REVIEW: Traveler Guitar’s Escape EG-2

Traveler Guitar’s Escape EG-2!

Traveler Guitar’s origins can be traced back to 1992, but the company didn’t fully take off until three years later when owner and president, Corey Oliver, was hanging out east of Los Angeles in Redlands Guitar Shop. Noticing a crazy looking headless guitar in the back room, he asked the owner about it. “Oh, that’s The Traveler Guitar. It’s a project I was working on, but just kind of scrapped it.” A few weeks later, Corey loaded fifty of the instruments into the back of his ’89 Bronco and took off for a two-week road trip during which he sold every guitar. He then returned to Redlands and bought the business.

Several models fill out Traveler’s inventory. The Escape EG-2 is one of their more recent offerings, representing developments based on customer feedback and requests for specific features.

FRESH OUTTA THE GIG BAG

Unzipping the included gig bag, I pulled out what looked like a baby Strat with black finish and white pickguard. The similarities end there. As a guitar optimized for travel, significant steps have been taken to reduce the overall size. In place of a headstock is a sturdy metal tailpiece… I mean, headpiece, through which the strings are installed. At the tail end of the guitar, the strings pass over a fully adjustable bridge with roller-style saddles. By fully adjustable, I mean adjustments to bridge height and individual saddle intonation and side-to-side orientation. The strings then wrap around the bottom of the guitar over individual plastic rollers and back up into a carved out channel that houses the tuners. Traveler clearly put a lot of thought into this design. The back also includes a 9V battery compartment for powering the installed electronics.

The top side includes two single-coil pickups: neck and bridge, a 3-way pickup selector, master volume and tone, a 3-way toggle which controls headphone amp output, and the tuning keys which are recessed below the top’s surface in cavities on both the treble and bass side. The treble side on the lower bout has a typical 1/4″ instrument jack and two 1/8″ jacks, one for headphones and the other for AUX IN.

Materials include an alder body, full scale 25.5″ maple neck with ebonized rosewood fingerboard, and 21 jumbo frets. Construction is solid and the finish was excellent. The guitar is a bit weighty for its size, but I wouldn’t call it heavy. This is actually an advantage as you want something that can hold up to the rigors of travel, and it no doubt aids sustain in an instrument that doesn’t have the sustain-carrying mass of a full-sized guitar. Finally, this review would not be complete without mentioning the gig bag.

The gig bag is just as well constructed as the guitar, which for travel is crucial. The shell is heavy-duty nylon and well padded all around. The interior is lined with soft felt to protect the finish. An extra vinyl square sewed to the inside top gives extra protection to the pickup area. Two zippered pockets (one large, one small) on the top face are very useful for holding accessories, sheet music, strings, the included truss rod wrench, etc. The zippers function smoothly with rugged metal pull-tabs. Carrying handles include a pair where you would expect them. These can be bound together by a comfy neoprene handle secured by Velcro. A single backpack-style strap runs the length of the back and can be clipped to the bottom left or right of the bag depending on your preference. Finally, a single handle at the top allows for a quick grab. I used all three during my travels and was grateful for their inclusion.

BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES

Despite the smaller body size, the guitar felt perfectly at home in my lap. The average-sized neck profile (not too chunky, not too thin) allowed a comfortable grip and played easily. The guitar was well set up right out of the bag and every string played clearly from the first fret to the last. The pickups are a bit twangy and don’t have a lot of depth, but are perfectly suitable for practice while traveling. As on any guitar, however, these can easily be swapped out. If I traveled all the time, I would consider this a worthy upgrade.

The onboard “Pocket Rock-it” electronics incorporate a 3-way toggle for selecting off, clean, and distorted. In the off position, output is sent only through the 1/4″ output jack. Choosing clean or distorted routes these signals to both the output jack and headphones. Like the pickups, these channel selections are nothing to write home about tone-wise, but are nonetheless a welcome feature for the intended purpose. Finally, an AUX input allows you to input a source to play along with, such as your MP3 player. We’re not talking high fidelity sound here, but I’m giving a thumbs up for this very useful addition.

During my testing I snapped the high E string (yes, I rock that hard! [sarcasm]). Replacing the string and tightening it neatly around the post was difficult due to the recessed tuners and the path the string takes. I dread having to replace a full set by hand, but this is a perfectly fair trade-off considering the reduction in size and weight. The guys over at Traveler recommend using the Dunlop TurboTune String Winder, which is what they use in their shop to ease the process.

THE FINAL WRAP

Traveler Guitar comes to the rescue with a rugged and compact all-in-one solution for guitarists who might otherwise suffer shakes and fits of unpredictable behavior from guitar withdrawal, when traveling with a full-sized instrument isn’t practical. A few minor quibbles include a floppy battery compartment door that never latched shut and a “Made In China” designation that’s embedded within the finish. I’d much prefer a sticker than can be removed. I would also love to see the electronics get a bump in quality to match the construction of the guitar. Otherwise, an Escape EG-2, or one of their other models, may very well become your best friend while away from home.

It should be noted that this review was written on the road during a gig that took me to seven cities all across the US in 30 days. I put the EG-2 through a legitimate real world test which included traveling with several cases of gear and personal luggage, multiple hotel rooms, buses, planes, etc.

PROS: Solid body construction and full-size neck. Comfortable to play despite compact size. Built-in electronics offer choice of clean and distorted, headphone and/or amp output, and AUX in to play along with an external source. Excellent gig bag.

CONS: Pickups and built-in electronics could be better quality. Restringing is awkward, though an acceptable tradeoff.

MSRP – $642.99

Dan Coplan is senior staff writer at SMG. Dan is a Los Angeles based cinematographer and self-admitting guitar junkie. Email: dancoplan@sharemyguitar.com

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  • This guitar is a really cool idea. The only thing that I don’t like in this design, are tuners. For me, they are too close to picking area (maybe their placement is just a good compromise).

  • I used to take my guitar on flights with me but now I find that they want to charge extra for taking it. Has anybody thought of trying to make a travel guitar that fits into a suitcase? I guess it would have to fold in some way?

  • In the past month I flew on multiple airlines and airplanes of all different sizes from bigger jets to puddle jumpers. I never once had a problem with the EG-2. It will fit anywhere including under your seat.

    I can’t remember the brand, but there is a full-sized acoustic guitar that literally folds in half – the neck folds over the body. I also have an Aria Sinsonido that is as compact as the EG-2.

  • Jazzonman – the only frustrating thing about the tuners is that they’re hard to manipulate when replacing strings, but the recommended Dunlop string winder should take care of this (I haven’t tested it but it’s what the guys over at Traveler use and recommend).

    They’re recessed into the body so they don’t get in the way at all. It’s actually a really good design.

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