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I am by no means a guitarist.... I am guitarish. But playing around camp just has an allure. For both sentimental and practical reasons I don't want to take my trusty Washburn camping/rafting, but I do want to bring a guitar. Perusing online ads, cheap guitars are plentiful. I found a perfect dry bag at a garage sale (I don't plan to strap the guitar caseless to the top of the gear pile like the guy in the classic photo). What I want to know is: under the conditions of rafting (and car camping) 1) Do I need a heavy guitar case or will chipboard do? Also, I have a steel string guitar and my mom's old 60's classical Yamaha guitar (also not coming for sentimental reasons), 2) Will a classical guitar (nylon strings) handle the conditions better than a steel string with much higher string tension? I am guitarish, so I don't have a strong preference between the two styles.

P.S. I found some makers of carbon fiber guitars that don't care about the wet and weather, I will gladly recreate the old photo if someone would like to donate the carbon fiber guitar ~ I mean, what's $1,000 among friends? We are friends, right?
 

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hey aspiring musician,

I am a professional musician (keyboards) been playing for FT or PT living since 1988; except when on the river...I am also a professional river guide (retired in 2005 after 20+ years from AZ to Idaho & everything in between.
I've had a beautiful sunburst accoustic Ibanez guitar since 1980...I found some old harmony guitar in pawn shop for a river guitar. Everytime I got off the river (I didn't often take it on working trips, customers would expect free entertainment after working 19 hour day)....Anyways, my Ibanez sat in my livingroom on a guitar stand, looking beautiful, not a scratch, super easy to play, great action....And I heard a song by a street singer one day...:The chorus went something like, "...give me a couch, a beautiful couch, thats covered in plastic, and too nice to sit on, its worthless to me."

I started taking my ibanez, in hardshell case (yes you want a hardshell case, because gear loading un loading, people tripping around camp, etc. you will get whatever you bring smashed if not in hardshell case. Don't need a flight case.) Well 20 years later, I have given old pawn shop guitar away, my ibanez has thousands of river miles...sand from every river trip, been in one flip on grand canyon, (only slightly damp inside case inside guitar bag) and sounds prettier than any guitar I've ever played. I can only play 6 cords at end of neck, but I got musician ear, and there's thousands of folk tunes with those same cords. Someday they'll come up with a boat piano.... Not one regret, even if something ever happened to guitar.
One thing living on the river teaches you (1 trip, or 20 years) is all the crap we acquire that I never, ever miss when I'm on the river. I have tousands of vinyl albums (I'm 51) and everytime I'm rowing a trip, I think about those albums, selling on ebay after I transfer to CD, as 9insurance is not gonna pay me what they're worth should house ever burn down.

Last summer, there was huge fire near Nederalnd, where I live, and I was in "pre-evac" status for a week. As soon as I found out, I looked around my house, ctacked up 3 cat carriers, a bin full of irreplacalbe photos and cassettes recorded over years with bands...
you been on river trips...the hardest decision (most of the time) is what shorts or swimsuit to wear...All the 'stuff' we accumulate doesn't matter.

"Why ask why? In the end, only love remains..." JJ aka WT cpyrite 2006)
PS: If your washburn is in a hardshell case, you can always put your river guitar in that case and take on trips...Thats what I did, until I got sick of looking at this gorgeous guitar I never played. Remember, wood instruments of any kind really physically do sound amazingly better the more they are played. Its the sonic vibrations in the wood (and god knows what else that humans, with our limited senses, are aware of.) I only wish people would stop bringing "sirious' satellite radio on river trips. Hears to beautiful acoustic music,, reverberating through the canyon walls.
 

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One more thing. You can get a sweet gbuitar, hardshell case and guitar bag for less than $1000.00. As long as its a decent hardshellcase, and you cinch up guitar bag properly and everythings tied down, like I said, my guitar was in a spectacular flip in Hermit Rapids at about 28K in grand canyon, on my first Grand Trip as a licensed guide, and it didn't get wet. Also, do not rig on floor of boat, even standing up. When water washes in boat, takes a while to drain out of SB...if there is a leak (which all dry bags get pinholes eventually, you don't want guitar sitting in bag in standing water. Just remember, there's no such thing as a completely waterproof drybag, but how often has your stuff ever got wet? (If properly sealed?) Play your washburn. It will reward you in ways only music can translate!
 

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No carbon fiber! Not necessary! Buy hardshell for washburn, use it for river guitar, or go buy hardshell at pawn shop. The biggest pain in the butt is loading, unloading rigging, boatwalking, when someone says, please don't toss this on beach..its breakable.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the reply, Jungle Jane. So steel string guitars handle the heat and other conditions of a dry bag just fine. I'll have to start looking for a full size hard case. I wouldn't pay 1k for a guitar, carbon fiber or otherwise, but I'd play it if someone gave it to me. My price range is more like $50 (guitarish).

