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  #1  
Old 03-17-2017, 05:24 PM
Ted @ LA Guitar Sales's Avatar
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Default NGD Alpaca Travel Guitar

So I got to thinking about my mini review about the Alpaca travel guitar in the backpacking thread, and while I was able to try one briefly last year, I really didn't have enough time with it, or have a chance to play one alongside other guitars I own, so I decided to buy one so I can give it a proper test drive.

The guitar arrived a few days ago, and just as I recalled, fit and finish were excellent, with a shape only a mother could love. Once I got it home I was able to play it alongside a dozen other travel guitars in my collection, and while not in the same league tonally as the Blackbird Rider, (the only other CF guitar I would recommend for backpacking) the Alpaca competes quite well with the sub compact wood travel guitars in my collection, like the Go Grand, and Vagabond, both of which have a huge following, as well as the Emerald X5. So not a bad sounding little guitar at all.

Next I decided to figure out what was behind the shape, and you know what, the shape makes a lot of sense for the intended purpose. It comes with a simple carry bag that allows you to take it anywhere, but it also rides nicely in my camping day pack, as well as my Blackbird Ultralight back pack meant for the Rider. (an outstanding bag, BTW) It's a few ounces lighter than the Rider, and a few inches shorter, and to my surprise, no more bulky.

Playing the guitar took some getting used to due to the unusual shape, but here again the shape makes a lot of sense. The guitar sits on my leg perfectly, and positions the soundhole for maximum volume to the player. The neck has a subtle V shape, the setup is excellent, and it has an adjustable truss rod for further fine tuning. The tuners take some getting used to, but work very well with the 40:1 ratio, and there is little chance of bumping the tuners out of tune in transit. The fact that there is no headstock also takes some getting used to, but it's definitely not a deal breaker.

I will continue to test this unusual little guitar over the coming months, and report back, but for now I think this guitar is a keeper. And no, it wont be replacing my trusty Blackbird Rider anytime soon, but I will say that I am more impressed than I thought I would be. Especially at the $799 price.

Here's my Alpaca between my Rider, and the new Journey RT660.

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  #2  
Old 03-17-2017, 05:31 PM
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Neat! Can you say, Picasso?
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:38 PM
Jimmy Koh Jimmy Koh is offline
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Nice! Put in some electrics and it's fit for some fripp/belew style music making.
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Old 03-17-2017, 05:40 PM
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Neat! Can you say, Picasso?
Exactly!
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:37 PM
kramster kramster is offline
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Neat! Can you say, Picasso?
Thought the same thing ha.
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:50 PM
kramster kramster is offline
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Now I remember seeing this back in the day

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Old 03-17-2017, 07:16 PM
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Now I remember seeing this back in the day

The kramster at work. Love it!
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'02 Taylor 814ce | '14 Emerald Chimaera (Artisan) 6/12 Doubleneck | '08 Composite Acoustics Cargo RT | '79 Ibanez Dread (My original acoustic) | '02 Fender Strat - American '57 Reissue (Replaced my sold vintage '58)
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:48 AM
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The Cubist guitar!
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:49 AM
Fixedgear60 Fixedgear60 is offline
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Thanks for sharing Ted... while at the BB Nest last week I played the new rider again and although it did not get much notice (since redesigning) it was lighter then remembered and still sounds fuller while strumming in class to my ears then my rainsong parlor. Mentioned perhaps make making the back satin finished like rainsong and emerald do may reduce its slipperyness and maybe cost.

Also love the Pignose on the shelf!!!

Chris

Last edited by Fixedgear60; 03-18-2017 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:03 PM
seannx seannx is offline
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I'm considering a more travel friendly, downsized, somewhat nomadic existence, where I probably won't have enough space for the guitars in my signature, with the exception of the Voyage-Air. I love my VAD-2, but it's all solid wood, and a big concern is durability and humidification.

Intrigued by Ted's post, I found this review on YouTube


Would appreciate any advice on a carbon fiber guitar that would be a good choice for extended travel, and limited living space, with the least compromise on fullness of tone and playability.
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:41 PM
TheChicagoTodd TheChicagoTodd is offline
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Thx Ted... interesting review and interesting guitar for sure.

Todd in Chicago

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Old 03-18-2017, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seannx View Post
I'm considering a more travel friendly, downsized, somewhat nomadic existence, where I probably won't have enough space for the guitars in my signature, with the exception of the Voyage-Air. I love my VAD-2, but it's all solid wood, and a big concern is durability and humidification.

Would appreciate any advice on a carbon fiber guitar that would be a good choice for extended travel, and limited living space, with the least compromise on fullness of tone and playability.
Depends how small you want to go. The smallest CF guitar with the fullest tone is the Blackbird Rider, I consider the Rider a sub-compact guitar BTW. In the 3/4 size travel group, I would look towards the CA Cargo, and the Journey OF660 which breaks down to a carry on size package. Both have a fuller voice than you would expect from their size, and plenty of warmth.

If a slightly larger than the 3/4 size guitar will work, than the new RT660 should be looked at, which has the tone of the Cargo, but bigger, or the Rainsong Parlor, which has a brighter voice with more clarity and overtones. The RT660 comes with a K&K style pickup, and the Rainsong Parlor can be had without electronics in a number of configurations, or with your choice of K&K, LR Baggs Stage Pro or Anthem, or Fisham Prfeix Plus T. Depending on the model you choose, of course. Coming this Spring you can also add the Blackbird Savoy to the list. Also a 0 size guitar with a cutaway, but made of Ekoa, with double top construction, so a much more traditional, wood-like tone.

Next step up in size would be the Blackbird Lucky 13 and Rainsong Shorty. Two amazing guitar for sure, but I'm not sure how big you are willing to go.

There are other options, like the Emerald X7, but the guitars mentioned above have the "fullest" voice in my experience.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheChicagoTodd View Post
Thx Ted... interesting review and interesting guitar for sure.

Todd in Chicago
My pleasure, Todd. Been a while since I was able t post an NGD.
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Last edited by Ted @ LA Guitar Sales; 03-18-2017 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:18 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is online now
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A free opinion: based on what I saw/heard on the video (and a few others), I would be looking at the Cargo or an Emerald X7. Not sure what your limited living space will be, but the X7 is a delight to have in our motorhome. And, the boat. And at home. Sounds and feels like a nice guitar should.

Pricewise, the X7 falls between the Alpaca and the Cargo.

For full disclosure, I have never played an Alpaca, nor seen one in person.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:18 PM
seannx seannx is offline
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Thanks, Ted and Jim!
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Old 03-20-2017, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
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..For full disclosure, I have never played an Alpaca, nor seen one in person.
Not many have, Jim.

BTW, have you tried a Blackbird Rider, or a Cargo? Amazing guitars! Got my Rider the first year they came out and it's been everywhere. Super portable, full scale, with fantastic tone. Got my first Cargo as a gift from CA back in 2009, and tonally it is hard to beat in a 3/4 size guitar group. It's the little guitar that fakes the big guitar tone like no other. I keep two of them in our place in Big Bear.
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