Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Travel Guitar (Compact with Solid Sound)

Close up of Martin Backpacker Travel GuitarBrand/Model: Martin Steel String Backpacker

Number of Strings: 6

Hand Orientation: Ambidextrous

Body Material: Mahogany/Spruce top

Neck Material: Mahogany

Fretboard Material: Richlite

Price Range: Under $300

Our Rating: 8.4/10

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Martin Backpacker Travel Guitar Review

Bridge on Martin Steel String BackpackerWe’ve seen some funky travel guitars over time, so we can definitely say that the Martin Backpacker is red carpet worthy.

Travel guitars typically have a very slim body and small-scale size that’s suitable for being on the road, and we’re glad to see that Martin helps the Backpacker to fit in with the travel guitar field without getting too crazy on the body.  Let’s explore where Martin has done it right!

The obvious benefit is the low price.  Some of the best travel guitars will plunge you into price ranges of $400 and higher.  The other side of this winning coin is that it’s a Martin – you have a brand name guitar that’s from one of the most highly recognized and respected guitar manufacturers in the world.  The price indicates a win-win buy!

Everything about the Backpacker has Martin’s touch.  The entire git is made with solid tonewoods: spruce top, mahogany back, sides, and neck, and it sports a Richlite fingerboard and bridge.  Even with solid wood construction, the entire instrument is very lightweight weighing in at approximately 2.4 pounds.

The Martin guitar also has the Backpacker neck shape, neck taper, and body size.  It’s a customized travel guitar that’s built for the road and for crushing jams on the fly.

The FSC Certified Richlite fingerboard has 15 frets with white plastic dot inlays on the 5th and 12th frets.  Although you have solid construction and solid tonewoods, the hardware is definitely stock quality.  It has a compensated white Tusq saddle, white plastic bridge pins with plastic black dots, solid headstock, and enclosed chrome gear heads.

Obviously, because of the guitar’s unique shape, sound and resonance will be compromised.

 It won’t be as loud or rich in comparison to other Martin guitars, but as a git to chill with in a hotel room or waiting for your connecting flight, the Backpacker can deliver the goods.  Thanks to the solid tonewoods, there will be distinct warmth and note definition – the results of a combination of both mahogany and spruce!

PROs:
  • Price
  • Solid tonewoods
  • Travel size/compact
  • Lightweight
  • Martin brand
  • Sound

CONs:
  • Odd shape/balance

 

Buyer’s Feedback on the Backpacker Guitar

We do admit that some travel guitars are just so quirky in body shape that it may be hard to get used to.  But, unless you’re buying the Backpacker blind, you already have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

The guitar itself is going to be top-heavy with the mahogany neck and small-scale body.  You’ll want to use this guitar with a shoulder strap during use, and a wall hanging mount is definitely the way to go.

As already mentioned, the sound isn’t anything to woo a concert crazed audience, but it does its job for recreational use at home, during travel, and while out with friends.  Its size is going to project tone and sound similar to a banjo.

Many buyers happen to like the pop and twang that adds unique character to an already unique guitar!

 

Alternatives to Consider

Headstock on Martin Steel String Backpacker GuitarIf you don’t mind the quirkiness of a travel guitar, and in fact, it’s the reason you want to stand out from the strumming crowd, the Traveler Guitar Pro Series will be the appropriate buy.  It’s not a traditional acoustic guitar since you can plug this baby in and expect some serious amplification.

However, if seeing a Martin guitar for such a low price was why you strummed by the Backpacker in the first place, you might want to check out the LX1E Little Martin Travel guitar.  It’s an acoustic electric git with a solid spruce top and Fishman pickups.

But, staying true to the acoustic field and ditching the electronics, the LX1 Little Martin acoustic guitar might fit the bill the best.  It will push you out into the next budget class over, but the sound projection and quality might be worth it to you if you’re into the traditional aesthetics and intonation of a guitar.

 

Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Q&A

Does the Backpacker Travel Guitar come with any Accessories?

The travel guitar does come with a gig bag case for travel and storage.  However, it seems a shoulder strap may or may not be included depending on the seller you purchase from.

 

Can a Compact Martin Guitar be taken on an Airplane?

Yes!  The small-scale dimensions of the guitar allow for it to be taken onboard to be stored in an overhead compartment during flight.

 

What are the Travel Guitar’s Size Dimensions?

The guitar is approximately 34″ long from headstock to base.  It’s also approximately 8.5″ wide and 2″ thick.

 

Does the Martin Acoustic have Low Action?

The guitar should come with low action, however, there is no built-in truss rod for adjustment.  Therefore the neck is relatively thicker for a travel size guitar.

 

What Strings are on the Travel Guitar?

The Martin guitar comes pre-strung with Acoustic 80/20 Bronze Extra Light (M170) strings.  It’s not recommended to put medium to heavy gauge strings on the guitar as it may cause strain.  However, if you’re wanting to increase full sound, taking your guitar in for a professional setup to change out some of the strings may be the best option.

 

Where is the Martin Backpacker Guitar made?

The Backpacker Travel guitar series are manufactured in Mexico.

 

 

Hardware/Electronics You’ll Need:

Buying a Martin guitar usually means you don’t get anything else in the buy.  This is also true of many other high-end guitars from brand name manufacturers.  But, this travel guitar does come with a gig bag and maybe a shoulder strap in the buy.

To complete your accessories and equipment collection, see our “Must-Have Accessories Guide” for a compiled list of essentials in one place.  But, here’s a few suggestions to get you started!

 

Standout Features:

  • Compact and travel size
  • Martin brand under $300
  • Solid tonewoods

 

Our Verdict on the Backpacker Travel Guitar

To strum it up, the Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar is true to its name.  It’s ideal for travel and packing it on the go for any event that demands the presence of your talent.  Plus, it’s a Martin – how do you go wrong with that?  You can’t.  It sounds like a win-win!

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While I don't have an arts degree in music, I have spent enough time around musical instruments & musicians to pass on some useful information. When I'm not rocking out to a sick beat on my stereo, you will find me sitting on a bean bag, in the corner of my room with a guitar trying to emulate the prowess of the great Mr Eric Clapton.