local Lewes guitar maker Rohan Lowe
Posted by carlotta on Friday March 28th, 2014 at 10:25am
I was on assignment for the Lewes Musical Express to get a portrait of the guitar maker, Rohan Lowe. Rohan lives in Lewes but I trekked to his small studio near Alfriston because I preferred to photograph him at work. Rohan has been making guitars for over 20 years now and is one of the ranks of well-respected Lewes guitar makers. He makes Spanish guitars as well as designs inspired by other European traditions. Rohan admitted to recently trying his hand at violins and I noticed the parts of his first one waiting on the worktable. This sense of experimentation seems to be at the core of what he does. I think he says it best:
‘The experience of making itself became my teacher. I continue to work in this way, always adjusting and refining. I am more instinctive than scientific in approach… It is very important ( for me ) to conceive a clear idea of the sound I want to create, to actually try and hear the sound in my head as far as possible, to imagine the various parts of the guitar vibrating, and to bear this in mind during the process of making. I am always seeking to improve on what I’ve done before, not out of frustration, but because it is natural. There cannot be only one kind of perfect guitar – trying to embody the best musical qualities in a guitar at any given time, for a particular set of circumstances, materials, players’ requirements, is stimulating and challenging.’
I know nothing about making guitars, and perhaps it is obvious to those who do, but I found it fascinating hearing how one can understand how the parts of a guitar will influence the sound and change them according to the qualities one is seeking to achieve. I can, however, relate to Rohan’s way of working: teaching himself through experimentation and always seeking to improve on what he has done. That is how I have always approached my work and what makes it interesting and stimulating to me. I think it is probably how I approach my life as well. A gallery of these photographs can be found here.
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