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Rating and Reviews: Martin Backpacker Guitar

With a full-size fretboard and solid spruce top, the steel-string Backpacker delivers Martin build quality in an under-3-pound travel acoustic guitar.

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"Just what we wanted" submitted April 9, 2012

By Smoochy Face in Moultonborough, NH
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Musical Background: Homemade Jam
Music Style: oldies, rock
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SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
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Overall: My husband wanted a guitar for a self contained cross country bike tour. It is beautifully crafted, light weight, sounds pretty awesome for such a small bodied guitar and the bonus is that it's easy enough for me to play with my little girlie hands because it uses extra light strings. I can see myself actually finally learning to play some guitar with this beauty. My husband really likes the easy action and good playability. It sounds plenty big for campfires and it doesn't drown out my Uke. Overall we Loooooooove it.
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"Great little travel/recording guitar. Martin designed it to be light, packable, and to travel. It has exceded my expectations..." submitted June 18, 2009

By a customer from sfbli.com
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Funk, jazz/fusion, classic rock, jazz, folk....
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Sound: The Martin Backpacker is a great little guitar. Alot of people complain about the sound. Sure it wont sound like your D-18 or your D-28 or your D-45, or whatever you have. Its a small travel guitar, and is not suppose to sound like you big, expensivve Martin. It just wont happen. It is what it is, and does what it does very well. I love to travel with it, and its perfect for taking outside sitting on the front/back porch swing, lying in the hammock, etc, and just playing. People also complain about how hard it is to sit and play it. I have worked on this, and finally found a comfortable way to play it sitting down. Im happy.... Feature: Comes with a Martin padded gig bag that fits it perfectly. Also comes with aMartin strap. Ease of Use: Sounds a little like a banjo. It has its own unique sound.... Quality: The build quality is solid on the Backpacker.Feels great in my hands. Again, people complain about the width of the neck, but I love nice chunky necks, which the Backpacker has. Has quality Martin tuning keys.... Value: The price is very reasonable on the Backpacker. Look around, shop around. ZZ has the best price I have found... Manufacturer Support: Uh, never dealt with Martin personally.... The Wow Factor: I love the way it looks, and it gets stares and looks when you play it out. Its a conversation piece for sure.... Overall: I expect to have this baby for a long time.... If stolen or something happens to it, I would get another one, no hesitations...
67 of 68 people (98.53%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Does what I need..." submitted March 1, 2013

By William J in San Antonio, TX
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Musical Background: Play for fun...about 40 years now.
Music Style: Folk, pop, country, blues...it's an eclectic mix.
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Sound: I own a custom Martin MC28 and a limited edition Martin HD28M. The backpacker does not come close to matching the sound of either of those. It has a much thinner sound that's almost a little banjo-like. I took it to school (I am the sponsor of the guitar club) and felt it compared well with several of the "starter" guitars that students had. Feature: I like that the action and the fretboard width are very close to that of my main guitars. The woodwork and finish are excellent. Ease of Use: This is a good little guitar. The fretboard matches the width of my main instruments, and the action is set almost identically - making it easy to switch back and forth. I feel it sounds better fingerstyle than strummed. It also sounds better when it's played moderately. Hard strumming sounds rough. Quality: I believe it is well made and will outlast me. Value: I have been shopping for a good backpacking guitar for a while. I have had the opportunity to play this guitar alongside several other travel guitars. Considering price and quality, I feel this is the best deal going. Manufacturer Support: I have had to go to Martin for warranty work in the past (not on this instrument). They have always been a pleasure to work with. The Wow Factor: When I took this to school, the kids in the guitar club absolutely loved it. I think I just made some sales for Martin. Overall: I purchased this from Zzounds (first-time buyer) and was impressed by the speed of shipping. As for the guitar. It is well made, the action was set right. I was pleased with the playability and the sound. I actually did buy it for backpacking, so it's a very good fit for what I want. If you want a big-sounding guitar, this isn't it.
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"Singularly Outstanding Quality" submitted October 31, 2007

