Washburn Rover Vs Martin Backpacker [Difference & Performance]

Choosing the right travel guitar can be challenging, but the Washburn Rover vs Martin Backpacker are two popular options worth considering. In this comparison, we’ve thoroughly examined these guitars, from their design and sound quality to their comfort, portability, and price, helping you make an informed choice.

Washburn Rover Vs Martin Backpacker

Comparison Table:

Features –
Washburn RoverMartin Backpacker
Body ShapeMini DreadnoughtUnique compact shape
MaterialsSolid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, and rosewood fingerboard.Solid spruce top, mahogany or sapele back and sides, and select hardwood neck.
Scale Length24 inches24 inches
Number of Frets2015
Finish OptionsNatural and blackNatural, Mahogany, and more (varies by model)
Sound QualityDecent projection and tone for its size, suitable for practice and travel.Bright, focused tone with less bass resonance due to its compact size.
PortabilityExtremely compact and lightweight, designed for easy travel and portability.Highly portable, with a unique shape that fits in small spaces, but still requires a case or bag.
PlayabilityComfortable neck and fretboard for its size, suitable for practice and travel.Compact shape may take some getting used to, but it’s playable for its intended purpose.
Sound VolumeLimited volume due to its small size, but can be amplified if needed.Limited volume due to its compact design; may benefit from amplification.
PopularityPopular among travelers, beginners, and those looking for a portable practice instrument.Known for its unique shape and portability, attracting musicians who prioritize travel-friendly guitars.

Short Overview of Washburn Rover:

The Washburn Rover is a popular travel guitar known for its portability. It’s designed to be easy to carry & play, even in small spaces like planes or hotels. Thanks to its compact size and unique shape. Plus, it has a solid spruce top for great sound quality & comes with a padded gig bag for travel protection.

Short Overview of Martin Backpacker:

The Martin Backpacker is another highly regarded travel guitar that has earned its place among traveling musicians. Known for its distinctive slim, long body and solid tonewood construction, the Backpacker offers a unique playing experience. The solid spruce top and mahogany sides provide excellent resonance & tonal clarity.

Its small size & weight make it incredibly portable, and it comes with a padded gig bag as well. The Martin Backpacker has been a favorite of musicians for its iconic design and legendary Martin craftsmanship.

Main Difference Between The Washburn Rover Vs Martin Backpacker:

a) Sound Quality:

Sound Quality

One of the most critical factors when choosing a travel guitar is sound quality. Both the Washburn Rover and the Martin Backpacker deliver surprisingly good tones for their size, but they have distinct differences.

The Washburn Rover, with its solid spruce top, offers a warm and balanced tone. While it may not match the richness of a full-sized acoustic guitar, it still produces a satisfying sound suitable for various music genres, including folk, blues, and light rock. Its sound projection is impressive for its size, making it suitable for small gatherings and busking.

The Martin Backpacker, with its unique body shape and solid tonewood construction, offers a bright and clear tone with excellent sustain. Its sound may lean slightly towards the treble side, making it particularly well-suited for fingerpicking styles and genres like classical and folk. The Backpacker’s compact design limits its bass response, which may be a drawback if you prefer a fuller & deeper sound.

In the end, sound quality is a matter of personal preference. If you prefer a warmer, balanced tone, the Washburn Rover might be your choice. On the other hand, if you lean towards a brighter, clearer sound, the Martin Backpacker could be your ideal travel companion.

b) Design:


Both the Washburn Rover and the Martin Backpacker have distinctive designs that cater to different tastes and playing styles.

The Washburn Rover features a more traditional guitar shape, albeit in a smaller form factor. It has a comfortable neck profile and a standard headstock, making it easier for players transitioning from full-sized acoustic guitars. The Rover’s design allows for easy access to the higher frets, which can be important for lead guitarists.

The Martin Backpacker, on the other hand, has a unique and unmistakable design with its slender body and headless neck. This design might feel unfamiliar, especially for players used to regular guitars. Still, it provides a unique playing experience as the neck extends through the body, eliminating the need for a traditional headstock.

c) Music Genre Compatibility:

When choosing a travel guitar, it’s crucial to think about the music styles you plan to play on your journeys. Each of these guitars has its pros and cons in this aspect.

