Ed Sheeran is teaming up with a County Down guitar firm to make affordable quality guitars in the hope of tempting more young people to play music.
The world famous singer-songwriter has created a new range of acoustic guitars with Lowden Guitars in Downpatrick.
The partnership was confirmed at the National Association of Music Merchants 2019 show in California on Thursday.
Sheeran gave a surprise performance at a private event where the new Sheeran by Lowden brand was revealed.
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Speaking about the new partnership, he said: “There are fewer guitar bands and fewer artists using guitars now, and not as many kids picking up guitars.
“That is something I would like to change by getting these great quality guitars, made in Ireland, into kids’ hands and encouraging them to learn and progress.
“To be able to work in tandem with a guitar company like Lowden to create a whole different concept has been a really cool experience.”
The now world famous singer-songwriter was just 20 when his debut single The A Team reached number three in the UK singles chart in 2011.
The new collaboration developed out of a friendship between Sheeran and Lowden.
At his gig at Belfast’s Boucher Road Playing Fields last May, Sheeran told 40,000 fans about his love for Lowden instruments.
One of Lowden’s most popular guitars, the Wee Lowden, was designed in 2013 by the firm’s founder George Lowden at the request of Snow Patrol front man Gary Lightbody as a gift for Sheeran.
“We have been honoured over the past years that Ed has chosen to play Lowden guitars both on-stage and in the studio,” said Mr Lowden.
“We are delighted to have established a close ongoing relationship which has borne fruit recently through the birth of Sheeran by Lowden.”
Lowden Guitars dates back to 1961 when George started making the instruments with his boat builder father using fishing line for strings.
He opened his first workshop in Bangor, Co Down, in 1977.
Lowden guitars are now sold across the world.