Rating: 2 / 5
Now here is a review you don't see every day.
This was a very thoughtful gift from my dear wife. I am an avid guitar player but leave my music at home when I hike because a flat-top 6-string guitar weighs a lot and is as hard to lug around as a small child. I have toyed with several ideas for a guitar I could justify packing on certain trips but haven't gotten there yet. There just didn't seem to be a solution... or was there?
NOPE! At least not in this guitar.
The Martin Backpacker Guitar is a 6-string guitar with a full-sized fretboard. It has an odd shape that is difficult to describe so I'll post a photo:
The guitar ONLY works with light strings, I suspect because the neck can't take the stress of anything heavier.
Construction: The guitar is "Martin Flawless" out of the box. Not much more to say about it than this. It's not second-rate construction by any means. For the price I can't imagine how they make the thing as perfect as it is. The tuners seem to "do the job" and don't appear to be gummy. The action out of the box was pretty good.
Tone: Like plucking rubber bands on a cigar box. I don't feel like this is a huge issue, actually, because it's what one should expect from such a small bodied guitar. I could live with the tone... if the next point wasn't so bad.
Playability: First it's very hard for me to get used to light strings. They move all over the place. I could get used to that. However, the shape of the instrument is it's biggest problem. Because of the concave edges of the body you can't rest the guitar on your lap and it requires the shoulder strap to play it. The guitar also is poorly balanced and constantly needs to be adjusted even with the shoulder strap. Altogether it's an awful instrument to play. Basically it sits in it's soft case in the corner of my den and never gets played now.
...and that's a real shame. I won't claim that a guitar is an ultralight essential but I think of how awesome it would be to sit and fingerpick songs on my guitar in the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a cold March evening... sigh. Perhaps some day!