I have played and reviewed many acoustic guitars over the past 30 years and generally speaking most have been good in one way or another. In recent years the quality has increased and the price has gone down. It would be hard to find a “bad guitar” now, even at the budget end of things.
Once in a while though, there comes along a guitar builder that stands out from the crowd and right now that is Dowina (pronounced Dovina). They are based in Bratislava, Slovakia and have been producing wonderfully hand crafter instruments since 1979.
Dowina started out making hand crafted violins from a workshop in the village of Devin which overlooks the ancient castle of Dowina on the banks of the Danube..and is where the company takes it’s name from. Their range of acoustic guitars was inspired by the art of the violin maker, using the same experience, attention to detail and understanding of tone woods to produce some of the best acoustic instruments in the world today.
In 2010 Dowina moved to a larger more modern facility in Devinska Nova Ves and which encompasses a production centre, warehouse, custom shop and administration. From here comes three ranges of acoustic guitar, the Antique, Vintage and Master series.
The Antique series is the entry point to Dowina acoustics and comprise of four base models, Puella, Rustica, Marus and Danubius. All of them have solid tops with layered back and sides and even though these are the entry level guitars they still use top quality materials with attention to detail that is second to none. You would be very hard pressed to find any other acoustics guitars of such quality at this price point.
The Vintage series are all solid wood construction and consists of three base models, the Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Cabernet. Again the finish and attention to detail is superb and certainly rivals many of the big name guitar makers such as Taylor, Lowden and Avalon minus of course the big name price tag!
The Master series guitars consist of the Acero, Amber Road, Wenge, Granadillo, Cocobolo and Purple Heart. All individually created, applying the same construction philosophy used in the creation of a master violin with superior tonewood selection and paying particular attention to the Individual graduation of the thickness of the top in specific areas. This allows the top to flex more near the edges and hence, gain more of a deep, fundamental tone. Other features are:
– Discrete bracing design matched to the top’s characteristics.
– Tops are individually finally tuned to basic harmonic tones in optimal tonal scale range.
– Each instrument is individually crafted for professional application by a master luthier.
– Each instrument is made by customer request.
Apart from guitars Dowina also make a range of bowed instruments such as Violin, Viola, Cello and Double Bass, all with the same attention to detail and superb level of craftsmanship seen in their acoustic guitars.
Speaking fro myself, I have been lucky enough to experience Dowina guitars first hand and currently have three models here, the Rustica GAC from the Antique series, the Chardonnay GAC from the Vintage series and the Cabernet DC which is again from the Vintage series.
You can read more about them in the Acoustic section of our forum but suffice to say I don’t think I have ever come across such wonderful levels of craftsmanship and tonal richness at these price levels before. They are the sort of guitars you constantly want to pick up and play and really that says it all. Dowina are now very firmly planted at the top of my list of the worlds great guitar builders. All I need now is to get my hands on one of the Master series but as these are all made to order it may be some time yet….but I am certain it will be worth the wait.
If your in the UK you can check out Dowina guitars at www.dv247.com
In Ireland they are currently available from http://www.moloneymusic.com/ in Galway
Also available in the USA from www.samash.com
More info over at http://dowina.eu/
For more discussion on Dowina guitars visit the Dowina section of our forum, we would love to see you there!