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Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:38 am
by BRC
I have had this guitar since 5th October 2017, since which time I have been ‘acclimatising' it and, naturally, playing it to allow it to bed in. So far, I have not made any adjustment on the truss rod.
That last sentence may seem a bit odd when you consider that this is a guitar which folds at the 14th fret ….. I have left a pause there to allow any of those not familiar with the concept of a folding guitar – other than those guitars folded permanently by airport baggage handlers – to recover their composure. How can you have a truss rod on a guitar that folds at the neck? Well, it does.

I shall now take a few steps back and explain my purchase. I like to take a guitar with me on my travels, which is reasonably easy when driving in the UK and also on mainland Europe. However, travelling by aircraft introduces a different and horrifying thought to carriage of a full-size guitar by virtue of any such item being invariably consigned to checked baggage. Anyone who has seen cases being loaded in to the hold of an aircraft will understand my reluctance to have similar treatmen meted out to a guitar. All that is summed up in a song by Tom Paxton, ‘Thank You Republic Airlines’. I digress.

During the past three summers I have opted for small ‘travel guitars’, starting with the very good Vintage Viator (review elsewhere on this website) but, due to arthritis affecting my left hand found using anything above the fifth fret severely cramped my hand and very much restricted playing. Just over 18 months ago I bought a Sigma TM15e which is slightly bigger than the Viator, though still gave me problems playing higher up the neck. I decided that I needed a full-size guitar to alleviate some of this problem. I knew about the Voyage Air Guitar instruments and made enquiry on the cost … just as we had the result of the referendum on membership of the European Union. The pound plunged so fast that calculating the cost became a daily exercise in finding out the true cost of that vote and, with regret, I had to decide the instrument was more than I could reasonably want to pay.

Time moved on and with some recovery of the pound (still volatile though), and some extra cash saved, I revived my interest and made further enquiry. There had been a price drop in the meantime in both the cost of the instrument and shipping charges. My enquiries were dealt with in a very helpful way and, clutching my credit card, I took the plunge and ordered the VAD-04 model – a full-size dreadnought. That was on 2nd October 2017 at around 18:45 BST and duly received said instrument on 5th October 2017 at around 10:15.

Whoops! I forgot to mention that the vendor is based in mid-California, USA, which is 8 hours behind British Summertime … and that was at the time they were experiencing severe fires in North California. That delivery time is what I call good customer service.

Now to the guitar itself. Unpacking was done with a great deal of trepidation, though unfounded. The guitar comes with its own padded bag – far better than any padded gig-bag I have experienced – and the packaging gave good protection, so any latent fears were proved unfounded. The guitar was folded, as would be expected, already strung, with the loose strings folded inside the sound hole, so all I had to do was unfold, lock the neck in place and play, again, with trepidation. I followed the clear instructions that came with the guitar and found I had a playable guitar. It did need retuning, though not by a lot. The temperature difference between California and here in the South East of England at that time was around 16C, so, not bad in need for slight retuning.

It is always difficult to decide on the sound of a new guitar until it has bedded in for a week or two. However, out of the bag this sounded very good (a slight understatement) with the standard D’Addario light strings, phosphor bronze, on it. After an hour or so (quite a big ‘so’) I thought it appropriate to let the guitar have a rest, but not by folding it back up into its case. The instructions are that when not needed for travelling treat as a normal guitar and place on a stand/hanger as you would do for other non-folding guitars.

As I write it is 13th November 2017, nearly five and a half weeks since I received the guitar, and the ‘bedding in’ process is going very well. The guitar has a very easy action and holds its tuning as well as any guitar I have had in my nearly 69 years, if not better. The tone very clear across the range from bass ‘E’ to as high as I can get on the 1st string – it is not a cutaway so only to 14th fret as a single note. The resonance from the guitar is excellent with a very clean sustain and great transmission through the guitar body. I timed a plucked open ‘A’ string as 42.3 seconds to total decay – it might have been longer as my hearing has obviously ‘decayed’ at my age.
It hasn’t cured my arthritis – no miracle cure was offered – but the action is just right for my hands and very comfortable. The guitar is surprisingly light and very well balanced with a strap on the heel button (really the neck locking screw) and the end button.

Do I have any negative comments? I can only compare with my Martin and say it doesn’t quite have the ‘boom’ of that, though must add that is a very, very subjective and hypercritical judgement. I use Elixir lights on my guitars and will change this guitar to them when change is necessary, which may give a much fairer judgment. I have to be fair and say that comment is meant only as a comparative rather than definitive one.

