Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Go Guitars - Hand-Made Travel Guitars For Less Than $250

Luthier Sam Radding playing one of his Go Guitars
I’m not the first person to write about Go Guitars, but I feel compelled to mention these ultra-cool instruments.  Go Guitars are hand-crafted by Sam Radding in San Diego, CA.  The regular Go Guitar ($218.90) and the Go Grande model ($240.90) are designed to be travel guitars, but feel and play like much more expensive instruments.  The price is similar to (or even lower than) most mass-produced travel guitars, which is remarkable for a luthier-made instrument.  He also makes a parlor guitar – The Type II Parlor Guitar.

Sam uses solid woods for all of his guitars – Sitka Spruce for the top, Dark Walnut or Honduras Mahogany for the back and sides.  Rosewood is also available.  The necks are 24.5” and the neck/nut width is customizable – 1-11/16”, 1-3/4” or more.  Tuners are either open face, or you can upgrade to sealed minis for $18 more.  All steel string Go Guitars have fully adjustable truss rods.  Sam can also install a Fishman Matrix pickup or Baggs Element.  A custom fit Go “Puffy” Gig Bag is available for $45.  Go Guitars are available in left-handed. 

As someone who plays left-handed mandolin and tenor banjo in oldtime and Irish sessions, I’ve been wanting to learn a little bit more about guitar in general.  Guitar will probably never be my primary instrument, but I wouldn’t mind having one to expand my overall knowledge of music, do some flat-picking on and strum some campfire songs.  The smaller, unique size of the Go Guitar is appealing to me, as is the price point.  I also love the fact that these are hand-made instruments!  I would go with the 2-3/4” thick Grande model instead of the 2” regular depth – the extra air volume in the deeper Grande body gives it a larger sound.

Here’s a video of a Go Grande in action.


My wife has now ventured into guitar playing by recently getting a Luna Muse Safari 3/4 size travel guitar, priced at $160 at our local indie guitar and ukulele shop.  It's a decent starter guitar, but eventually she’d like to get a parlor guitar.  We were looking at vintage parlor guitars, but are now strongly considering Sam Radding’s Type II Parlor Guitar.  With an 8” upper bout, a 12” lower bout, 16” body length, 24.5” scale, customizable body depth and neck width, and 34.5” overall length, the Go parlor might be the best overall option for a smaller bodied guitar under $800. 
Go Parlor Guitar
I’ve seen nothing but positive reviews online.  The current build time for a Go Guitar is about 4-weeks, but Sam can sometimes make them faster than that under certain circumstances.  

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