7/25/2016

2000s Martin Backpacker Travel Guitar (Modded)





Update Aug 21: I just put a new bone saddle (wider, better) in and strung it as-normal with classical strings, so I updated the soundclip and pictures. 

I received this as-new early-2000s lefty-model Backpacker in trade for a nice old 1920s uke in order to get a kid from the local area a good-quality uke to play on. This guitar had been bought and basically not used at all since purchase. It was sitting in its gigbag with all of its original care documentation, strap, and materials.

I've never been enamored of these little travel guitar objects because the soundbox is just so small and anything below the D in a guitar's tuning sounds like absolute garbage. I know some folks get away with them by stringing them "Nashville" style, but I still think steel is the wrong choice to make use of such a small soundboard so I reconfigured it for nylon/fluorocarbon strings in an effort to get more out of the instrument. I suppose that just means I've moved it over from the "Steel String Backpacker" to a "Classical Backpacker."

Someone had over-strung it (it had steel 12s on it whereas the label stated 10s as maximum) and so the action was a bit high and the neck wasn't too happy with the tension as-is. I yanked those strings off, filled the old lefty saddle slot, cut a new uncompensated (straight) slot, and popped a new bone saddle into it after adjusting action height. I then strung it up with classical strings and -- hey presto! -- it sounds a bit fuller than your average Backpacker. It can also be strung righty and lefty, now, too.

This comes with its original gigbag, brown Martin strap, and sales documentation from the original owner.


The bodies on these are cute but quite obnoxious to hold without a strap.


See something else weird?

I added a strap button to the top of the headstock because the "at heel" location yields an instrument that's constantly neck-heavy and falling-over.


The frets are brand-new and untouched. This has a 24" scale length (the same as my little parlor, too) and a 1 11/16" nut width. The board is flat and the neck haas a medium round/C-shaped profile.


All the wood looks solid -- with what I'd describe as "cigar box mahogany" in the neck, back, and sides and a spruce top. The bridge and board are "rosewood-esque" but clearly not the real deal. Martin's website is absolutely not helpful with determining woods, but I'm assuming this uses some of the usual stuff found in other Mexican Martins.


There's the filled old slot and the new, bone saddle in place in the new, uncompensated slot. I ball the string-ends up by knotting them into themselves a few times.




The sealed mini-tuners are accurate and practical.


An additional button is at the back of the heel.

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