Doc / Reviews / the Vagabond travel guitar

The Vagabond travel guitar is a sweet little thing that is, happily, back in production again. You may be able to find a used one, if some unfortunate soul is forced to part with theirs, but I wouldn't count on it.

The Vagabond is smaller than a Baby Taylor; bigger, more robust, and better-sounding than a Martin Backpacker; and better looking than both of them put together (in my opinion).

The body is a striking, asymmetrical shape with a bit of a cut-away on the bottom (where you would expect it) and joining the neck smoothly in a sort of teardrop shape at the top. It has a solid spruce top, laminated sides and back, and a mahogany neck. It has exactly the same scale length (24.5") as my full-sized Martin; the neck is the same width but a little thicker. The total length is 33", but it will fit diagonally in the same space as a folded garment bag, so you shouldn't have any trouble on airplanes.

Compared to a full-sized guitar the bass is, of course, pretty weak. The sound on the high end is remarkably solid, though, so if you fingerpick it will easily fill a living room or other small venue if the audience is paying attention. I got the optional piezo pickup in the bridge -- plugged into the house sound system you can't tell that it isn't a dreadnought.

Minor Problems

I had to ground the strings to prevent hum: I did it by doubling-up a chunk of #12 solid copper wire under the strings behind the bridge, and connecting it to the sleeve of the jack. There's another problem with the active pickup (Martin Thinline Gold) -- the battery is inside the body and devilishly hard to get at even after you've taken off the strings.

Perhaps the biggest problem these days is the case, a blue nylon gig bag that looks exactly like a gun case (actually, they may have changed the case; I got mine about 8 years ago). I had a custom gig bag made for it recently that's much friendlier-looking.

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Stephen R. Savitzky <steve @>