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The Martin Backpacker Guitar

Updated on March 12, 2011

With its large bulk, the guitar isn’t the easiest instrument to travel with, and a number of companies have recognised this problem and have produced a variety of travel size guitars. The Martin Backpacker series is the best-known of these, in part thanks to its distinctive triangular appearance. Let's take a look at the different types of Martin Backpacker travel guitars.

More About Martin Backpacker Guitars

Steel String Acoustic Backpacker


Martin introduced its Backpacker guitar series in 1991, with the intention of making them light and compact enough to be easily carried by travelling, and to fit into the overhead luggage compartment in an aeroplane. The company succeeded in his aim by removing most of the area taken up by the body in a traditional guitar, and the resulting instrument weighs around two pounds. Unlike normal guitars, the Backpacker has a very streamlined appearance, and most of the body is only a bit wider than the guitar neck.

The scale length is 24 inches, so it’s smaller than the normal acoustic guitar, although not dramatically so. The Backpacker's tone is also generally considered thinner and thus inferior to that of regular guitars, as a result of its reduced body size. But really, it would be unreasonable to expect a guitar of this size and build to sound equivalent to a full-size guitar. Another issue is that it is more awkward to hold, so you’ll need to play with the strap in order to get it in the correct position.

However, while the Backpacker guitar is not a replacement for a standard guitar, it makes an excellent substitute for those who are travelling, as was the intention. The Martin Backpacker was also redesigned in 2002, and the new version has a louder and generally better tone in the original. It also comes with a padded gig bag for protection on the road.

There are three types of Backpackers guitar: steel string acoustic, steel string electric, and nylon string classical models. Left-handed versions of these are also available.

Buying A Martin Backpacker Guitar

Many music shops and specialist guitar retailers will carry the Backpacker guitar. You can also find some excellent bargains online, such as those listed on Amazon above. You might also want to have a look on eBay, especially if you're interested in buying a second-hand Backpacker guitar - if you do this, just be sure that the listing is actually for a ‘Martin Backpacker’, as opposed to just the Backpacker. It's important to check this because some companies make cheap knockoff versions of the guitar which are inferior in quality.


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