By a customer from t-online.de
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Gospel, Country
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Sound: This guitar is the best sounding travel guitar out there. Does it sound like my Martin D-16RGT Dreadnought? No, of course not, because it is a travel guitar. It has a nice sound though, especially when played gently and with nuance. It is perfect for hotel and dorm rooms precisely because it is not real loud, but loud enough. Feature: It has a nice travel case, though a hardshell would be a bit better. It needs a strap to play properly and it comes with one. Its made out of solid spruce and the workmanship is precisely what you would expect of a Martin, superb. Ease of Use: The reason I like Martins is because they are easy to play. I had read reviews that this backpacker was tricky to play, but that has not been my experience. If you use the strap, it is quite easy to play. Quality: Its very sturdy and, as mentioned above, very well made. Value: Its well worth the price. Other travel guitars are cheaper, but they are not Martin's either, with their excellent quality and sound. The Wow Factor: I've been admiring these for years now. They are unique and they ooze craftmanship. Overall: I'll keep it as long as it lasts, and I think that will be forever.
12 of 13 people (92.31%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Satisfied Owner" submitted September 9, 2005

By a customer from yahoo.com
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: rock
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Sound: It is what it is... It's a travel guitar! It has a wonderful sound for such a small package. Quality: It's a Martin, albeit made in Mexico. Value: It was worth the money. The Wow Factor: I love the reactions from people! I get asked all sorts of questions! Overall: This one's a keeper! I like it for the portability. Is this my first choice for a guitar? No. It does what it's designed to do.
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"Pack it in, play the hell out of it, pack it out. Light enough to not be to noticeable on backpacking trips and well worth the"

By a customer from yahoo.com
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Music Style: Country, bluegrass, CSN&Y
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Sound: The sound quality is super for such a small body. It's the greatest for camping and trekking. I'm a professional outdoor outfitter in Costa Rica and traveling around Central America with it is a blast. The unique appearence draws other guitarists like a magnet and you can get into some really great music momments. Sure, it doesn't sound like a D-18 but what do you want for Feature: The gig bag is perfict for this little guitar. Quality: Typically Martin. Construction is perfict. The finish could be nicer but, what can I say, it's still a Martin. Value: What can I say, it's still a Martin. It's a great value and worth every penny The Wow Factor: Not much "sex appeal" (I'm not sure what this is, I've never had sex with a guitar before). It's kind of cute. Overall: I'll have this guitar for a long time. Of course I have another full size guitar to play with , but this is a fun guitar to play.
48 of 52 people (92.31%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Good Sound that you can take anywhere without worry" submitted November 22, 2007

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Sound
Musical Background: musician
Music Style: Acoustic-rock
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Sound: For the size and weight, this guitar is very easy to play and sounds quite nice as well. Although it doesn't project like a full body would, it does well for the size-it's actually perfect for just playing and singing because your vocals are never drowned out like brighter, more loud guitar. For anyone who wants to take a guitar everywhere-school, beach, skiing, parties-this is great if you don't want to carry your best guitar around. The neck is a little thick, but overall, plays well, has an almost pleasantly twangy yet crisp sound. I'm happy, it's a Martin
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"Best Bang For Your Buck Portable Guitar" submitted March 10, 2007

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Sound: Due to the small body, it lacks sustain or rich warmth. But considering the fact that this is a portable guitar, it's got a nice twangy zip to it which is kinda cool. Feature: It comes with a guitar strap, a gig bag, what more do you want? Ease of Use: Very light but can not play without strap since it won't balance on your lap. Quality: The quality is what you would expect from a portable guitar. Not any more or less than my expectation. Value: It's price/value ratio is high. It's perfect as a portable guitar. The Wow Factor: This isn't what you would marvel over, but it's very practical.
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"Very Pleased" submitted November 13, 2011

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Musical Background: Jam at home 5 years
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Sound: Sounds good. Sounds great for such a little guitar. Feature: What I expected from Martin. Easy action, few buzzs or rattles on the frets and when played properly none. Must have a Strap. Wish the Gig bag was a bit tougher, more paded or of a hard exterior. Ease of Use: Very playable with the strap. Quality: Classic Martin craftsmanship, good stuff. Value: Im verry happy with my purchase and what I payed for it. The Wow Factor: I could see my self reaching for this guitar instead of my other full sized guitars beause its easy to relax and sit with this guitar in my lap and just strum. I could see my self just sitting on my couch and just jamming when I return home from my deployment. Overall: I cant imagine a better tavel accoustic. If I no longer had this guitar I would seek to relace it with only another of the same.
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"My Backpacker Rocks" submitted June 9, 2011

