A sleek, rockin’, full-scale, travel-sized guitar
By Dan Day
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
For years I’ve had to face a dilemma when traveling by commercial airline: Do I put up with the risk and hassle of bringing along a guitar or just leave it at home? Like most guitarists, I suffer separation anxiety when I don’t have my trusty six-string with me. You know the drill: If you bring your full-sized guitar along, checking it in baggage can induce a different kind of separation anxiety—your guitar’s neck being separated from the body, usually at the hands of baggage handlers who seem to react instinctively to the sight of a guitar case with an overwhelming urge to see how far they can toss it. If you decide to bring the guitar into the cabin, you’re at the mercy of the flight attendants, who may not be able to stow it for you. The other option is to bring a short-scale, smaller instrument with its compromises in sound and playability. For the last year I’ve been using my Traveler Escape MK-II steel-string acoustic for all my getaways including a vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico.
Now I’m ready to upgrade to an electric. Traveler Guitars are extremely portable and play just like their larger-bodied cousins because the scale length is the same as a full-sized guitar. There is a complete lineup of Traveler Guitars for any type of playing: steel- and nylon-string acoustic-electrics, electric guitars, even a bass. The compact Traveler design cleverly dispenses with a headstock. In its place is an end cap through which strings are routed to wrap around six rollers at the bottom end of the guitar. Standard tuning machines are housed in the body of the instrument. This ingenious design makes tuning on the go a breeze. Instead of reaching up toward the (non-existent) headstock, just drop your hand into the tuning cavities.
The newest addition to the Traveler family is the Escape EG-2, a solidbody electric guitar with an iconic double-cutaway alder body. Even more compact than my Escape MK-II, the EG-2 is only 29" long, 10-1/2" wide, and its form-fitting case easily fits in airline overhead compartments. The bolt-on neck has a full 25-1/2" scale and is 1-5/8" wide at the nut.
Plenty of rockin’ tones from the two precision-placed, single-coil pickups are fed into the Escape EG-2’s built-in Pocket Rock-It® headphone amplifier, custom-designed to produce classic clean and distortion sounds through headphones or when plugged into an amplifier. The EG-2’s onboard electronics include a 1/8" AUX IN jack so you can jam with tracks from an external device such as an MP3 or CD player. The included over-the-ear headphones let you monitor the EG-2 while blending in jam tracks; it’s a great lesson tool. Tone and Volume knobs and a three-way pickup selector give you total control.
Good looks and functionality go hand-in-hand with the compact design. This guitar is beautifully decked-out with a choice of blue, black, or white finishes with a classic three-ply pickguard providing vintage looks. The sample EG-2 we received was dressed for the ball in a tux with a black finish and white pickguard. Even though it weighs only five pounds, the Escape EG-2’s alder body still felt substantial enough to provide plenty of solidbody resonance. The cutaway offers easy access to all 21 frets on the ebonized rosewood fretboard, enabling lightning-fast, fluid play. It was well balanced and comfortable whether sitting across my leg while seated or slung across my shoulders using my best-looking strap that fit the standard strap pins.
A real-deal rockin’ guitar
At first glance, the Escape EG-2 resembled a Rock Band video game "guitar" in size and shape, but make no mistake: This Traveler Guitar is a finely crafted, precision musical instrument, beginning with the American hard maple neck with a full-sized, 25-1/2" scale. I placed the EG-2 neck alongside the neck of my semi-hollowbody for visual confirmation that they are indeed the same length. Playing its full-scale neck requires no retraining of your fingers—all the notes and chord shapes are right where they should be. The frets were clean and smooth, and the action set low enough for speedy riffing. I ran the old four-finger crawl exercise up each fret to make sure the action wasn’t low enough to cause any buzzing or fretting out.
The body cavity-mounted chrome tuning machines adjusted smoothly and accurately and kept the tuning rock-solid. The pickups straddled the sonic territory between single-coil and humbucker tones. The clean mode yielded bright and biting tones, clean and articulate for country and rockabilly, that I then mellowed into warm jazz octave riffing by rolling off the treble with the tone control. When I flipped the Pocket Rocket mini-throw switch to distortion mode, crunchy, hot rock, heavy metal, and blues tones came pouring forth, perfect for power chords, tapping, and unison bends.
The best part was taking the EG-2 everywhere I went: in its soft case slung over the shoulder when hiking or biking, in the car stuck in traffic, or at the drive-in burger joint waiting for the roller-skating waitress to bring my order. The EG-2’s compact size is ideal for practice in my cramped cubicle where I worked out some Clapton and SRV riffs for an upcoming Musician’s Friend Jam Night. At the airport I jammed to some MP3s while waiting for a flight, and even while seated during a long red-eye flight. The headphone amp ensured I didn’t disturb anyone. Now that airlines are charging a fee for extra bags, it makes even more sense to bring my EG-2 onboard with me or, for that matter, anywhere else I go.
Features & Specs
- American hard maple neck
- Alder body
- Ebonized rosewood fingerboard
- 21 frets
- 25-1/2" scale
- Pearloid fingerboard inlays
- 1-5/8" neck width at nut
- 10-1/2" body width
- 29" length
- 5 lb.
- 2 Alnico single-coil pickups
- Chrome 14:1 ratio closed tuning machines
- Custom Pocket Rock-It® headphone amp with tone, volume, and clean/distortion controls
- 3-ply pickguard
- Soft case included
Tags: Electric Guitars