My buddy Rob travels nearly as much as I do. Here's his report on some new gear he picked up and put to the test on a recent trip.
As a seasoned road warrior and aspiring guitarist, business trips usually meant a prolonged separation from my brood of 5 guitars. While on a journey, my hard-earned callouses would quickly start to soften, I'd lose dexterity, and it would be back to square one before long. Last year, I began dragging around an inexpensive acoustic guitar in an expensive hardshell travel case. But there were significant drawbacks to this approach: namely having to check the guitar and wait around baggage claim to see if it made it onto the same flight as me. And the case cost far more than the guitar, which was kind of ironic.
That all changed this month: I now have a collection of equipment that I'll be bringing on all upcoming trips. I just finished road-testing the whole thing on a long voyage – an 11 day trip to Amsterdam. Here's what I brought:
Guitar: Traveler Pro-Series.
I bought the Traveler Pro acoustic-electric for $349 on Amazon.com. It has a full-sized 24.5" stratocaster scale 22 fret neck with a single pickup, and weighs 3.5 pounds. It has a detachable lap-rest and comes with a travel bag. If you're so inclined, you can use the included stethoscope headphones to listen to it in acoustic mode. You can also attach a strap if you like to play standing up. The guitar is well-made: it feels solid and substantial. Happily, it stayed in tune despite being banged around at various points during the trip. While this model has a pickup, it's designed to play more like an acoustic guitar than their Speedster model. But this was what I was looking for.
Effects: Line 6 Pocket Pod
Once I had the guitar in-hand, the next step was to identify a portable effects machine. I did a bit of searching, and came up with the Line 6 Pocket POD. I bought this on Amazon for about $130, and am very impressed with the wide range of features offered in such a small form factor. Frankly, I haven't had time to explore everything that the device is capable of (yet) – just experimenting with the presets and effects kept me quite busy.
The Pocket Pod would be a welcome addition to a home setup; it's not just for traveling. Be advised, however, that it drains batteries fairly quickly, so you might want to buy the optional AC adapter. It would be nice if Line 6 included said adapter, but they don't. It would be even better if the nice folks at iGo had a plug for the device: I could then keep it powered using the same adapter I use for everything else.
Details: iPod and Headphones
Next up is my trusty, but long-in-the-tooth 30GB iPod. It's a vintage, vacuum-tube powered relic from 2006. What's great is that you can plug the iPod into the Pocket Pod and jam along to your favorite tunes.
Finally, since my neighbors at my hotel would likely not appreciate hearing my jet-lagged self shred at 2:30 am, I round out my ensemble with the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 noise canceling headphones. These set me back about $200 a couple of years back, and I've been very pleased with them. No doubt there are other options in this department.