23C ( and taking into account the differences in body size and woods) I've concluded that the main difference between the two manufacturers is ,,,,,, marketing! Lowdens are much better publicised and more widely distributed. As a result there is an impression of them being more desirable. This does, of course, have a knock on affect on the second-hand resale price.

    I suppose it is a bit like comparing Furch (well-marketed) with BSG (low-key) - two high-end Czech manufacturers who started together and eventually went their different ways.
    It's even less subjective than that, since Avalon built the first 15,000 Lowdens
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  • glt56glt56 Frets: 117
    Surprised no-one has yet mentioned McIlroy.  I do love my A30c...


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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    glt56 said:
    Surprised no-one has yet mentioned McIlroy.  I do love my A30c...


    I guess there are fewer of them around
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    GTC said:
    A week on and comparing my new Avalon Pioneer L20-20 with my 2017 Lowden F23C ( and taking into account the differences in body size and woods) I've concluded that the main difference between the two manufacturers is ,,,,,, marketing! Lowdens are much better publicised and more widely distributed. As a result there is an impression of them being more desirable. This does, of course, have a knock on affect on the second-hand resale price.

    I suppose it is a bit like comparing Furch (well-marketed) with BSG (low-key) - two high-end Czech manufacturers who started together and eventually went their different ways.
    It's even less subjective than that, since Avalon built the first 15,000 Lowdens
    and in fact, the first AVALON GUITARS LIMITED was previously called 
    THE LOWDEN GUITAR COMPANY LIMITED from 09 Feb 1989 - 02 Jan 2004                     

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/NI022341

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  • GTCGTC Frets: 8
    I'm confused now - the Companies House record shows that they folded in 2015 - but they are still going!
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  • TedTed Frets: 33
    I am  more than confused, more concerned given I have just ordered an instrument from them
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 127
    edited April 27
    Not one of us actually knows what happened between GL and the others at (now) Avalon. Not one of us actually knows the financial situation Avalon are, or are not in at this moment. (Id assume they’re trading under another name now). Speculation and hearsay can be a little damaging to be honest. 

    I’m sure your order is absolutely fine @Ted. ;;Having dealt with Steve at Avalon, he’s an absolute gent and great to deal with. Their guitars are fantastic too, so look forward to it and enjoy!

    I don’t think Avalons are the same as Lowden, and not overly comparable (especial when comparing different sizes/shapes and wood combinations), they’re just from a common background and both make fantastic instruments  I’d happily own both a lowden and an Avalon if/when finances/needs allow. Personally I find Lowdens body shapes better to my eye, just a nicer balance and from a better eye for design. Looking inside at the bracing the Lowdens have had a little more thought behind them too. It is a shame they’re not made by the guys who did make them for all those years, but hopefully they are making some money and still doing what they love, but with their name on the headstock. 
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 8
    Ted said:
    I am  more than confused, more concerned given I have just ordered an instrument from them
    I totally agree with what brucegill says about Steve at Avalon from my recent transaction - a really nice guy - helpful, constructive and friendly. I've just started talking to him about the possibility of another Avalon so I don't think you need to worry about your order Ted .

    I was just a little confused that the Companies House record link only tells the story up to 2015 - but they are certainly still trading and building great guitars.

    I would say that, in the short time I've had it, I've bonded more with the Avalon Pioneer L2-20 than I have with the Lowden F23C. However, they are both really nice guitars  - I guess it is a matter of personal preference.

    Another reason I have a soft spot for Avalon is that Glastonbury Tor (on the site of the ancient Isle of Avalon) is clearly visible from my village across the Somerset levels!
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    GTC said:
    I'm confused now - the Companies House record shows that they folded in 2015 - but they are still going!
    they have liquidated and started again last year.
    that original company must have ceased being used for trading years ago, I paid cash to a different company name for all my guitars

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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    Ted said:
    I am  more than confused, more concerned given I have just ordered an instrument from them
    they are the most honest guys I have ever bought from - do not worry. 
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  • GTCGTC Frets: 8
    Just to put the record straight and allay any concerns - I've just managed to find online the official Certificate of Incorporation for Avalon Guitars as a public company dated September 2018.