By a customer from gmail.com
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Various
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VERIFIED BUYER
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Sound: The sound is surprisingly good for such a small instrument. Having said that, it is limited. Ease of Use: Still working on a comfortable position to hold it. Attaching the strap at the nut creates a better balance for me. The Wow Factor: It's the ultimate travel guitar. It's small, but it's also a musical instrument. Overall: I'm amazed at how nice this is. I had bought it to travel with. It's perfectly sized for that, but is a fun instrument on its own.
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"Good for the price, and unbeatable for frequent travelers/backpackers" submitted November 13, 2011

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Musical Background: 8 years
Music Style: A little bit of everything
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Sound: The sound is pretty much what you'd expect from a guitar of this size. It's a little louder than I expected, but I had low expectations. Sustain is decent. Low end hardly exists; this guitar has a pretty bright sound to it, without sounding tinny or cheap. Feature: It's a travel guitar, so the convenient size is the most useful feature. Ease of Use: I only play this with a strap. Which, once you get the height right and get used to playing in a different position, isn't as bad as some might think...I have no problems getting comfortable while playing. Quality: It seems like it was made right for the price. I have only had it for a month, so I'm not sure bout reliability yet, but it seems like it will be around a long time. Value: Worth the price and I prefer it over the Rover. Manufacturer Support: Never dealt with the Martin. The Wow Factor: Who doesn't want a guitar that you can take pretty much anywhere? Overall: I think I'll stick with this as a travel companion.
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"martin steel string backpacker acoustic guitar" submitted September 8, 2012

By Karen G in Philadelphia, PA
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Musical Background: guitar, flute - playing music for 50 years, jam at home
Music Style: folk
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Overall: I love this little guitar!! It is beautifully made and very efficient- best sound for the minimal amount of material, size etc case is handy- all in all very classy
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"backpacker guitar" submitted December 20, 2013

By Tommy B in mount airy, NC
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Musical Background: biginner,guitar,not professional at all, yes, jam @ home......Christian
Music Style: Chrisian/gospel/country/bluegrass, etc.
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Overall: the instrument seems to be great for quick trips,gigs, etc. have not had chance to use my backpacker thus far, just been busy during holidays, will maybe use soon, but really happy that I bought it!!!!
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"Mattin backpaclker" submitted April 2, 2012

By Ross N in seattle, WA
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Overall: Great price and great value. Just what I needed for traveling, no worries taking it ascarry-on luggage. Good action and sounds okay, a little awkward to play sitting down.
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"great guitar" submitted April 22, 2012

By Todd R in Urbana, IL
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Musical Background: guitar, recording engineer 20+ years
Music Style: any style
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Overall: arrived quickly. No hassle, great service from Zzounds as usual. I really love this unique little guitar.
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"Fun Guitar" submitted February 3, 2014

By Marc C in Glenview , IL
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Musical Background: playing 1 year, Taylor 214ce, Little Martin, Yamaha FG700S and now The backpacker
Music Style: rock
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Overall: Of course its sound don't not compare to my Taylor 214 or even my little martin but its fun to play and take on my overseas trips which I go on 4-6 times a year.
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"Backpacker, Guitar or Not?" submitted August 15, 2004

By a customer from microgear.net
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Music Style: all
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Sound: Can get some interesting sounds, but you have to practice and experiment. Sometimes like a mandolin, sometimes like an autoharp and others like a dulcimer and of course a guitar. Feature: A strap is a necessity. Quality: "Martin" what else can you say, even though it is made in Mexico! Value: For what it is, it is a good value Manufacturer Support: "Martin" The Wow Factor: People want to know what kind of instrument it is, some think it is a mandolin Overall: Will keep and use for what it is, a portable guitar somewhat disposable if something happens.
2 of 3 people (66.67%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"MARTIN BACKPACKER" submitted September 4, 2012

By ROBERT O in MILLVILLE, NJ
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Musical Background: JAM AT HOME
Music Style: ROCK AND CHRISTIAN
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Overall: I JUST LOVE THIS LITTLE THING! ITS AWKWARD AND FUNNY LOOKING BUT ITS FUN. IT HAS A FAT NECK,PEOPLE WITH SMALL HANDS MIGHT HAVE TROUBLE. THIS THING IS NOT GOING TO SOUND LIKE YOUR GUITAR,ITS TO TAKE ON TRIPS AND PLAY A LITTLE BUFFET ON. I USE MINE ON MY BOAT.
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"Extremely portable, respectible craftsmanship, tricky to play." submitted January 22, 2004

