I just bought myself a Washburn Rover travel guitar. It was very reasonably priced – only £117 – so I was a little worried that build quality and tone wouldn’t be up to much, but after playing it for a couple of days I am pleasantly surprised. It has surpassed all my expectations.
When travelling on holiday by car, my son and I normally take with us at least one guitar and a small amplifier. But if we take a flight, we just don’t bother packing guitars and amps. They would add too much to our luggage costs and we really don’t want to risk our lovely and expensive gear getting damaged in transit. We’ve gone on the odd trip without a guitar, but we always miss jamming and practising. So it was time to invest in a travel guitar.
My requirements were simple. I wanted:
- a relatively normal scale length and a sensible number of frets
- decent build quality and tone
- a tough, durable protective case
- good value for money and, if possible, something inexpensive.
I did a bit of research and came across the Washburn Rover, which received consistently good reviews. It was so cheap that it was worth taking a punt, so I ordered one from Amazon.
- 23.75″ scale
- Solid spruce top
- Mahogany body and neck
- Rosewood fingerboard
- Nut width: 43mm
- 19 frets
- Geared tuners
- Vinci Extra Light 800 Phosphor Bronze strings gauge 0.10
- Binding and dot inlays
The guitar is supplied with:
- A hard moulded-foam case, covered in Cordura and finished inside with a plush lining
- Additional case strap
- How-to-play DVD
- Allen key for truss rod adjustment
- Spare saddle
- Saddle shims
- Guitar strap
The Washburn Rover is available in the following colours: trans blue, trans red, black or natural. I bought the black Rover which has a matt finish.
The Rover neck is pretty much standard in terms of width and length, but the body is similar in size to that of a mandolin. So the tone is a little on the chirpy side and the Rover is quieter than a regular guitar, but it’s nowhere near as tinny sounding as I expected it to be. I’ve never used or heard of Vinci strings and I’m not sure to what extent they may be adding a little harshness to the sound. So at some point I’ll change them for something I’m familiar with. I tend to use D’Addario. Washburn recommend light gauge strings, but I may try a set of 0.11s to add a bit more bass tone. The weight of the neck is heavy compared to the body, so the Rover can be tricky to hold and feels unbalanced unless you use the strap. If you’re used to playing a ukulele or mandolin, this may not be too much of a problem.
I have no complaints regarding the build quality. No rough edges. no glue marks. In some reviews I came across, owners were happy with the Rover but complained about the cheap petrol-like smell of the guitar strap. I think that Washburn must have changed the strap, because if there were issues with it, they’ve resolved them. I can’t fault the strap.
The case is a real bonus. It’s light, but firm, and should offer decent protection if the Rover is chucked into the hold of an aircraft along with suitcases and other cargo.
What’s not to love? At £117 it’s a bargain.
More at www.washburn.com