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Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar

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Don't let the diminutive size of the Martin Backpacker Acoustic Guitar fool you. A braced, solid tonewood top with a solid mahogany neck, back, and s...Click To Read More About This Product

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OVERVIEW

Built for portable durability . . . and great sound.

Don't let the diminutive size of the Martin Backpacker Acoustic Guitar fool you. A braced, solid tonewood top with a solid mahogany neck, back, and sides gives this cool little guitar a surprisingly big projection. Built to withstand the rigors of camping, hiking, and off-road traveling. Includes high-quality chrome-enclosed tuners. Weighs less than 2-1/2 lb.

FEATURES
Solid top 
Mahogany neck, back, and sides
Enclosed chrome tuners
Lightweight, small size

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Reviews
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Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
MartinSteel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar
 
4.3

(based on 99 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (59)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (25)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (5)

88%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fun to play (27)
  • Good feel (20)
  • Stays in tune (20)
  • Consistent (15)
  • Good audio (11)

Cons

  • Flat sound (4)

Best Uses

  • Practicing (25)
  • Jamming (11)
  • Small venues (5)
  • Travel (4)
  • Recording (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Experienced (27), Professional musician (7), Novice (6)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

A Gypsies Must

Buy a bone nut, and use your head. This little guy is a talk box. It can and will teach you more comfortable ways to play and find your voice in guitar. The...Read complete review

Buy a bone nut, and use your head. This little guy is a talk box. It can and will teach you more comfortable ways to play and find your voice in guitar. The stock specs are a quirky at best but this is an impressively durable and affordable 6 string. The gig bag is a joke but it's rarely necessary. I play with a 3 peice in the the rockies and with a golden gate thumbpick there's not stopping the cigar box sound. Not only has it lasted the odd weather changes out here, but with thick bronze strings it sounds great. It's stayed true to intonation, even after 2 years now of Django thumping and Grisman grinding. I love it. Best guitar that ever happened to me..

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

It' OK

I got one of these ten years ago because I thought i needed a portable guitar. It was fun for a while, but I kept picking up my other guitar. This really isn't...Read complete review

I got one of these ten years ago because I thought i needed a portable guitar. It was fun for a while, but I kept picking up my other guitar. This really isn't a comfortable guitar to play. It is top heavy even with the strap on. If you let go of the guitar, the headstock will be at your feet and the rest of the guitar under your arm. Then there is the twisting while you play. It is difficult to keep the guitar from facing up. I wouldn't recomend getting this unless you try it a few times in the store. I ended up giving mine away. The half size guitars sounded better and felt better. Im not sure if this is still the case, but the last time I looked, Martin's Felix the Cat guitar sounded better than any of the others that size. I'm looking at the Seagull Grand right now, but I'm not sure about the size. There is just something about a full size guitar in your lap.

Reviewed by 99 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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(15 of 15 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

A Gypsies Must

By Gooch mang

from Denver, CO

See all my reviews

Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

Buy a bone nut, and use your head. This little guy is a talk box. It can and will teach you more comfortable ways to play and find your voice in guitar. The stock specs are a quirky at best but this is an impressively durable and affordable 6 string. The gig bag is a joke but it's rarely necessary. I play with a 3 peice in the the rockies and with a golden gate thumbpick there's not stopping the cigar box sound. Not only has it lasted the odd weather changes out here, but with thick bronze strings it sounds great. It's stayed true to intonation, even after 2 years now of Django thumping and Grisman grinding. I love it. Best guitar that ever happened to me..

(12 of 20 customers found this review helpful)

 
1.0

...give it a chance...

By Craig Rebo

from texas

Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

I like the full fat neck and I think it sounds interesting. It's different. I dont care for the high action and it is a little too top heavy, but that's what the strap is for I guess.
This thing is funny," I read the 50/50 reviews and decided to give it a try. Took it out of the box and I was like ""What?!?"" But I decided to give it a chance. Grab a cold beer from the fridge", take your backpacker and go outside on the back porch. Yeah, it's top heavy. Yeah, you've got to use the strap. Yeah, the action is a little high. No, it doesn't sound like a full sized guitar, but for some reason I love it. It was easy to get used to. You rest your arm on the back to balance it out. It's actually quite comfortable to play once you get used to it. I've got to say, it's been a blast so far. I find myself plucking on it all day. Took it work for lunch time shows.

(9 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Great Success!

