Taking your guitar on the road is a daunting proposition. A normal sized guitar is too big, and a travel guitar sounds too small. And a guitar is a delicate instrument. Blackbird Guitars has a solution to that conundrum, offering its $1600 Blackbird Rider travel guitar. It's a compact 2/3 size acoustic steel-string guitar made of carbon fiber, making it a featherweight 2.75 pounds. We were immediately captivated by its gorgeous good looks and rich sound. Continue reading for our hands-on review.
The carbon fiber finish of the Blackbird Rider is unlike anything we've ever seen. It's gorgeous, shiny and smooth, and its futuristic material makes this axe so unusually light that it's astonishing. Beyond that, it's impervious to humidity, letting you play guitar in a sailboat, on a misty mountaintop, or in the rain forest without worries. There's no sound hole underneath the strings like a conventional guitar, but there are two elsewhere — one is toward the bottom of the neck, and the other is up top, between the tuning pegs.
We were amazed at the clean and crisp quality of the sound coming out of this tiny guitar. Its hollow neck lets the sound resonate all the way up to the head, and it delivers clear, resonant bass that belies its small size. At the same time, its normal-sized neck makes it just as playable as a full-size guitar. Our only complaint is that it's slightly awkward to balance it on your knee while you're playing, but there's an optional $30 leather guitar support that solves that problem.
Is it loud enough? The guitar plays almost as loud as our full-sized Martin D-28. If that's not going to fill the room enough for you, you can order Fishman Matrix Infinity electronics for an extra $140, consisting of an internal pickup with volume and tone controls inside the sound hole, and a clever jack that also functions as a peg for a neckstrap.
While comparing this compact travel guitar with a Martin D-28 might not seem fair, we were surprised that how favorably this Blackbird Rider sounded next to it. Amazing. We love it. Listen to it for yourself in the video above.