Overall I am delighted with the guitar. It is well constructed – ruggedness will only be judged by time on its travels – sounds better than many far more expensive guitars I have experienced and, not least, it looks, sounds and feels a quality instrument. It has travelled to Liverpool already, although I was unable to jam as much as I would have liked due to suffering from a typical autumnal cold – me, not the guitar.

Finally, I must give full credit to the quality of customer service afforded me by Voyage Air Guitar (Barney Leeson being my contact) which was very helpful, focused on me as the customer and not in the least pushing for a sale. Sadly, if you want one of these instruments you will have to import it from the USA, which means VAT, Import Duty and ‘Customs Clearance fees’ to be added – they are easy enough to work out – and, of course, currency conversion fees/charges by your bank. Nonetheless, I would say very much worth it.


Link to website

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:36 am
by Roger USA
Hi Brad,

That was an interesting review of a product I never knew existed! I was going to ask you to post photos, but then I followed the link to their website. A very nice looking range of guitars with what appears to be a good track record for customer satisfaction.

Thanks for posting.

All the Best,


Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:50 am
by Charlie
Brad, your informative review reminded me of a friend and excellent guitarist, Eltjo Haseloff (if you don't know him, find him on the internet). For traveling he swears by his Voyage Air: I myself use a Taylor mini as travel guitar but I stay continental with some Albion outings from time to time.

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:11 am
by BRC
Roger and Charlie,

Thanks for your responses. Interesting, Roger, that my post was the first you had heard of these guitars. You won’t have to face the extra costs of import duty and quite a high carriage charges, though I am sure there will be some local/Federal taxes to add. Also, you may be able to see and try at a nearby dealer. The VAD-04 is a much better than average guitar at around an average price, with its unique folding ability. That folding neck is a lot better than might be imagined as locked in place it is as solid as a normal guitar neck.

Charlie - my Dutch is sadly lacking so I have posted below a Google translation for others of a similar disposition:

“and Voyage-Air VAOM06 with folding neck. This is the ultimate travel guitar that fits into a backpack and folds out a full-size spruce / mahogany OM guitar. Ideal to take on the plane, no fear of having a guitar in the boot and always a real guitar with you, on the way and in your hotel room. You can even put your clothes in it. What else do you want? The sound box is perfectly built, the neck is clearly made by someone else and sees (and feels) as a do-it-yourself job of an amateur. The more expensive models have a better neck, but the trick of this kind of guitars is that you have to buy one where you do not get too much tears when he sneaks. If this is broken, I'll just buy a new one”

Kind regards to all
P.S. I assume the sentence “You can even put your clothes in it” refers to the case, although it could be an interesting concept for muting a guitar!

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:00 pm
by Oldbones
Thoroughly excellent review Brad.

And for that tiny minority who won't yet have seen the Youtube upload by SonsofMaxwell about what happened when a much-valued Taylor guitar was entrusted to the tender mercies of United Airlines in America ..... then watch this and enjoy - and weep. (Nearly 18 million views so far).

There was a follow-up which, like the first, had a significant impact on opinions and the share value of United Airlines.

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:44 am
by BRC

Interesting videos! Tom Paxton wrote ‘Thank You Republic Airlines’ around 1983, maybe a little earlier, and, in notes on the song, indicated that Republic Ailines had gone out of business. Your reply prompted me to do a little bit of research from which I found that Republic Airlines is now part of United Airlines. It would seem from the song links you gave that they have decided to continue the guitar handling customer service in much the same way.

Here is a link to the Tom Paxton song -

I suppose I should have placed this information under my VAD04 posting but as it was my VE2000GG 12 that suffered the broken neck (I can blame no one but myself for that one) here is appropriate.

Incidentally, I haven’t taken my VAD04 on an airplane yet, however having it in the boot of my car with a fair bit of other junk - sorry, equipment - the other day it gave a very good approximation of how it will fit in to an aircraft overhead storage bin. Seems fine and the case gives very good protection.

I wonder if anyone else reading this has had any guitar ‘malfunction’ stories to relate and, maybe, start a new thread. I feel sure Gordon must have a tale or two to relate, when time permits.

I have also posted this under my Vintage VE2000GG 12 posting ... only because it may be relevant to that as well.

Kind regards

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 9:53 am
by BRC
A quickish update.