By a customer from gawzner.com
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Music Style: rock, jazz, pop
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Sound: As many other reviewers noted, the physics of the guitar will not allow it to have a great and beautiful sound. I have both steel and nylon and both sound decent - good for what they are. Steel of coarse is louder, esp if you use picks. Feature: It comes complete with a decent gig bag and strap. It is a very small guitar that features excellent portability. Quality: Very decent craftsmanship. Made offshore and you can tell they are milled thru. But then, this is a travel guitar for which ultrafine craftsmanship is really not needed. There were no flaws in the ones that I have. In fact, the nylon string's B resonates nicely and gets the whole guitar buzzing, which is just like my Gibson Chet model which is truly a finely crafted instrument. So, for the money and for the application it is well built. Value: I think the guitar is a good value and does what it is supposed to do. My biggest issue is the instablity of the guitar. I have yet to try tying the strap to the nut as another review said. I have entertained making my own "body" like the Yamaha silent to add to stability. I have even tried going with the fully classical approach with the strap on which helps, but stability for play is my biggest complaint. Try before you buy. I have not found the stability of tuning to be that much of a problem (tho I heard about it). Overall: I am seeking alternatives. Seen some praise for the Go Guitar. And like I said above, considering making modifications to add to stability as the portability is excellent.
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"I like the product but I did put another bridge on it to make it easier to play. The D35 spoils you for a guitar like this." submitted June 23, 2009

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Musical Background: am70 and have played since I was 13 have had band but not now
Music Style: Mostly country or church
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Sound: The sound is good for the price. Manufacturer Support: I have no repairs needed but I have good expectations Overall: I have a martin D35 Gibson and Fender I would not replace this one.
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"A Great Guitar" submitted May 9, 2003

By a customer from sfprep.og
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Music Style: everything
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Sound: The sound is almost perfect, and i have no complaints. Feature: The Guitar came with a strap, a gig bag, and some picks. I am very happy with it so far, however, i wish it came with a pickup, but you can still get one for some extra money. Quality: It is a Martin & Co., what else must I say! Value: I found it cheaper on the internet! The Wow Factor: Looks a little strange!
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"Good Guitar.... Hard to play without a strap." submitted July 9, 2013

By a customer from gmail.com
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Overall: If you play this without a strap you are not going to like it at all.
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Martin Backpacker Guitar Customer Review submitted January 11, 2007

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Musical Background: Just like to play
Music Style: Folk, country, acoustic
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Sound: It sounds like I would expect from a travel guitar.....really good for what it is Feature: I would like to see a bit sturdier of a case.....but again it is for travel Ease of Use: Again, considering what it is intended for, it's great. For those that are expecting the full sound of a standard guitar, don't get the backpacker. It's that simple. Quality: All I expect. Value: If you're using this for its intended use...backpacking, you're not going to want a Baby Taylor (too big). It is perfect for strapping to a backpack and getting out into the woods with an instrument. It also works well for raft trips (inside a dry bag). The Wow Factor: Based on the design it's great....very practical....I couldn't say on sex appeal though. Overall: I saw some comments on the negative side on this rating...I would only say that those folks were probably expecting this guitar to sound like a standard guitar, which it doesn't, and based on the design couldn't. Again, for what it is, and with the expectations of using it for what it is intended for, it is great.
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"I hated mine!" submitted March 10, 2013

By Greg J
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Musical Background: Jam at home
Music Style: A little bit of everything
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Overall: I bought one of these about 10 years ago because I thought it would be handy to have around for campfires or bringing on the deck to jam. The action was horrible on mine, maybe I got a bad one, but It played like hell. I wasn't expecting the big sound of my main acoustic, but even with lower expectations, I was still underwhelmed. It's impossible to hold comfortably wihtout the strap. There was nothing about this guitar that felt or sounded like a guitar should. After trying to get used to this strange little guitar for 2 weeks, I had to send it back. Maybe I was expecting too much from the Martin name, but I would rather lug around one of my full size counterparts than this thing. I would recomend playing one in real life before ordering this online. Some people don't mind it's quirks, but I was not one of them.
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"Martin Backpacker Guitar: A possible choice for practice away from home, but questionable for performing." submitted March 27, 2011