    Now - getting back to the guitars …...
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    brucegill said:
    Not one of us actually knows what happened between GL and the others at (now) Avalon. Not one of us actually knows the financial situation Avalon are, or are not in at this moment. (Id assume they’re trading under another name now). Speculation and hearsay can be a little damaging to be honest. 

    I’m sure your order is absolutely fine @Ted. ;;Having dealt with Steve at Avalon, he’s an absolute gent and great to deal with. Their guitars are fantastic too, so look forward to it and enjoy!

    I don’t think Avalons are the same as Lowden, and not overly comparable (especial when comparing different sizes/shapes and wood combinations), they’re just from a common background and both make fantastic instruments  I’d happily own both a lowden and an Avalon if/when finances/needs allow. Personally I find Lowdens body shapes better to my eye, just a nicer balance and from a better eye for design. Looking inside at the bracing the Lowdens have had a little more thought behind them too. It is a shame they’re not made by the guys who did make them for all those years, but hopefully they are making some money and still doing what they love, but with their name on the headstock. 
    I heard that the Avalon guys agreed to let GL take the brand name in 2004, although there was no legal reason that they had to do it.

    AFAIK there was unhappiness for quite a while during the time the Avalon guys built all the Lowdens, because although GL was not involved with manufacture, the luthiers had to stick to his original designs, and could not add anything they thought would enhance them. Hence why the Lowden-type guitars they now make have normal pin bridges. Also Avalon now make quite a few non-Lowden style guitars

    I'm very sceptical that Lowden bracing would be better than Avalon (rather than just different), especially since Avalon is now running a small-scale workshop


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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 127
    brucegill said:
    Not one of us actually knows what happened between GL and the others at (now) Avalon. Not one of us actually knows the financial situation Avalon are, or are not in at this moment. (Id assume they’re trading under another name now). Speculation and hearsay can be a little damaging to be honest. 

    I’m sure your order is absolutely fine @Ted. ;;Having dealt with Steve at Avalon, he’s an absolute gent and great to deal with. Their guitars are fantastic too, so look forward to it and enjoy!

    I don’t think Avalons are the same as Lowden, and not overly comparable (especial when comparing different sizes/shapes and wood combinations), they’re just from a common background and both make fantastic instruments  I’d happily own both a lowden and an Avalon if/when finances/needs allow. Personally I find Lowdens body shapes better to my eye, just a nicer balance and from a better eye for design. Looking inside at the bracing the Lowdens have had a little more thought behind them too. It is a shame they’re not made by the guys who did make them for all those years, but hopefully they are making some money and still doing what they love, but with their name on the headstock. 
    I heard that the Avalon guys agreed to let GL take the brand name in 2004, although there was no legal reason that they had to do it.

    AFAIK there was unhappiness for quite a while during the time the Avalon guys built all the Lowdens, because although GL was not involved with manufacture, the luthiers had to stick to his original designs, and could not add anything they thought would enhance them. Hence why the Lowden-type guitars they now make have normal pin bridges. Also Avalon now make quite a few non-Lowden style guitars

    I'm very sceptical that Lowden bracing would be better than Avalon (rather than just different), especially since Avalon is now running a small-scale workshop


    I’m sure it was a tricky situation, but if GL designed them, and the luthiers built them to his design, with his name in them, I don’t see why he wouldn’t want them to stick to his design and also take his name and his designs with him if there was a falling out. Sounds, from what you’ve just said, like it needed to happen for both parties to be happy. 

    The Avalon I had for a short period (long story) was absolutely stunning. I’d say I’m 99% sure my next guitar will be an Avalon. So I’m not meaning to sound like I’m saying one is better than the other, I’d be happy with either! Quite fancy a nylon string jobby, but not quite sure what they’ll sound like. I did try a Americana (the middle one) and it was nice, but the example I tried had a big old neck and I think it had sat in a case, unplayed for most of its life, so didn’t wow me like the others I’ve tried. 

    Id also say that i can see a very slight burn from power tools or cnc on one or two braces inside my F35. I’m sure you won’t find that on an Avalon! 

    You dont happen to have have one of the nylon stringed versions @ToneControl? Be interested to hear you take on them if you do. 


