The age of the alternative material used for acoustic guitars arrived with Ovation. That was in November of 1966, though it didn’t make its debut in Europe until a little later. Some liked it, but others didn’t. But there were certainly one or two plus points.
However, in today’s review, we are going to take a look at one of the Klos offerings – The Klos Black Carbon Fiber Full Size Acoustic Guitar.
Today the manufacture of such instruments is still not particularly wide-ranging. There are Ovation and Peavey as well as some smaller companies like Klos, RainSong, and Blackbird. Except for Ovation, you couldn’t say they have broken into the market in a big way.
Ovation is a little different from the others. Their brand has an international following, and the quality of the instrument and its sound challenges the ‘old-guard.’ A lot of respected musicians have used and still use their guitars.
The others can’t compete with that. But what Klos has done is a little different. They have made a little market for themselves in a slightly different area. So, let’s learn about how and where that market is?
Positives and negatives of composite material…
Well, from a negative point of view, and excluding Ovation, it is the sound. Marketing departments will wax lyrical about how great they sound. But that’s marketing departments for you.
They sound ok. But you can’t put them up against even mid-range Martins, Taylors, Yamaha, and a dozen other wood-based instruments. There isn’t the deep warm resonance that wood guitars achieve, even with the less expensive entry-level guitars.
So what market have Klos identified? And how have they moved into it? Here’s how.
Finding a niche…
If the sound is not as good as a wood guitar, where can a composite guitar succeed? The big benefit of composite guitars is that they can go anywhere. They can take a few knocks. They aren’t affected by weather and humidity as wooden guitars can be. And they still sound the same.
That makes them ideal as travel guitars. And it is here that Klos appears to have pitched this instrument. But if you are going to travel with a guitar and build one for that purpose, there are potential problems. More on this later.
So, is it any good? Well, we’ll find out soon enough, but before that, let’s take a look at Klos?
In 2014 Adam Klosowiak was at college. He left for a winter break and left the window of his dorm open. Lying there was his guitar. On returning, it had cracked in the cold weather and was beyond repair.
He got together with his brother, invited a few others to join in, and they solved the problem. A composite guitar that won’t crack. However, they weren’t the first. Ovation was already way up the mountain, but it was a start.
That get together has evolved into a company that now builds them. This guitar we are going to look at is one of the ranges. Let’s take a closer look.
As the name suggests and as we have been discussing, this is a guitar with a body made from Carbon Fiber. As we know, it is a hard-wearing material that doesn’t crack or warp like wood can. Therefore, it can withstand some inhospitable environments.
In fact, it is fair to say that this guitar has probably seen a few of the world’s major sites. Been up mountains, probably got wet and hot, and remained totally unaffected.
The ability to withstand these situations has made it an ideal travel guitar. It cannot compete with wooden guitars made by the recognized manufacturers of a similar price point. But it can go to places and survive where they can’t.
Additionally, it is not full-size and will pack away easily. But it offers something very important to some. We will consider that as this review goes on.
As we have already said, the body is made from carbon fiber. It forms the top soundboard, sides, and back. Klos refers to it as a Dreadnought, but in reality, that is being generous. The best you could say is that it is a ‘tiny’ Dreadnought.
It measures only 15 inches long, has a width of 11.5, and is 3.5 inches deep. A ‘mini’ Dreadnought. It has a scale length of 24 and ¾ inches.
Well-made but bland…
It seems to be quite well made and put together, but we have to say it is not the most attractive instrument we have ever seen. This has to go down as a negative in our book. There are no aesthetics applied to it all.
The carbon fiber material is just black, which is what you might expect. Furthermore, there is no rosette or decor around the soundhole. There is no binding either. The look of it then is somewhat plain and uninteresting.
In our opinion guitars, travel or otherwise, do need to have a reasonable look about them. This has no appealing look at all.
Rather surprisingly, this guitar has a wooden neck. Mahogany, to be exact. Why surprising? Only because the guitar has been built to withstand some harsh weather conditions. In the damp or the heat, it is often the neck that goes first. Still, not a bad choice of wood.