By Theroast

from Chicagoland

Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

I ordered this and like some other reviewers I started to doubt it before it arrived due to the general 50/50 reviews out there. When it arrived I was VERY pleasantly surprised! Too many people are looking for a full-size sound and don't understand what the Backpacker is made for. The build quality is great and the set-up was perfect as well. It does have good projection and you can get some bottom end out of it as well depending on your pick attack. To be positive I went to a local GC and tested out 5 other travel guitars from the Martin LXM, Yamaha, to Baby Taylors. They all seemed to have a muddy tone about them with the exception of one Taylor at $500. Where the backpacker may seem a little thin at first, it certainly is a bright sounding tone that let me know I made the right choice, and not having the 3/4 size frets was a bonus for me. I wanted something I can take on canoe-camping trips and over-seas trips and the backpacker definitely fits the bill. Just don't expect full-jumbo style tone, love it for what it is and that's all I can say. Simply a nice little knock-around guitar you can get used to and never want to put down.

(7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Easy Traveller

By Farfal2013

from NY, NY

About Me Experienced

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fun To Play
  • Good Feel
  • Rich Sound
  • Stays In Tune

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Hotel Rooms

    Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

    I am a Gibson guy, but I wouldn't want to take one on a plane. I wouldn't want to have to pay for another seat or risk checking for carousel delivery. This Martin fit in the first class closet, no questions asked, even though I was in economy. Plays just fine and I didn't miss the full body of a typical acoustic/electric -acoustic. Loosen the strings before flying, and only use extra lights.

    (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    The Backpacker has exceeded expectations

    By 3rdwaverider

    from Portland, Oregon

    About Me Experienced

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fun To Play
    • Good Feel
    • Stays In Tune

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Outdoors
      • Travel

      Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

      I am so pleased with this guitar! It is better than expected in many ways. Other reviewers have been critical of the guitar's sound but I find it projects well for so small a box. With respect to tonality I didn't expect to compare to a dreadnaught; for travel or patio playing it is perfect . If you are looking for a primary acoustic guitar and are on a tight budget you should keep shopping. But if your lifestyle makes it difficult to be at home every day and you don't want to let that interfere with your guitar playing then this is a great solution.

      (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Amazing little acoustic traveler

      By Brett Gregory

      from Livermore, Ca

      Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

      Before I bought the guitar, I was a little worried about the tone but I figured the space saving size on camping trips would make up for it. It is a perfect size, as I figured, but I am surprised at how good the tone can be with one exception: it does get very thin sounding (for me) if you play with a pick. I got much better sound results by using fingerstyle picking and fingertip-strumming. I also have no problem with holding the guitar as long as I use the strap, cinching the strap up a little higher for when I am sitting and a little lower for standing, and I was able to find a very comfortable position for my pick hand/arm. I am very happy with this guitar. On a side note, I just took it on a camping trip, played it while I was covered in sunscreen and mosquito repellant, fell on a steep hill with the guitar strapped on my back (it hit the neck on the ground and I thought for sure it would have broke the neck off - it didn't) and it dropped once from out of the back of my van when I opened up the back hatch while it was in the soft case. I came home, wiped it off and it cleaned right up and looks and plays brand new even with all the abuse it went through! :) The neck is very stout (especially towards the 12th fret area) as it has no truss rod but it is a very comfortable guitar to play. I am looking forward to many years of playing this guitar while hiking and camping. Thank you Martin Guitars, you made me a very happy camper.

      (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      GET IT!

      By Anonymous

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

      I read all of the reviews AS mine was being shipped, and I was nervous about some of the bad reviews I read. People stated that it was awkward to hold/play, didn't sound right, and/or it isn't loud enough. Once I got it,I knew I made an awesome purchase. With the strap on, it isn't awkward, it sounds wonderful, and it is perfectly loud enough. The low E string is loud enough too. I am very happy with my purchase! I haven't taken it on my trip through Germany yet, hopefully it will continue to impress me overseas!

      (6 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Battle-worthy

      By Swellbone

      from texas

      About Me Experienced

      See all my reviews

      Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

      I brought my Backpacker with me to Iraq. I entered country 20 March 2003 with this guitar. I played it, abused it, and wrote songs with it the entire deployment. I do not record with this thing, and rarely use it to jam. However, every camping trip I take, my Backpacker takes with me.

      (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Great form and function

      By Stardog

      from The Great Beyond

      About Me Experienced

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Consistent
      • Fun To Play
      • Good Feel
      • Great For Camping
      • Stays In Tune

      Cons

      • NONE

      Best Uses

        Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

        I did a lot of research before buying this little guitar, and Martin really delivers in terms of form and function. It stays in tune, sounds decent for the size, and is portable enough to take anywhere. Well worth the money. Wish I'd bought one long before now.