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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    brucegill said:
    brucegill said:
    Not one of us actually knows what happened between GL and the others at (now) Avalon. Not one of us actually knows the financial situation Avalon are, or are not in at this moment. (Id assume they’re trading under another name now). Speculation and hearsay can be a little damaging to be honest. 

    I’m sure your order is absolutely fine @Ted. ;;Having dealt with Steve at Avalon, he’s an absolute gent and great to deal with. Their guitars are fantastic too, so look forward to it and enjoy!

    I don’t think Avalons are the same as Lowden, and not overly comparable (especial when comparing different sizes/shapes and wood combinations), they’re just from a common background and both make fantastic instruments  I’d happily own both a lowden and an Avalon if/when finances/needs allow. Personally I find Lowdens body shapes better to my eye, just a nicer balance and from a better eye for design. Looking inside at the bracing the Lowdens have had a little more thought behind them too. It is a shame they’re not made by the guys who did make them for all those years, but hopefully they are making some money and still doing what they love, but with their name on the headstock. 
    I heard that the Avalon guys agreed to let GL take the brand name in 2004, although there was no legal reason that they had to do it.

    AFAIK there was unhappiness for quite a while during the time the Avalon guys built all the Lowdens, because although GL was not involved with manufacture, the luthiers had to stick to his original designs, and could not add anything they thought would enhance them. Hence why the Lowden-type guitars they now make have normal pin bridges. Also Avalon now make quite a few non-Lowden style guitars

    I'm very sceptical that Lowden bracing would be better than Avalon (rather than just different), especially since Avalon is now running a small-scale workshop


    I’m sure it was a tricky situation, but if GL designed them, and the luthiers built them to his design, with his name in them, I don’t see why he wouldn’t want them to stick to his design and also take his name and his designs with him if there was a falling out. Sounds, from what you’ve just said, like it needed to happen for both parties to be happy. 

    The Avalon I had for a short period (long story) was absolutely stunning. I’d say I’m 99% sure my next guitar will be an Avalon. So I’m not meaning to sound like I’m saying one is better than the other, I’d be happy with either! Quite fancy a nylon string jobby, but not quite sure what they’ll sound like. I did try a Americana (the middle one) and it was nice, but the example I tried had a big old neck and I think it had sat in a case, unplayed for most of its life, so didn’t wow me like the others I’ve tried. 

    Id also say that i can see a very slight burn from power tools or cnc on one or two braces inside my F35. I’m sure you won’t find that on an Avalon! 

    You dont happen to have have one of the nylon stringed versions @ToneControl? Be interested to hear you take on them if you do. 


    I did have a nylon one. I wanted to try a radiused fingerboard
    The guys told me it was built for stage use (i.e. stiffer braced than a normal classical), to avoid stage feedback, and I underestimated the effect this would have on acoustic volume, which was not ideal for me, since I rarely amplify guitars. Nevertheless the reason I sold it on was because I found that I didn't like playing nylon strings on a narrower fingerboard for classical-style pieces.
    It was very well constructed, I would have no hesitation in buying one with a radiused 2 inch wide fingerboard, with normal, non-stage light fan bracing
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 127
    Thanks for that! Probably not right for me then.

    If they ran a shorter scale length on the small bodied steal strings they do, I’d go that way, but pretty sure they’re 650mm like the rest of their models. 
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  • TedTed Frets: 33
    What put me off a Lowden is that they are considerably more expensive than Avalons. Also Lowden seemed to be very good at marketing(the Ed Sheeran connection), this aspect always puts me off a product because I think how much am I not paying for the actual construction rather than the brand support apparatus.

    Regarding Steve at Avalon I agree is very helpful and seems very straight. My concern was that I believe that Avalon have once before entered administration(post the Lowden split) but having dealt recently with Steve I can't believe he would do a Trump style fraud on his customers.
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    Ted said:
    What put me off a Lowden is that they are considerably more expensive than Avalons. Also Lowden seemed to be very good at marketing(the Ed Sheeran connection), this aspect always puts me off a product because I think how much am I not paying for the actual construction rather than the brand support apparatus.

    Regarding Steve at Avalon I agree is very helpful and seems very straight. My concern was that I believe that Avalon have once before entered administration(post the Lowden split) but having dealt recently with Steve I can't believe he would do a Trump style fraud on his customers.

