Lapstick travel guitar press reviews

Lapstick: The Ultimate Travel Guitar by Zack Urlocker from

I happened to be on business in Europe this week and was able to check out the Lapstick, the ultimate travel guitar. The Lapstick weighs just over a pound (500 grams) and measures a mere 20 inches (51.5 cm) end to end. It's so tiny, you can play it in a coach class airline seat or on a train on the way to a gig. Read more at

Lapstick Travel Guitar Review by zanymagic

As a frequent business traveler who was seeking the ideal travel guitar for business trips, I recently discovered the Lapstick Travel Guitar.

No other guitar on the market --as far as I know-- actually can fit in your carry-on luggage, except a Lapstick.

Here's my current travel set up: I plug the Lapstick into a Korg PX5D Pandora Multieffects Processor with Sony Ear Buds . . . Read more at

Guitarist Magazine

Of all the travel guitars that we’ve had in our hands, the Lapstick is definitely the smallest. Michiel Roelse investigates whether good things come in small packages.

In 1993 guitarist/designer Phil Neal was booked for three gigs in the south of Spain. Nice for some, you might think if it wasn’t for the fact that he also had obligations in the Netherlands in between. After six 24 hour train journeys Phil had enough of twiddling his thumbs. He decided to design an instrument that would enable him to use his travel time effectively. After all, who is not familiar with the problem? You spend a long time travelling and once you arrive there is no time for a proper warm-up before the gig. Or you feel like playing a new tune but there is no chance to check the chord sequence.

In the first place Phil Neal started with a full scale drawing of a Fender Telecaster. He then proceeded to remove everything that was not completely essential. It soon became clear that the traditional headstock and machine heads would have to go. Machine heads are simply too big, and they also tend to slip out of tune when being carried.

The first Lapstick was built in 1994. After a continual process of alteration and refinement the moment has arrived. Ladies and Gentlemen: the Lapstick.


After experiments with various types of tonewood, mahogany was chosen as the most suitable for the Lapstick. Both neck and body, in as much as there is a separation between the two, are made of this wood. The instrument measures just 50.5 cm from top to bottom and the thickest part of the body is 4cm. The Lapstick weighs practically nothing. I don’t believe the instrument could be any smaller! Even so the neck is 42mm wide at the nut - standard for electric guitars - and at the twelfth fret it measures 54mm.

The rosewood fingerboard boasts 22 frets (23 for the top two strings). The frets are beautifully filed and finished. From someone like Phil, who has worked for the prestigious guitar shop Andy’s in London, I would expect no less. The strings are clamped in the topnut and tuned with the fine tuners at the other end of the guitar. Each string is individually adjustable in length and height. Compared with the rest of the instrument the bridge seems quite chunky. This has the advantage of giving good support for the right hand. Since while playing the Lapstick you feel as if you have very little in your hands, this support is useful.

The volume control is located under the thickest two strings. The Select (designed by EMG) pickup brings us to the electronics chapter. A Nobel headphone amplifier is hidden in the body of the Lapstick. This offers, in addition to the headphone and instrument output, a three position switch with a choice of Normal, Overdrive or Distortion sounds. The 9 volt battery which powers the preamp is only used when the headphones are inserted. Other functions (see below) do not use the battery and hence do not drain it.

The battery is replaced by loosening the retaining screw between the third and fourth tuning screws. The preamp then slides out of the body making replacement child’s play. All connections are color coded plug and socket so any cables which may accidentally be pulled loose while removing the preamp can easily be replaced.

The Practice

First you click the strap to the instrument. It takes some getting used to, but after adjusting the strap you notice that the Lapstick can be played quite comfortably both sitting and standing. The scale length is 45.5cm and which means that the string tension will feel normal if the strings are tuned to an A or B. It just as if you were playing an electric guitar with a capo on the fifth orfret. The neck can easily be played to the fifteenth fret. Fat fingers may experience claustrophobia in the higher positions. Acoustically the Lapstick has a remarkably resonant sound. It’s incredible how much sound can come out of such a small instrument.

