Price: $499.99 (street)
When it comes to “travel guitars,” players are often forced to sacrifice size for portability and even functionality. Unlike many travel instruments that are simply miniaturized six-stringers, the Traveler AG-105EQ is a useful and playable instrument featuring a full-sized fretboard and a body that’s just two inches smaller across the lower bout than a full-sized grand concert guitar.
How is this accomplished? Three U-clamps and Allen bolts anchor the strings north of the nut, while a Steinberger-like tuning system on the far side of the bridge holds the ball ends, eliminating the need for a headstock and allowing standard strings. Called the Streamline Tuning System, it’s different from a traditional headstock-and-tuning-key system in one major way: it’s a lot better. It goes out of tune with the regularity of a presidential election and transforms tuning into a one-handed affair. Only the rear .625″ of the tuning system touches the top, so its damping effect is minimal.
Thanks to a fretboard that’s 1.75″ wide at the nut and a satin-finished C-shaped neck .875″ thick at the seventh fret, playing the AG-105EQ is a breeze. The excellent setup is reflected in the .098″ clearance between the bass E string and the top of the twelfth fret. The 25.5″ scale conspires with the solid spruce top and 3.25″ sides to produce clear and bright bass, sweet highs, and notes with serious punch. Chord note definition is very good.
Plugged in, the 105 comes to life. Its Shadow Nanoflex pickup captures vibrations from the strings and the top, introducing much more harmonic complexity, breadth, and depth to the amplified sound than average piezo and soundhole pickups. The Nanoflex is connected to an Allegro preamp with controls for volume, treble and bass, and a headphone output and auxiliary input. There’s even a built-in tuner and a phase switch for conquering feedback. The Allegro runs on two AAA batteries that are easily accessed through the soundhole, even by people with large hands.
With its great sound and compact size, the AG-105EQ is damnably inviting (just try to get anything else done in a room with it in full view). Its headless design and headphone-out jack make it the ideal tour bus guitar, and it’s even large enough to play onstage without looking like you used to deflect a blast from a shrink ray. And, it includes a well-padded, functional gig bag. But you don’t have to travel to love this guitar – once you get one, you’ll have a hard time leaving the house.
This article originally appeared in VG August 2014 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.