I changed the strings on this guitar in mid-February and can only say that this is now my ‘go-to’ guitar almost every time. The Elixir light phosphor bronze strings definitely enhance the tone giving just that little extra depth to the lower strings whilst retaining the brightness of the treble strings. I am not knocking the D’Addario originals as these are still very good

The guitar has been on its travels in the boot of my car quite a number of times and always been very easy and quick to get back in tune when putting the neck back in place each time. Sounds great and looks great. I sometimes feel a little guilty at not playing my other guitars so give them a few minutes of tuning up, where necessary, and strumming every so often.

I am so very pleased that I decided to buy this guitar ... maybe I should have tempered that comment until after it has had its first ‘air travel’ later in the year. I shall update then.

Kind regards to all
P.S. Anyone have any guitar travel stories to add here?

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 9:36 pm
by sultan4swing
Have guitar.... will travel....... Back in the early 70's when I was beginning to gig , I was in the earlier stages of ny Government research career and had to make a significant contribution to the family budget. Cash was short and I couldn't afford a car , so it was carrying my guitar on my back while riding a Lambretta 1968 150 special - lovely scooter - coach sprayed blue/white with all the required Italian mirrors , flyscreen etc and yes, the obligatory parka complete with rabbit fur collar.... Occasionally I managed to get a friend to transport me when I did amplified gigs... Later I did but my first car - a red/black sports mini - but only at the expense of knee damage from being smashed off my scooter by a new driver.... ah... memories... My first fav guitar was the ubiquitous mid 1960's EKO Ranger 12S - served me well for many years - I still have it but it is now nigh unplayeable due to years of using heavy gauge strings... fatal.... The bridge has been coming away for 20 years, and the top is bowed.... but will always be here as my musical memories.... a sort of 'altar' in our bedroom.....!! This guitar took me everywhere and as far as Israel and back via Europe, Greece, Yugoslavia, camping with a coach of youngsters on a sort of pilgrimage over Easter 1980.... I've never had a take a guitar on a plane.... guess a good solid case is a given.. ??? Thanks for bringing back a shedload of happy musical memories ... !!!

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Tue May 22, 2018 8:37 am
by BRC
Hmm! There is a great deal of familiarity in your posting.

I had a Lambretta 125 which occupied a fair amount of greasy hands time maintaining and repairing ... and cost me torn muscle from my shoulder to just above my waist on the left side after skidding on a patch of oil (left by a car normally parked at that point on the road). That was the end of that ... no, the scooter was fine but I decided the small wheel size was not conducive to oily roads, or my health.

I too had an EKO 12 string - Rio Grande model - which still exists with a friend. The very thick lacquer has many cracks a over the front of the guitar, though the wood structure is still good. I never used other than light gauge strings, although it was tuned to standard tuning. It never travelled on the Lambretta. I have travelled with guitars in a standard salon car which also accommodated a double bass. Don’t ask how that, two guitars and the four members of the group fitted in the car - somehow they just did. We did get stopped by the police in he early hours of the morning whilst returning from a late night gig. They just smiled and moved us on.

Perhaps at some time we should start a new post on travelling with guitars and the dilemma and delights involved.

Kind regards

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Tue May 22, 2018 5:39 pm
by sultan4swing
Hi Brad..... yes funny how different lives can run in parallel..... ???!!!??....but it's clear what happy memories we have....... when I think how difficult it was to transport our instruments around..... !!!!
Luckily after I got compensated for my scooter acccident, I was able to but my first car.... you couldn't get much gear in a mini...... but it served its purpose.... In some ways luckily I don't gig now, as we have a Polo 1.2 and the one gig I did some 8 years ago, meant trying to get 3 guitars, mikes, backing tracks etc etc (and my wife) in..... It's much easier playing at home - and less risk (cat permitting) damaging the guitars.... So the EKO12S is now a 'museum piece' , but am fortunate to have a Celebrity Ovation 12S to replace the EKO, and my fav instrument - a collectors guitar -bought in late 1970's, a Yamaha 6S CJ-838S - their first solid top accoustic - plays like a dream (even if I don't)... and an opportunity to go back to my early days 'roots' a Yamaha electro/accoustic classical guitar... have always preferred finger-picking and a classicla is best for 'short stubby fingers'..... !!!! Best wishes to you and to any senior 'fumble fingers' players....

Re: Voyage Air Guitar – VAD-04

Posted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:04 am
by BRC
Finally got round to taking my VAD04 guitar on a flight, despite many road journeys in the UK, to test its 'Air' part of the name credentials.

