Backpacker Review

manufacturer: Martin date: 05/02/2012 category: Acoustic Guitars
Martin: Backpacker
For their size, Martin Backpacker guitars have a surprisingly rich and loud tone, due primarily to the combination of a lightly braced solid tonewood top with a solid mahogany neck, back and sides.
 Sound: 7.8
 Overall Impression: 8.8
 Reliability & Durability: 8.5
 Action, Fit & Finish: 9
 Features: 9
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reviews (4) pictures (1) 12 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 7.6
Backpacker Reviewed by: dk13, on june 11, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 120

Purchased from: thomann

Features: My Backpacker is the newer version and was made around 2004/2005 in the US. It has a hand finished spruce top and solid tonewood back, sides and neck. Martin has sacrificed the number of frets for the size of frets (a wise choice) so it only has 15 frets. It has small pegged chrome tuners which are very sensitive when tuning and make the guitar stightly headstock heavy. It comes with Martin's own super-light bronze 80/20 strings and to be honest these are the best one's for a guitar such as this. The shape of the guitar itself as you can see is very original and space saving when travelling and has a decent gig bag with a pocket on the front that is much larger than it looks. The bridge is unique to the steel string Backpacker and is made of east indian rosewood. Oh yeah, it also comes with a Martin strap (which you will be thankful for, trust me). // 8

Sound: The guitar has to compensate for an obvious size disadvantage to other acoustics, but with it's combination of solid woods and light strings and finish, it does this surprisingly well. The sound was nothing like I was expecting, I though it would be tinny, empty quiet, like playing through a milk-carton, but no. It is a bright little guitar which can be forgiven for it's unconvincing bass, however when strumming happily in the middle of a field or on a beach on holiday, you neither notice the lack of bassiness or care about it. This guitar is perfect as a songwriter's guitar: portable and good to strum. It is okay at fingerpicking styles but don't expect to be heard as clearly when fingerpicking to a roomful of people. This guitar packs a sound way above it's size, a much more lively sound than the Taylor baby, which I have also played. Always use ultra light picks for best sound and care to strings. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: Well, when I got the guitar it wasn't in tune, but that's forgivable I suppose. What is annoying is that the height of the saddle can make the guitar hard to play. Not that it already isn't hard to play with it's shape, for the sake of comfort use the strap and you get used to the slightly different playing position. The saddle that I mentioned is very easily fixed with a fine file so don't be too put off. the neck is very, very lightly finished for tonal quality so it isn't too smooth but if you use Fast-Fret then you won't notice as it helps to erradicate the problem (or stop your fingers noticing anyway). Also as I said it is not well balanced with the small light body at one end and the headstock and chrome tuning machines at the other. Even considering all of the above, it is still marginally easier to play than other travel guitars and half sized classical ones as this has proper sized frets. // 7

Reliability & Durability: It's a Martin, made for travel and outdoors so it would survive Live playing, but it wouldn't be heard as it's not semi-acoustic but it would probably be funny to use one at a gig. The hardware on it is fine if not a bit underfinished at some points (all in the name of sound quality of course). The strap buttons look rather delicate but they're quite stable the only thing is that, if you even look at them funny, they go out of tune, they're too sensitive. The finish is nearly non-existant but it still looks good after a few hot holidays of playing, and that reminds me, I've never had to humidify it. The strap buttons are very flimsy, they look small even on this guitar. // 7

Overall Impression: I play mostly chord stuff like Jack Johnson and James Blunt on this guitar but it also performs oddly well with slides and bluesier stuff. Strictly spaeking this is a travel guitar but it is so good I have rated it compared to normal acoustics, had I rated it purely as a travel guitar though, it would have to get a ten as it's the best one out there. If it were stolen, of course I would buy it again, it's the funnest guitar I own. // 8

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overall: 8.8
Backpacker Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 02, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 150

Purchased from: Pawn Shop

Features: I'm not sure what year this guitar was made, but it is one of the later models. Made in Mexico. 15 frets, rosewood. Mine came with a brown Martin strap and the black gig bag. // 8

Sound: I love the sound of it. It's a little thin, but I like it. I hardly ever use a pick, though. When I use a pick, the sound gets way too thin, but strumming with my fingers or finger-picking gets a nice sound out of it. I play mostly Folk and Blues music on this guitar, but I've always played Country and Pop music. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: I was at least the second owner of this guitar, but when I got it the action was pretty low for an acoustic. Eventually, I might have to replace the pens because they are thin and fragile, but otherwise the guitar is perfectly put together. // 9

Reliability & Durability: Around a campfire, this guitar is perfect. It's easily loud enough to entertain a hand full of friends. I would take it on a trip without a backup in a heartbeat. It's very dependable. The only thing I have a problem with is that if you're playing with anyone else with a standard size acoustic, it's hard to hear the Backpacker. This guitar seems to be able to withstand changes in temperature well, and I haven't had any trouble keeping it in tune like some other reviewers have had with their Backpacker. // 9

