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Old 10-10-2014, 09:55 AM
Sanjuro Sanjuro is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: TX, USA
Posts: 40
Default Journey Instruments OF660 Impressions/Review

I was recently given the opportunity to purchase one of Journey Instruments OF660 carbon fiber travel guitars. I have been following this guitars production for quite some time, so I was quite ecstatic when an opportunity came up that allowed me to purchase one. The guitar I purchased (at a slightly discounted price) is an early production model that was returned to Journey from a dealer as it was considered a “blemished” guitar. The blemishes are very minor and are as follows:

Blem 1: Dimple in finish on back side of guitar next to tightening knob
Blem 2: Ripple in finish next to bridge

Like I said they are very minor and of course they don't have any affect on the playability or sound.

Let me preface this review by explaining why I have been following this guitar so closely over it’s development. I work on a Oil Rig (3 weeks on, 3 weeks off) so travel guitars have always been a part of my guitar collection. Over the years I've owned a number of them including Voyage-Air, Martin Backpacker, and a handful of various sized guitars. For one reason or another I've never been able to find a good solution to my situation/problems that working on a rig presents. That is until now, the OF660 is going to fit the bill perfectly! Being entirely constructed of carbon fiber, I now won’t have to worry about the humidity issue of being 100 miles offshore, that wreck havoc on wooden guitars. And fitting compactly into the 22”x14”x10” custom backpack adds to the ease of travel. It’s a win-win for me! Oh and let me get this out of the way, and go ahead and say that I am in no way affiliated with Journey Instruments. In fact before this guitar I have never even handled or even seen one of their instruments in person.

Anyways lets move on to the review of this awesome travel guitar!

The first thing I noticed when I pulled the guitar out of the box and backpack is that this is truly a compact and lightweight guitar! Journey uses an ingeniously designed system that allows the neck to easily be completely removed from the body, and then it can be packed up into the custom backpack. The backpack was designed to fit in all the major airlines overhead bin compartments. Attaching the neck back onto the body is an easy and quick process. There are lips on the body and neck that mate up, which allows the neck to be rolled into position. And then as you move the neck into position on the body it is locked/clicked into place. At this point the neck is held into position and then you can use the knob on the back of the body to screw the neck into it’s final position. The neck and body securely become one. The whole system is awesome, it’s so easy to install/uninstall the neck, and the hardware is all heavy duty and high quality stainless steel so I don't think durability will ever be an issue. Compared to the Voyage-Air system, I definitely prefer Journey’s design.

Now on to the sound. WOW! For such a compact guitar this thing really sings. Excellent balance and deep bass. Volume is much louder than I was ever expecting. Compared to every other travel guitar that I have played, the OF660 is easily the best sounding and certainly the loudest. The guitar has a number of features that I believe contributes to the excellent sound. The Manzer Wedge and the offset sound hole both live up the hype and help to magnify the sound output. The soundboard is maximized for the size and the carbon fiber allows it to be very thin, which in turn allows the sound to reverberate throughout. I would love to compare this guitar against a Blackbird Rider, as I heard some great things about that carbon fiber travel guitar.

Build quality is solid! Minus the surface blems listed above, the fit and finish are both excellent. The carbon fiber is uniform, and the gloss polish is quite stunning (see pics below). The whole design and shape of the guitar is appealing to the eye. With some very odd looking travel guitars out there, it’s nice to have one that still looks like an actual guitar. Bravo! Quality hardware as well with Grover tuners, a bone nut and saddle, and the under bridge pickup and sounds great plugged in! The pickup lacks any EQ controls, it’s simply “plug and play”. But the electronics does an admiral job of capturing the natural sound of the guitar, and you don't have to worry about batteries. The fretboard and the neck are solid carbon fiber, so they should be trouble free for the life of the instrument. I could almost do a separate review on the backpack. Its really nice. Quality nylon materials and stitching, and everything fits in their slots/cutouts perfectly. There are also a number of zippered pockets for any accessories, and even a slot for a laptop/tablet. The bag should hold up well to travel.

Playability and comfort also earn high marks . The manzer wedge and the front and back bevels really make the OF660 a pleasure to hold and play. The shape really hugs in tight to you body. It's hard to explain, but I'll just say that it's extremely comfortable to hold. Playing sitting down is comfortable as well. Even with the small size I don’t feel like I’ll ever have a need for a “neck-up” device for this guitar. The scoop cutout works as advertised and allows you to access all the way up the fretboard while maximizing the body size to boost sound and volume. Very cool and innovative feature! The frets are well finished, no sharp edges to report here. The neck is a C shape that’s a little thin (compared to my full sized Rainsong WS1000 with a N1 neck) but it’s comfortable and doesn't feel out of place or awkward. The neck is excellent for a small travel guitar. Both strumming and finger-picking shine on this little carbon fiber wonder. I was really surprised that when finger-picking that the sound was so clear and with good punch. Balanced bass and treble. For a travel sized guitar this is quite an accomplishment, as most small travel guitar just sound so flat. Intonation seems spot-on as the notes all the way up the fretboard are clear. I also appreciate have the 24.5 scale and the 1.75" nut on a travel guitar.

For what you getting for the price, I honestly don’t think you can find a superior travel guitar. There are a lot of positives with this guitar:

* Incredible sound for a travel guitar.
* Excellent build quality.
* Durability and the lack of maintenance that carbon fiber provides.
* Playability and comfort.
* A true no frills travel guitar that lives up to the hype.
* It’s an innovative and unique guitar.
* Excellent customer service from James over at Journey!
* Journey Instruments have hit a home run with the OF660. Highly highly recommended!


Negatives:

* Very slight buzzing when playing with a capo, but I think I can eliminate those issue with a slight truss rod adjustment.
* Rear knob/jack is a bit small so some of my straps that use thicker leather don’t lock in securely.
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Rainsong WS1000 Classic Series
Journey Instruments OF660 (Carbon Fiber Travel Guitar)
Ibanez AW120 RDV (Made in Korea)
Voyage-Air Transit Series VAOM-02
Squire Classic Vibe Telecaster Thinline
Custom Built Reliced Strat

Last edited by Sanjuro; 10-11-2014 at 07:59 AM. Reason: Grammar
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