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Fabulous Chiquita Travel Guitar. Gig On The Go.

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Chiquita Travel

The Erlewine Chiquita Travel Guitar has been a staple in the music world for decades, offering musicians a compact and reliable solution for practicing and playing on the go. This in-depth review will delve into everything you need to know about Chiquita Travel, from its features and specifications to its pros and cons, helping you decide if this travel-friendly axe is the right fit for you.

Specifications of the Chiquita Travel Guitar:

  • Body: Solid mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany neck-thru design
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood with pearloid dot inlays
  • Scale Length: 19 inches (short scale)
  • Neck Profile: Medium C
  • Nut Width: 1-5/8 inches
  • Pickups: Single “Classic ’59” style humbucker
  • Electronics: Volume control
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Weight: Approximately 4 lbs
  • Case: Includes a hardshell case

Pros:

  • Unmatched Portability: The Chiquita’s biggest selling point is its compact size. Measuring roughly a foot shorter than a standard Stratocaster, it easily fits in overhead compartments, backpacks, or even under the seat on an airplane. This makes it ideal for traveling musicians, gigging around town, or simply keeping in your car for impromptu jam sessions.
  • Solid Build Quality: Despite its miniature size, the Chiquita Travel boasts a surprisingly solid build. The mahogany body and neck-thru construction provide excellent sustain and resonance, while the rosewood fingerboard and chrome hardware offer a comfortable playing experience.
  • Punchy Humbucker Sound: The single humbucker pickup on the Chiquita Travel delivers a surprisingly versatile tone. It can handle everything from warm bluesy cleans to thick, saturated rock tones. While it may not offer the tonal variety of a multi-pickup guitar, the humbucker gets the job done for most genres.
  • Simple and Reliable Electronics: With just a single volume control, the Chiquita keeps things simple. This is perfect for beginners or players who want a hassle-free practice instrument. While some might miss tone-shaping options, it allows for quick adjustments on the fly.
  • Head-Turning Design: Let’s face it, the Chiquita Travel is just plain cool. Its unique, miniaturized silhouette is sure to turn heads wherever you take it. Fun Fact: The Chiquita even achieved pop culture fame when a fictional version was played by Marty McFly in the opening scene of the iconic film “Back to the Future.”

Cons:

  • Short Scale Length: The 19-inch scale length might take some getting used to for players accustomed to full-scale guitars. It can cause string tension to feel looser, potentially affecting bending and playing techniques.
  • Limited Playability: Due to the smaller size, complex chords or techniques requiring large stretches might be challenging on the Chiquita. It’s not ideal for shredders or players who rely heavily on fingerpicking.
  • Single Pickup Tone: While the humbucker offers a decent range of tones, the lack of pickup options limits its versatility compared to guitars with multiple pickups or coil-splitting capabilities.
  • Price: The Chiquita can be on the pricier side compared to some other travel guitars on the market. It’s important to weigh the cost against the benefits and features it offers.

Famous Players Who Use the Chiquita Travel Guitar:

Despite its limitations, the Chiquita has found favor with some notable musicians, including:

  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Johnny Winter
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Andy Summers (The Police)
  • Paul McCartney (Left-Handed Bass Version)
  • Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top)
  • Pat Metheny

These artists demonstrate the Chiquita’s ability to hold its own in a professional setting, proving it’s more than just a novelty instrument.

FAQ:

Q: Is the Chiquita good for beginners?

A: The Chiquita can be a good option for beginners due to its simple design and compact size. However, the shorter scale length might take some getting used to. If you have large hands or plan on learning complex techniques, a full-scale guitar might be a better choice.

Q: Can I use the Chiquita for gigs?

A: Absolutely! While some might prefer a full-scale guitar for stage presence, the Chiquita can deliver a great sound thanks to its solid build and punchy humbucker. Keep in mind its limitations on complex playing and tonal variety.

Q: Does the Chiquita come with a case?

A: Yes, the Chiquita includes a hardshell case for safe transport.

Who is the Chiquita  Travel Right For?

The Chiquita is a versatile instrument that can cater to a variety of musicians. Here are some ideal scenarios for this travel-friendly guitar:

  • Traveling Musicians: This is where the Chiquita truly shines. Its compact size makes it a perfect companion for musicians on the road, allowing them to practice and maintain their skills without lugging around a full-sized guitar.
  • Casual Players: If you’re a hobbyist musician who enjoys playing at home or jamming with friends, the Chiquita offers a convenient and fun way to make music. Its portability makes it easy to grab and play whenever inspiration strikes.
  • Songwriters and Practice Tool: Songwriters can find the Chiquita to be a great tool for composing and sketching out ideas. Its compact size encourages creativity and a focus on core songwriting elements. Additionally, the ease of use makes it ideal for practicing scales, chords, and techniques.
  • Backstage Warm-Up Instrument: Professional musicians can utilize the Chiquita as a backstage warm-up tool before gigs. Its portability allows for quick and convenient pre-show practice without needing to set up their main instrument.

Playing the Chiquita Travel: Feel and Sound

While the Chiquita offers a great playing experience for its size, there are some adjustments players might need to make:

  • Scale Length: As mentioned earlier, the 19-inch scale length might require some adaptation, especially for those accustomed to full-scale guitars. Chords and bends might feel slightly different due to the looser string tension. However, with practice, this adjustment becomes seamless.
  • Playability: The smaller body size can limit fingerpicking and complex chord voicings that require wider stretches. However, for most basic chords, riffs, and lead lines, the Chiquita performs admirably.

On the other hand, the Chiquita offers some unique sonic advantages:

  • Punchy Humbucker: The single humbucker pickup packs a surprising punch. It delivers a warm and rich tone that can be pushed into overdrive for heavier sounds.
  • Unique Voice: The Chiquita’s compact design creates a slightly different sonic character compared to full-scale guitars. This unique voice can be appealing for recording or adding a different flavor to your music.

Conclusion: 

The Erlewine Chiquita Travel Guitar is a niche instrument that prioritizes portability and practicality over full-scale playability. If you’re a traveling musician, casual player, songwriter, or appreciate the unique features of a mini-guitar, the Chiquita is an excellent choice. However, if complex playing techniques or a wide tonal palette are your priorities, a full-scale guitar might be a better fit.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to your individual needs and playing style. If you’re looking for a compact and reliable travel companion that delivers a surprisingly great sound, the Erlewine Chiquita Travel Guitar is definitely worth considering.

 

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