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Thread: Have guitar, will travel

  1. #1
    angysdad
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    Have guitar, will travel

    I've been thinking of buying a guitar to bring on trips (plane/motorcyle)...anyone have any experience with the world of travel guitars?

    There are a bunch on this site...

    http://www.playawayguitars.com/play_...php?itemID=545

    I have not even decided if I should go with accoustic or electric. Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    George K1200RS GeorgeK1200RS's Avatar
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    I've carried guitar or mandolin on with me on the bike many times. The longest trip was with a dreadnougt to the BMWMOA Rally in Wyoming. Put the guitar in a very large trash bag...then into a soft travel case...and strapped it to the back of the bike for over 5,000 miles through Canada and the USA. Played for daily devotions and Sunday Christian worship at the rally. Did the same thing for the same thing for the MOA rally in Tennessee.

    The guitar was a Seagull S-6. Did not want to risk the Martin on that long a trip. Could have taken my vintage 12 string, but I was playing more barre chords that I prefer on the on that instrument. I carried a Fishman sound hole pickup in case I needed it (didn't). I was riding a K1200LT and the guitar strapped securely on the passenger seat and to the top case.

    Have also carried a guitar or mandolin on the bike for local music jams.

    I checked out a lot of the small backpack travel guitars, never cared for the tone or volume you get from them. Have stuck with the acoustic or acoustic electric because of the challenge of carrying an amp...only plugged in if the local source provided an amp. Got a soft backpack style travel case that had large enough pockets for extra strings, music, etc. Sprayed the case with silicone to reduce water in case of bad weather, but had the guitar and other stuff in plastic. Also feel my Stratocaster or arch top jumbo are too heavy to take on the bike. Have never checked out the little travel electric guitars.

    I am now riding a K1200RS and the full size guitar works only if I wear it as a backpack. On the RS, I get too much wind on the guitar neck to travel more than a couple of hours. Am planning to use the mandolin if I make music at future distant rallies.

    If I were going to get a smaller guitar, I would go with either a Baby Taylor, Big Baby Taylor or Little Martin rather than one of the backpacking guitars. There are also some inexpensive very small student guitars made by Amigo and some other brands. I bought my grandson a 3/4 Yamaha that is decent, but the tuning gears are poor. The tuning gears are marginal on most of the inexpensive guitars, but the tone is decent enough for campfire style. Be sure to check the action on the inexpensive ones...they vary a lot.

    If you are actually going to carry the instrument backpacking, that is another story.

    Hope that helps.
    George
    R1200RT, K1200RS. Previous K1200LT, R80RT, R100R, R75/5

  3. #3
    angysdad
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    Thanks for the input George.
    As for motorcycle travel, I do not have many concerns as I travel with a sidecar
    I can take my son's junior size accoustic and not be concerned since the replacement cost would be minimal if something bad happened. If my Les Paul leaves the house, it's in a hard case, in the car. I will not even move it around in the sidecar.
    I was thinking of one of the smaller guitars mostly in regard to airline travel. The idea of leaving my guitar (any guitar) in the hands of the baggage handlers gives me chills.
    Most of the small ones and the collapsable ones can be brought on the plane as carry on and placed in the overhead bins.
    A friend has one of the Hofner shorties, and the quality of the neck is very impressive for such an inexpensive instrument. The pickups are fairly cheap, but you get what you pay for. The guitar is un-balanced though due to the lack of weight in the body.
    Again, thanks for the input.

  4. #4
    Earache
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    I always thought a Steinberger or a Cort electric with with a small headphone amp would be the way to travel on a bike with a guitar.

    The resins in the composite body / neck of them wouldn't be affected by humidity as much as an wooden acoustic would be. Some are wood as well, but I think they had a composite model at one time.

    Never did it myself with my guitars as I'd be too afraid something would happen to them, but guitar bought just for travel wouldn't bother me as much.

    edit: see: http://www.samedaymusic.com/product--SBGTRNSCALE It has a phenolic fretboard and maple "wings" on the thru body construction. Shouldn't warp at all.

