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Sueddeutsche Zeitung Review

Sueddeutsche-Zeitung-Review*Editor's Note: This article is from the weekend section of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung ( Munich ), a very respected daily paper in Germany - Read the German version of the article - click here

The Folding Guitar

What’s a campfire without a guitar? You are hot in front and cold in back. There are charred potatoes and the burnt smell hangs in the clothing as do burs in woolen socks. And with a guitar? It’s exactly the same thing. Only that you don’t notice those things as much. The guitar magically produces an incomparable atmosphere even when most strummers master only a few chords.

But first a guitar has to get to the camp. It is a bit unwieldy, this instrument, and even though its neck is not exactly made out of glass, when something heavy falls on it, it sometimes can crack. If you carry the instrument in a knapsack, the neck sticks out—taller guitarists have to always think about ducking if they want to slide through somewhere without having an accident.

Enter the Voyage-Air guitar. Even though it is possible to break the body of the guitar with brute force, it’s unlikely to do that to the neck because that is already folded at the place where on ordinary guitars the neck is glued to the body. At that point the Air-Guitar has a very solid, stable neck that is held together with a screw hinge which can be tightened and loosened without a tool.

If you loosen the screw—carefully, please because the instrument is under tension because of the strings—the neck folds away and comes to rest over the sound hole. The strings hang loose without in a disorganized fashion, but because they are fastened below and above, they cannot get tangled. Besides they are too stiff for that to happen. To keep the neck from hitting the wood during transport, the well-padded bag, which is included, contains a sewed-in cushion that secures it.

What is the advantage of such a guitar? The guitar is no longer 1.2m long but instead together with bag a comparably handy package of about 70cm. The instrument the California manufacturer offers for $500.- plus shipping costs ( the cost of sending a guitar to Germany is substantial)differs from an ordinary guitar only in its hinge, which, by the way, cannot be seen from the outside because it is worked into the wood very precisely, I am happy to say.

For that amount of money, you expect considerable quality, and that is being achieved, not just for the folding mechanism. The strings run pleasingly close to the neck, the sound is good for an instrument of this intermediate price, and—what’s the most surprising—the patented hinge of the folding guitar functions so precisely that you don’t even have to retune all the strings from scratch.

Even if $500. - is not a bargain pick-me-up, the quality is alright, and you can hardly get a smaller acoustic guitar if it is supposed to sound like anything. With electric guitars it’s a little different. There you can find a model that fits into a flute case and you can still play it well—only what will you do with it at a camp-fire.

HELMUT MARTIN-JUNG