Strummin' along the trail: Washburn Rover

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Where does a musician go to find inspiration? The streets of New York City are a great place- full of interesting people, places and events- most months out of the year this is my playground. But, when I need to clear my head, get away from the city muck and have a change of scenery I find inspiration in the mountains. It’s this open landscape that inspires and gives a greater perspective of one’s place on this planet.

The only problem with writing music in the isolated wilderness is getting your instrument there! Sure you’d love to bring a full-size guitar, but that’s a ridiculous load, not to mention an incredibly awkward shape that could get you in serious trouble on a razors edge, or scrambling at 10,000 feet.

To hike with a music fix on the Appalachian Trail in 2009 I had to (literally) weigh my options…

1. Ukulele - While this seems like the best choice due to its size, having only a four string instrument wasn’t cutting it. Simple chords are easy, but having a classically trained guitar background, I was missing the other two strings and "normal" tuning.

2. Martin Backpacker guitar – At first glance it seemed perfect due to its compact size. But, after picking it up I noticed a few big things I didn’t like. Its weight- much heavier than anticipated. I could make do with this because it provided me with six strings, but when I started actually playing I noticed the neck was short and dimensionally thick- it felt like I was playing a child’s toy.  

3. Harmonica - I considered switching gears and changing it up with a wind instrument. While this is a good choice for most musicians in the Appalachian it didn't satisfy my fix.

At a loss for an instrument and already in Pennsylvania on the Appalachian Trail (halfway) I went to a small shop and found the answer… the Washburn Rover.

This axe blew me away!

1. Full size, 24" neck

2. Solid spruce top

3. Mahogany body and neck

4. Rosewood fingerboard

5. Quality geared tuners

6. Professional binding and inlay

7. Sized to fit in airline overhead storage

8. Small body to reduce weight- not cumbersome like the Baby Taylor.

Once I made the purchase I needed to figure out how to secure it to my pack. The method I used was two Sea to Summit dry bags that overlapped to keep water out. Then I utilized already existing straps on my pack to secure it, head down, on the side.

For over one thousand miles I carried this guy and couldn’t be happier! The excellent craftsmanship kept it in tune even through elevation change and crazy weather. Even post Appalachian Trail I find the Rover to be a perfect travel option- Last fall I flew it overseas for a multi-week trip to the Mediterranean.

There’s no doubt when The Dusty Camel stands at the starting point to the Pacific Crest Trail this April my trusty Rover will be at my side.

-Andy