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cNet Review

Voyage-Air Guitar: Know when to fold it (review)
John Scott Lewinski
How does the Voyage-Air folding guitar for troubadours on the go stand up to the rough rigors of review? Crave's John Scott Lewinski gives it a strum (and a serious hinge test).

by John Scott Lewinski   June 29, 2012 8:00 AM PDT

When reviewing a gadget as big and tactile as the Voyage-Air folding guitar, there's always a danger the testing process could break or somewhere ruin what is otherwise a beautiful piece of kit. Playing with it is so cool, breaking it becomes a genuine, though juvenile, temptation.

A hinge is fitted to the Voyage-Air Guitar's fretboard precisely at the point where it connects to the hollow body. (Credit: John Scott Lewinski/CNET)The Voyage-Air Guitar has nothing whatsoever to do with waving your hands like a spaz in tune with Lynyrd Skynyrd, however. It's an actual musical instrument -- the kind it takes years of daily practice to master. In other words, this isn't a toy or a gimmick.

The California-based company specializes in guitars for the troubadour on the go. If you look at an acoustic Voyage-Air from the front while fully assembled, it looks no different than any other well-made guitar. But turning it over reveals two specially designed differences.

First, a hinge is fitted to the fretboard precisely at the point where it connects to the hollow body. Also, a heavy-duty, screw-in bolt on the back of the fretboard fastens into a mounting hole on the body of the guitar.

If you unscrew that fastening bolt, the hinge allows the neck and fretboard of the guitar to fold forward so it all rests on the hollow body. The strings remain attached to both the tuning board and the base of the guitar.

Once folded nearly against itself, the Voyage-Air can then be packed up into the specially designed container, which essentially looks like half a guitar case (minus the neck) and becomes more or less a large carry-on bag. The Voyage-Air case is packed with Velcro wraps to keep the folding instrument secure. The transporter also comes with straps in case the traveling minstrel wants to wear it as a backpack.

We had a chance to play with the Transit model, and we did treat it a little rough. Remember what I was going on about with trying to break the gadget? I wasn't kind to this Voyage-Air.

The Voyage-Air Guitar case more or less becomes a carry-on bag. (Credit: John Scott Lewinski/CNET)To see how consistently functional the hinges and screw fastener were, I spent an anal-retentive amount of time screwing and unscrewing (it was as much excitement as I've had in weeks). Still, the hardware showed no signs of wear or alignment failure.

I pulled the hinged neck up and down like a busy Las Vegas slot machine handle, but the hinge is solid. Most importantly, the strings never tangled or let loose from either end of the instrument. Believe me. I tried with devilish intent to tangle and snag those strings.

As the player closes the neck of the guitar in toward the body, the strings bow and fold outward.

Somehow, six strings suddenly look like a spaghetti mess of metal wires. But after you unpack, unfold, and refasten the guitar into playing shape, the strings slide back into perfect position every time. They even make a cool metallic twang as they click back to proper playing tension.

The truly mystifying feat of the Voyage-Air was how it stayed in tune.

I have an electronic tuning gadget that allows even an untrained ear to bring the six strings of a traditional acoustic guitar into melodic alignment. I assumed I'd have to retune after every folding. But the only time I had to break out the pitch finder was after I'd played for a while, which you have to do with any guitar. Folding and unfolding never distorted the strings.

Since I can only play some chords and make a basic, pretty sound on a guitar, I decided to hand the Voyage-Air over to my neighbors. Both are professional musicians who were eager to try out an instrument they'd never seen before.

Pierre Karlsson, a live and studio session guitarist, immediately noted that the weight and feel of the instrument gave him confidence.

"It's made of quality materials," Karlsson said. "It feels like a quality instrument. And the tone is nice. It's rich. It'd be a good guitar to own even if it wasn't easier to get around."

Professional musician and School of Rock instructor Tevis Sauer found the string action a little heavy, but marked that down to the demo model being practically brand new.

"Since this saves a musician having to carry around a full-size guitar case," Sauer said, "this would be a nice instrument for a professional to own."

Since the Voyage-Air does what it's supposed to do, the question comes down to need and affordability for would-be buyers. These guitars aren't cheap, entry-level instruments. Voyage- Air Guitars range from $399 for an entry-level model to $1,700 for the Premier edition. A foldable solid-body electric sells for about $750.

If a would-be buyer is a experienced player or dedicated student with a need to keep a guitar nearby regardless of location, there's no worry the Voyage-Air will let them down when it's time to strum.

courtesy of news.cnet.com, as seen http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57463262-1/voyage-air-guitar-know-when-to-fold-it-review/



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Owner Testimonials

  • 5star-100
    I received my VAOM-1C and boy does it sing!  I am the proud and happy owner of several top-notch Martins: a D35 Johnny Cash, a HD28e, a solid DCPA4R as well as a 1973 00-18. I also had a 2003 D18 which I sold because it wasn't so good. I was expecting the VAOM-1C to sound ok but not more. "Can't have the best of both worlds" I thought. Well, now I do. It is just exquisite, so melodic and yet with a surprising sustain and expressivity. It is a true jewel at a more than decent price! All the Best and THANK YOU!
    Jean-Dominique Michel, Switzerland - VAOM-1C
  • 5star-100
    My wife and I travel a lot and in the past have had issues with taking a guitar with me......they're either too bulky for the overhead compartment, or I have to let the luggage handlers toss around my guitars like they're a bag of beans. I recently purchased one of your VAOM-04 guitars, and I'm totally impressed with the sound and the playability of this instrument. My first choice is my Martins, but since I received the VAOM-O4 I haven't put it down. I would recommend this guitar to any player, even if you don't travel that much. I'm looking forward to my next trip. I may just spend most of the trip playing this guitar.
    Great Job Voyage-Air.
    - Tony H. - VAOM-04
  • 5star-100
    It’s considered a “travel guitar,” and it truly is a remarkably portable instrument; however, that label does it a disservice, because honestly, it’s a damn nice guitar. It just happens to have a nifty set of hinges that allow the neck to fold over on the top, making it far more compact and transport friendly. I love my Telair!
    - Anthony K. Sandy, UT - VET-2SBB
  • 5star-100
    I am pleasantly surprised at the quality and genius behind this amazingly compact, but great sounding guitar!! I work in the movie industry and travel quite a bit, and being able to bring my guitar as a carry-on wherever I go is just what I've been looking for! The overall sound is amazingly rich for its size, and the folding mechanics work like a dream! If you’re wondering if it's worth getting, the answer is a big YES!!
    - Nancy F. Santa Monica, CA - VAMD-04
  • 5star-100
    I bought a VAD-04 strictly for travel and light use. The day I bought it I paid a visit to United Airlines. As I was walking up to the counter the clerk said that he had seen these before and that there was no problem taking it on as carry-on. .I think that this is a great value and a nice sounding piece All in all it is a winner in my book. I’ve heard less sound from much more expensive instruments. I may mike it because I think it compares to my Taylor 814ce and Breedlove it surprised me!
    -  Michael, Columbus, NE - VAD-04
  • 5star-100 
    I travel a lot, and for years, I schlepped my heavy Goodall Jumbo, always worried about it getting damaged and stolen.  I recently purchased a Voyage Air guitar and love it.  Its light, gets on planes, and sounds terrific. It has made travelling with a guitar a no-brainer.  Even after closing and opening, it stays very close to being in tune. I recommend this guitar to anyone who likes to play wherever they go.
    - Stewart, Santa Fe, NM - VAOM-02