One of the things that I’ve some struggles with is figuring out how to carry a guitar with me when we travel. I did carry one when we drove to Monument Valley last year, and I’ve taken ’em down to Mom’s place before, but in the Jeep, even a single acoustic fills a lot of space. I also carry one to work every now and then for a little playing after work. However, when I hide that in the closet in my cube, it takes up the whole closet — no room for my messenger bag or anything else.
All that put me on the hunt for a travel guitar. Last night, I went to Fazio’s Frets and Friends to try to solve this little problem.
I’ve been working with Bryan at Fazio’s for a few weeks, and he’s got a pretty good sense for the sound I prefer. He and I walked through some guitars from Taylor (Baby Taylor, Big Baby and GS Mini), along with a couple of small instruments from Martin and Art and Lutherie. After playing with ’em all, I landed on the Taylor GS Mini.
Of all the small bodied guitars I played and listened to, the Mini really sounded the most like a full-size guitar, while still being small enough to cart around pretty easily. It even came with a “soft case” — sorta a cross between a hard-shell case and a gig bag — which is configured for backpack-style carrying, or carrying with traditionally located handles. That’s a nice bonus.
Another nice bonus — Bryan had three of them for me to choose from. I think I chose wisely. 🙂
Playing it is a little different from my Carvin C350 (seen next to the Mini in the photo). Visually, the size really smacks you — it’s small. The scale on the Mini is about 23.5″, compared against the 25.5″ scale of the Carvin. And yep, the body’s smaller too, both across the top and body thickness. It’s solid-topped spruce (laminate sides and back), and I suspect that’s part of why it can get so much sound out of such a small box o’ wood. And it’s feather-lite.
I played it for about two hours last night, and another hour or so this morning, and I’ve gotta say, it’s really fun to play, and even after all that playing, there was no real arm fatigue. I think part of that is from two factors. One is the scale. The shorter scale means that my left arm isn’t outstretched nearly as much, especially when resting the guitar waist on my right knee. The other factor is that due to the small size, I’ll play it more “upright” — almost like a classical style — when I sit on the couch and play. This is more comfortable for me most of the time anyway, and again, with the smaller scale, I’m not having to reach for the sky.
When playing it, though, it’s not as forgiving as my Carvin. Fretting nearer the fret wires is really where the sound is at on this guitar, and the sloppy play I usually engage in doesn’t ring quite as nicely as good, solid technique does. You could make the argument that playing a less forgiving instrument may force me into better habits. If so, that’s nothing but good!
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I like this little guitar. It seems like it’s solid, portable, and has enough tone to project well in a small crowd. It’s even got a user-installable pickup system available. Can’t beat that with a stick.
Watch out world — here I come, guitar in hand!