Whether it’s the Martin Backpacker,
Dan Erlewine’s Chiquita, the Baby Taylor,
a Voyage-Air, or any number of other small and/
or collapsible guitars on the market, guitarists
have always had a soft spot for travel-friendly
instruments. Russ Strobel got so bummed out
at not having a guitar with him on business trips
that he took the travel-guitar law into his own
hands and started building super-compact instruments
that could be easily dismantled to make
them even more compact. The Strobel Rambler
Classic on review here is one such guitar.
The Classic showed up in a ukulele-sized
gig bag that would fit in an overhead compartment
no problem. It’s a cool, vaguely V-ish
design that features locking tuners down at the
bottom of the body, and thus a headless neck
for an overall length of 30". Not bad. The scale
length comes in at Gibson specs at 24.75" for
easy playability with .010s. In keeping with the
diminutive theme, the Rambler has a minitoggle
for selecting pickups. The only time the
dimensions threw me was when dealing with
the Volume and Tone knobs, which are too close
together to grab and turn—you’ll just have to roll
your hand underneath to adjust them.
The Classic sounds great plugged in, with
stout humbucker tones from the bridge setting
and smooth and creamy sounds from the neck.
The bridge pickup in particular cleans up really
nicely when you roll the volume down.
The secret weapon of the Rambler is its
ability to break down quickly and easily to fit
in a laptop bag. I took a dime and unscrewed
the thumbwheel at the top of the neck. Then,
I could unhinge the StringKeeper that—no surprise—keeps the strings in order when you dismantle
the guitar. Then, with the same dime,
I loosened the four thumbwheels that anchor
the neck bolts, removing them easily by hand.
I wrapped the strings around the body (which
is key to avoid losing wraps from around the
posts) and placed it and the neck inside my
canvas computer bag. The neck is a tight
squeeze but I got it in there and zipped it all up.
The whole operation just took a few minutes.
Reassembling it was tricky at first, but you get
the hang of it quickly and, again, it only took
a few minutes.
The Strobel Rambler is a well-made take
on a cool concept. It succeeds as a guitar—which is key—but it also succeeds as a travel
guitar before you ever break it down. Once you
do, the ability to fit it in a suitcase, briefcase, or
laptop bag is an amazing bonus. If you’re in the
market for an instrument that would be easy
to travel with but still plays and sounds great,
check out a Strobel.
PRICE $599 direct
NUT WIDTH 1 5/8"
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 24 3/4" scale
FRETS 21 medium jumbo
TUNERS Chrome locking
BODY Solid maple with flame maple
BRIDGE Tune-o-matic style
PICKUPS Dual humbuckers
CONTROLS Master Volume, Master Tone,
FACTORY STRINGS GHS Boomers, .010-.046
WEIGHT 4.5 lbs
KUDOS Amazingly compact. Smooth
playability. Sweet intonation.