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Author Topic: Travel guitars  (Read 877 times)

Tom

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Travel guitars
« on: October 15, 2016, 06:17:18 PM »
Anyone own &/or played either the Martin Backpacker or Washburn RO10 Rover travel guitars? I've read the reviews on amazon, and see a mix of results, including from folks who own both.

I'd like to play and compare, but our nearest Guitar Center only has one of them in stock.

The compact size of both instruments would allow me to take a guitar along in the coach, in addition to the ukuleles.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2016, 06:27:25 PM »
I played a Martin one fine day on the rim of the Grand Canyon but it wasn't a backpacker. But in my humble you can't go wrong with a Martin.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2016, 06:41:36 PM »
These travel guitars lack bass, but some reviews suggest that Martin might have the edge on being sonorous.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2016, 06:44:26 PM »
I was shocked at how sonorous the bass uke was. ;D
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2016, 06:45:51 PM »
A bass uke or bass anything that's not sonorous would be an oxymoron  ;D
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2016, 12:31:13 PM »
I broke my own rule and ordered the Martin without playing either one. It's already shipped and will arrive tomorrow. One of the negatives in reviews was the action on the Backpacker is too high and can't be lowered, apparently because it doesn't have a truss rod.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2016, 12:35:57 PM »
You don't need a truss rod to lower the action. Take it to a luthier and tell him to lower the action and it will cost you about $25. Should take him about 15 minutes. It is just a matter of filing down the nut a tiny bit. The truss rod is only there to compensate for a warped neck.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2016, 12:44:45 PM »
I thought about taking it to a luthier I've used a number of times for various instruments. But I'll wait and see how it feels/plays.
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2016, 12:54:52 PM »
Coincidentally, a band member sent me this photo of the luthier working on my banjo uke in a corner of his shop. He's worked on a few other instruments of mine, including my (full size) plectrum banjo. The rest of his shop (a 2-car garage) is filled with instruments in various states of repair/building, wood, parts, and power tools.

The metal plate on the wall to the right of the bench-top light is his only tuner (a single tone); He strikes it once, and everything else is done by ear.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 01:02:30 PM by Tom »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2016, 01:03:47 PM »
I thought about taking it to a luthier I've used a number of times for various instruments. But I'll wait and see how it feels/plays.
Being as it is a Martin my bet is that the action is perfect.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2016, 01:08:47 PM »
I hope you're right, although several reviews said the action was too high and couldn't be adjusted without causing other issues (buzzing).
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2016, 01:12:32 PM »
I hope you're right, although several reviews said the action was too high and couldn't be adjusted without causing other issues (buzzing).
That is why you need a decent luthier to do the job. It is pretty easy to do but I don't recommend it as a DIY project because it is too easy to go too far and end up with buzzes. A decent luthier will not end up with buzzes and if he does he knows how to fix that. I stopped worrying about the action many years ago. I can play it no matter how high or how low the action is. The action only really matters if you plan on shredding at the speed of light.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
2016 photos:
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2016, 01:57:55 PM »
I went to Amazon and read all the one and two star reviews for the Martin Backpacker. What a bunch of losers. The main complaint was that they did not like the thin tone. Well duh.... what did they expect from a guitar such a small soundbox? Many of the complaints were about how difficult it was to play sitting down. A uke player won't have that problem but how could they buy it and possibly think it would be easy to hold sitting down? It is not built for sound quality, that is not possible with a small form factor and it was not built for comfort when playing. It was built to be very small so you can practice playing in remote locations. Only one person complained about the action so I really doubt you will dislike the action. Martins always play like smooth butter.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2016, 02:20:36 PM »
I didn't read, or at least didn't pay attention to, any of the 1- or 2-star reviews.

Quote
A decent luthier will not end up with buzzes and if he does he knows how to fix that.

I know, and the guy I use showed me how it can happen. This guy has been doing this stuff for years, and knows what he's doing. I've referred numerous folks to him, and everyone has come away very happy with his work and his prices.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 02:23:18 PM by Tom »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2016, 02:51:02 PM »
When I am shopping for anything I read the one and two star reviews first. They are the most important to me. If there is a significant problem with something it will usually show up there.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2016, 03:04:04 PM »
Quote
... I read the one and two star reviews first. They are the most important to me.

