Martin Backpacker

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I’ve recently bought one of these second hand, following a helpful find from a forum member. Given the research I did, I thought a review might be of use to others.

First impressions:

Amazingly small for a guitar. Obviously a very unusual shape. In the padded gig bag, it looks like you’re carrying a rifle.


First play 

Lightweight and comfortable (when using a strap). The neck feels substantial, reasonably chunky and quite deep. Think the scale length is 24”, and it feels ‘almost’ like a full-size neck as a result. No sharp fret ends, but a reasonably high action. However, after playing a bit, I don’t even notice the action (which is adjustable via changing the removable bridge). It feels solidly built.


The sound

Lacks bottom end obviously. Somewhat banjo-esque, but a character of its own. Moving where you pick or strum changes the sound quite a bit. Sounds clear and distinct when fingerpicking, which is what I do most, and can be surprisingly loud when strumming. The sound is a nice contrast to my other guitars and fun as a result. 


Verdict & how I’ll use it

I wanted a guitar I could use for travel when the car is fully loaded with other stuff. It fits the bill perfectly for this and better than anything else I’ve seen. I’m finding that even when just lying around the house it’s encouraging me to pick it up and play, which bodes well for using it on trips. The trade off is the sound, but if you can accept this (and I quite enjoy the uniqueness of it) then it’s a great solution.


It currently sits by my desks and does a good job of distracting me from work!

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Comments

  • Caffeine_VampireCaffeine_Vampire Frets: 3480
    edited July 2022
    This is the last time I used mine.

    Laugh at your peril


    'Vot eva happened to the Transylvanian Tvist?'
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  • JRgtarJRgtar Frets: 20
    Great photo! Cries out for an explanation. My first question is who took the photo? Were they in with the giraffe?
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  • JRgtar said:
    Great photo! Cries out for an explanation. My first question is who took the photo? Were they in with the giraffe?
    Me and Mrs V at the stunningly beautiful Giraffe Manor in Kenya. Photo taken by the truly amazing staff, some of whom are now good friends. I was exceptionally drunk and entertaining all and sundry :)
    'Vot eva happened to the Transylvanian Tvist?'
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  • OffsetOffset Frets: 12081
    JRgtar said:
    Great photo! Cries out for an explanation. My first question is who took the photo? Were they in with the giraffe?
    Me and Mrs V at the stunningly beautiful Giraffe Manor in Kenya. Photo taken by the truly amazing staff, some of whom are now good friends. I was exceptionally drunk and entertaining all and sundry :)
    Brilliant.  Made my day, and probably my week. 
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  • FlipFlip Frets: 68
    I owned one of these instruments and quickly got shot of it. The range is as the OP wrote and thus fairly useless. It has so little musical value I'm surprised Martin put its name on it at all. There are much better options for a travel guitar.
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  • I sourced one for a friend who lives abroad. They're surprisingly uncommon.

    Now compared to a GS Mini the backpacker does not sound guitar-like, but it does sound very good in it's banjo type tonal range. It excels at cool licks and phrases in the upper range and general accompaniment rather than big CGF chords. 

    If you holiday by car get a GS Mini
    If flying get a backpacker. 
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 5554
    @JRgtar how does it go sitting on your knee (without a strap)?
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  • TanninTannin Frets: 5554
    edited November 2023
    First impressions ....

    Tannin opens thread. Reads "I've recently bought one of these second-hand" while looking at picture of a giraffe. 

    WTF? Why did you buy a second-hand giraffe? 
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  • droflufdrofluf Frets: 3799
    Tannin said:
     
    WTF? Why did you buy a second-hand giraffe? 
    More sensible than buying new; you lose a big percentage of the value as soon as you take it out of the showroom and will take less of a financial hit if you don’t get on with it and sell it later. 
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