Ed Sheeran and the cult of baby sized guitars (Part 2)

More chatter on travel/baby sized acoustics. This part looks at the really mini ones that I feel holds a firmer footing in my collection.

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I’ve always felt that a travel guitar should go as small as possible, even with trade-offs in volume and tone. After all, you are unlikely to perform to a big crowd on a travel guitar, so why the emphasis on volume and tone?

Super minis almost always comes with a scale length under 23 inches and really tiny bodies for easy storage. Here are some popular ones in SG.

Washburn Rover

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A perennial favourite in Washburn and AGF Forums, the Rover is widely mentioned whenever a mini travel guitar comes to mind. It has a tiny and thin body featuring a solid spruce top and laminated mahogony back/sides.

See how small it is compared to my dreads. Bob was loving the chance to pose. My Rover has since gone to a new home.

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One attractive feature is the inclusion of a semi-hard case that comes standard. Many owners swear by its usefulness and robustness when it comes to aircraft storage. Ironically, I find that the case makes the guitar less mobile.

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An oddity in the mini guitar range, the Rover has a relatively long scale compared to the rest. It has a scale length near to 24 inches. Strung stock with 10-47 gauge strings, it sounds clear and sweet but rather thin.

And yes, it has a truss rod.

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However, the tiny body makes the guitar extremely top heavy and it is almost impossible to play it comfortably. The Rover’s odd body shape also makes it hard to hold.

The Rover retails at around $300.

Martin Backpacker

With an interesting story about its conception, the Martin Backpacker was always a conversation piece. Rightfully dubbed the broomstick, this guitar is easily recognised by its odd shape.

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Specs wise, the Backpacker would make you sit up and exclaim. A full solid wood Martin for under $400?! But wait a minute, the woods used are most likely leftovers at the Mexican factory. Since wood is wood, and the Backpacker doesn’t need large wood blanks, no one is complaining.

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Again the odd shape makes holding and playing the Backpacker quite an uncomfortable experience.

Here’s a Youtube video on the Backpacker. I like her singing!

There is also no truss rod in this guitar for setup purposes. This alone may seriously discount the backpacker as a worthy guitar since you cannot do much of adjustments to the setup.

SX TG1

This little guitar from the budget brand is rather overlooked because SX is usually associated with lookalike electric guitars.

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The TG1 has a more “usual shape” than the rest of the pack mentioned here. Although still a tiny guitar with a 22.5 inch scale length, the TG1 feels less awkward than the others when strapped on. It also plays rather comfortably when seated.

Solid spruce top and laminate sapele b/s make a good combination for simple and fun travel guitar.

Here you can watch a Youtube review.

It also comes with a really nice gigbag that seems to imitate the Taylor look. At $169, I feel that this guitar provides great value.

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I brought Peanut out to the barrage sometime in July and it was really fun. 🙂

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That’s what a travel guitar should be – small, easy to move around, and fun to play!

*Guitarbear stresses that there are more mini guitars than the trio presented here.

*photos from sxguitarist.com, Martin official wesbite and musicianfriend.

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Ditch the plastic saddle!

Received this old guitar last week. Besides being totally neglected, this old dreadnought has a plastic saddle that is bent and cut very badly.

Here you can see the string tension has bent the saddle towards the headstock.

Before

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Upon removal and inspection, the saddle has warped and was cut by the steel strings over time. You can see the grooves clearly. This is very common with plastic saddles.

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The plan is to swap out the plastic saddle and put in a compensated bone saddle.

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This is a drop-in saddle that is compensated to help intonation. While it fits most acoustic guitars, some filing and sanding is required to ensure a proper fit.

This guitar has a fretboard radius of 12 inches. So I needed to file the crown a little from the more common 16 inch radius down closer to 12. It is also a tad too thick to fit into the slot so I had to thin it a bit.

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I simply hate this step. The sanding isn’t fun at all. Fingers get uncomfy from gripping a small item so tightly. A tip here, try not to overuse the sandpaper. Sandpaper is cheap so it is always better to save time instead of sanding all day long. No point using “smoothed out” sandpaper just to save 40 cents.

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I got the saddle to fit into the slot snugly. It should not be so tight that you need to use force to knock it in. But it should not be so loose that it drops out without any effort.

Went on to check neck relief and got a 0.3mm reading at 8th fret (capo on 1st, hold down 14th). Good to go.

Next step was to file down saddle height at bridge. I usually try to hit 7/64 inch because I tend to pluck or strum quite hard. 🙂

After

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Got a set of spare plastic pins for this beater guitar too. Always prefer dark pins. 🙂

And we’re all set after some tuning.

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Tommy Emmanuel back in SG

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He’s back for a one night concert this October 31 at the durians!

Excellent player and definitely deserves more credit for what he’s done. It’s a pity not many of his concert videos are on Youtube. That would probably triple his fan base.

While I’m not usually a fan of worn out guitars, I’d have to admit this guy looks uber cool with his tattered and torn Matons. 🙂

The Maton TE series feature a dreadnought and a smaller body guitar. Both are beauties loaded with stage ready electronics.

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It is unlikely that any owners will try replicating the worn out look on these woods.

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Matons are not so common in SG due to their positioning. Most Matons are not exactly affordable. When intermediate or advanced players go searching for a upgrade, they tend to look at the “safer bets” such as Martin and Taylor.

Slash played a TE dread in this concert and it sounds damn bloody good!

I think it would be a dream if Maton will produce a more entry level guitar without the electronics. Perhaps more players will try out the brand when it’s within reach.

*photos from Premierguitar and Maton websites

Maroon 5 F1 Concert Sep 19 Saturday

Last minute decision to soak in the amazing atmosphere and high energy show.

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I was at the 2012 edition so I had high expectations this round. And Adam Levine didn’t disappoint! This guy is right up there with the greatest frontmen.

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The band played to a packed crowd at the Padang and whipped out hit after hit. I feel so old because many attractive female fans in the crowd brought their children along.:)

James “less is more” Valentine played mostly Teles but switched to a hollow LP style for one or two songs.

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Of course the show snatcher had to strap on his Ibanez for two songs. He played bare body for the last song too.

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Overall a great experience. SG is so beautiful! I’m super proud. Kudos to the geniuses who planned for a makeshift track around the city’s famous sights.

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*apologies for the screen shots off the stage screen. I’m a scrooge and could only afford cheap tickets.