The Lapstick is designed for travelling, but it can come in handy at home too. You can connect it to a normal guitar amplifier, mixer or recorder (because the headphone is not being used, the battery will not be drained). I had a lot of fun with the Lapstick doubling normal guitar parts on my multitrack. Because the Lapstick sounds much higher it gave me the “speeded up” guitar effect that Les Paul had so much success with. Rhythm guitar parts also sounded a lot fresher after they had been doubled with the Lapstick.

The headphone amplifier gives a line level signal. That makes it possible to plug in a guitar or bass and record via (or even simultaneously with) the Lapstick. You can also connect the Lapstick to a stereo, television or car radio if they have a line level input.


Look, playing a travel guitar like the Lapstick doesn’;t feel the same as having a D’Angelico New Yorker in your hands. Still I think that most guitarists could easily get used to playing this instrument. I certainly could in any case. Phil Neal has taken his time designing the Lapstick and that is quite noticeable. All the faults and rough edges which became apparent on earlier prototypes have been solved or removed. The result is a perfect travelmate that I would be happy to take with me.


Neal Precision Woodworking: Lapstick

Price: € 495,- ( including, headphones, sturdy soft case, strap , and allen keys ) Made in: Nederland Body/neck: mahogany Fingerboard: rosewood number of frets: 22 Mensuur: 45.5 cm Topnut: brass Elektronics: Nobel preamp with Normal, Overdrive en Distortion Controls: volume Pickup: 1 x Select (designed bij EMG)

More information: Neal Precision Woodworking, Den Haag. Tel 070-3561994 Rheine. Tel +49(0)5459913675 / +31(0)640642054

Lapguitar for playing on the Road

Most travel guitars are called this because they are easy to carry. The Lapstick is designed for playing while travelling using headphones or car radio. After arriving the sound is surprisingly good through an amplifier.

By Joost van Klaveren

Like every professional musician the Canadian Phil Neal spent many hours in bus, car, and aeroplane. Hours which he would rather have spent picking his guitar. Practicing, trying songs out or warming up for a gig. A normal guitar gets in the way so Neal designed a compact electric travel guitar which can be played without bothering the person next to you, whether this be the driver of your car or a newspaper reading passenger sitting next to you in the plane.

According to the designer the Lapstick is the most compact guitar on the market. With a length of 50,5 and width of maximum 10 centimeters it practically fits in the inner pocket of an overcoat. The weight is just over 500 grams. The strings are easily changed with the help of the included manual and tools (allen key, screwdriver and clippers, you can tell it was designed by a guitarist}. The screws which clamp the strings are pretty small though, so it’s better not to change them on a crowded train.

The tuning knobs are at the rear of the custom made bridge. Each string has an adjustable saddle. Because the strings are shorter than a normal guitar the tuning is also more sensitive. A guitar tuner can be useful in the beginning. Where a normal guitar is tuned in E the Lapstick can best be tuned in A. For the player this is like having a capo on the fifth fret. This makes transposing easy and gives the correct string tension.

Playing the Lapstick requires a certain amount of discipline. According to our test player Jeroen, a fanatical amateur guitarist, chord playing is no problem, but when fingerpicking you miss stability. A normal sized guitar can be held in position with the right arm. The Lapstick lacks a soundbox, therefore the player is forced to play very precisely. The advantage is that your playing on a full sized guitar also improves. In this regard the Lapstick is a real practice instrument.

The Lapstick has a built in preamp which turns on if a headphones minijack is inserted. The 9-volt battery is good for at least 60 hours of playing time. You can play clean but also with overdrive and distortion. The direct sound is clean. The preamp can also be used in combination with a Korg Pandora that contains 125 effects and 40 drum and bass tracks.

The Lapstick is handmade and costs 495 euros ex BTW including headphones, batteries, manual, tools, and gig bag.