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The smaller size made them easier to throw in the overhead bin of the airplane, or the trunk of the car, and made them easier to carry long distances. However, the smaller size did not make them easier to play. In fact, some of them were quite difficult to play. Because of the different size, you had to make adjustment to the way that you held the guitar, played the guitar, and attacked the strings.
They may have sounded OK sitting around the hotel room practicing by yourself, however, in a jam session the sound was seriously lacking, and forget about trying to play them in a show. If you had to play in a jam or a show, you were going to have to lug your full size guitar with you. So, although the small travel guitars may serve to keep your fingers nimble when you were traveling somewhere that was near impossible to lug your full size guitar, their utility beyond that is questionable.
They are all shallow replacements and their only saving grace was that they were easier to carry around. With the invention of their full-size folding guitar, I believe that the Voyage-Air guitar company has solved all of these travel guitar problems. I have had my Voyage-Air guitar for exactly a year now and I have taken it with me to 43 states and 6 foreign countries. I have practiced with it in hotel rooms, I have taught workshops with it, I have used it in jam sessions, and I have performed with it on stage.
It held its own in all situations. To me, it is not a travel guitar that sounds great. It is a great sounding guitar that makes traveling easy.
I waited a full year to write the review of the Voyage-Air guitar because I wanted to have the chance to travel with it extensively, use it often, and put the hinge mechanism through the test of time. After dozens and dozens of repetitions of opening and closing the hinge and folding and unfolding the neck in a wide variety of climates, the highly precise and expertly designed hinge mechanism that allows the neck to fold in half and then rejoin the body with an extremely accurate fit, has never wavered in tolerance.
One would have to look very closely to see that this is not a standard guitar. I have been impressed with every aspect of the Voyage-Air guitar design and the travel backpack that comes with it. The Voyage-Air also includes a zero fret and a compensated bridge. When you unfold the neck you only need make minor adjustments to the tuning to get all of the strings back in tune.
The folding and unfolding process is accomplished in less than a minute. From the time you take the guitar out off of your back to the time you are in tune and ready to play is only a matter of a couple of minutes, maximum. The guitar fits very snuggly into the back pack and is well protected when inside. The backpack comes in two parts, however the two-part case only comes with the Premier Series guitars, and the Transit and Songwriter Series have the laptop storage accessory integrated into a one-piece unit.
My Premier case can be separated and rejoined with a zipper. Each of the two parts has backpack straps. The first compartment holds the guitar and also has a zip pocket that can hold picks, extra strings, tuner, etc. The second backpack compartment can hold books, laptop, sheet music, and such larger items.
When the two backpack pieces are together, the backpack can fit in the overhead bin of most aircraft. I love the backpack design as much as I love the guitar. Voyage-Air makes a number of different acoustic guitar models, which can each be categorized at three different price points. At the least expensive price point is the transit series. Both back and sides are laminated. The mid-range price point models, the songwriter series, feature laminated back and sides, but a solid wood top.
My Voyage-Air is one of the premier models and features mahogany back and sides. When I have played the guitar at workshops, at jam sessions, or in shows, people have commented that they cannot believe how good it sounds. My musical partner Tim May likes the guitar so much that he borrowed it from me in order to take it on a two week bluegrass tour of Russia.
Tim, an instrument repairman and builder, is pretty picky about what he plays on stage. The guitar was first introduced in We wanted it to be a premier instrument that could be taken anywhere. Their goal was to be viewed, and used, as a real guitar that could be played on stage alongside any other guitar. Over the past couple of years Voyage-Air has received photos from owners who have played the guitar in helicopters, at the North Pole, in the jungles of Brazil, and in the Gobi Desert.
In order to get there I flew from California to Florida, took a taxi from the airport in Ft. Lauderdale to a cruise ship port, and then took the cruise ship to Cozumel, Mexico.
From the dock in Cozumel I took a taxi to the ferry landing, took a ferry to the mainland, took another taxi to the town of Tulum, and then walked about a mile to reach the ruins. Once there, I took off my backpack, unfolded my guitar and played a tune. With the Voyage-Air, there was no hardship in getting a guitar to that remote destination.
It was like traveling with any other lightweight backpack. In the beginning Harvey was manufacturing the guitars one at a time by hand. Eventually, with the help of Adrian Bagale, who had experience working with acoustic instrument manufacturing facilities in China, the company hooked up with the top factory in China.
The guitars and tooling are designed in California. The guitars are manufactured in China and then quality control occurs in both China and the United States. On this show inventors and entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a panel of investors and then the investors decide if the idea is good enough to be worthy of financial backing.
When Jeff Cohen pitched the idea on the show, the panel was impressed enough to offer a million dollar investment. Jeff turned it down because the panel wanted to Voyage-Air to license the design to established guitar companies instead of trying to manufacture the guitars themselves. When I received my Voyage-Air, the guitar had light gauge strings on it.
Put any gauge strings on it that you would like. With the Voyage-Air I am now able to take an affordable full-size guitar everywhere I go without having to sacrifice playability or sound. I highly recommend that you check them out!
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine Volume 5, Number 3
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