It sure is tempting to lean on well-worn backpacker analogies in talking about the humble traveller guitar. However, with heavyweights of popular culture like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran lending their signatures to pint sized models for some of the biggest manufacturers in the guitar world, I get the feeling that doing so would be a gross underestimation. They may be half the size of the rest of the family, but it seems that we have well and truly come to a point where these pipsqueaks are to 2017 what the parlor guitar was to key parties in the ‘60s. Timberidge Guitars takes a running jump on this little bandwagon with their tiny but mighty TRM1 Traveller.
One of the lesser-known builders in the Aussie six-string race, Timberidge has erred away from filigree with their particular riff of the mini rubric. Their website proudly spruiks the idea that many of Timberidge’s better ideas have their genesis in face to face conversations with store owners and salt-of-the-earth players the country over. It stands to reason then that they would aim at some of the more crowd-pleasing elements of guitar design. The spruce top and mahogany back and sides lend the TRM1 a familiar and comfortable visage, while the satin finish of the whole instrument makes for as smooth and comfortable a ride as possible. Simply put, it feels exactly like any and every guitar you’ve played in your travels has been shrunk in the wash.
Nine times out of ten the problem that rears its ugly head every time a new trend arises is how to tell the difference between the glut of variations on the new theme. Having played several minis over the last few months, I have whittled my thinking down to a select few criteria: a) Does the guitar in question feel like you’re hunched over a body too small to sit with, and b) Does it sound like a tissue box strung with rubber bands? While several builds that I’ve bumped into suffer from a combination of both issues, a few rise above the pack by excelling at either. Rarely are both boxes ticked, but if one has come close it's Timberidge’s tiny but mighty new addition. The neck joins the body at the 15th fret as opposed to the 12th, and the fact that it has a comfortably modern ‘D’ shaped profile makes it feel more like riffing on a short scale electric than an acoustic of any size. This in turn plays into the hands of the sonic quality on offer. Far from shying away from the lack of boom in the low end, the TRM1 leans into its high-mid focus and does so with a pinch of extra throw. All of this adds up to a Tassie Devil of a machine, plenty of bark and bite in a suspiciously small package.
Timberidge may not have been the first to market with a small profile guitar on the go, but they have certainly outdone many of their competitors. The TRM1 sounds healthier than its contemporaries, especially with the Fishman preamp in play, and has a swiftness and deft touch that is sorely lacking at this end of the pricing bracket.
Hits and Misses
Healthy original voicing
A snappy looking hard case
Any power in the low end acoustically