Stow-Away Standard review by Stewart Guitar Company

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (1 vote)
Stewart Guitar Company: Stow-Away Standard

Price paid: $ 499

Purchased from: Stewart Guitar Company

Sound — 9
The Stow-Away sounds like a Strat. By the sound, I'm guessing it has Alnico single coil pickups. The electronics are of high quality with no hum when the pickups are bridged, and minimal hum when they are not. The guitar has the distinctive bell tone typical of Stratocasters and has slightly better than average sustain, which is surprising considering the neck joint and the hollowed out body.

Overall Impression — 9
I've had my Stow-Away for a little over a year, and overall, this is probably the guitar I play the most. It's not just because I travel for work and play in my hotel room most nights. I play this guitar when I'm home, too. The Fender, Gibson, and Martin stay on the wall, and it's the Stow-Away plugged into the amp. I've played gigs with it, and it always sounds great. I was torn between giving it 9 or 10 stars. It's easily a 10 if you're in the under $1,000 territory, but I own and have played some exceptional guitars in my life. It's a great guitar, but it's not a '63 Les Paul, for example. Then again, I doubt I would schlep the Les Paul with me to a hotel every week just to jam in the room. As far as travel guitars are concerned, it's the best, hands down. The sound, the playability, and the ease of transport make this a home run. Add a Tascam guitar trainer and a pair of headphones, and you're rocking anywhere and everywhere you want. For even more fun, get a small FM transmitter that plugs into the headphone jack of the Tascam, and every FM radio becomes your amp. I once sat in on a blues gig in Nashville using this setup with my Stow-Away!

Reliability & Durability — 10
I travel extensively for my day job. This guitar has been across the US on weekly business trips, and has been to Europe more than a few times. It's always carried on-board the airplane in the soft-shell case provided, and the guitar has never once let me down. The Clip-Joint neck assembly is still as tight today as the day I bought the guitar. This is a travel guitar, and it was designed and built to handle the rigors of everyday travel.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The fit and finish was very good, but not excellent. For comparison, it was better than my Mexican Strat, but not as good as my Gibson Custom Les Paul. Then again, the Stewart was better than mid-range $500 guitar, and not quite as good as a $3, 000 guitar. I purchased the Stow-Away Import. I have to assume the Stow-Away Custom, which is all US made is higher quality. The action was good from the factory. I prefer a lower action on my guitars, and once I got it set-up to my liking, it's probably one of more favorite guitars to play.

Features — 10
It's set up like a Strat with 3 single coil pickups, a 5 position selector switch, a volume knob, and 2 tone controls. It has a headless neck and the tuning mechanism inset at the base of the body. The true genius of the Stow-Away is the Clip-Joint mechanism that allows the neck to be detached from the body in only a few seconds, while still providing excellent neck to body contact. The body has a diagonal pocket in the back for storage of the neck while the guitar is in transit. Even with the detachable neck, the body holds tuning well once it is retuned after the guitar is reassembled after travel.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have had the stowaway for about 4 years. It is still the best thing for constant hotel stays, unless your hotel room already comes with a guitar. Mine do not. You would be surprised at how close it stays to tune after being disconnected. I used "Get Tuned" on the internet, its a snap. Line 6 Pocket Pod and some ear buds, ready to go. When I carry this guitar through the airports, no one even knows I am carrying an insturment, it's in a computer bag. I played it yesterday through my Fender amp, and I thought it sounded pretty good. It doesn't compete with my real Strat or Telle, that's not it's job.
    look at the pictures, i can't take this whole idea of stuff-away guitars serious. Everytime you unpack it you need to tune again and again! maybe some people will like this guitar. No, i do not.
    id rather have an acoustic with me honestly but i can see where someone might have use for this
    Headless guitars freak me out.. The ease of travel is a good asset, but I would still prefer to have an entire guitar with me, even if it meant more weight to carry... Still, some people might enjoy it, and from a non personal point of view, it seams to be a very handy feature being able to remove the neck
    sounds like an advertisment to me. yeah I'll play my cheap import instead of my $3k ,geech forget it
    I'm the guy who wrote the review. For years I lugged a regular guitar with me every week to whatever hotel I was staying at. It just got to be too much of a hassle. With airlines starting to charge baggage fees for everything, and then some charging a special fee because my guitar was a "special item" I decided to look for a guitar that litterally fits in my suitcase. If you want a regular guitar and are willing to put up with the hassle of TSA, baggage, shuttle busses, etc every week, then more power to you. Do I need to tune it after I unpack it? Yes. But once it's tuned, it holds until I break it down again. When you break it down, the strings stay attached to the head and bridge. No, I don't work for the company. I work for a computer company based in Seattle, and I really do fly almost every week. For that, this is an awesome guitar.
    Seems that most of the posters here are making frivolous comments without trying out the guitar. Headless guitars have been described by some as circumcized guitars. Kinda funny, but on a serious note, using the same analogy, you would not diss a circumcized penis solely on that basis. I find that playing slide in the lower area of the fretboard is actually easier. With respect to the Stewart guitar, there are other travel guitars on the market, some of which are relatively good and some of which are not so good. However, this is relative. For example, a lot of people like the lapstick guitar but for me, it was very uncomfortable and it felt like I was playing a baby's toy. A nice travel guitar is the Strobel Rambler guitar but it is hard to balance on the leg and I could only play it better with a shoulder strap attached. The hinged acoustic and electric guitars from voyage air look fine, but their electric has a 24 3/4 scale, 2 less frets than the Stewart with its 25 1/2 scale, and costs $300 more. The only difference between a Stewart and a Strat is the head is missing. Since pups and pickguard can be changed out like a regular Strat, it also has the advantage of being easily modified, both in tone and aesthetically for the camouflage pickguard minded. As for portability, to be able to carry a full size guitar in a laptop bag - well, that says it all. I still have my Rambler, but that stays home with my Strat and PRS while the Stewart comes with me on my business trips. If I could put a blonde wig and some lipstick on it, it would make the ideal hotel companion as well.
    There is a bit of learning curve with a headless guitar that has tuners at the base. When you change the strings, you must BARELY CAPTURE the ball end of the string. Then pull the string end very tight at the top (I use pliers to hold the end of the string) while the set screw is tightened with a allen wrench. That way, the tuners will have enough travel to subsequently bring the string up to pitch. But this is only when you change the strings. For a hotel assembly/disassembly, only moments are required. And you get better with practice, like playing.
    Theres a new company out there that has a similar guitar. The neck is hinged and it folds in half...they are making a killing on these guitars right now