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Old 04-20-2014, 10:37 AM
fortsinger fortsinger is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Western New York
Posts: 16
Smile Just Couldn't Wait

Just returned from another trip where my current travel guitar again proved to be sufficient for my playing and singing for myself, but woefully inadequate for a entertaining a larger group or leading them in singing.
I’ve been reading every publicity release, watching all the videos, listening to all the audio demos, and following every guitar forum about the new Journey Instruments, and decided it was time to see if all the good things being said about them were true.
The carbon fiber model would be the “ultimate” travel guitar: small enough (22x14x9) to fit into the overhead bin with no problems and durable enough to survive the unexpected and unwanted gate-check to the cargo hold if needed. (See my previous posts.) However, present finances limited me to considering only the wood models, so I settled on the sitka/rosewood guitar.
I placed my order with LA Guitar Sales, seeing as they were one of the only Journey Instrument dealers that actually had the guitars in stock and ready to sell. Plus, if the guitar turned out to be a disappointment, the 72 hour audition policy would let me return it.
When the instrument arrived, my first impression was, “Wow, there’s a guitar in that small box?” Even with the case out of the box, I realized a hadn’t thought about what a 22x14x9 case looks like: a piece of ordinary, regular, proper-sized carry-on luggage.
Unpacked the guitar, assembled it with no problems, stretched out and retuned the new strings several times, and then started the audition.
You have to have one of these little Overheads in your hands, listening with your own ears to appreciate how good this guitar sounds. The online audio demos can give you some idea, especially if you use decent computer speakers, but there’s obviously nothing like hearing it in person.
Being a finger-stylist, I started with some Travis picking. Most travel guitars have very little bass response, so I was amazed at the sound my thumb was getting from the lowest three strings, which were nicely balanced with the top three. I grabbed my 000 guitar, which cost twice as music as the Overhead, and repeated the same pattern a few times then went back and did the same on the Overhead. Was it as loud? No, but based on its smaller size, it seemed to have no business being as close as it was. Was it as warm and/or as bright? No, but it wasn’t as thin sounding or “tinny” as one might expect. To my ears, it was as loud and tonally balanced as many other small, non-travel sized guitars I’ve played. Was it the quality of the wood, or the bracing, or that Manzer wedge that was producing this bigger, balanced sound? According to Journey Instruments, yes, and you’ll get no objections from me.
Then on to the capo test. Intonation held steady all the way up the neck. No retuning on this fretboard, hooray! I dropped the low E string down to C and the A down to G and tried a little, “Never Goin’ Back Again.” No matter where I placed the capo, there was not a hint of string buzz, which is darn good considering it’s strung with light gauge strings. Took the guitar apart and re-assembled it several times. The neck remained nice and tight and straight. Repeated the capo and song test with the same excellent results.
Next up was amplification. Another plus with the Overheads is that they all come with a standard, not optional, built-in pickup: no onboard adjustments, just a passive one. Skipping a DI box, I plugged straight into the amp. The pickup appears to be “hot” as my amp, at least, didn’t require the DI box. A little bit of bass, mid, and high adjustment was needed to get the un-amplified and amplified tone to be about the same, but not a lot of fussing around.
Build quality was excellent, not a flaw outside - the rosewood back is beautiful - and no glue drippings on the inside. Not a mark or fingerprint on the guitar out of the box. The action was just right for my taste. No set-up needed at this time. The tuners work well and the neck width and thickness are also just right for me. Strapping it on and playing did not make me feel like I was playing a “small” guitar.
The travel case is as well-designed as the online videos demonstrate. Everything you need for playing can fit nicely into the bag. If you’re worried about the unexpected and unwanted gate-check (as I always still am), there’s room in the case to stuff some additional foam padding around both the body and neck.
Journey Instruments has done its homework well, designing an instrument that meets the overhead dimension requirements, but does not compromise the sound with the size. The good things being said about the sound are not hype. They’re true. This is the best travel guitar I’ve ever played or owned.
If you’re thinking about getting a travel guitar, you should try to hear these new instruments with your own ears. If you can’t hear one in person, then buy from a reputable dealer that has a good audition or return policy. Mine’s not going back. Finally, I’ve found a true keeper. We’re gonna be playing, singing, and flying.

Last edited by fortsinger; 04-20-2014 at 10:43 AM. Reason: spelling and wordage
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