  5. #5
    Registered User arthurdent's Avatar
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    Similar question myself

    My wife has looked at the baby Martins for travel but my bass and amp make us use a car for our CMA gigs so far.

    Anyone have experience with the baby guitars?

  6. #6
    Cage Rattler wezul's Avatar
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    Chiquita and a Pignose.
    Does that date me?

  7. #7
    Earache
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    Quote Originally Posted by wezul View Post
    Chiquita and a Pignose.
    Does that date me?
    Yes it does, ya old fart.

    Remember that bass guitar that had big, thick rubber bands for strings? Thing was about 24" long or so. I played one once - very odd feel to it by sounded good through an amp. It'd be a great travel bass.
    It was kinda like a Chapman stick ( http://www.stick.com/articles/birth/ ) only smaller.

  8. #8
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    I've had the Martin Backpacker for 4 or 5 years...a good traveling guitar, plays well, and has good bright tone, though not a whole lot on the bottom end due to the smaller body size. Holds up well, and I strap them to a top rack on my trunk. I've taken full-size Martins or Gibsons on the road, but that is a bulky proposition. These backpackers are darned handy, and are solid wood, no laminates. I've abused mine and it seems impervious to rain - I don't even bother to wrap the soft bag with plastic. You can stick 2, one on top of the other on the trunk rack, in case your passenger plays.

  9. #9
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  10. #10
    angysdad
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    Thanks Joe...the Backpacker was one of the ones I was considering.
    I prefer electrics, but the obvious advantage of accoustic (no amp) when travelling will probably push me that way.
    I had heard the neck was quite thick. How does the radius compare to your Gibson?

  11. #11
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    Yes, the neck is a bit thicker, not unlike a 1920's guitar. It needs to be thick for strength - I don't think there's a truss rod in there...but neither does my '68 D35S, though there is a T-bar in the neck on that one. My '48 Gibson SJ has a bit of a thick neck...they didn't start thinning down the necks until all the electric players got weird and decided they wanted accoustics some number of years ago. They wanted necks thin like their electrics. The bacpackers come with a "standard" set up, perhaps a bit high for some, but the tone is better that way. You can sand the saddle down a bit if you're not squeamish, or the factory will send you 2 or three saddles so you can keep the original. You have to learn how to hold these things, they are not conducive to laying on the leg in a sitting position (there's a fellow that sells a little plastic attachment to better facilitate that). Once you get the right strap setting, you're good to go. I do believe that the back, neck and sides are carved from one piece of wood, then the top is glued on, though don't quote me on that - I might be thinking of my cuatro.

  12. #12
    Registered User Rapid_Roy's Avatar
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    I strongly suggest you play a Martin Backpacker before buying one. I did not, and I was not happy with the sound quality. In fact, I have one for sale, at a reduced price, played once.
    19 BMWMOA Nationals under my belt, and I have no idea what I am doing.

  13. #13
    angysdad
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weasel View Post
    ...until all the electric players got weird...
    I resemble that remark
    Actually, I've been weird all along!

    Thanks Roy...I've heard that...and I've heard good things too. I would definately have to try it out before buying. One's for sale locally...seller bought it a month ago...I figure he had the same experience as you.

    A friend has lent me his Hofner shorty for a couple of weeks. I will report on it once I have a chance to try it out.

  14. #14
    Cage Rattler wezul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weasel View Post
    all the electric players got weird
    Grrrrrr . . . .

  15. #15
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    Ha! Yes, when the electric players decided to jump on the accoustic bandwagon, they instigated changes in the industry that catered to them. Probably because they had no real callouses to speak of and couldn't hold the strings down properly to get a decent note on the accoustic guitars. Seriously, though, tone is a matter of preference, and, by all means, one should "test drive" the guitar to see if it fits the needs of the buyer (not that I've ever test-ridden a new BMW before I've bought one). I have plenty of small accoustics that have a deeper bass tone than my Backpackers, but are not as easy to pack.

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