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September 2014
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Voyage-Air VAOM-1C Folding Acoustic Guitar Review


The hinge mechanism is finely made; the strapbolt on the heel easily loosens, taking the tension down slightly, so that when you do the fold over the impact is somewhat diminished. The hinge itself looks like something that would move a robotic arm—it’s a very fluid motion, clean and smooth. Taking it back up again is a little tricky the first couple times, but once you get the hang of it, it is a lot easier. You have to hold it pretty firmly to allow the bolt to meet the opening, but it catches quickly and tightens easily. You don’t have to torque it down with an air wrench for it to be secure—just tighten it until you can’t move it with your fingers anymore and it’s good to go. Jody Maphis is a “power-user;” he gigs with his Voyage-air on a nightly basis, folding and unfolding it several times throughout a single night, and says the guitar is unbelievably durable and hasn’t given him a minute of trouble in all the years he’s had it.



Just because I’m a skeptic, I folded and unfolded it a few times back and forth. The guitar eventually went out of tune after four folds, but it only needed a little tweaking to get back into tune again. I’ve owned guitars in the past that wouldn’t stay in tune for a day without being folded, so it’s not really a mark against the Voyage-air that it de-tunes after you fold it a few times. In fact, it would scare me a bit if it didn’t.

The action on the guitar I got from the factory was set a little high for my taste, however a zero-fret and compensated saddle make additional setup pretty straight forward. As it sits, it’s very playable and frets perfectly clean all the way up with no intonation issues at all. The seam where the hinge is hidden is about 3/8” from where the heel meets the body, and you can barely feel it when you’re fretting up around the cutaway. Nut widths at this point are standardized—1-11/16” for the dreadnaughts and 1-3/4” for the OM—but Leach says if there is enough demand, they may consider offering some factory alternatives in the future. The Corian nut is very interesting—it’s a “no release” design, so when you release the screw and fold the guitar over, the strings stay in place at the headstock, and you can simply roll them neatly out of the way into the soundhole. The zero-fret works beautifully to keep the strings at the proper height, while the no-release nut locks them into place for the folding process.

The factory can install a pickup for you if desired; their standard is the L.R. Baggs Active Element, but any pickup that attaches to the underside of the top (such as a Baggs I-Beam, a B-Band or K&K) will work just fine.

The Final Mojo
If you travel at all with your guitar, many of the experiences related above will ring very true to you. Personally, I love that there is enough room in the case for cables, mics, DI/effects pedals and a small guitar stand, and there’s still room in the extra compartment for my laptop and recorder—and I can throw it on my back and carry my amp in one hand and a bag full of merch in the other. The more compact and self-contained we artists can be, the easier our lives get and the fewer expenses we have. It’s a beautiful equation, and the bonus points are that this is a fantastically good guitar that sounds, plays and feels like one of the best factory made guitars out there. At a retail price of $1695, the value is through the roof, making this a real no-brainer.
Buy if...
you travel at all and you need a very real guitar.
Skip if...
you never make it past your front porch and you’re completely in love with all the guitars you already own.
Rating...
5.0

MSRP $1695 - Voyage-Air - voyageairguitar.com