By Paul Engel October 22, 2019
If you’re unfamiliar with Burning Man, it’s an annual event that takes place in the middle of the desert with temps in the 100s, alkaline dust is EVERYWHERE, and there are random whiteouts that can cause zero visibility. It is not a place hospitable to musical instruments. Still, how fun would it be to play guitar there!
I am a hobbyist guitar player. I've been playing since 5th grade, been in bands with friends, but ultimately I play guitar as a kind of therapy, to get into flow. And I also fancy myself as a songwriter.
I’ve been going to Burning Man for the past 12 years. It's a place where 80,000 creatives gather to create a temporary city full of art, music, costumes, humor, fire, and a hundred different other things. It takes place on one of the flattest places on Earth in the middle of a desert in Black Rock City, Nevada. The weather can be brutal and near-inhospitable. It’s kind of like Mad Max except with tens of thousands of the funniest, kindest creative geniuses you can imagine.
Years ago I bought an inexpensive guitar to bring there figuring I wouldn’t be sad if the instrument got ruined from the elements or got banged up. But because it wasn’t the greatest guitar it was hard to play, it didn’t sound great, and it sucked all the joy from the experience.
I saw an ad for the KLOS travel guitar – a carbon fiber guitar! – and thought WOW. Now here might be a solution for the perfect Burning Man guitar. The body will sustain anything you throw at it and it’s a small travel guitar as well. I watched all the videos, heard how it sounded, and mostly I saw the joy in the players’ faces at how FUN it was to play.
My wonderful wife heard me talking about it (admittedly, a bit obsessively) and thought it would make a great 60th birthday present. She ordered it with “60” engraved into the neck. The guitar is BEAUTIFUL.
This August we took the KLOS travel guitar for its maiden voyage to the burn. But first we had to get there. I didn’t worry about the guitar being crammed inside the high-top cargo van piled to the rim with supplies; if things shifted along the way and ended up pressing against the body I figured, pssh, I watched a video of a Prius RUNNING OVER ONE without leaving a scratch.
After setting up our camp, I took out the guitar and began playing it. Just like I had visualized. It was just too easy. How fun it was to play with abandon not worrying about whether it got wrecked or if I banged it accidentally or if it got smashed on the drive there and back. And it sounded great.
There are various places you can sign up to play and some have their own sound systems. This is why I enjoyed having the pick ups if I needed them. Even with the dust, the electronics worked flawlessly.
Since the only way to get around is to ride a bike, I was glad the travel guitar was so light and easy to carry around.
It is the perfect guitar for Burning Man. Now if only it could make my singing voice better.
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