You just called them a bunch of losers  ???

I'll keep shopping my own way  ;)
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2016, 03:09:29 PM »
Yes I called them losers because of what they said.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2016, 06:50:23 PM »
The Martin Backpacker turned up a short while ago. About all I've done is unpack it, tune it, and play some chords/progressions. Too early to really pass judgement, but first impressions (in no specific order):
  • Came complete with strap.
  • Very compact, and so will travel well in the coach, a car, or on an airplane.
  • Shorter neck, 15 frets.
  • 'Regular' width neck; Not sure why I was expecting something narrower  ???   
  • The action is noticeably 'high', but doesn't seem to affect playing.
  • Very noticeably less sonorous and quieter than my 'full size' Yamaha, but to be expected with the small sound box.
  • The small body/sound box makes it really easy to handle sitting down or standing up.
  • A decent padded bag (the Washburn RO10 Rover comes with a hard case).
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2016, 06:53:35 PM »
You lucky guy. I broke down this afternoon and ordered the bass. It is all I have been thinking about since Saturday. I swear ukuleles are the crack cocaine of the musical instrument world. Just gotta keep buying them. I may need a larger motorhome. :o

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QFV1RGE/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2016, 07:01:15 PM »
Congrats on the bass uke.

Quote
Just gotta keep buying them.

That's a standing joke in our band. Occasionally our fearless leader will ask for a show of hands: "who has x ukes?", "who has y ukes?", "who has z ukes?", etc. I think I have 9 between our CA and OH homes.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2016, 07:06:10 PM »
I bought a book called Getting Plucky with the Ukulele. It has a photo showing all the different size ukes right next to each other for comparison. I goes from the bass to the microlele which he says is the size of a refrigerator magnet. ;D
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2016, 07:16:02 PM »
You're right, it's an addiction. I have 2 sopranos (for grandkids), 2 concerts, 1 tenor, 2 baritones, 1 banjouke. There's another one somewhere ...

Depending on your experience with the bass, and my experience playing one at the Kala factory demo room, I might get one.

Can't see me buying a micro, but the luthier has one hanging in his shop.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2016, 07:20:56 PM »
I would like to buy a micro but it would be basically a wall hanger since it would be unplayable. I currently have one soprano, one concert and one tenor. I have no desire to get a baritone since I have such a great guitar already. But who knows how I will feel after I go a few weeks without buying one. ;D ???
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2016, 07:38:00 PM »
Quote
I have no desire to get a baritone since I have such a great guitar already.

No reason for you to buy a baritone. I came the other direction - bought a baritone because I liked the sound, and playing it convinced me to buy my first guitar.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2016, 08:02:09 PM »
That's what I was thinking. A guitar has to sound much better than a baritone so I doubt I would play it very much.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2016, 08:03:27 PM »
As a guitar player, you'd be disappointed with a baritone uke.
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WildPlum

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2016, 11:47:46 AM »
I have a Martin LXM in a gig bag as a travel guitar - it's smaller (smaller than a parlor), made of laminate but still sounds pretty good. It can take fairly serious changes in temp and humidity and doesn't seem to care. To be honest, I'd just as soon it DIDN'T say "Martin" on the headstock or the bag (I actually used fabric paint to paint over the gold Martin logo on the gigbag), because people immediately assume it is an expensive guitar.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/LXM

My main mandolin stays at home and I travel with an Eastman 604 in a humidified hard case. The Eastman, although factory made in China, has a nice tone to it. In the mandolin world it is considered a cheap mandolin, although it'd set me back about a grand to replace it. The $50-$100 mandolins you see in stores are just about unplayable and don't sound very good out of the box - once you've spent several hundred dollars setting the thing up, you might just as well have bought a better mandolin.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 11:52:53 AM by WildPlum »

Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2016, 12:56:06 PM »
For some reason, amazon shows all versions of the Little Martin as "unavailable", but it's "in stock" at the Sweetwater link you provided.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2016, 01:18:45 PM »
I ran into a guy playing one on the rim of the Grand Canyon and he let me play it. Very nice guitar, as all Martins are.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2016, 05:01:31 PM »
Enjoyed watching the Martin playability video linked on Sweetwater's web site.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2016, 05:45:07 PM »
Thanks for the link. I ended up getting lost watching a very interesting Martin Factory Tour video. No wonder they cost so much money.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2016, 07:35:05 PM »
Finally decided that this is not for me. It's a great travel guitar (small form factor), but has a 'wide' neck. It's also less sonorous and has lower volume sound than 'full size' acoustic guitars. It's not available with electronics, so you're limited to the sound from the small sound box. Thanks to amazon's return policy, it's on it's way back.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2016, 10:19:24 AM by Tom »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #32 on: November 09, 2016, 08:14:21 PM »
That would have been my response. I have never met a travel guitar that I liked. Too many negatives and only one positive, size.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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My portfolio:
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2016, 02:16:37 PM »
Tom - I just learned something that really helps me out. You probably already know it but I will repeat it just in case you don't. To make playing the Bb chord easier place your thumb behind the headstock. It is a bit awkward at first but I think in time it will feel more natural.
Tom Seiler & 3 mountain lions: Tarzan, Jane and Cleopatra
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2016, 02:31:10 PM »
Aye Tom, that helps with a number of ukulele chords. I didn't think about mentioning it, but I now realize that you probably didn't need to do that with a guitar.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #35 on: November 10, 2016, 03:48:10 PM »
No, I have never done that with guitar. Glad I discovered it.
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8Muddypaws

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #36 on: November 10, 2016, 07:09:43 PM »
I had a Martin and never really liked it.  The bass always sounded muddy to me.  I sold it and bought my first Taylor.  Then I bought another, and another, and another.  My latest is a GS Mini that sounds really good amplified, and better than I expected when played without an amp.

I wish I had known sooner you were looking for a travel guitar.  Since I don't fly for business anymore I would have let you try my Baby Taylor.  Great action, acceptable tone.  So it goes.

Is the backpacker you bought the old triangular body?
« Last Edit: November 10, 2016, 07:14:15 PM by 8Muddypaws »
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Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2016, 07:17:56 PM »
Quote
Is the backpacker you bought the old triangular body?

I suppose that's what it's called. Click here to see it on amazon.
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8Muddypaws

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #38 on: November 10, 2016, 07:57:22 PM »
I am surprised by the reviews.  I've played several of those and didn't find the tone 'sonorous' at all.

The Baby Taylor would have cost more but it comes with a hard case and has a real guitar shape that doesn't slide off your lap.

The reason they make these without a truss rod is because the scale length is shorter so there's much less tension on the strings.  I have a custom acoustic that has a steel bar under the fretboard rather than a truss rod and while it sounds great most of the time if I forget to humidify it regularly the neck changes and I get buzzes when playing up the neck.  It has a very close action.
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vzepol

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #39 on: December 06, 2016, 01:36:23 PM »
I have owned my Martin Backpacker for close to 20 years.  The guitar has gone everywhere with including some backpacking trips; it has served me well.  The sound has improved as the wood has aged.  There are times where I will bring the backpacker, when I know other guitars will be at a camp out just to have a little different sound.
Good luck with yours.  BTW I did lower the action by almost half and it is a little easier to play.

Tom

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #40 on: December 06, 2016, 02:33:17 PM »
Quote
The sound has improved as the wood has aged.

Didn't realize that would/could happen.

Quote
Good luck with yours.

I returned it to amazon and bought the Baby Taylor instead.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2016, 02:43:17 PM »
The sound has improved as the wood has aged. 
::) ::) ::)
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BinaryBob

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2016, 02:49:23 PM »
This is the authentic Minnesota north woods traveling guitar but I hesitate to post as it may turn into another firearms thread and get locked.  ;D ;D
Notice the Minnesota Fur Cap.  8)
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Larry N.

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Re: Travel guitars
« Reply #43 on: December 06, 2016, 04:40:35 PM »
Weird!  ::) ;D
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