Overall Impression: I guess every Backpacker is different. Just make sure you play it before you buy it. Also, if you're planning on buying it and taking it on a trip, buy it a few weeks before and get used to this guitar-it's very different. There's a stabilizer made by a company called KraftBoy that makes it possible for the Backpacker to be played without the strap; the stabilizer is called the Compadre. It's pretty cheap and makes the Backpacker much more enjoyable. // 10

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overall: 9.2
Backpacker Reviewed by: Minderbinder, on november 30, 2006
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 200

Purchased from: Brookdale Music

Features: Made in the US. 15 frets, solid top solid spruce top, solid hardwood neck select hardwood fretboard, body style unique to backpacker no electronics option. Chrome w/small knobs tuners, steel string (also available in nylon srtings), construction, bracing, and size all unique to backpacker instuments. // 10

Sound: I play the span of the sixties. I really like this guitar because it is light, small, and portable. It sounds like an acoustic, but since you use it with extra-light strings, you can slide and bend notes like an electric, unlike full-size acoustics with thicker strings. It is a travel guitar, so it doesn't make a lot of sound. If you mic it up though (as I frequently do), It sounds great. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: I buy from a music store where the acoustics are in this large room with a door and the humidity kept up for the guitar year-round. Anything that was wrong at the factory would have been fixed. It has held up for me, so I guess it's a 10. I can't bring myself to believe that Martin would send out an instrument poorley set up. I just can't. A good name like that, I would imagine, got its name not only by great products, but also great customer satisfacyion. // 10

Reliability & Durability: This guitar is tough. Since it is so small, it is completely solid. The tuners are good, the action is low, but the end pins it came with I wouldn't trust at all. I changed them within the first two weeks I owned the guitar, because I would just be playing, when all of a sudden, it would fall. I caught it every time, but it was risky. One drop could kill this thing. Also, be sure to use a .75mm pick at the heaviest. Otherwise, you get all sorts of slapping noises and dents in the wood. There is no option for a pickgaurd, and if you look at a picture, you'll see why. The sound hole is almost as wide as the body at it's narrowest point. // 8

Overall Impression: I play everything on this guitar because it sounds like an acoustic and plays like an electric. One thing to make sure of, though: Get the newer model. The older model (like I currently own) has a smaller body, and therefor produces less sound. It also doesn't fit on a normal guitar stand. I had to buy a mandolin stand for mine. Make sure you ask or look before buying. I also compared this to the Washburn travel guitar, but it is onley a half size guitar at full price. It sounds a lot fuller with no mic, but it was outside my price range. Plus, I love when people see it and don't recognize it as a guitar. If your looking for a good travel guitar cheap, you found it. // 9

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overall: 8.8
Backpacker Reviewed by: obeythepenguin, on january 12, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Features: I honestly don't know the exact specs; it's my dad's guitar that he got one year as a gift. Seems to be pretty standard Backpacker fare. 15-fret rosewood neck. Mine doesn't have the electronics, but I'd consider buying one. // 10

Sound: Very bright sound, I'm assuming from combination of small body and lightweight strings. Not anything like the Dreadnought sound, but I rather like the tone. It actually seems closer to a clean electric sound -- vaguely like my Strat on the "Layla" riff (although it doesn't have enough frets for the higher notes). Not a loud guitar (hence the 6), but I usually play this one solo. I'm curious how loud the electric ones go. // 6

Action, Fit & Finish: The action is a little high, but not bad; actually, it's the best of any acoustic I've played (I'm usually an electric player). It's a bit awkward sitting down, but standing up this is absolutely the most comfortable guitar I've ever played. The top-heaviness isn't a problem for me -- after all, I'm usually holding the neck anyway, since that's where the frets are; -) -- and it's extremely lightweight overall. I've had it on for several hours at a time and hardly even noticed. // 10

Reliability & Durability: It stayed in it's bag for several years before I got it, and since then it's had me. Considering my style of playing tends to be fast and forceful (and I always use the hardest picks I can find), I find it amazing it hasn't so much as popped a string. It actually feels more solidly built -- for lack of a better phrase -- than larger acoustics I've played like the Dreadnoughts or Gibson archtops. It's also traveled a bit, everywhere from Florida to Pennsylvania, without so much as a scratch. I wouldn't use it on a gig because of the quiet sound, but that's the only thing holding me back. With good amplication, I could probably even depend on this *as* a backup. // 10

Overall Impression: I didn't buy it, so of course I love it! (Kidding.) But this is the perfect acoustic for someone like me Who doesn't really play a "conventional" acoustic style. Probably the best thing is the neck; yes, it's short, but it's perfect for rhythm work -- that great acoustic feel, without the ridiculous high action. The only thing I'd do differently buying another -- replacement or otherwise -- is getting the electronics upgrade so it could maybe be a bit louder. // 8

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