mrgrey - regarding Avalon vs Lowden. I have a Lowden from 1987 that I bought new having seen Graham Kendrick playing a Lowden on a worship leaders' course I attended. I went up to a shop in Nottingham (no longer there) which had several Lowden models and I chose a S22CP (cutaway pickup) as I liked the feel and sound and also, because it had a nice pickup system with volume and tone controls on the upper bout. In fact, the pickup and preamp were both made by Ashworth, both later broke and have been long since replaced by Fishman which has been trouble free. The Lowden is a large body, despite the fact that the 'S' model designation is now used on small bodied guitars by Lowden and Avalon. It is similar to one played by Richard Thompson back then and indeed similar to Pierre Bensusan's in appearance, although I think he is pictured in his book with a Japanese made one. The Lowden is mahogany bodied, cedar topped and has a five piece neck. My recent acquisition is a Avalon S32 which is a small bodied rosewood and spruce guitar - deliberately, I chose this model for fingerpicking and these woods and smaller body generally have a different sound to mahogany/cedar. I have found the neck feels almost identical between the two guitars and the standard of construction is more or less the same. Both have a fairly organic, tasteful sort of vibe - nothing flashy - and both have a silky finish. I think Avalon's set-up is even better than the Lowden was; I never really had an issue with the Lowden, but after about 15 years use, took it to have its frets re-profiled and the luthier I took it to said they frets had never been perfectly level even when originally built. I think the Avalon is faultless in this regard. Years back, I did need some help from Lowden when the pickup failed, and they had it collected, fixed it and delivered back to me all free of charge. So, that's just my perspective - my experience with both firms and both guitars has been entirely pleasurable. When I bought the Avalon direct from the factory, they couldn't have been more helpful, friendly and efficient. I'll recommend them to anyone who'll listen.