I happened to be on business in Europe this week and was able to check out the Lapstick, the ultimate travel guitar. The Lapstick weighs just over a pound (500 grams) and measures a mere 20 inches (51.5 cm) end to end. It's so tiny, you can play it in a coach class airline seat or on a train on the way to a gig.
The Lapstick was designed by guitar wiz Phil Neal and has been a labor of love for many years. As a professional musician, Phil was frustrated by how much unproductive time there is travelling to gigs. So he designed a guitar that could be used anywhere --whether on a train or in a coach seat of a plane.
The Lapstick includes a built-in pre-amp so you can plug in headphones with settings for clean, overdrive and distortion. It has a noiseless EMG Select pickup and can be plugged into a regular amp or portable effects box, like the Korg Pandora. The guitar itself is beautfully designed and provides surprising resonance given its small size. Each Lapstick is handbuilt with custom-designed hardware. It comes with its own case, which makes it look like you're carrying a flute or perhaps a clarinet, but certainly not a guitar.
The Lapstick has been optimized milimeter by milimeter for travel. The small size means that the Lapstick is slightly smaller than 3/4 scale. It's a 17 inch scale (435 mm), as compared to standard Les Paul scale of 24.75 inches (630 mm) or a Fender Strat at 25.5 inches (648 mm). This means you can play the Lapstick in pretty tight quarters --like in the backseat of a car --but it makes for some challenges. The frets are pretty tight and it can be disorienting initially. In fact, it probably takes a couple of hours to get the hang of it. If you want to get a feel for it, it's like playing with a capo on the 5th fret. So you're working within some pretty tight constraints. The good news is, that by using the Lapstick, you'll become a more accurate player. It forces a degree of precision in your playing.
I spent a couple of hours with lapstick inventor Phil Neal in Amsterdam and will provide a more detailed write-up shortly.