Dowina (pronounced Do-vi-na) are based in Bratislava, Slovakia and have been producing wonderfully hand crafted instruments since 1979. The company started out making violins from a workshop in the village of Devin which overlooks the ancient castle of Dowina on the banks of the Danube..and is also from where the company takes it’s name. Their range of acoustic guitars has been inspired by the art of the violin maker and they use the same experience, attention to detail and understanding of tone woods to produce some of the best acoustic instruments you will find anywhere.
Here we are taking a look at the Dowina Rustica GAC DS from the Antique Series which are all solid top guitars with layered back and sides. The other two lines are the Vintage and Master series which are of all solid construction and we will be taking a closer look at those in upcoming videos.
For now though it is back to the Rustica. As mentioned this is a solid top guitar and the one we reviewed came with a Solid Dolomite Spruce top although I understand the spec has now been changed to solid Canadian Cedar for future versions of this particular model. The back and sides are layered Sapele…close in tone to mahogany and indeed sometimes mis-labelled as mahogany. Sapele is a good wood in its own right though and certainly works well with the solid dolomite spruce top on this guitar.
The neck is mahogany and the fretboard rosewood. Again I understand due to CITES regulations and the problems moving rosewood from country to country this has now been replaced by Ebony, which in my opinion is no bad thing. I like ebony fretboards.
The neck is joined to the body by a dovetail joint and the finish and all round levels of workmanship are excellent.
At the headstock there is the “D” logo in what looks like mother of pearl and the tuners are enclosed die cast with black rubberised caps which add a touch of class to the appearance.
The finish on this guitar is open pore which I really like and there is also a transparent pick guard which not only protects the top surface but allows the grain of the wood to show through.
There are simple dot inlays along the fretboard and nice perfling around the front edge of the soundboard along with a herringbone pattern for the soundhole rosette.
The Rustica GAC comes fitted with D’Adarrio strings and was very well set up out of the box.
Solid Dolomite Spruce Top. (New versions user Canadian Cedar)
Layered Sapele Back and Sides.
Rosewood Fingerboard. (Ebony on newer versions)
Bone Nut & Saddle.
Nice purfling around the front edges of the body and decoration around the sound hole.
D’Adarrio EXP Strings.
I have tested quite a few Dowina guitars recently and every single one has been of superb finish and build quality. No matter if it is an entry level Antique series or top of the range Master series, standards are maintained across the range and each guitar feels like it has been hand made just for you. The Rustica GAC is no exception and even though this is an entry level guitar it feels like something so much more.
The Grand Auditorium shape is for me at least the sweet spot in acoustic guitars. Neither big and boomy like a dreadnaught or tight and constrained like a parlour it can fill so many roles, which is probably why so many singer songwriters prefer this style of guitar. I found the Rustica GAC to be equally at home strummed or played fingerstyle. The solid hand selected dolomite spruce top with it’s wood sourced from Italy’s Paneveggio forest, is rich in overtones with a focused but full tone ideal for fingerpickers. Strummed it loses no definition and has a very well rounded tone that is easy to control.
I really enjoyed my time playing the Dowina Rustica GAC. It is a guitar for all occasions whether playing at home or gigging in front of a crowd. It is the sort of guitar that is made for writing songs on. I was impressed with how well it was set up and sounded straight out of the box. Normally I would let a guitar settle for a few days before doing any serious playing but the Rustica was ready to go from the outset. That tells you a lot about how well a guitar is built and the quality of materials that were used. The Rustica seemed little bothered by temperature and humidity changes on it’s journey from Slovakia..which is probably more than can be said of me had I made the same journey!
All in all I can highly recommend this guitar and If there really is an “ancient spirit of wood” I think it has found it’s home at Dowina.
More info over at https://dowina.com
For more discussion on Dowina guitars visit the Dowina section of our forum, we would love to see you there!