Mark playing the Blackbird Rider travel guitar

Our Quest for the Perfect Travel Guitar

In 2013 we were preparing for a trip to several destinations in the U.S. Mark didn’t want to haul his vintage Martin around, so we began our quest for the perfect travel guitar.

We looked at every possible YouTube video showing travel guitars. We read reviews and comparisons. We began to think that, with the sound of most travel guitars, we might as well buy a ukulele.

A couple of guitars looked promising, but the leading contender was the Blackbird Rider. It was way out of our price range, though, and only available through limited dealers. (2018 update: the Blackbird Rider is no longer being made).

While we were in Cleaveland, we went to music stores and Mark played every travel guitar he could find. They sounded like crap. Every single one of them.

We were driving from Ohio to Vermont, and saw that the Blackbird was available at a boutique guitar store, CR Guitars, in Rhinebeck New York. We called to make an appointment and adjusted our route.

After playing all the crappy travel guitars, Mark’s hopes weren’t high. In Rhinebeck, we ascended the stairs to the CR Guitars showroom and into guitar heaven.

It was love at first sight. The Blackbird has an amazingly rich sound for its size. It’s made from carbon fiber, so you don’t have to worry about heat or cold or the airplane overhead. It has high quality electronics. Most importantly, it has a regular scale fretboard.

I think the shop’s owner was a bit surprised when we bought it on the spot. Yes, it’s expensive by travel guitar standards, but Mark has gigged with it so many times, it’s probably paid for itself. Yes, a travel guitar good enough to gig with.

You can get a feel for the guitar’s sound in our Santa Baby video. He’s just playing it in front of the computer, and it still sounds good.

More than two years later, Mark still loves the Blackbird Rider. But then, he’s never regretted buying a guitar.

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