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FAQ
What does it sound like?
What is so special about Blackbird guitars?
test What is that unusual material it is made of?
test What is so great about the all-hollow design?
What is the difference between the Blackbird Rider and other small guitars?
Are these performance grade instruments?
How durable is it really?
The designs are unusual, can I still play it comfortably?
Why is there no a truss rod in a Blackbird?
Why does the Rider cost more than some other smaller guitars and is it wise to bring this valuable instrument out into the wild world?
Will the airlines let me bring the Rider on the plane as a carry-on?
Where can I buy this miracle of an instrument?
What is your warranty?
Can you put nylon strings on the Steel string model, or steel strings on the Nylon model?
Where did the name "Blackbird" come from?
What strings do you recommend?
Is this a good guitar to learn on?
How would you describe the action of the strings?
Is there a 13 pin connector on the guitar?
Do you ship internationally?
Where is the pickguard?
Are there any other models?
   
   
What does it sound like?
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All Blackbird models are louder and richer than their size would suggest. Carbon fiber has a clear and distinct tone with uncanny note-to-note separation. That said, if you were to record a quality wood instrument along side a carbon guitar, very few folks would hear the difference. The hollow neck/carbon fiber construction is simply a lighter therefore more resonant way to construct guitars. Every string on the fretboard is balanced and the uni-body construction means they sustain longer too- which makes them superior for fingerpicking and barre chords in particular. Check out our video and audio on the downloads page to hear for yourself. The Rider models will remind you of that fancy wood guitar you leave at home except you can easily bring it everywhere and worry-free.

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What is so special about Blackbird guitars?
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The Blackbird proprietary design, materials, and hollow neck and head (with sound port!) uni-body construction result in the lightest, strongest and loudest guitars available.

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What is that unusual material it is made of?
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Blackbird guitars are primarily made of carbon fiber along with a bit of kevlar. This type of construction is similar to the structural skin of advanced planes, bikes, race cars and even fishing rods. We use carbon fiber because it sounds great, is bomb-proof and allows us to break out of the two-dimensional constraints of designing out of wood as well as being the only material stiff enough for the hollow neck construction.

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What is so great about the all-hollow design?
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The main benefit of the hollow body, neck and head design is that the entire guitar becomes the sound box contributing to its loud and full-bodied tone. Secondary benefits are less weight and physical balance (not neck-heavy)- a problem with conventional small-bodied guitars.

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q What is the difference between Blackbird and other small guitars?
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The short answer is tone, and playability. The Blackbird has a rich and satisfying acoustic tone with a full frequency range and full-size guitar volume. Other small guitars do not. Theirs are miniaturized interpretation of a full-size for easy travel with the tone diminished accordingly. They also have shorter scale lengths (often around 22.5" versus ours of 24.5") which further diminishes playability and tone. Ours is the reinvention the guitar: a small body instrument for easy travel without compromise.

Here is the long list of how we get a big sound from a small body (and they do not):

    * Innovative, synergistic and patented design features to maximize resonance including: hollow neck and hollow head (kills sound deadening neck/lowers weight/increases resonance chamber), body extension with back cutaway for access to higher frets, curve-less design (no sound robbing double-O where its unnecessary with a narrower guitar), asymmetrical sound hole (larger soundboard resonance area), secondary sound hole (no standing waves from hollow neck and additional sound projection).
    * We use carbon fiber (verses some fiberglass found in other guitars) which means a lighter, high-strength to-weight ratio and therefore more resonant instrument.
    * 1mm thick soundboard- solid carbon. That is the thinnest and therefore most resonant in the industry because we make it differently and out of a higher grade of carbon (pre-preg)  than all other competitors.
    * Blackbird body length is 18.5 in. (same as a full-size) verses others which are around 15 in. which affects the size of the resonance chamber. Body cutaway means you still have access to higher frets.

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q Are these performance grade instruments?
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Yes- all our models are serious guitars designed for pros which means that folks just starting out will benefit too. They all feature master luthier quality fretwork, set-up and ergonomic design for maximum playability. The sustain, clarity and evenness of the carbon fiber and hollow uni-body design translates to superior plugged in experience (no wolf tones or dead spots!). The Rider specifically, though compact for portability, is often used for performance and in the studio.

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Why do the Rider models cost more than some other travel guitars and is it wise to bring this valuable instrument out into the wild world?
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Hollow neck/uni-body carbon fiber construction is the highest performance way to make guitars for the greatest responsiveness. It is also a very laborious and expensive process. Our thinking is that folks buy high performance laptops, bikes, and cameras to enhance their lives so guitarists should have the same option available to them. The Rider may look small but it sounds almost as full as a standard steel string with a beautiful voice- that puts it in a category of its own. Exceptional durability means freedom from the tyranny of worry that comes with travelling with a wooden guitar (and a laptop for that matter!) As a professional grade instrument, it is fit for gigging, the studio, and for the beginner. Many customers play their Rider more than their other guitars. The hand-built all carbon fiber construction results in a bomb-proof and beautiful instrument ready to ride with you anywhere. Most anything made from carbon fiber costs more because the materials and processes have been nearly monopolized by the military/aviation industries for use in their most critical applications.

