From the September 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY PETE MADSEN
With composite construction and easily detachable neck, the Journey OF660 is truly a guitar you can take anywhere. Whether in extreme cold, heat, or moisture (high- or low-humidity), carbon fiber is impervious to the elements. What this means, for you the player, is that the guitar will not warp or swell. And because it folds up into a tidy TSA-approved case, it will fit into the overhead compartment of most airplanes. The case even has a pocket large enough for your laptop or other sundry items.
Assembling the guitar is simple. The body and neck store in separate pouches within the case, but are still attached together by the strings. Once removed from the case, simply slot the neck into a channel in the body with two posts—a triangular one and a screw post that you will tighten once the neck has clicked into place. Pull back on the neck until you here the “click,” and then tighten the inner screw by hand, from the back of the guitar. I had to fiddle with the attachment screw a little to get the action where I wanted it; the action might be a bit high if you don’t twist the screw enough. (To disassemble, you will need to loosen the back screw, and then push the black button at the heel to release the neck from the body.) The small headstock saves room, but may be a bit uncomfortable for bigger hands when tuning or retuning. More than likely, you will need to tune the guitar once the neck is attached, but then you are ready to rock!
Once assembled, the Journey is 12-1/2-inches wide and 35-1/2-inches long, making it slightly smaller than a traditional 0-size. It sports a 24-1/2-inch scale, and a scooped upper bout, rather than a cutaway, which allows finger access to the 20th fret. I enjoyed the playability of the carbon-fiber neck. The soft C-shaped neck is easy to navigate and I was able to fret chords up and down the neck with proper intonation, though the action is a bit high beyond the 10th fret, even with the adjustments mentioned above. I tried out a bit of Eric Clapton’s “Layla,” with the neck feeling solid and capable under my hands. The Journey also felt good for solos, using bends, hammer-ons, and pull-offs.
The Journey is a testament to carbon fiber’s ability to be molded with nice bevels and contours. Thanks to the body’s wedge shape, the Journey fits snuggly against your body and the bevel on the lower bass bout provided a nice rest for your picking/strumming arm.
The acoustic timbre of the Journey is distinct. A strong hearty bass thumps out at you from the soundport located on the upper bout. The treble has less sparkle than a wood guitar, but I got a feel for how to attack the strings and how to navigate its very interesting sound palette once I became familiar with the Journey’s sound.
I got a real sense of the Journey’s chunky midrange and almost metallic growl when I fingerpicked my way through a couple of early blues tunes, (Robert Johnson’s “From Four Until Late” and Big Bill Broonzy’s “Shuffle Rag”).
Next, I retuned the Journey to open-D tuning (D A D FG A D) and played some slide guitar. One benefit of the attachable neck is that I can vary the string height (action), by tightening or loosening the back screw. I play a lot of slide guitar and this is a very cool, if unintended, feature. Anyone who has attempted playing slide guitar knows that guitars with low action are challenging. I played Tampa Red’s “Boogie Woogie Dance” and couple of my originals, enjoying the elevated action and general ease of slide played over the entire fretboard.
The Journey is also equipped with a proprietary passive undersaddle pickup. I plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini and was able to replicate the guitar’s acoustic tone fairly accurately, with some slight adjustments made to the bass and treble on my amp (treble a little above 12 o’clock, and bass a little below 12 o’clock). There are no onboard volume or tone controls, so if you plan on gigging with the Journey, you might want an outboard preamp/DI box for more control over your sound.
Travelers and gigging musicians should find the Journey a great companion, whether tucked in the overhead or riding shotgun in a compact car. It’s easy to assemble and covers all the bases for performance and practicing. While it doesn’t have the same acoustic timbre of a wood guitar, its unique voice has its own attributes.
BODY 0-size 14-fret body with unidirectional carbon-fiber top and fiberglass/carbon-fiber hybrid back and sides, offset soundhole, scoop-style cutaway, carbon-fiber bracing, gloss polyurethane finish, carbon-fiber bridge with compensated bone saddle
NECK Removable C-shaped carbon-fiber neck and 20-fret fingerboard,
16″ radius, 24-1/2″ scale, 1-3/4″ bone nut, Grover tuners
Electronics Passive undersaddle transducer pickup
EXTRAS Padded travel case
(22″x14″x 9″); Elixir Phosphor-
PRICE $1,199 (street)
Made in China, journeyinstruments.com
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.