Stow Away Travel Guitar Review by Janis Kreilis
Not long before graduating from college, I got a job offer that I had long dreamed of: a truly jet-set lifestyle which would involve flying to far-away countries that I would never otherwise visit and not staying in one place longer than a couple of months. Still, a problem remained. Reminding myself of all the trouble I had gone through just to bring my full-sized guitar across the Atlantic once a year, I kept thinking, does this mean that I would have to give up playing the guitar?
This is where the Stow-Away from Stewart Guitars comes in. The key thing about this guitar is Woody Stewart’s patented clip-joint system which allows you to easily remove the neck of the guitar without taking the strings off. Once detached from the body, the neck can then be stored into a special slot inside the guitar’s body. The whole procedure is remarkably easy and takes about five minutes to learn, as Woody provides great directions for assembly and disassembly. After that, putting the guitar back together is a matter of seconds. Disassembled, the guitar—even when put in the well-padded bag that comes with every Stow-Away—is small enough to fit in your average carry-on. I have never had an easier time bringing a guitar back to Europe (mind you, though, that the airport security might be curious—I had to open my bag in Germany).
What separates the Stow-Away from other travel guitars is that it is not really travel-sized when assembled. The guitar features a standard-scale (25½”) neck with rosewood fingerboard and 22 medium frets, and the alder body is only slightly smaller than that of a standard Strat. Having no headstock means that the tuners can be found at the bottom of the body—while it felt slightly unusual at first, I got used to tuning the guitar with my right hand in no time. The Stow-Away comes equipped with three single-coil alnico pole magnet pick-ups, a five-way pick-up selector, a volume knob, and two tone knobs.
Now for the subjective part. It has been two months since I got this guitar, and I love it (to the point that I haven’t picked up my good-old LTD). I have tried it with my 5W all-tube amp as well as the little travel-sized VOX that I bought for my future hotel-room practice sessions, and the guitar sounds amazing. With the treble up, the pick-ups give you a crisp and punchy sound both in clean and overdrive, but playing with the tone controls will bring out the mellower part of the guitar’s character. Each pick-up has a very distinctive sound, so this amazing instrument has a lot to offer. The sustain is amazing—especially given the slot in the body and the unusual build.
The Stow-Away feels and looks great as well. You can clearly see that Woody Stewart pays great attention to every little detail and his guitars are of the highest quality. The sleek neck feels great when playing, and the frets have given me no problem for now. My Stow-Away is black with a pearloid pickguard (other variations are available), and the dark chrome finish on the output jack and strap buttons only adds to the elegant look. For me, Stow-Away is way more than a “substitute” travel guitar: it feels and sounds like a great “regular” guitar, and I wouldn’t even think twice about bringing it on stage.
Last word about Woody Stewart, the inventor and maker of this ingenious design: you will hardly find better customer service anywhere. I had to get mine on a short notice because I was leaving for Europe, and, despite some delays on the manufacturing side, Woody managed to get one of his Stow-Aways to me on time. He also mentioned that I could always send it back if I didn’t like it. Thanks, but mine is not going anywhere.