Dowina W-Cabernet GACE-S & JC 999 (chapeau)
Slovakia is a county filled with romance and mystery. Take the relatively new guitar brand: Dowina. The name is actually the name of a castle in the place Devin but the word means “girl’in the old Slavic language, pure romance isn’t it?
Originally the brand started in 1979 by building violins and chello’s, old fashioned craftsmanship.
The Dowina guitars are largely build by about 20 people by hand.
We will take a look at how it relates to price and performance.
Let’s begin with an old solid model of Dowina, a grand auditorium with the beautiful name of a good wine: Cabernet. The philosophy behind the designation, they also have a Chardonnay, is that good guitars are as good wines, made for the connoisseurs.
The level is set high.
The Cabernet grand auditorium has a very beautiful design. A nice piece of spruce for the top sheet (equipped with a transparent pickguard), dark flamed rosewood for the side and rear and a good piece of mahogany for the neck with a nice rosewood key with “snowflake”positionmarks. The head is well-set and houses the gold-plated tuners with black ebony look knots as well.
Bindings along the key and the speaker cabinet are from flamed maple and a fish bone decorates the division of the cabinet and the top sheet.
The rosewood bridge is beautiful formed and the nut is made of various colours pieces of wood in fishbone pattern; that maybe seems a bit too much but in reality it looks very sophisticated.
On the inside everything looks very neat with the exception of a bit of wood glue here and there, but well that increases the hand built feeling.
The guitar is done with a thin layer of raps oil and has visible open pores and that will certainly contribute to the sound we are going to hear.
Sound and playability
The sound is indeed as open as the appearance of this guitar suggests.
Hard, clearly articulated, full basses, firm in the middle and clear in the high. The playability feels familiar and will please most acoustic players because of the fairly wide key and the not insane low string location. I am delighted and can’t wait to plug the Dowina W-Cabernet GACE-S into the Schertler Unico amplifier. And it goes with a LR Baggs Stage pro element. Fishman or another system on request will also do; hand built gives this possibility to the customer. Once connected I will tease the neighbours with the basses which are even more enormously reinforced than not reinforced, but quickly I find the balance that suits the modest room I am in, the notch key helps me perfectly in doing so.
It all sounds nice, full and clear and there is no question about override. If you fly from the bend sound wise you can always go back with the fase key.
The grand auditorium from Dowina meets every expectation of a spoilt guitarist who is tours a lot of stages in the country and has high demands to his instrument. Give this guitar to a non suspecting guitarist and let him guess the price. I bet he will estimate the price twice as high as the asking price of 1195,00 euro for this guitar!.
W-JC 999 S
We are in the lucky circumstance that we can try another Dowina. It is a jumbo without an amplifier system with a solid spruce top sheet and a laminated rosewood sides and back with flamed mahogany bindings. On the key we will find a position dots instead of the snowflakes of the Cabernet and on the head we will find chromed mechanisms with Kluson like knobs. This jumbo too shows quality. The sound and playability are again perfect but the strings are a bit higher than its little brother. But it doesn’t matter because as soon as you begin to play you will be overwhelmed by an enormous volume, with tight basses, a decadent middle and a transparent but powerful and high, a genuine jumbo sound therefore.
For the lovers of alternative moods the jumbo is a great challenge. The full rich sound from the low as well as the high will stroke your ears. And working with a capo makes it even more dynamic. The capo is included in both tested Dowina’s (Dunlop-type).
If you have never played on a jumbo and you take this Dowina JC 999 S, then you are sold. If you hear the price you will be shocked : 555,00 euro, so much guitar for so little money, is that possible? Dowina from Slovakia proves it!
It is refreshing to have a couple of guitars that give you everything you wish for. They look good, play great, sound super and cost relatively little. And they also come from a factory in Slovakia. European craftsmanship for Chinese prices, that is what Dowina offers! You can compare these Slovakian guitars to the Czech colleague Furch. Both Eastern-European brands offer far more than the money you have to pay. Dowina is “the new kid on the block”, but considering the quality price proportion it could be that there will be a high demand for them. We will wait and see If they can handle this demand.
Get on board now is the advice!