To truly appreciate the Martin Backpacker Nylon String Travel Guitar you’ve got to keep in mind what it’s for. Martin designed the instrument to be a rugged, portable, low-cost alternative to taking your classical guitar on the road with you. And by this standard, the instrument succeeds beautifully.
In a package measuring just under a yard and weighing less than 2 1/2 pounds, the nylon-string Backpacker manages to deliver a full 24-inch scale and 15 frets, for almost all the playability of a standard acoustic guitar. The guitar features a braced, solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The neck, too, is a dense piece of solid mahogany, sure to take a beating. It has the traditional wide fingerboard and open peg head you’d expect in a classical guitar. It comes with a strap and a durable carrying bag.
For such small instrument, the Martin Backpacker Nylon String Travel Guitar has a surprisingly warm, sweet, lute-like tone. Any fears that this undersized, nylon-stringed guitar is going to sound like a ukulele quickly disappear at the first strum. While certainly not a concert instrument, the nylon-stringed Backpacker has a clarity and richness that will provide years of delightful practice time, whether in hotel room or campground.
Despite these benefits, there are those who complain that the Martin Backpacker Nylon String Travel Guitar is too unwieldy and too quiet. It is certainly true that the guitar’s balance, with its weighty, rock-solid neck and its undersized body, feels nothing like a traditional classical guitar, and definitely takes some getting used to. And the broad fingerboard will put off many steel-string players who may try out the nylon-string Backpacker as a warmer, richer alternative to the tinny-sounding steel-string Backpacker.
And yes, the instrument is quiet – quieter than a classical guitar, and much quieter than a steel-string acoustic. Players who look at the Backpacker as a way of getting a “real Martin” on the cheap are going to be disappointed with the sound. But sound and balance compromises are unavoidable when you’re designing an instrument that can be slung into an overhead bin. For those classical guitar players who want Martin quality that will stand up to the rigors of travel, the Martin Backpacker Nylon String Travel Guitar undeniably fills the bill.Published in