The Washburn Rover, known for its balanced tone and classic design, offers versatility. It can adapt to a broad range of music genres, including folk, blues, light rock, and even some country. Its warm and well-rounded sound suits both strumming and fingerpicking styles. While it may not excel in any specific genre, its adaptability makes it a reliable choice for various musical tastes.

In contrast, the Martin Backpacker, with its bright and clear tone, shines in specific genres, particularly fingerstyle and classical music. Its unique design and tonal characteristics make it an outstanding choice for intricate picking patterns and melodic compositions.

Consider your musical preferences when choosing between these two travel guitars. If you’re primarily a fingerstyle or classical guitarist, the Martin Backpacker’s tonal qualities may be more appealing. If you enjoy a broader range of genres, the Washburn Rover’s versatility might suit you better.

d) Comfort:

Comfort plays a vital role in choosing a travel guitar, especially because you’ll likely spend extended periods playing on the go. The Washburn Rover and the Martin Backpacker offer different levels of comfort.

The Washburn Rover, with its traditional guitar shape, offers a familiar and comfortable playing experience for most guitarists. Its neck profile and fretboard width resemble those of standard acoustic guitars, making it easy for players to transition between instruments. This familiarity can be particularly reassuring for those who don’t want to compromise on playability.

In contrast, the Martin Backpacker’s distinctive design, featuring a slender body and a headless neck, may require some adjustment. Some players may initially find it less comfortable due to its unconventional shape and the absence of a traditional headstock. However, it’s worth noting that many musicians adapt to the Backpacker’s design over time, and some even come to prefer its unique feel.

e) Portability:

Portability is a primary consideration for travelers, and both the Washburn Rover and the Martin Backpacker excel in this department.

The Washburn Rover’s compact size and traditional guitar shape make it easy to transport. It fits comfortably in the overhead compartment of most airplanes, and its included padded gig bag offers additional protection during travel. The Rover’s lightweight construction ensures that it won’t weigh you down on long journeys.

The Martin Backpacker, with its slim & elongated body and takes portability to the next level. Its unique design allows it to fit into most backpacks. Which is making it incredibly convenient for hikers, backpackers & adventurers. The included padded gig bag further enhances its portability, and it’s an excellent choice if you want a guitar that can go anywhere with you.

Both guitars are designed with portability in mind, but the Martin Backpacker’s innovative shape and backpack-friendly size give it a slight edge in this category.

Read: Epiphone ES 339 Vs Gibson ES 339 [Difference & Which is better]


Price is a significant factor for many musicians when choosing a travel guitar, and the Washburn Rover and Martin Backpacker offer different pricing options.

Compared to the Martin Backpacker, the Washburn Rover is typically more budget-friendly. Its reasonable price appeals to travelers on a budget seeking a dependable and portable guitar without overspending. Importantly, despite its affordability, the Rover doesn’t sacrifice sound quality or playability, offering excellent value for your money.

The Martin Backpacker, with its iconic Martin branding and unique design, tends to be pricier. While it offers excellent craftsmanship and a distinct playing experience, it may not be the first choice for those on a tight budget. However, for musicians who prioritize the Martin name and the Backpacker’s specific tonal characteristics, the investment can be justified.

Ultimately, the decision on price depends on your budget and what you value most in a travel guitar. If affordability is your primary concern, the Washburn Rover provides an excellent balance of quality and cost. If you’re willing to invest more for the Martin brand and design, the Backpacker might be the way to go.

The Washburn Rover vs Martin Backpacker each have their strengths, making them suitable for different preferences and musical styles. Your decision comes down to what matters most to you, whether it’s versatility & affordability with the Washburn Rover or the unique design and bright tonal characteristics of the Martin Backpacker. Both will be reliable companions on your musical journey.

Last Updated on September 7, 2023 by Perry Garner

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