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Travel guitars - I know, I know

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OdieWon
(@odiewon)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

This subject has been beaten to death. But I want to address a couple of key issues.

First, my wife was looking to buy me a Martin Backpacker, but on a bunch of the reviews she found online, people were complaining about the necks having to be replaced a lot. Apparently they crack or something? That would really suck. It seems that I remember someone mentioning that the tension on the neck was considerable. But it IS a Martin, you'd think that the quality would be impeccable.

Any opinions here, fact or fiction? Have you heard of this problem before?

SO we've been looking at some other travel sized guitars, since then. The Ovation Trekker looks nice, but expensive for the purpose I intend to use it for. (riding in the truck and campfire/back porch uses, with regular road trips, it needs to be small enough to play in the passenger seat.)

"Never holster an unloaded weapon, it's just poor form." - Col. Jeff Cooper


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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My opinions and even some accidental facts:

1. The backpacker design has changed -- it might have been to address neck issues you mention, I'm not positive. I've had one of the original version steel stringers for over 5 years and -- lemme check -- right, no cracks or other issues. And I've never given it any special attention; it is a travel guitar, after all. If there are indeed neck issues, you may want to find out if they are with the old or new design. On the old design, the neck graduates smoothly into the body. The newer version has "shoulders."

2. IIRC, Martin recommends the use of light strings. Mine doesn't have a truss rod -- I wouldn't use anything but light.

3. Don't buy this unless you play it and like it. Personally, I'd rather have a Taylor Baby or even the Washburn travel guitar. However, as my backpacker was a very thoughful gift, I'm keeping it ... (sigh). However, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that others love their backpackers.

4. Should you wish to, it is pretty easy to add an underbridge piezo pup to the backpacker. For mine, I didn't bother using an endpin jack, but installed a very discrete, creme Les Paul jack plate on the rim -- much easier and looks good.

Again, play before you buy -- both the Martin and the competition.

-Greg

-=tension & release=-


   
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olive
(@olive)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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You'll definately want to play the backpacker before you buy it. It's a bit awkward to play at first due to the shape of the body. I think you pretty much have to use the strap when you play it...at least that's the only way I feel comfortable using mine.
I think I bought mine about 2 years ago and have yet to experience any problems with it.
I put some Martin Silk and Steel lights on there, and all things considered it makes some fairly nice sounds.
Like gnease said, play as many different travel guitars as you can get your paws on. I'm sure that you'll find one that fits your needs.

"My ex-boyfriend can't tell me I've sold out, because he's in a cult, and he's not allowed to talk to me." --Dar Williams


   
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sunsetN!nja
(@sunsetncnja)
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There's a company here in SD called "Go" guitars. I've heard people say good stuff about them. Website is http://www.go-guitars.com I've never played one, but the reviews have been favorable.


   
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Morpheus
(@morpheus)
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Check out the Washburn Rover before you buy a Martin Backpacker. Nick recomended it when I brought up the travel guitar issue a long time ago. It fit what I was looking for a little better than the Martin Backpacker.


   
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wishus
(@wishus)
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I have a Martin Backpacker, that I actually take backpacking. Recently, it went on a 5-day 30 mile wilderness trip, and emerged unscathed.

When you get it, first take all the strings off and sand 1/8" off the bottom of the saddle. Then put light guage silk-n-steels on it. Then play.

Third Take a blog about home recording


   
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OdieWon
(@odiewon)
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Topic starter  

Thanks for the replies. I have what feels like the most cluttered, rushed life in the world. Learning to play music really helps me to return to the real world. I am hoping to really take off in my guitar playing, by having one around all the time, to play, every time I get the urge.

Married, 3 kids, 2 dogs, 48 rabbits (they're the wife's) and about 20 chickens, not to mention the wife's horse. Add on top of that, a job that seems to suck about 50-60 hours a week, and often times more like 70. It just seems like there is always about 40 reasons NOT to take the time to learn to play better. Oh, and I forgot, 1 ex-wife also, aacck!!!

I want one that is small enough to play in the passenger seat of my Jeep Cherokee while the wife is driving.

The Washburn looks to be about the same size as the Martin, and the case looks WAY WAY nicer, with padding and storage and such.

I have played the Martin at the guitar store a couple of times. It feels like a Martin. I've never picked up a Martin that had a really great action. It seems that Martin expects guitarists to increase their skill, and hand strength to meet their instrument, rather than adjusting their instrument down to you. I would assume the action could be lowered without much hassle.(per the comment about sanding the bridge)

Does anyone have any experience with the Ovation Trekker?

"Never holster an unloaded weapon, it's just poor form." - Col. Jeff Cooper


   
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jimdunk
(@jimdunk)
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I was playing around with the Baby Taylor at the local music shop. That might be worth checking out. Still, seems like it might be a little crampled playing in the passenger seat of the car.

For an "off the wall" suggestion, you might check out a baritone ukulele. It's only got the top four (highest pitched) of the six strings -- tuned DGBE. Also the strings are nylon. But for portability, it can't be beat. Check out the Lanikai models. One main problem though, most music shops don't carry ukes.

Jim

Make Guitar Music


   
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OdieWon
(@odiewon)
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Topic starter  

Apple Creek
http://www.music123.com/AppleCreek-Apple-Creek-Travel-i120990.music

"Never holster an unloaded weapon, it's just poor form." - Col. Jeff Cooper


   
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greybeard
(@greybeard)
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Having played a Martin I can say it's a fantastic travel guitar - assuming that you're going in one direction and it's going in another.

Ovations are hard enough to keep upright, but the Martin is a downright masochist's instrument.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


   
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R3d
 R3d
(@r3d)
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I'm considering a travel type guitar, too. Going on a trip for a little over a week, and I don't want to go that long without playing. I could probably get away with taking my accoustic but it would be nice to have something easier to deal with. Also, I could stash a small guitar at work and play there. Hoping to try some out this weekend since I'll be near a store that actually carries some, so I'll let you know the outcome...


   
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Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
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I think the Rover is cool. The Backpacker has it's place, but it really doesn't sound "guitar-like". It's great for Nashville tuning, or for practice, but I don't think I'd play it in front of people.

Fender also makes a travel guitar, TG-??


   
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olive
(@olive)
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Joined: 21 years ago
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The Backpacker has it's place, but it really doesn't sound "guitar-like". It's great for Nashville tuning, or for practice, but I don't think I'd play it in front of people.

Oddly enough, I've seen Ani Difranco use a Backpacker in a live performance.

"My ex-boyfriend can't tell me I've sold out, because he's in a cult, and he's not allowed to talk to me." --Dar Williams


   
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gnease
(@gnease)
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My conclusion: The Backpacker, though well made, is just too much travel and not enough guitar. I wish it would take heavier strings, then it might serve lapsteel duty -- it already is passable for bottleneck (if only I was).

-=tension & release=-


   
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OdieWon
(@odiewon)
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Topic starter  

WELL, the wife surprised me with a Backpacker today. :D

I can't say it made me unhappy. LOL.

"Never holster an unloaded weapon, it's just poor form." - Col. Jeff Cooper


   
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