The Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar

October 12, 2023
Guitar Reviews
The Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Feature image for post of the guitar full image front and back
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The Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar

 A Traveler’s Musical Companion

Regarding compact yet high-quality acoustic guitars designed for the modern traveller or outdoor enthusiast, the Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar stands as a testament to innovation and portability in the world of musical instruments.

With its unique design and unmistakable Martin sound, this lightweight, durable backpacker guitar is an excellent companion for musicians on the go. It is shaped to fit into the smallest places, along with being acoustic excellence in a compact form.

(Read on)

The C. F. Martin & Company


Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the company logo

Logo for the C.F. Martin & Co., a guitar manufacturer from the USA.-Image courtesy of Wikimedia and is in the public domain.

C.F. Martin & Company, often referred to as just Martin, is an American guitar manufacturer established in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin.

The company’s headquarters and primary factory are in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, but it also manufactures instruments and strings in  Navojoa, Mexico.

Respected for its acoustic models, they are a leading manufacturer of flattop steel and classical nylon string guitars and ukuleles.

The Martin Family has run this company throughout its history, and its executive chairman, C.F. ‘Chris’ Martin IV, is the founder’s great-great-great-grandson.

In June 2021, CFM IV retired as CEO and elected the first non-family member, Thomas Ripsam, to assume the CEO role,  but still maintains a seat on the Board as Executive Chairman.

Company Innovations, Production & Legacy

Some of the companies’ designs were the first to introduce many of the standard features found on the modern acoustic guitars we have today, like the Dreadnought body style and scalloped bracing.

They still produce an estimated 193 guitars daily, with a Martin Guitar Museum featuring over 170 models made over its history.

Martin And The Travel Guitar Market

Easy Transport And Playability On The Go

In July 2007, this company put out an acoustic guitar designed for the Travel Guitar Market that was smaller and more compact than a standard model, with a unique slender body shape.

They called it the “backpacker”  because it is small enough to be carried in a backpack, emphasizing the guitar’s suitability for players who want to take their music while travelling or have a compact/portable acoustic.

What Is A Travel Guitar?

Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of guitar and a backpack on a outside bench

Travel guitars are instruments created with the traveller in mind, designed smaller/lighter and generally 1/2 to 3/4 the size of a regular model but with a full or nearly Full-scale length.

Along with not only being easy to transport, but can also be put in the overhead storage of an airplane or train for enhanced portability.

Growing Popularity

The Market has seen a surge in popularity over recent years; the need for convenient, smaller-scale, travel-friendly instruments is growing, allowing players to maintain their dedication even while travelling frequently.

Diverse Options & Tech Advancements

This Market offers various travel acoustic/electric guitar models with many designs and materials like Carbon Fibre, providing enhanced sound quality, added modern tech-friendly options (i.e. App and Audio Interface), exceptional playability and even catering to consumer environmental concerns, preferences and needs.

To Learn More On The Benefits Of Carbon Fibre Travel Guitar’s, Tap Here.

Unpacking The Guitar

This uniquely designed guitar has been constructed of solid tonewoods.

Featureing a Solid Spruce top bracing, Mahogany back and sides, contoured neck, 15-fret Fingerboard and high-quality chrome enclosed tuners, It weighs less than 2.25 kg and comes with a padded carrying bag. (Read on)

Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the full guitar front view

Lightweight Martin Backpacker w/Solid bracing & Tonewoods, Chrome Tuners, 15 fret Rosewood Fingerboard and more.- Image courtesy of Amazon- Tap Image to see more.

Tech Specs, Materials & Craftsmanship

What Sets It Apart…


  • Top Material – Solid Spruce Tonewood
  • Back & Side Material – Solid Mahogany or Ash Tonewood
  • Back Top and Side Finish – Hand Rubbed
  • Top Colour – Clear
  • Model Number – 11GBPCL
  • Dimensions94L x 22.9W x 10.2H Centimetres/4.8 x 4.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Weight – ‎2.25 kg (4.96 Lbs)


  • Bracing Pattern – Backpacker
  • Brace Shape – Non-Scalloped
  • Brace Material – Solid Spruce Tonewood
  • Brace Size – 5/16″


  • Neck Material – Solid Mahogany with Hand Rubbed Finish
  • Fretboard Material – Rosewood or FSC Certified Richlite with White Plastic inlays
  • Unique Contour Heel & Neck Shape – Allowing easy access to the Fingerboard’s upper registers. (See Image)
Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the guitar neck joint from the back

Contoured Heel on a Hand-rubbed Mahogany Neck and Body. – Image courtesy of Amazon- Tap Image to see more

  • Number of Strings – 6 with models coming in both Steel and Nylon options
  • Scale Length 24″– Offering a fully functional guitar feel and playability despite the shorter scale length than standard acoustics.
  • Number of Frets Total –  15 with the neck joining the Body at the 15th fret. (See Image)
Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the guitar front showing where the 15 fret connects to the body

A Rosewood or FSC Certified Richlite Fingerboard joins the Body at the 15th fret. Image courtesy of Amazon-Tap Image to see more.

  • Fingerboard Width at Nut –  1 11/16” with the Nut Material being of White Corian
  • Fingerboard Width at 12th Fret- 2 1/8”
  • Side Dots- White
  • Headstock -Solid with Script Overlay logo

Bridge & Hardware

Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the guitar front showing the clustered bridge setup

Unique Clustered FSC Certified Richlite Bridge with a 16″ Saddle – Image courtesy of Amazon – Tap Image to see more.

