Ever since I wrote the “Best Electric Travel Guitars” article a few months ago, people have been asking for a similar article on acoustic travel guitars. So, I reached out to some guitar manufacturers and asked if they’d loan me guitars for this review.
Not all of them responded, however, two companies came through and were gracious enough to loan me guitars to review:
- KLŌS Carbon Fiber Guitars
Price: $ $ $ $
KLŌS Carbon Fiber Guitar – In Depth
Pronounced “close”, when your KLŌS travel guitar arrives in the mail the first thing you’ll notice is how tiny the shipping box is. The unassuming little box is only 24″ x 15″ x 5″ and you’ll be in disbelief that there’s actually a guitar in there:
To give a sense of scale, here’s the tiny box that the KLŌS arrived in… between my dirty boots (11.5) and a very sleepy greyhound.
This is full-on travel mode for the KLŌS: neck detached and bundled snugly in the rain cover.
The KLŌS has a tough carbon fiber body that can take a beating and resist the elements.
Of the 3 acoustic travel guitars in this review, the KLŌS earned the highest portability score, for a few reasons. First, it has an easily detachable neck. All you need is a Phillips screwdriver and it takes about a minute to unscrew all 4 of the neck screws, which allows you to stuff the guitar into a large backpack–if you’d prefer that over the KLŌS gig bag. Next, there’s that carbon fiber body, which is incredibly lightweight. Lastly, when you consider that there is a neck cover and rain cover available (must be purchased separately), the KLŌS wins-out as the most portable of the 3 guitars–a true travel companion.
The KLŌS has that sexy carbon fiber body, but the neck, fretboard, and various internal parts are still wood. This means the KLŌS isn’t as resistant to the elements as a guitar made completely of carbon fiber. Though it’s the toughest of the 3 guitars tested here, it’s not indestructible. You should still avoid moisture to the greatest extent possible (especially if you opt for the acoustic-electric version) and follow the same precautions that you would for any acoustic guitar.
Since this guitar was loaned to me by KLŌS, I wasn’t comfortable taking it out into the Arizona desert and seeing how much abuse it could take. Instead, I left it outside on my (shaded) back porch for 2 consecutive days and nights, without a case or cover. Two days later, it played and sounded just as good as it did when it first arrived on my doorstep.
Sure, the weather here in Arizona was pretty nice when I did that. Regardless, I’d never leave any other acoustic guitar outside for 2 days, no matter what time of year it is.
The KLŌS has a nut width of 1 11/16″ and a scale length of 24 3/4″. So, this neck has some of the the same specs as a Les Paul. If you play electric guitar at all, you should feel right at home on the KLŌS. On the other hand, if you primarily only play acoustics with wider string spacing, you’ll probably feel the difference, but I didn’t find it to be a problem at all. This, coming from a guy who is primarily a 7-string electric player and whose full-sized acoustic has a 1 3/4″ nut width. So, I’m used to wider necks, in general, and I had no trouble adapting to the KLŌS’ neck.
Let me be clear: The fact that the KLŌS scored the lowest for “sound” is NOT because it sounds bad. In fact, the KLŌS sounds quite good acoustically and has great volume and projection. The first time I strummed it I said one word: “Wow!” It was the first travel acoustic I’d ever played, and I was really surprised at the amount of sound coming out of its little carbon fiber body. It wasn’t until the other two guitars arrived that I realized it didn’t have quite as much low-end (bass) as the others.
The KLŌS strong in the mid and high frequencies, and has plenty of acoustic projection. That means it can be loud and definitely punch-through in a group setting, but won’t give you the boomy lows that the other two guitars will.
The Fishman Sonitone piezo in the KLŌS gets the job done. It’s a good, basic piezo system, but isn’t nearly as robust and fully-featured as the piezo system in the other two guitars. This may or may not matter to you–depending on how important it is to have a piezo in your travel guitar.
Price: $ $ $ $
The KLŌS is the more expensive than other travels. Right now, the only models/options they have listed are the base acoustic and base acoustic-electric on Amazon. Both are available in black only and include the full accessory package. However, if you’re wanting more or different options and pricing tiers, I recommend you order directly from the KLŌS website.
- Acoustic-only: This is the basic acoustic-only model, featuring an all carbon-fiber body and wooden neck. It is available in 4 colors (black, dark blue, dark red, and dark green).
- Acoustic-electric: Same guitar and color options as above, but with the addition of a Fishman Sonitone onboard preamp system. This is the guitar I tested for this review.
- Deluxe acoustic-electric: This is the “fully decked out” version. The nut, saddle, and bridge pins are upgraded to a black composite material and the tuners are upgraded to black Graphtech Ratio tuners. You get the option of a custom action setup. Lastly, this model comes with all accessories and is available in a wide range of colors.
Options, Extras, and Customizations
- Right or left handed: no extra charge
- Truss rod wrench and KLŌS screwdriver: included
- Carbon fiber stiffening rods: $30
- Complete accessory package: $86, includes gig bag, trigger capo, guitar strap, neck sleeve, rain cover (included with Deluxe model)
- Custom designs available: $999 and up
Demo & Review by Darrell Braun
Before I wrap up my review of the KLŌS , I’ll let a guitarist who’s a WAY better player than me give you a little demo…
KLŌS – The Bottom Line
Of the 3 travel guitars in this review, the KLŌS is the one I’d grab if I wanted a rugged travel companion that I didn’t have to worry about bumping, scratching, or outright dropping. It’s the only one I’d be comfortable stuffing into a backpack or throwing (literally) into the back of my truck. Further, it’s the only one of the 3 guitars here that has a detachable neck. It’s a true backpacker, and that’s why I’ve deemed the KLŌS carbon fiber guitar the “Best for Travel.”