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Martin Backpacker - Natural Reviews

4.0 stars based on 13 customer reviews
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  • Michael Arabia
    from Arizona May 3, 2017Music Background:
    Playing in an acoustic duo

    Great for it's intended use

    You read (and see) a great number of negative reviews for the Martin Backpacker. I guess if you expect a Mercedes and buy a cheap used car, you WILL be disappointed. I was lucky enough to buy one of these from a private party for a very good price. After I tuned it and played it awhile, I really liked it. I plan to do some air travel this summer, and this little guitar is perfect. No, it doesn't sound like my expensive Martin acoustic, but then I didn't expect it to. It works well for it's price and intended purpose. If you are new to playing guitar, this one is probably not right for you.

  • Don Jones
    from March 15, 2014Music Background:
    Long time guitar and banjo player; parking lot picker

    Better than advertised

    The backpacker is everything I expected a more. The sound, clarity, resonance where better that I would have expected. It's already been on the road with me for a couple of weeks. You must use the strap to keep the instrument in a playable position, but a little adjustment it works well.

  • Jgeesy
    from Juneau, AK January 16, 2012Music Background:
    Guitar player

    Best paddle with strings

    Many travel guitars are just a little smaller than a full size guitar, deferi g the purpose. This little ax is light, built well and travels like a champ. And in a pinch can get you down the river with out your paddle!

  • Customer
    from October 24, 2010

    Really Great.

    I can honestly say that this guitar plays as well or better than any other acoustic guitar I've played. What it lacks in volume (not very much) and fret number (only 4 above an octave...) it makes up for with a great, clear tone. It works great for fingerstyle playing, and it's got very nice sustain. It's not hard to play at all, and it's great for playing at high speed.

    I also love the shape and lightness of the guitar. It's incredibly portable (as one would expect); it's great for long drives and hiking trips. It's also great for simply playing at home, you can pick it up and multitask playing guitar with something else (like writing reviews). It looks great, too, I really like the color and texture of the wood used.

    I would recommend this guitar to anyone looking for a travel guitar, or
    even anyone looking for a guitar in general.

  • Charlie
    from NC October 27, 2015

    The little guitar that can

    Not fancy, not expensive, but a great tone and harmonics from this little fella. It met a need to be able to play and practice without taking a lot of limited space. I bought it to carry on a trip to the mountains and it travels quite well and frankly, I love it. I have never liked gig bags for any instrument and my mind hasn't changed about this one. I am thinking of building a case for it. Another thing, don't drop a flat pick in it- I did and cannot figure how to get it out. I can hear it when I shake the instrument, but it will not come out. It must like it in there.

  • Ralph Beam
    from Fort Wayne, Indiana February 26, 2013Music Background:

    Excellent for What It Is

    I love to take a guitar with me when I travel, but it's becoming more and more difficult to get a full-sized accoustic guitar onto an airplane. I don't like to check, or gate check, a fragile instrument (even a less-expensive one), and flight attendants cringe when I ask for a place to store a guitar in the cabin. Smaller aircraft frequently do not have the overhead storage bins, or the crew coat closet space, to store a full-sized guitar.

    My wife bought this for me as a gift and, although I was initially skeptical, I have learned to love this guitar. It slips easily into aircraft overhead bins and is sturdy enough that I don't worry about it being jostled with other luggage.

    It definitely does not play like a full-sized accoustic, but it's great for private practice sessions in my hotel room. It stays in tune and takes a capo just fine. It fingerpicks and flatpicks as well as a mid-range Martin so long as you don't expect the same sound quality.

    Because of its shape, I found that playing with a strap is very helpful (I don't generally use a strap with my dreadnaughts).

    So long as you understand that this is not a D28, I think you'll be pleased with playability, durability, and (most importantly) transportability.

  • Chad Perrin
    from Marrero, LA June 18, 2012Music Background:

    MArtin Backpacker ( steel string)

    Great for what it's designed for. Went on a twelve day cruise to Europe and couldn't bear to be without a guitar for that long. Traveled pretty easily and sounds surprisingly good for it's size.