  • Bridge Material– FSC Certified Richlite
  • Bridge Style – Clustered Backpacker Steel String
  • Bridge String Spacing – 2.187”
  • Bridge Pin Material – Non-twisting White Plastic
  • Bridge Pin Dots – Black Plastic
  • Saddle– Compensated White Tusq
  • Saddle Radius– 16″


  • Tuning Machines – Chrome Enclosed Gear


  • Case –Soft Gig Bag

Want More Out Of A Backpacker?

Martin offers various versions and models of the Backpacker guitar, including acoustic-electric options with built-in pickups and wood combinations.

Specific features and details of the Martin Backpacker guitar may vary by model and production year, so it’s a good idea to consult with a Martin dealer or visit Martin’s official website for the most up-to-date information on their Backpacker guitar offerings.


What 650 People Are Rating This Guitar

Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the guitars Customer reviews by feature and ratings.


Pros & Cons

  • Affordable
  • Portability
  • Unique Design
  • Clear & Bright Tone
  • Versatility
  • Durable Construction
  • Limited Sonically
  • Unconventional Shape
  • Shorter Scale Length
  • Challenging For Beginners
  • Limited Features
  • Specialized

Final Thoughts

Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of a hitch hiker on a empty highway with the guitar and a backpack

The Sound Of Adventure

First, I would like to shout out and give a thank you to Brad Severin, a fellow guitarist and enthusiast, for passing on this excellent guitar for me to play and review.

Tone & Price

Despite its compact size, this guitar has a  surprisingly good tone for its dimensions and has a huge projection. However, the volume and bass response is limited but priced right, making this instrument very affordable and sonically pleasant.

I can see where it is appealing for certain playing styles, such as fingerpicking.

The basic Backpacker models may also lack features in other travel-inspired guitars, such as built-in electronics, tech options or different durable materials.

Also, it can be less comfortable for feel and playability for some, especially if they are used to traditional guitar shapes and scale lengths.

Beginners just starting out might find it challenging to get comfortable sitting and playing this guitar, so I recommend you use a strap.

Should You Add This To Your Collection?

Yes & No

This unconventional shape guitar sets it apart from traditional acoustics, making it a conversation piece and a unique addition to your guitar collection. It has quality and durability and looks like it can withstand the rigours of travel.

It’s best suited for those who prioritize portability and may not work for all players and musical styles, along with it being a backup instrument rather than a primary guitar for serious musicians. Still, it can be used for live performances and recording.

Musical Adventure Gear

Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the full guitar used as a CTA

Did You Like This Article

Check out my review of the Yamaha Silent Guitar SLG 200s


I would like to hear your comments in the section below, and if you would like me to review a favourite guitar or player, give me a shout-out.

As always, stay the course and keep playing.

Main Image of the Guitar front and back courtesy of Amazon
The second Guitar image is courtesy of  congerdesign from Pixabay
Image of Hitch Hike Courtesy by Anja from Pixabay
Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar-Image of the website logo

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The Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar


Hand Rubbed Spruce & Mahogany Tonewoods


Hand Rubbed Mahogany Neck w/Rosewood or FSC Certified Richlite Fingerboard


15 Frets w/24" Scale Length


Chrome Enclosed Gear Tuners


Soft Gig Bag



  • Hand Rubbed Spruce & Mahogany Tonewoods
  • Hand Rubbed Mahogany Neck w/Rosewood or FSC Certified Richlite Fingerboard
  • Chrome Enclosed Gear Tuners
  • Lightweight & Durable
  • Soft Gig Bag


  • 15 Frets w/24" Scale Length
  • Unconventional Shape
  • Limited Features

Starting A Journey At 7 Years Of Age, The Love For The Guitar Only Became Stronger Going Into My Teens. This Leading To An Exciting Time Of Teaching, Performing, And Recording. Join Me Now As We Can Bring The Love Of This Instrument To Other Musicians Globally.

  • Hey there,
    I read through your article on the Martin Steel String Backpacker Acoustic Guitar, and it’s a dive into a unique guitar designed for the modern traveler. The blend of history, technical specs, and the emphasis on its portability caught my attention. It’s impressive how Martin has managed to maintain quality sound in such a compact form.
    The odd shape of the guitar not only makes it a great travel companion and a conversation starter.
    I’m curious, though. With its unique design, does the guitar require any special maintenance or care compared to traditional guitars? And, considering its compact size, how does its sound projection compare to a full-sized guitar in a live performance setting?
    Thanks for the detailed review. Looking forward to more insights on other unique instruments!

    Warm regards,

    Makhsud October 15, 2023 3:49 am Reply
    • Good day Max

      It was great to meet you and thank you for coming by the site and leaving your thoughts.

      To help answer your “Special Maintenance” questions, I would say that it is not made from waterproof materials like Carbon Fibre.

      It is all wood construction, so do not let it sit out in the rain or get it wet, but other than that, regular acoustic guitar care would apply.

      Also, the sound projection is excellent, but not compared to a dreadnought-size acoustic in tone and bass simple because of the size differences. Because this model has no Preamps or pickups, it must be miked for live performances.

      I hope that helps.

      Thank you again for your site feedback, and do not hesitate to leave your comments on more of our content.

      Kind Regards


      admin October 16, 2023 4:28 pm Reply

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