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How durable are they?
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Humidity changes wreck nice wooden guitars. This is a non-issue with a Blackbird. If you could play in a tropical rain storm and be instantly teleported to a desert, the instrument would be fine (you'll need new strings and maybe tuners). These guitars do not need to be babied because carbon fiber has several times the impact strength of wood. The finish is more durable and scratch resistant than a conventional guitar finish so keep it out of the case and around the house care-free. You will want your instrument in its gig bag when bush-whacking as it is not scratch-proof. Blackbirds endure heat better than wood guitars, but it is best that you treat your instrument more-or-less as you would yourself. So sustained temps of 150f (65c) and above are not ideal- a temp that can be reached in a hot car in very hot conditions. In these cases, keep the guitar out of direct sun, in its case and detuned. Wait until the instrument cools down until you tune it back up. These are precautions and if the temp does not exceed 120f (50c) there will be no problem. Cold temps are never a problem afterall our guitars have been ice-diving in Antarctica!

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The designs are unusual, can I still play it comfortably?
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Most of our customers find their Blackbird more comfortable than a conventional guitar. The Rider guitars a perfectly balanced on your lap and with a guitar support, are more ergonomic than a 'normal' guitar. To see the guitar support, Click here.

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Why no truss rod in Blackbirds?
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Because the carbon fiber hollow neck is super stable and stiff none is needed. In addition to the already stiff and stable neck, there is a static truss 'tube' running the length of the fretboard that tie into the top bracing. Finally, the composite fretboard is a very stiff and stable. This layered construction provides redundant stability.

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Will the airlines let me bring the Rider models on the plane as a carry-on?
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The airlines all tend to have different policies regarding carry-on luggage and policies are in constant flux. It does fit easily in the overhead bin due to its diminutive size so you should able to get it on in most instances. We recommend wearing the soft case as a backpack, adjusted low on your back and you will stealth on by. For more airline travel tips with your Blackbird click here

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Where can I buy this miracle of an instrument?
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We sell direct and through select dealers. Click here to get your Blackbird.

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What is your warranty?
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We have a limited lifetime warranty. To ready our warranty statement, click here. If you buy direct, you can try out the instrument for three weeks and return it if you are not satisfied for a full refund.

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q Can you put nylon strings on a Steel string model, or vice versa?
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The Nylon model was designed for use specifically with nylon strings, with the bracing and hardware specifically tailored to nylon stringing. And the steel string is set up and designed for steel strings and the bracing and tuners are designed to accommodate the higher tension of steel strings.

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q Where did the name "Blackbird" come from?
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The Blackbird name was partly inspired by the song, usually one of the first songs learned on guitar, and also by the bird that inspired the song. Blackbirds are common here in San Francisco (as elsewhere) though they are as overlooked as pigeons. They are beautiful (and loud) singers- despite their diminutive size.

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q What strings do you recommend?
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Please check the specifications page for each specific model. If you buy direct, we can customize the action for you with your preferred strings. Many dealers can do the same.

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q Are these good guitars to learn on?
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Absolutely. It's a great guitar to learn on even though many folks that own a Blackbird are pros. Carbon durability means the guitar stays out of the case and enhanced portability means people on-the-go can play whenever and wherever. Now you can practice at your convenience and pick up your Blackbird whenever inspiration strikes, be it home, the office, the skies, the seas and the mountains. With a Blackbird, you never have to be more than an arms length from a great guitar for practice or performance again.

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q How would you describe the action (height) jjjof the strings?
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We would describe the string action as low enough to be great for fingerpicking, but not so low as to lessen the full sound from chords or create buzz when some serious strumming is going on. We can accommodate specific action requests to some degree.

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q Is there a 13 pin connector on the guitar?
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No, but the RMC electronics option has an eight-pin connector which connects to the Polydrive IV preamp and features a 13 Pin connector.

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q Do you ship internationally?
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Yes. Wherever this guitar needs to be, we'll get it there-including Antarctica (seriously).

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q Where is the Pickguard?
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We stopped shipping our guitars with a pickguard after coming to the conclusion that it has a slight sound-dampening quality (some Riders with pickguards still shown). A pickguard make sense on wooden guitars because the soft wood under the thin/brittle finish is so easily punctured. This is not the case with carbon fiber- the pick would wear down before the material would be compromised. Another note is the clearcoat finish we use is really quite durable and can be easily buffed out if scratches occur.

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q Any future models?
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We're open to all stringed instruments, so to keep up with Blackbird, subscribe to the mailing list here.

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Hollow head with sound hole
Impervious carbon fiber construction
 
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