Washburn Rover Travel Guitar

washburn roverThe prospect of heading to Kunming, China for three months without my guitar was not appealing. But the thought of dragging around my Martin Custom D did not enthrall me either. So I went in search of the perfect travel guitar.

It had to be lightweight, but still put out great sound. I wasn’t expecting remarkable warmth or quality, like my Martin or other full-size guitar, but I didn’t want it to sound like a ukulele either. I looked around town for something that would fit my needs but I didn’t have much luck. The local guitar store only had one and it sounded more like a banjo, like a toy. I wanted something that would give me that warm, homey feeling when I played it.

I did a lot of research online and finally decided on the Washburn Rover Travel Guitar. I looked at a couple of Martin travel guitars, but overall, I liked the features the Washburn had: 24″ scale, spruce top and nice mahogany on the neck and back just like my Martin, nice binding and inlay, and straight-forward butterbean tuners.

The reviews I read convinced me to give the little Washburn a try. And it is little. It looks a bit like a toy, but the sound is really amazing. The headstock was heavier that I thought it would be, but after playing it for a while, I got used to it. I really loved the full-scale fret board! It makes playing a breeze. I went ahead and put different strings on it, which really made the sound come alive. And it stays in tune pretty well.

This little guitar came with a strap (that I didn’t like either – went ahead and bought a different one), and a molded hard case that actually fits into the overhead storage bin on the airplane. What a difference from the last time I flew with my full-size Martin. I banged into almost everyone on the way down the aisle and got quite a few dirty looks since it took up the full space in the bin after shoving it in diagonally. The Washburn Rover was a compact little friend that caused no social discomfort.

Nice price. Great sound. Portability. To sum it up, you really don’t have to sacrifice your music in order to travel anymore.

Published in Acoustic Travel Guitars

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  1. David Sung

    I love this guitar and it cost next to nothing for what you get in the package….full size neck, compact size with all the bells and whistles you need included. Just fab…. ( ;
    ps. it is possible to play this without the strap if you wish.
    You just have to be sitting on the floor resting against the sofa with you knee bend high… ( ;

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  3. playdabooz

    The Washburn Rover guitar has a very solid and seemingly durable build quality. However, the action came quite a bit high the further up the neck I went, over 1/8th inch high at the 12th fret. I will be trying the other saddle that came with it and adjusting the truss rod. I have no doubts that it can be set where I would like it. The frets are good quality and well dressed but not finely polished. The tuners are excellent quality and stay in tune well, by the time you bought a Johnson traveler and put on some decent tuners you would be at the same price range as the Rover. I was able to get mine for $141.95 with free shipping on ebay, brand new and not a 2nd quality guitar. The sound is best described as a cross between a banjo and a parlor guitar. It seems like it would be a great sound for ragtime and finger style blues. The case is well padded and seems like it will provide excellent protection. As most people have said, I discovered that it is rather difficult to play sitting or standing without the strap. All in all, it is a great little guitar and provides a great deal of convenience and fun for traveling or around the house when you don’t necessarily want to break out the full size guitar.

  4. ZoZo Music

    Washburn makes some absolutely beautiful and great playing instruments and the Rover is no exception! The guitar is gorgeous and like most other Washburn guitars, it plays and sounds amazing. Great guitar for the money.

  5. coyane

    hi !
    i’m writing from france
    i’ve got a rover r020
    what kind of nylon strings do you use ?
    thank you
    cheers !

    what’s an amaaazing guitar !!!!

  6. JBoesel

    OK I have both the Traveler and the Backpacker; like-em both! For the same price the Martin sounds a tad better but the Travler well, I’m a sucker for bindings and such. I suggest mounting the strap at the neck base but remember to make it off set to the side so as not to hit the truss rod.

    Both guitars are made of real wood so they will sound better with age. Leave a radio on the strings when not playing them to speed up the breakin process, old trick. 😉

    Either way, once you start playing a travel guitar you may find it’s the one you usually reach for.

  7. Patrick Mauro

    The manufacturing plant has issues. Guitar came with a terrible stench from the strap and case and some on the guitar. Threw out the strap. Case has been on my balcony for 5 months and still slightly smells enough that I don’t want it in the home. Smell seems to have finally left the guitar.

    Challenge was the fretboard sizing and how the guitar hangs. Being slightly short frets and a shorter guitar, it’s placement is different than a regular guitar. After a weekend of playing on it I found this change in angle to be quite hard on the first joint of my index finger and I had to nurse that for a couple of weeks.

    At the guitar store I went through 4 of them before finding one that did not have guitar stand damage from the factory on the headstock. All had some amount of paint runs on the neck. Guitar tech found it to be a very difficult guitar to get proper intonation on.

    Pros: Nice sound for a small guitar. Stylish. Solid wood top.

    Cons: The stench. Oh the stench. Some finish issues (scrapes in the head stock, runs in the pain). Intonation is difficult to get right, I still don’t have it right. Guitar size and where it hangs with strap caused me to hurt my finger.

    For the price, I’m pretty happy with it, but if it hurts my finger again, that may be a deciding issue for me for whether or not I keep it. Luckily that is a personal issue and likely not an issue for everyone.

  8. jaydee

    ive had one of these for about six months and i love the thing. i live in a very confined space (a camper, not a prison cell) so i was constantly banging my other guitars on things. i love the sound that it produces, it was such a surprise to hear it project so well being such a small body. it sounds like an acoustic, as opposed to a ukulele. in all im very happy with it.

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