By a customer from gmail.com
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Musical Background: hobbyists
Music Style: Folk, blues, ragtime
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Sound: I didn't buy the Backpacker for it's sound quality, but rather for its portability. Predictably, the sound is rather thin, and lacks any real bass, but is otherwise acceptable for my purpose, which is to have a guitar to practice on when I am away from home. Ease of Use: A more serious issue that I have found with the Backpacker is that the small body makes it difficult to keep it in a comfortable playing position, even with the included strap. I also find it difficult to position my right hand for finger-picking, since the body is too small to use as an anchor for my forearm. I am slowly learning how to play on the the Backpacker, but I don't know if I will ever get truly comfortable with it. For practice purposes, I think the Backpacker is an acceptable instrument, especially since it's not very costly. But I would not recommend it for anyone whose primary use is to perform. Quality: The Backpacker is very light, and therefore seems a little bit fragile, but otherwise it appears to be made quite well. Value: The Backpacker is a good deal for at the street price. Manufacturer Support: I have not had occasion to contact Martin about the Backpacker, but I have owned a Martin D-18 which I bought new in the 1970's. I have always loved Martin guitars, and have found the company to be very supportive and easy to deal with. The Wow Factor: Just a practical addition for me. Overall: Not sure how I will feel about the Backpacker long term. I am still learning how to work with it. I hope to get comfortable with it, but as of now, I don't know if that will happen to my satisfaction.
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"Martin Backpacker" submitted June 3, 2012

By Denise M in Lewiston, ME
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Musical Background: Accoustic guitar for self accompaniment and own enjoyment for 30 years
Music Style: Folk, Christian
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Overall: I bought one locally, and it just will not stay in tune, or doesn't sound right immediately after tuning it. I had high expectations, considering it was a Martin - and I almost never go for the big names. I am very disappointed. I've been playing 30 years and I don't think I'm doing something wrong, but if anyone has adjustment or other suggestions I would love to hear it!
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Martin Backpacker Guitar Customer Review submitted February 14, 2006

By a customer from mofoworld.com
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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Rock, Alternative
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Sound: It sounds fantastic for its size as many people have said its not supposed to sound like a full size guitar! Feature: The accessories were good for the price. Quality: It feels very sturdy in the hands, it doesn't feel like it would break easily.
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"ok" submitted November 10, 2006

By a customer from yahoo.com
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Value
Musical Background: piano 10 years, guitar 3, banjo 1
Music Style: alternative and classical
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Sound: I guess its ok for a travel guitar but and obvious difference from regular acoustics Feature: it gets out of tune REALLY easily Ease of Use: im use to resting my arm on a regular acoustic and it doesnt have the tilt a regular acoustic has so it seems really straight even with the strap on making it awkward to play standing with a strap and sitting with or without one Quality: nice wood great strings machine heads look nice Value: i wouldnt pay a buck over 75 for it The Wow Factor: it looks great, from seeing it i automatically thought i want it from holding it for the first time i was like WOW just playing it.... i guess its ok
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"Big things come in small packages." submitted June 28, 2005

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Features
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Value
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Sound: On the trail, it sounds like a harp! As an accompanyment, the sound is very complimentary/contrasting. Feature: Strap and case. Both are useful. I wouldn't mind a second set of strings with it. Quality: On the trail it will be subject to dry and wet conditions. My fear is the neck will warp and I'll have no way of straightening it. I am also a bit worried about the machines getting knocked around. Could some sort of bumper be created to protect the machines from unintentional abuse? Value: Great value. Manufacturer Support: Have not dealt with the company The Wow Factor: Played it around a campfire with a friend. Let him jam with it. While I strummed a full size Mitchell. He was blown away by the range of the thing. Went home and bought one. Overall: I am very satisfied. I would replace it in a heartbeat.
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Martin Backpacker Guitar Customer Review submitted December 23, 2004

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Sound: FOR THE MONEY, EXCELLENT. Feature: YES. THE TRAVELING BAG IS QUITE CONVIENT. Quality: MADE VERY WELL Value: THE VALUE IS THERE
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"Don't buy this guitar." submitted February 21, 2005

By a customer from hotmail.com
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Musical Background: Active Musician
Music Style: Acoustic
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Sound: Sounds thin, but one shouldn't expect a fat sound from a travel guitar. Quality: Seems to constructed fine. Value: I still can't believe they're successfully producing this guitar. Overall: Pass on this guitar, get a Baby Taylor instead.
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"Buy something else!!!!" submitted August 18, 2004

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Sound: I could match the sound by attaching fishing line to a mitre box! Value: WAY OVERPRICED!
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