Playing music on the road is fun. Sometimes the instruments can be cumbersome to travel with and smaller sized instruments do not tend to have the tone a full size instrument would have. Then in 2011 a company called Voyage Guitars created a full size guitar that could be folded at the heel with strings intact to the size of a medium sized luggage bag and could be put back together in a mere 2 seconds. The idea was even on the TV show “Shark Tank” and was even featured on “20/20“. I thought, “No way could this ever hold up against a quality standard guitar”. I went to my local Sam Ash Music to see for myself I had a chance to check one out in person. The guitar I had a chance to play is The Voyage VAOM-1C, a small bodied mahogany acoustic guitar in the higher end ($1000+).
Here is my experience on the instrument:
The guitar I had a chance to play is The Voyage VAOM-1C, a small concert bodied acoustic guitar. The feel of this guitar is pretty much like playing any other fine factory-made guitar. It’s comfortable to hold, with a nice body depth of almost 4” at the neck and nearly 5” at the endpin. The looks are clean and well done. The tone is rich and clear, and it plays very much like a similar priced Taylor or Martin. No one could tell there is anything different about this guitar just looking at it or by playing it either. Guitar is easy on the eyes with simple tortoise binding and a black and a white rosette.The gold-plated “strap-bolt” does work in more than one fashion as a slightly oversized strap button, so unless you are paying really close attention, you’d never know it wasn’t a conventional guitar, and then finished with gold plated mini Schaller-style tuners with black buttons.
The hinge mechanism that folds the guitar is finely made. The strap-bolt on the heel easily loosens, taking the tension down slightly so that when you do the fold over, the neck does not hit the body hard. The hinge has a very fluid motion, clean and smooth. Setting it back up again is a little tricky the first few times, but once you get the hang of it, it is a lot easier. You have to hold it very firmly to allow the bolt to meet the opening, but it catches quickly and tightens easily. You don’t have to torque it down for it to be secure. Simply tighten until you can’t move it with your fingers anymore and you are good to go.
Can the guitar hold it tuning after many folds in a few hours? I folded and unfolded it a few times back and forth and the guitar eventually went out of tune. What did you expect? It only needed a little fine-tuning to get back into tune though, so like all instruments this was still comparable. I’ve owned and played guitars in the past that wouldn’t stay in tune for a song, so this is comparable in terms of setting the right expectations when dealing with string tensions in many environments and atmospheres. Below is a vid from Voyage about the unique hinge system:
It’s very playable and the frets play all the way up with no intonation issues at all. The action on the guitar from the factory was set a little high for me, however a zero-fret and compensated saddle would make the setup pretty straight forward. The seam where the hinge is hidden is about 3/8” from where the heel meets the body, and you can barely feel it when you’re fretting up around the cutaway. Nut widths are standardized 1-11/16” for the dreadnaughts and 1-3/4” for the OM. With enough demand, they may could offer some factory alternatives in the future.
The Corian made nut is very unique. It’s a patented closed nut or “no release” design, so when you release the screw and fold the guitar over, the strings stay in place at the headstock, and you can simply tuck them neatly out of the way into the soundhole. The zero-fret works to keep the strings at the proper height, while the no-release nut locks them into place for the folding process.
The factory can install a pickup for you if desired; their go to standard is the L.R. Baggs Active Element, but any pickup that attaches to the underside of the top (such as a Baggs I-Beam, a B-Band or K&K) will work just fine.
This is a fine instrument from what I can tell and I did try other guitars to compare, quality, and sound. I also didn’t buy one because my wife would kill me and it would be all over the media. But I suspect that the instrument would hold up to the rigors of the road by a busy musician.
I hope at some point they will offer a hard or hybrid case. At a MSRP of $1,199.00m for this model, it looks, sounds, and feels like money well spent or destroyed god forbid. I would still be privy to using the standard case cause I’m ol’ skool, but this could find a place when traveling across the world frequently for sure. Anyways that is my $0.02. Be sure to check out our inventory of Acoustic Guitar parts and accessories at Ant Hill Music. As always play well, and play on!