By Rebecca Black
A Co Down guitar firm has announced a collaboration with Ed Sheeran.
Lowden Guitars and Sheeran have created a new range of acoustic guitars called Sheeran by Lowden.
It was announced at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2019 show in Anaheim, California on Thursday.
Sheeran surprised music merchants and friends of Lowden with a performance at a private event where the new Sheeran by Lowden brand was revealed.
The Shape Of You singer-songwriter said his aim was to make affordable quality guitars to encourage more young people to play music.
"There are fewer guitar bands and fewer artists using guitars now, and not as many kids picking up guitars," he said.
"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."
IMAGE: Ed Sheeran with a Lowden guitar - Source LowdenGuitars on Twitter.
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 frontman Gary Lightbody as a gift for Sheeran.
The new collaboration developed out of a friendship between Sheeran and Lowden.
"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.