International pop star Ed Sheeran has teamed up with a former Bradford Grammar School pupil to produce a range of affordable acoustic guitars which will inspire more young people to play music.
The world-famous singer-songwriter was approached by the County Down guitar firm, Lowden Guitars, where former BGS pupil Will Baugh, now an eminent product and furniture designer, works.
Will said: “George Lowden has been friends with Ed Sheeran for a number of years after designing and making a small unique guitar for Ed called ‘The Wee Lowden’. The aim of the collaboration is to get really great, affordable guitars into the hands of aspiring, young (and old) musicians! With that in mind, we had to start from the ground up, re-designing a new workshop along with all the tooling and fixtures to enable us to make this new range of guitars.
Will began working as a part-maker at Lowden Guitars two years ago after moving to Northern Ireland from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It involved processing timbers from around the world to make all the small components that are needed to produce the incredible Lowden Guitars.
“During this time, I also worked on some limited-edition guitars in a project with Bushmills whisky, inlaying the actual copper from the whisky stills as artwork on the guitars. This latest project, ’Sheeran by Lowden’ has been our biggest challenge yet but in many ways has been the most rewarding,” said Will.
The partnership was confirmed at the National Association of Music Merchants 2019 show in California, where Sheeran gave a surprise performance at a private event and the ‘Sheeran by Lowden’ was revealed.
Will continued: “During my design career, I’ve been lucky enough to exhibit at trade shows in New York, where my work was recognised by the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. I’m very proud that they now stock some of my product range. However, more recently it has been a real achievement to hear the first Ed Sheeran guitars have been produced using this new production line.
“As a child, I was always fascinated by the things my Grandpa would make in the garage at home, and wherever possible, I would try and help. This enthusiasm grew through my years at Bradford Grammar School, and with the support of some great teachers and lecturers at Northumbria University, I was inspired to pursue my career as a product and furniture designer.”
Head of Design Technology at Bradford Grammar School, Stuart Taylor, said: “Our students have good, really interesting careers ahead of them, just like Will, where they can make a real difference. They can end up travelling and working abroad on fantastic projects and with innovative companies. Design technology gives them a flavour of that.”
Will reflected on his time at the leading independent school in Yorkshire: “The skill set and experiences I gained throughout my time at BGS have proved invaluable to my career. The amazing DT facilities, and the opportunities that I was given, really allowed me to pursue my goals with incredible support from the staff.
“I believe the most valuable things I learnt were drive and discipline, while balancing my subjects and extracurricular activities with rugby training at lunch! These values have kept me focused and given me direction throughout my design career.”
Lowden guitars are now sold across the world.
“The skill set and experiences I gained throughout my time at BGS have proved invaluable to my career. The amazing DT facilities, and the opportunities that I was given, really allowed me to pursue my goals with incredible support from the staff.
I believe the most valuable things I learnt were drive and discipline. These values have kept me focused and given me direction throughout my design career.”