I have posted a review on the Voyage Air Guitar website - URL at the bottom of this message if you wish to follow up - but post it here also for information. One thing I should make perfectly clear is that this is not a guitar simply for air travel, it is also an excellent go to day-to-day instrument. It is not a 'cheap' guitar but it isn't an expensive guitar. Then again, it isn't a compromise guitar. It is a guitar just as comfortable to pick up and play without thinking about its design intentions. My VAD04 has Elixir light phosphor bronze strings, as that is my preferred string set these days for all my guitars, and last so much longer than other brands I have used over the past 50 or so years.

The review:

"I have had my VAD04 since October 2017 and although it has had many trips by car, including to Liverpool and Sidmouth, it had never flown before and been put to the test for which its primary purpose was designed … until 31st August 2018.

As our visit to the Greek island of Crete approached the packing cases stage I wondered just how much I could safely get away with, literally, in the Voyage Air Guitar backpack. Ok, the VAD04 was the essential part and no compromise could be accepted on that. However, there are also the other ‘essential non-essentials’ that need to go, such as a capo, a tuner, a spare set of strings (Elixir lights), a small torch, a songbook or two, a lightweight guitar stand, a lightweight coffee machine – no scrub that last one as there are adequate coffee facilities at the destination hotel and various tavernas/kafenion in the area.

The other factor when travelling is not just the items mentioned above but what the airline will tolerate as ‘hand’ or ‘carry on’ luggage. Discretion played the better part of my decision making and only the capo, tuner, songbooks and torch made the cut. I did wonder whether the spare set of strings might be deemed to be usable as offensive weapons. Maybe someone can enlighten me on that issue. The other items were consigned to the ‘checked’ luggage and out went clothes from that case to accommodate the rest of the ‘non-essentials’.

Boarding the aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, I admit to some concern as to whether the VAD backpack was too big having seen some of the small size items being carried by other passengers. All felt much better when I spotted some fellow travellers taking on board what appeared to be the entire contents of mini gymnasiums. Onboard I juggled the VAD backpack in to the overhead locker. Hint: it goes in much better with the fretboard bulge to the bottom, which, with the locker closed then becomes vertically parallel to the cabin. You’ll just have to imagine that.

That was the first stage of the mission accomplished, without any comments from the airline staff at check-in or onboard.

Arrival on Crete and transfer to the hotel went smoothly for the VAD04, where I unpacked – the guitar – unfolded, placed on the lightweight guitar stand, packed in my suitcase, and left it to settle in for its holiday. We arrived late Friday afternoon and had a rehearsal session on Saturday at 12 noon (High Noon?) with my fellow conspirator, Bob, who lives on Crete. That was for the evening entertaining/performing session later. Unfolding the VAD04 brought an almost stunned silence – such a thing was just not possible and still be playable. Well, it is and it was. Setting the guitar up was done quite quickly including retuning as necessary and ready to go after a short coffee break. The temperature was around 35C, having left the UK at around 24C. How would the VAD04 react – superbly, of course. The rehearsal went well, particularly with Bob on his new Epiphone acoustic/electric (all unplugged, of course).

The evening session was scheduled for around 22:00 and planned for around 15 songs, after a very convivial session - eating and drinking that is at a local taverna – we returned to our hosts wonderful villa on Crete and performed our set list … then some more, for around 2 hours or more. VAD04 was perfect, me, not too bad for an old guy with arthritic wrists and fingers.

Two further ad hoc sessions were had during my Cretan stay, one lasting well over two hours, when all that had been agreed was a set of three songs. The VAD04 got astonished and admiring glances, with one Norwegian guy taking an interest to the point of photographing the instruction booklet – kept opportunistically in the backpack.

Whether or not my playing was any good seemed largely overlooked with the versatility of being able to use a full-size dreadnought guitar, with a quality sound and look was more than enough to carry the day … erm … nights, really.

The homeward bound flight was just as uneventful for the VAD04 as the outward bound with it safely stowed in the overhead locker and a safe unblemished return to the UK. As for me, that’s a different issue as still recovering from a very enjoyable holiday.

The VAD04 passed its test with flying colours and I now look forward to many more years of adventures with it, my health and arthritis permitting."


P.S. I don't usually like photographs of myself being posted so the one that accompanies the review is acceptable as you can't see my face - the guitar yes ... and the glass of wine was nothing to do with me - it was the keyboard player's who is just out of shot ... honestly!