  • Crossing Go
    from Vermont, USA June 2, 2010Music Background:

    Great vibe, great weight, great treat

    Right out of the box, the Backpacker was not only fun to play but a unique experience as well. It sounds very good, has interesting sustain, and its quirky appearance and balance kind of begs you to make it your own and feel out what it can do. The sound is definitely not a full-size acoustic, but in this instance different = wonderful. Not only great for travel and home application, but if you suffer from any kind of back or shoulder pain, it is a tremendous relief to play a guitar that almost isn't there.

  • Tom
    from Sonora,CA February 4, 2014Music Background:
    All around guitar player

    Good little guitar

    Perfect for my needs but not a good replacement for a full size guitar. Sounds good, stays in tune and low action finger board. Very light !!

  • Junior
    from Austin, Texas July 31, 2012Music Background:
    Wannabe Musician

    Good Option for Travel Practice

    I bought this backpacker for a two-week trip to Italy because I didn't want to travel with my Martin Dreadnought. I have found that it's good for practicing finger style playing and light strumming, but not for aggressive playing due to its narrow body. I like that the neck and fretboard feel much like my other Martin, which makes practice more effective in my opinion. This guitar only takes extra light strings, so keep that in mind because they definitely feel different (i.e. more bouncy) than regular strings. It held up very well through my travels and stays in tune without much need for tweaking. I'm thinking about adding a pickup under the saddle so that I can try it hooked up to my acoustic amplifier.

  • Terri
    from Tempe, AZ. March 8, 2012Music Background:
    Lifetime mucsician and former instructor.

    It's a trade-off...

    It's super portable, well-constructed and sounds good. With light gauge silk n steel strings, it reminds me of the dulcimer my sister drug around Europe in the 70's :) Super awkward to play (even with 40 years experience) sitting down. You're not going to be sitting in a field of daisies playing it-- but standing with the strap on, I was finally able to lean against a stool/retaining wall/boulder/tall tree stump and look cool while wailing ;) I added a small pick-up and tiny battery operated amp from fender that literally fits in my cargo pants pocket. Now I can play impromptus with anyone I meet!

  • marindavid
    from Northern California December 1, 2005

    Realistic expectations = A better experience!

    After having read many reviews of this instrument, I decided to take the plunge anyway - at a point in my life where a good many long-distance trips are coming up and my 40-year old (hard to play and wonderful) Harmony Sovereign full-size Western Flat Top) is just too cumbersome to travel with. Many of the criticisms leveled by other users are certainly valid.
    It is a very small and oddly shaped small instrument with a proportionately small sound. It would, indeed, be easier to play if the saddle were lowered a bit and if it came out of the box as the manufacturer and designer recommended re strings - it does not. It is awkward to hold.
    All of that being said, I am able to honestly recommend it - perhaps because my old Harmony is even harder to play! I have never been spoiled by the experience of owning a really well made guitar (like a full size Martin or Gibson)- so, to me, it plays easily and produces a sound much like I feel it is reasonable to expect from such a small body.
    I have had it for about a week and am enjoying it a lot.
    Of course, it sounds best in small spaces, wired with thin gauge (bronze 80/20) strings and played with a thin pick.... something that is taking some adjustment on my part - having always used medium gauge picks before.
    Because the instrument is disproportionately heavy on the tuning-peg end, playing it standing (pretty much a requirement) works a lot better with the strap tied to the tuner - rather than connected with the hardware installed on the neck side of the Backpacker's mini-body. Otherwise, the tuning end is drawn by gravity making it harder to play than is necessary.
    The prices have come down quite a bit - partly, I expect, due to the poor reviews both here and at other sites.
    I paid $160. from SameDayMusic - shipping included.
    To paraphrase an old tune:
    "If you can't play the guitar you love, love the one you play." Attitude has a sound of its own!
    This does not require a theatrical suspension of disbelief so much as it necessitates realistic expectations and the ability to enjoy a good effort to create a truly portable Martin.

  • Daniel Clements
    from Richmond, VA February 1, 2004

    Martin Backpacker guitar

    this is one of the most interesting guitars I have ever played, I would recomend it not only for travel but even for stage. The sound produced when a pickup is added is a sweet ethereal tone, perfect for rhythym guitar. an all around good guitar!

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