Price paid: C$ 200
Purchased from: Waterloo Music
Features: I bought mine in 2011 from Waterloo Music. It has a natural finish with a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck and cream-coloured binding. The body is tiny - about the size of a ukulele but thinner. In spite of that it still has a relatively long-scale neck (24") and 19 frets all of which are accessible because of the extremely small body. The guitar comes with a nice, although very bulky, case, a strap, a learning CD and tools to adjust the action. Unfortunately, it's not available in a left-handed version. Major points off for this. I have adapted mine by restringing it and changing the nut, but the intonations is still off and because the top frets are only partial, I don't have access to them. At some point I'd like to re-channel the saddle for a full conversion. Tuners aren't the best, but if you keep the screws tight, they should last a long time. // 6
Sound: I've bought two of these guitars. The first one was a gift for my mother. After setting it up and strumming a few chords, I decided I had to have one for myself. For such a tiny body, the guitar has an incredible sound. Mellow and quite full but as expected, very quiet. Don't attach a contact pick-up to the body - all you'll hear are the string sounds and knocks against the body. Again, because it's a converted lefty, the intonation is off, but it's not too bad. // 7
Action, Fit & Finish: On both examples I bought, the action out of the box was terrible and I had to spend some time adjusting it. I don't know if I should blame the manufacturer for this or the music store. It seems to me it should be the job of the music store to set up a new guitar properly. On the other hand, it comes with tools and instructions to change the action. Factory supplied strings aren't the best. But the build quality is excellent. // 8
Reliability & Durability: I've taken this on three bike tours - the latest from Ottawa to Halifax - and one hiking tour in the Chic Choc Mountains. It still plays perfectly. The only damage is cosmetic--there are some bruises on the top from it hitting the saddle rails on my bike. This is mainly my fault for not packaging it properly. Once I discovered this I started wrapping it in clothing to protect it. As expected, after the last long tour the tuning screws were loose. So check the screws when you go travelling with it! // 10
Impression: I absolutely love this guitar! I'm giving it a relatively low rating, however, because I think all guitars with any aspirations towards quality should come in a left-handed version, especially something as specialized as this. If I lost or broke it and another company came out with a similar model with a lefty option, I would buy that instead, even if the sound and quality weren't as good.
After I bought this I did find a left-handed Martin Backpacker for a very good price. I would've bought it too but couldn't really afford it at the time. The two guitars (Backpacker vs. Rover) are very different. While the Backpacker is essentially carved out of one piece with no truss rod for the neck, the Rover is built just like a regular guitar except scaled down. Overall I think the sound quality and playability of the Rover is better.
Another thing I'd like for this guitar is a hard-shell, form-fitting case. What's the point of having a tiny, travel-friendly guitar if putting it in the case adds so much bulk? (I do not use the case while travelling with the guitar.) // 7