On top is a fingerboard of Brazilian Cherry wood. Again a decent choice of wood. There are 18 frets in total, but without a cutaway, only 14 are easily playable.
The neck profile is quite slim. This, of course, makes it easier to play, especially for those with smaller hands. Built-in are stiffening rods made out of carbon fiber. Presumably, these add a bit of strength to the neck.
We mentioned earlier that this guitar offers something that would be important to some players. This is, the neck is completely removable. It is connected to the body with four screws.
Travel with ease…
Now, this is a big point, especially for those traveling with it. This means it is going to disassemble in seconds and fit in a backpack or other small bag. It is also going to fit easily in the overhead bin on an airplane.
It effectively means you can take this guitar anywhere. Easy to disassemble, it is just as easy to put together again. Additionally, the neck has its own bag for storage.
Having been designed to be as portable as possible, the headstock is trimmed down in size a little. In fact, it actually looks a little odd and out of phase with the rest of the guitar.
It has the six Graphtech Ratio tuners, which is a decent standard. They are, though, placed quite close together. This is because of the scaled-down size of the headstock. Not easy to use for larger fingers.
Durable and stable…
A good aspect of the headstock, though, is that it has a zero angle in relation to the neck. This offers a certain stability and durability. The nut size is 1 and 11/16 inches and is made of TUSQ. A step up from plain old plastic.
But at this price point, we would have been very disappointed to see plastic in the first place.
Down on the body, there is a basic hardtail bridge with TUSQ saddle and bridge pins.
If you are buying this as part of the package deal, then you can expect to find a gig bag and a bag for the neck. Along with a capo and a guitar strap. Nothing particularly exciting but all useful items.
How does it play?
It isn’t that difficult to play, assuming you have been able to refit the neck properly. The action is actually quite low and feels easy. Although it is better for those with smaller hands. You get the impression that teenagers, youngsters, and the ladies are going to be fine. Larger men might find it a struggle as the strings are so close together.
Because the strings are close together, even at the saddle, this might make a fingerpicking style difficult for some. It certainly lends itself more to the campfire strum than the fingerpicking concert. But the neck is slim, quite comfortable, and feels quite nice.
How does it sound?
The sound is probably very much how you might expect it to be. Because of its small size, the sound is quite thin. And the lack of any real tonewoods means there is no real depth and resonance.
The voice of the guitar is then rather narrow and plain. As we say, fine around the campfire, but not really suitable for serious performance.
Are you hoping to find some big warm sounds emanating from the small soundbox? If so, we think you are going to be disappointed.
Klos Black Carbon Fiber Full Size Acoustic Guitar Pros and Cons
- Carbon Fiber body.
- Mahogany neck.
- Not affected by weather and temperature changes.
- Portable and easy to disassemble.
- Detachable neck.
- Great for camping.
- Strings are close together.
- Not a full-size guitar.
- Not ideal for people with large hands.
- Bland appearance.
Looking for Something Else?
Want a few more guitar options? Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Cheap Acoustic Guitars Under $200, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $300, the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $500, and the Best Acoustic Guitars Under $600 you can buy.
Klos Black Carbon Fiber Full Size Acoustic Guitar Final Thoughts
This guitar is what is. And if you are looking for a guitar to go camping or backpacking, then it does serve that purpose. It is virtually weather-proof, providing the carbon rods in the neck keep it straight, and it is easy to carry around.
Removing the neck adds a new dimension to its portability and certainly is a big plus point for travelers. However, it is not realistic to compare it to other guitars at this price point. Also, it is advertised as a full-size guitar, and it is far from that.
Let’s be honest here and pull no punches. The price point is excessive. You can pay half as much and get a much better-sounding guitar from manufacturers like Yamaha. So the only real selling point is its portability and durability. There is no doubt it has both of those.
If you are looking for a guitar for traveling, it is worth a look. But you will find others designed for the same thing, which are far cheaper. But the composite body on this guitar does give it some added durability. In that environment, this acoustic guitar has the edge.
Until next time, may your music be merry.