        (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Annoying at first, but easy to get used.

        By Audie

        from Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

        About Me Novice

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Clear Crisp Sound
        • Rich Sound

        Cons

        • Top Heavy

        Best Uses

        • Jamming With Friends
        • Learning
        • Practicing

        Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

        At first, this guitar was annoying to play. Being top heavy, it tended roll outward to the flat position (like a steal guitar). To rectify this, I tightened the strap and pulled it high on my chest. It was kind of awkward at first, but soon I was used to it and now it is comfortable.

        The sound is rich and the action is good. Right now, I am working on perfecting the E and A shape bar chords, and they are much easier on this than on my Washburn D-100 that I own in the States.

        For someone overseas with little personal space and/or travels around a lot, I would recommend this guitar. Otherwise, get a full-size guitar.

        (5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

         
        3.0

        It' OK

        By GuitarJohn

        from New Mexico

        About Me Experienced

        See all my reviews

        Ask me a question

        Pros

        • Portable
        • Small

        Cons

        • It twists while you play
        • Too small

        Best Uses

        • Camping
        • Jamming
        • Practicing
        • When portability needed

        Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

        I got one of these ten years ago because I thought i needed a portable guitar. It was fun for a while, but I kept picking up my other guitar. This really isn't a comfortable guitar to play. It is top heavy even with the strap on. If you let go of the guitar, the headstock will be at your feet and the rest of the guitar under your arm. Then there is the twisting while you play. It is difficult to keep the guitar from facing up. I wouldn't recomend getting this unless you try it a few times in the store. I ended up giving mine away. The half size guitars sounded better and felt better. Im not sure if this is still the case, but the last time I looked, Martin's Felix the Cat guitar sounded better than any of the others that size. I'm looking at the Seagull Grand right now, but I'm not sure about the size. There is just something about a full size guitar in your lap.

        (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Backpacker in China

        By Meng Tian

        from Beijing, China

        Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

        I have owned my Backpacker for 12 years and I love it. The first time I lived in China it was my only guitar for two years and I used it to teach English and entertain my students -- this time I have an OM and 00-18 with me as well. The Backpacker fits easily in the overhead bin on an airplane and on a luggage rack on a Chinese train. It allows me to make music and share music when I cannot or do not want to take one of my good guitars. It sounds a bit tinny, but I have no expectations for it to be anything more than what it is, and for what it is, the Backpacker is a very good product.

        (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Great Fun Guitar!

        By Big Daddy-cG6eY

        from Harrisburg, PA

        See all my reviews

        Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

        Granted, not quite as easy to play as a standard guitar, but very do-able, plus WAY COOL features, more than delivers. Mine came with a very true and straight neck, fair action, no problems whatsoever. Dont buy it to be your daily or full time acoustic. Its made for fun and outings, and in that regard, its GREAT. Makes a great "Pass Around Guitar" at a party or campout, day trip etc. Sharing it is half the fun, and at this price, you can and not worry about it as its pretty tuff. It is so light I dont need a strap, I just put it's bottom in the inside of my elbow, works fine for me, but other reviewers are correct, its not easy to sit and play unless you use a strap or just cradle it like I prefer to do. Learn to use it! Has a nice gig bag and I toss in in my truck and dont worry about it. Ive noticed people are friendlier toward it, cause its different, cute, little, odd shaped, not pretentious or too fancy. They point at it and smile, and ask about it! Always a hit. It has an almost percussive banjo timbre when plucked low by the bridge, and is much mellower up past the soundhole. With a little practice, i quickly found some nice tones. I was frankly surprised at the construction and material, and pleased with the value. The Gold Leaf "CF Martin" lettering on the headstock is a very nice touch. Just remember, its a COOL FUN guitar, not a high performance one. Love mine !

        (4 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

         
        2.0

        It is what it is.

        By Lightslide

        from Washington State

        See all my reviews

        Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

        I have owned this guitar for 7 years. I rarely play it because although it has a full size fretboard, (the reason I bought it in the first place) the small body causes a balance issue. The sound is OK, but it does not project. I gave it to my son and he doesn't play it either because of the above. If you are looking for a travel guitar to puck in the car, or the hotel room this is for you. If you want to play and have others hear, I would not buy this guitar.

        (3 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

         
        2.0

        Get something else

        By Drew

        from Flower Town

        See all my reviews

        Ask me a question

        Pros

          Cons

          • Flat Sound

          Best Uses

            Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

            You are traveling and a guitar is too big. Problem is, this thing does not sound or play like a real guitar. The fretboard is pretty true to life, but the body feels so weird, and the size is wrong. It also sounds horrible. I mean, really bad.

