Rohan Lowe

Rohan Lowe says :- I was born in Malta in 1962 of English parents. My family returned to England in 1965 and settled in Somerset in the south-west of England.

I was interested in music from quite an early age, due in part to natural inclination, and in part to growing up with the sound of the piano – my elder sisters practising after school and my Father, who plays well by ear, in the evening. When I was a small boy he managed the local provincial theatre in Street, Somerset and so I had opportunity to take part in amateur musical productions, as well as see many professional ones. Occasionally, quite famous names would turn up to perform at the theatre such as Barry Tuckwell ( the legendary french horn player), or Paco Peña and his flamenco troupe. Between the ages of 5 and 12 I saw quite a number of concerts, both orchestral and jazz, operas, ballets and plays, often from the vantage point of one of the ushers’ seats in the balcony. Through these exciting early experiences at the theatre I naturally developed an enthusiasm for music making. I took up the trumpet at age ten and played a variety of three-valved brass instruments before changing to trombone at thirteen, taking music examinations up to grade VIII. I spent a lot of time while I was growing up playing in wind bands, small brass ensembles etc. My interest in the classical guitar began as a young teenager listening to classic recordings by Julian Bream and John Williams. Although at that age, being a brass player, I had absolutely no idea that one day I would take up the guitar, let alone make them. The sounds of Bream’s extraordinary playing stuck in my head though, and later, at the age of 19 when I found a guitar lying around in the house where I was living (at the time in Germany) I picked it up and decided to learn to play.

A year later, back in England, I decided to go to art school and went to Reigate School of Art (1983 to 1985) studying the manuscript crafts of calligraphy and illumination. I spent a further year at City and Guilds of London Art School, Kennington, London, practising letter-carving, stone-carving and sculpture. After finishing art school I began to paint (fine art pictures), whilst painting and decorating to earn a living. After a couple of years I got into more specialist decorating working for a decorative artist in London. I was also painting and exhibiting my own work during this period.

In 1993 I decided to make myself a guitar after being inspired by the fine work my friend Simon Ambridge. Simon was making in the Torres/Hauser tradition and he lent me an old mould of a 1943 Hauser. With some advice from Simon and after reading all the books I could find on the subject in Westminster Music Library I began work on my first guitar. Once I’d finished it I wanted to make a couple more, to improve on what I’d done. I’d got the guitarmaking bug. In 1995, after making several guitars in the tiny back bedroom of a small flat in Battersea, I moved to Lewes in East Sussex. Once in Lewes, I began to concentrate on guitarmaking, initially sharing a workshop with Stephen Hill. After about 18 months I moved out to set up my own workshop. Ever since I have been guitarmaking and restoring. In recent years the restoration work has mainly centred around C19th instruments. Currently, my workshop is set up at home, where it is more convenient for me to be able to look after my children. (Reproduced with the kind permission of Rohan Lowe)

Rohan Lowe classical guitarsRohan Lowe with Julian Bream after handing back the 1940 Hauser following some polish restoration.