    Lowden's marketing has been very effective since the split

    Ironically, back in the 80s GL ran into lots of problems with the business side of things, and AFAIK basically retreated to France in 1989 leaving the Lowden guitar co (i.e. Avalon) to build the brand

    However, in the 2000s, Avalon experimented with offshore-built "Lite" ranges for a short time, which may have undermined their Irish branding temporarily, i.e. the Silver series. 



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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 127
    Ted said:
    What put me off a Lowden is that they are considerably more expensive than Avalons. Also Lowden seemed to be very good at marketing(the Ed Sheeran connection), this aspect always puts me off a product because I think how much am I not paying for the actual construction rather than the brand support apparatus.

    Regarding Steve at Avalon I agree is very helpful and seems very straight. My concern was that I believe that Avalon have once before entered administration(post the Lowden split) but having dealt recently with Steve I can't believe he would do a Trump style fraud on his customers.
    The Sheeran thing did put me off a bit, but then that’s because I’m not a Sheeran fan. I’m sure Sheeran just stuck a big chunk of cash their way! When you look at it, it’s a nice opportunity for both party’s and the end product are pretty cheep (the Sheeran range) and made in IRELAND. That’s good for us! 

    I can see that the 50 series are damn expensive, but the normal range aren’t that far off Avalon’s prices on their website. And considering the price of a Fender custom shop at £3500, i don’t see them as overly expensive for something made in the western world and not of bolt on neck type design. 

    Lowden are hardly like a Martin or Taylor corporation. 
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  • TedTed Frets: 33
    I don't disagree with you generally but I thought Lowden's were made in NI ie The UK. If they were'nt made in this country that would make me less likely to buy them. Avalons are made in Belfast
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 127
    Ted said:
    I don't disagree with you generally but I thought Lowden's were made in NI ie The UK. If they were'nt made in this country that would make me less likely to buy them. Avalons are made in Belfast
    Sorry, yes, made in Northern Ireland! 
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  • th2017th2017 Frets: 33
    In terms of financials I'll just add a few facts,  I quickly checked them.  Company number listed on the website is a fairly new company, with a the owner of a successful chain of restaurants/gastropubs in NI listed, I presume there has been outside investment/ sale of the company (I have no connection or affiliation to any party).
    I'm still looking at one and would see this as a positive, and certainly wouldn't hesitate to buy from them.  Have spoken with steve and seems a very genuine guy as well.  There is an active company 100%
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  • brucegillbrucegill Frets: 127
    This is from another US forum, posted by a dealer/shop who stock Avalon. Posted this year but I believe it was copied from a post made late last year:


    The Avalon Guitar Co. is still in fine shape. See my post from last Fall, copied and pasted below. Misleading headlines like the recent 'Avalon Custom Lutherie is facing liquidation again' are how misinformation and harmful rumors get started and spread! 

    Avalon has been through some challenges over the years, but has righted the ship! Several of the finest luthiers on earth are still doing their thing at the Newtownards NI shop, the 'Spiritual Home of Irish Guitar Building'! 

    PM me for details.
    -Bill-

    "I have been in touch with Steve at Avalon and had an extensive email exchange with him the week before last, before I left on an overseas trip. On Fri Sept 28, the company came out of liquidation with a new investor, and hired back several key luthiers and was set to begin building again on Oct 1. I will be talking with Steve within the next few days, now that I am back. This new investor is real and it looks as though the company is in a better position than it has been for at least a few years. 

    True, what has been said in this thread, that a more expansive dealer network would be in order. Easier said than done, that: capacity to build the number of guitars needed to support such a network is challenging to say the least. Avalon has not invested in "productivity technology" such as CNC equipment, using its skilled work force to do the basic components, essentially by hand. There's a lot to be said for CNC, but by choosing to invest in quality luthiers with long experience, the outcome is a guitar that has a soul that one with more machine built content oftentimes seems to lack. "Soul" is difficult to measure, but anyone who has played an Avalon, and who has a better vocabulary than I do, should be able to describe it to you!
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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5353
    I've just been looking at photos of some of the custom-made Avalons:
    Fanned frets, sound ports, you name it. Very nice.
    and English bog oak, that's 5000 years old I think

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