Anyone else with guitar packing experience is welcome to chime in.

And for the record, I don't know who Drew is either, but I want to know what happened to his guitar.
 

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Steel strings fine. I changed my strings on trip last year, and discovered the prior strings were 20 years old! (I used to tie them together when they broke, thats how I knew.
All I know is rivers travel the speed of the planet. No crap, plastic, pavement, (yes I know I'm sitting on a cooler full of safeway groceries.) What accoustic instrument (which is made from organic material) wouldn't thrive and sing when back to its roots? (Kind of the same thing that happens to people on their first river trip.) I'm sure the info is easily found, about either the London Philhjarmonic, or NYsymphony orchestra had entire orchastra boated to redwall cavern in grand canyon (if you not familiar with redwall cavern, just look thaqt up...powell supposed it would hold 50,000 people and I can't argue with that. Anyways they took entire symphony down grand, setup in redwall cavern and played to the gods and goddesses worthy of such an aural delight!~
 

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peanutranch
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guitars

I've destroyed many guitars on river trips. Like at least 10. I have a Rainsong carbon fiber guitar that I love. But it's big bucks. I'd recommend a baby Taylor or baby Martin. I used to use a Pelican Case 1700 with a Martin Backpacker. It was great and lasted, fully protected in the Pelican Case. But the sound was less than optimal. So I wouldn't really recommend it at this point.
 

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I just started playing ukulele a few months ago, with the aim of taking it on the river. I bought two ukes to start out.....a decent beginner level mahogany and a Kala Waterman polycarbonate (aka plastic) uke. The Waterman has been on one river trip. I took it on a touring kayak trip on the Green, Stillwater Canyon. Soft case inside a light weight dry bag, inside my kayak. It's an OK sounding uke, but the more I play my regular home uke, the more plastic the Waterman sounds to me and the more I dislike it. So I bought a cheap but sturdy chipboard case and a heavier dry bag, and now my everyday uke goes on the river with me. A guy at a guitar store said it this way.....treat your uke like you'd treat your dog. Don't lock it in a hot car, don't leave it out in the snow, don't run it over with a car, but love it and take it everywhere with you. So that's what I'm doing.
 

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Ukes are great.
We had 6 (?) on the Canyon ranging from baritone to concert. They all fit in one JPW guitar bag!
I have a concert and usually pack it in a tapered stern kayak bag, fits perfect, but had JPW make me a custom bag for the Canyon trip. How do you like the waterman? I heard mixed reviews on the sound quality, but it would be nice to have one to bang out dueling ukes in a rapid.
 

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Ukes are great.
We had 6 (?) on the Canyon ranging from baritone to concert. They all fit in one JPW guitar bag!
I have a concert and usually pack it in a tapered stern kayak bag, fits perfect, but had JPW make me a custom bag for the Canyon trip. How do you like the waterman? I heard mixed reviews on the sound quality, but it would be nice to have one to bang out dueling ukes in a rapid.
I've been playing for about 3 months, so I'm no expert. My regular uke is a Teton concert mahogany laminate. Cost a little over $100. Has a good clear sound, in spite of my novice skills. The Kala Waterman (concert) is super sturdy and comes with quality Aquilla strings. The sound is softer and much more mellow than my wood uke. The big difference in sound comes when I use a capo to match the key in which a song is normally played so that I can play along with tunes on my iPod/Bluetooth speaker in camp. The Waterman doesn't sound great as you move down the fretboard. Overall, it sounds ok, but not the same as wood.

I decided I'd get a hard case and a bigger, beefier dry bag to bring my regular uke on my raft. I got a basic hard case and a Sea to Summit Big River 65 L dry bag. The dry bag has 2 sets of side lash tabs that work great for wrapping a velcro strap around to cinch things down a bit. I slide my 3 ring binder of song sheets inside the bag as well. So far so good. The uke survived a chilly Memorial Day weekend trip, and I'll be bringing it along on lots of trips next month. For kayak trips, I'll probably still do the soft case/smaller dry bag combo so that it fits inside my kayak better. I paddle & raft with friends that are very responsible with gear, and rarely get so intoxicated that they'd damage a uke or guitar.

I got the ukulele so that I'd have a portable instrument to bring into the great outdoors. It's fun to mess around with. I'm currently taking a beginner class through the University of Utah Lifelong Learning program, and the instructor told us his aim was to get us to the point where we could jam around a campfire. Perfect. That's my goal. I also work with kids, and playing for & with them is super cool.
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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Schutzie does not play guitar, or for that matter have any musical ....... genes .......whatsoever.
But his good buddy, who does play guitar (no matter he can't carry a tune in a bucket, he's spirited when he moans) always had the attitude that if he couldn't use his guitar as an emergency paddle, it was probably too fragile for the river.
 
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