Brunner Outdoor


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My new Brunner traveling "Outdoor Guitar..."           By
Ken Totushek 

I first heard about The Brunner Outdoor Guitar late in 2004 on the 13th Fret by a fellow fretter, Kevin Thompson. I was immediately intrigued, because I have been in search of a good sounding, reasonably priced, travel guitar for years.  We have seen a number of brilliant alternatives from luthiers in this group, at guitar conferences, etc., but they usually carry a very steep pricetag, which I simply don't travel enough to justify.  Even if I did, after so hefty an investment, I'd feel obligated to baby it like I do my other "boutique" guitars.  So, when I checked out the
Brunner Guitar website  to find out more, I was immediately impressed when I saw the setup below packed in the case above.

Well, I made contact with Lukas Brunner about pricing, availability, etc.  He had a batch he was starting in Feb. '05, but also had this one available.  Being the patient man that I am, I told him I'll take the current model, and that I would get a check off to him right away!  This one has a German spruce top with Indian Rosewood b&s--all solid woods.  If I had been even more patient, I may well have ordered a koa model, but I am very pleased with the tone of this one thus far.

I received the guitar the day after Thanksgiving '04, and couldn't wait to check it out.  Well, the guitar turned out to be a bit smaller than I expected, BUT it is an engineering achievement that some might say only the Swiss are capable of!   Of course I don't really believe that statement as we have many brilliant builders as well, but I do find every aspect of this travel guitar extremely well thought out.

First of all, the "box" is very well constructed and finished in matte, which I believe is intentional as it is less difficult (ie., less time consuming, read "less expensive") than glossy, and will show less nicks and dings as it gets used as intended (ie., around campfires, on mountaineering expeditions, out on the streets, in and out of the car when traveling, on bike trips, etc.)  Actually, Lukas told me he designed the guitar to be used on his honeymoon/bike!

Secondly, the neck and string setup easily attaches to the guitar and gets packed away when finished.  The mahogany neck is beautifully finished, and measures 1 7/8" at the nut--just what I need, especially on a short scale guitar like this.  The strings are each "locked in" to the tuners and the partial bridge piece, so once tuned up it kind of stays tuned up--even after taking it down and putting it back together (about a half minute exersise).  Once the neck support bolt is tightened, the guitar is amazingly ready to play...maybe just a couple of small tweaks to tune to perfect pitch.  I am still impressed by this each day I put it together and play it.  The partial bridge securing the strings just slips right in to place in the back of the main bridge, then set the neck on the body, squeeze together, tighten the bolt, and whoalla--ready to play!

There's handy holes in the foam to safely store the bolt and Alan wrench when not in use.  The strings and neck knows right where they fit in the the carved foam insulation.  There's a spare stringset pouch and  a couple small compartments built in to the foam in other areas.  A tuner is enclosed in one of the foam pouches.  The small foam pieces which cover the 2 pockets in the foam base also serve to protect the guitar on the top and bottom of the neck when the guitar is stored in the case (nearly closed) without being taken down.   The goodie list could go on.

AESTHETICS--the craftsmanship, woods, finish, fit are all top grade and all look excellent.   The light colored German Spruce top looks real purdy on this small guitar.  The neck width and thickness, and string spacing are 'made for me' (a 1 7/8 nut making the fretboard  comfortable and fairly easy to move around on, ). 

PLAYABILITY--very good, though if I were ordering one I'd go with even a bit wider nut and bridge width due to the shorter scale length.  This one is working quite alright for me though, and plays well all the way up the neck.  

TONE--sounds simply incredible for such a small body guitar.  Of course there is a bit of a deficit in the low end with such a small body guitar, but the mids and highs come across very punchy and thick (partially due to the med-light strings I assume.  The notes resonate nicely, and there is lots of volume if desired.  When I strum hard on this guitar it really cuts through in a mix with midrange clarity and fullness that makes this a very unique guitar sound.  I haven't had a chance yet, but I think it will record very nicely in harmony with a larger body acoustic.

Now, several months later and almost daily use,  I can say that this guitar will nicely serve the purpose for which it was intended.  That is, traveling with me anywhere in the car, or on a plane (unless it's a gig related trip in which case I would risk one of the bigger brothers).   It's sooo nice not having to worry about this guitar sitting out in the car for extended periods of heat or cold (don't tell Lukas I said that though!).  I'm just not worried about a small guitar like this with no string tension on the woods, etc., and so far it has been doing great.  Oh, when the temp got down to the teens and lower last week I brought it in to work with me, but the thirties or higher...shoot, not to worry, right up to 90 or 95 (though not in direct sunlight of course)--though I haven't yet tested that.  I'm sure it will do fine.

Lucas Brunner has an engineering marvel here, and has priced it such that it's within range for many who would otherwise not be able to consider such a purchase.  Hats off to Lukas Brunner of Brunner Guitars--my expectations were fully met and exceeded!

Ken T.
Graceworks Music

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Copyright 2001 Graceworks Music                  Last modified: March 17, 2007