When people think Martin guitars, they usually think of some of the finest acoustic six-strings the world has ever seen. Also, they think high prices. However, despite the widespread opinion, the company has a string of more affordable guitars in their roster, and you can rest assured that they deliver the absolute best bang for the buck.
One of those best cheap Martin guitars is the Backpacker model, a travel-sized six-string with a peculiar shape, a classic sound and a pretty low price. We took it out for a ride, these are our impressions.
Body & Neck
The first thing most people will notice about this guitar is the oar-shaped body, which is very practical and highly ergonomic, making the Backpacker instantly stand out from other parlor instruments. The six-string’s body features mahogany sides and back, along with a solid spruce top.
When it comes to practicality and ease of play, the distinctive body shape takes a few minutes to get accustomed to, but nothing too drastic. Additionally, the manufacturer managed to churn out a very resonant guitar here despite the reduced body size, but more on that in the Sound section.
Further on up the road, we are looking at a strong mahogany neck with a contour shape, along with a classic rosewood fingerboard with 15 frets, a 24-inch scale length and white dot inlays.
Build quality here is top-level, and it becomes apparent from the very first glance that this guitar was crafted with ergonomics and convenience as No. 1 priority. If you travel a lot, this is the one for you.
The instrument utilizes a rosewood bridge with standard white pins with black dots, along with a pack of six tuners distributed in two groups of three across the Martin headstock.
Although it could be said that the hardware is basic and somewhat minimal, we are glad to say that each of the components does a fine job. The tuners are strong and capable of keeping the guitar in tune over expended periods of time, while the bridge delivers a top-notch intonation and action right out of the box.
When it comes to the most important aspect – the sound – the Backpacker delivers the good in style. As you could have guessed from such a compact size, the sound is similar to a banjo, but still resonant and booming thank to the mahogany body. So while all the frequencies are well covered and strong, always expect a dose of higher pitch from this fella.
Another thing we found particularly great is the absence of fret noise. Guitars of this price range often struggle with this matter, but we are talking about Martin after all, and the Backpacker delivers on all fronts!
For the listed price tag, this is one of the best travel guitars you can get on today’s market. But the key question you need to ask yourself is – do you need a parlor guitar? These guitars are made for convenience and ergonomics, and of course you will get a stronger punch from a full-sized six-string. But if you do travel often and need to have a guitar close by, you can’t make a mistake with this fella. Great stuff, a thumbs up from here!