The Traveler Guitar Escape Mark III is an acoustic/electric travel guitar with a full 25.5-inch scale and a built-in headphone amplifier and tuner.
The company’s proprietary In-Body tuning system eliminates the headstock by mounting the tuning machines within the guitar body. The result is a full-scale guitar that is about 26 percent shorter and about half the thickness of a typical acoustic guitar.
The Escape series features larger and more traditional body shapes than other Traveler guitars, which gives them a familiar, comfortable feel.
So, let’s get into our Traveler Guitar 6 String Escape Mark III review to find out what makes this instrument so special!
A Full Body Experience
The Escape Mark III is a real guitar, with a full 25.5-inch scale and 22 medium frets. Both the body and the full-size, bolt-on neck are solid mahogany, while the fingerboard is walnut. The body is bound with walnut brown plastic. Traveler also makes an Escape model with an alder body and cream binding, if you prefer the lighter look.
The neck radius is a comfortable 9.75 inches, with a standard 1.75 inch width at the nut. A deep single cutaway provides comfortable access to the highest frets. It’s designed for steel strings and comes with D’Addario EJ15 phosphor bronze acoustic guitar strings, extra light gauge (.010 – .047).
It’s also designed to take up as little space as possible. Most obviously, there’s no headstock with tuning machines. Instead, the strings wrap around a set of string rollers behind the bridge to a cavity in the back of the guitar body.
The black anodized 14:1 ratio closed-gear tuners are mounted in the body between the end of the neck and the bridge, where pickups would usually be mounted. Changing strings can be a little tricky the first few times, but it’s not a serious concern.
Smaller is better!
By eliminating the headstock, the overall length of the guitar is reduced to just 31.5 inches, rather than the normal 38 – 41 inches. And it’s only 10.75 inches (27.3 cm) wide and 1.75 inches (4.45 cm) thick. The compact size also helps keep the weight down, to just 3 pounds, 12 ounces (8.25 kg).
All this makes it very airplane-friendly. Just carry it on board and stow it conveniently overhead; no more fears of ground staff damaging it!
Gig bag included!
Every Traveler Guitar instrument comes with a rugged custom-designed gig bag with multiple zippered pockets, to protect your instrument when you take it on the road. Yet it adds little weight. The Escape, together with the gig bag, weighs only 5 pounds 14 ounces (2.67 kg).
Pickup and preamp
The Mark III is fitted with a Shadow Electronics Nanoflex piezo pickup mounted under the bridge. It provides a typical acoustic guitar sound without the need for a large resonant body.
The built-in matching headphone amp produces a clear, crisp signal for private practice sessions with headphones, or direct into an amp or mixer from the standard 1/4-inch output jack.
The preamp, powered by two AAA batteries, also provides a 1/8-inch aux input so you can play along with music from your music player or other device, plus a built-in tuner.
Warranty to Back it Up
The Escape Mark III comes with a lifetime warranty to the original purchaser against defects in materials and workmanship, except for strings, tuning machines, frets, switches, electronic components, jacks, pickguards, and plated surfaces, which are guaranteed for three years.
The Playing Experience
How Does it Feel?
Although the Escape Mark III is designed to sound like a traditional acoustic guitar, it plays more like an electric. The action is set low, and string tension is light because of the light gauge (.010 – .047) strings. And of course, when it’s not plugged in, it sounds like a typical unplugged solid-body electric guitar.
You won’t mistake the touch for your best traditional acoustic or electric guitar. The relatively thin body makes it somewhat difficult to rest your arm when playing, but the overall balance is excellent.
Having said that, the Mark III is a joy to play and will encourage you to practice more. With its small size and light weight, at home, it ideally sits next to your couch, where you can grab it at odd moments and play. This makes it an excellent choice for a beginning student, who will get a better guitar for the same price that’s more encouraging to play.
How Does it Sound?
Listening through headphones or a suitable powered speaker or amp from the aux out, the Escape Mark III sounds like a very good emulation of a steel-string acoustic guitar. Some owners have said the alder version has a brighter tone, while the mahogany body provides a warmer tone and better sustain.
The Shadow Electronics preamp provides bass and treble controls, plus a phase switch, to tweak the sound to your liking.
Traveler Guitar 6 String Escape Mark III Pros and Cons
- Sounds great and plays nicely.
- Lightweight and easily portable.
- Great value for the money.
- Not a ‘True’ acoustic.
- A few players may not like the look.
- Some of the electronics are not the best and could do wit an upgrade.
Have guitar, will travel…
Or, if you’re also after a more modern slim-lined design from Traveler, check out our comprehensive Traveler Guitar 6 String Acoustic Electric Guitar review.
Traveler Guitar 6 String Escape Mark III – Final Thoughts
Traveler Guitar of Redlands, California, has been a leading innovator in the design and manufacture of full-scale travel guitars since 1992. Unlike traditional luthiers who might modify one of their regular guitar designs to be smaller, these instruments are designed from the ground up for full playability as well as portability.
The company has worked hard to create a quality instrument at a reasonable price. This has meant moving manufacture of this model overseas to China. While the overall build quality is excellent, some of the electrical components like jacks and pots don’t appear to be at the same level of quality as in the best American-made brands.
A three-year warranty protects against any parts failure, but these might be items worth upgrading in the long run.
Overall, it’s a fine instrument, and if you buy one, you’ll probably play it all the time because it’s so easy to take anywhere. And that’s probably the best measure of its value.