            Much better to my mind is a baritone ukulele. They are about the same size, are cheaper, play better and sound much better. There's only four strings, but they are identical to guitar tuning. A regular uke is even easier to carry, but a baritone uke to me is just as close to a regular guitar and much more satisfying.

            (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Under the seat

            By Keen

            from Chicago, IL

            About Me Professional Musician

            See all my reviews

            Pros

            • Fun To Play

            Cons

              Best Uses

                Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

                Not yet mentioned; Backpacker also fits UNDER your airline seat, even in Coach. (I have the original version) It takes some twisting and turning, but I've managed to get it under the seat EVERY flight I've taken, (probably 20) Maine-California-Canada- Mexico. (Uh, often w/socks and underwear in there too) This means you can still have another carry-on, & no damage from people slamming their suitcases against it up top.

                (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                GREAT LITTLE GUITAR

                By HONDO

                from CHARLOTTE NC 28227

                About Me Experienced

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Consistent
                • Fun To Play
                • Good Feel
                • Rich Sound
                • Stays In Tune
                • Very Compact

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

                    I AM USING THE GUITAR TO TEACH MY SMALL GRANDSON
                    THE BASICS. EASY FOR HIM TO HANDLE AND KEEP HIM INTERESTED. THANKS PAUL M. CLARK

                    (3 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    1.0

                    Bad!

                    By BackCracker2

                    from Portland, ME

                    Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

                    It is unique and well built, but unless you are serenading yourself you can pass on this! Nobody else around the campfire will be able to hear you and they wouldn't anyway because they would be too busy mocking your guitar. Impossible to hold and very top heavy. And while most reviews try and justify the poor sound because it's a travel guitar, sound is the bottom-line and the most important part. My new travel guitar competes with many full-sized acoustics so the sound could be way better on this. This guitar is not meant for any serious playing of any kind, except for yourself when you are bored out of your mind. Your hands will hurt after a few minutes of play and while it is for travel, it didn't seem to be anymore resistant to nicks and bumps than any other guitar I have owned, particularly on the top and binding areas. I bought it for the uniqueness of it, but have since sold it for something much better.

                    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Awesome tiny guitar, great for traveling

                    By Trevor the Forever

                    from Berea, KY

                    About Me Experienced

                    Pros

                    • Fun To Play
                    • Good Feel
                    • Rich Sound
                    • Stays In Tune

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Jamming

                      Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

                      This is an amazing little guitar. I got it this past Christmas and I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with it every now and then. The size makes it very easy to put on and take off, which is nice for me because I always like having a strap on. It's so fun to play on, and this little thing has some great sound.

                      More on sound: This thing has the classic Martin ring to it, it's just proportional to size. As people have said, it does sound like a dead ukulele when the strings get old, but while the strings are good it sounds absolutely amazing. It truly sounds like a Martin, albeit with a lot less fullness of tone. It rings and shimmers quite nicely, in my opinion. You just can't expect it to have the resonance and volume of a full bodied guitar. That's not how sound works.

                      It really is durable, too. I just took it on a road trip (and it ended up being small enough to keep behind the truck seats AND PLAY IT in the passenger seat without disturbing the driver; this was a huge plus on the long drives) and I managed to drop it twice from about two feet off the ground onto pavement WITH TWO PAIRS OF MARCHING STICKS IN THE GIG BAG and there isn't a single scratch on it.

                      For this price you can't go wrong. Also, don't get this as a first guitar. It plays awkwardly and sits awkwardly. It was made for portability and durability, NOT as a cheap guitar that's small and easy to learn on. It's quite the opposite.

                      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      4.0

                      Would not buy personally

                      By DaveBob

                      from Asheville, NC

                      About Me Experienced

                      See all my reviews

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Consistent
                      • Stays In Tune

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Practicing

                        Comments about Martin Steel-String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar:

                        If you are looking for smallest travel guitar able to fit into overhead on airplane, current options are this guitar or the Washburn Rover. Backpacker guitar is of excellent quality, very good finish, tuners. Neck is chunky, but I got used to it, since I play old Gibsons. Compared to Washburn Rover, sound is much better. Soft gig bag is marginal. Biggest complaint is body design. Very narrow and hard to keep hold of. Martin could fix this with wider body, potentially improve sound. This guitar is better choice than Rover, IMO. Still I couldn't get used to it enough to play for any length of time. Others might get used to it

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