Travel Guitar vs Airport Security

I’ve just returned from a family vacation to Australia. As usual I brought my trusty travel guitar- the Traveler EG-1. And as usual, I was pulled aside at every airport security checkpoint to have the guitar tested for explosives. Every time, without fail! Now I finally know why…

John With Travel Guitar In ChinaSince I acquired this travel guitar in 2011, I’ve taken it with me on every excursion, so I can keep my fingers on the strings every day. Don’t break the chain!

Despite its diminutive size, the EG-1 has a full-scale neck so it is perfect for practicing. It has a single humbucker and built-in preamp so you can plug in headphones. But it’s loud enough acoustically to play unamplified.

This guitar is a real trooper. It’s a tough solid body, with a heavy-duty soft gig bag. It has survived many challenging squeezes in airplane overhead compartments, and even a fall to the pavement from the back of a taxi van on this last trip.

I’ve taken the EG-1 on planes, trains, buses and boats. I’ve played it in hotel rooms and travel terminals throughout China, Japan, Mexico, England, Australia, and many cities throughout the USA.

All good! However, whenever it goes through the x-ray machine at airport security, I’m invariably called out to spot-check the guitar for explosives. It’s not that big a deal, and I usually have a fun conversation about the guitar with the agent. Turns out, quite a few security agents play guitar and bass! 🙂

Traveler Guitar Battery RemovedOn one of our flights in Australia this time, a friendly security agent told me that the alert is caused by the 9V battery that powers the guitar preamp. I dunno, does that look like a bomb on x-ray?? Anyway, he advised me for next time to just remove the battery and put it in my checked luggage.

No big deal as I almost never plug in the headphones anyway. So I took his advice and on the next few flights I had no more troubles getting through security!

Traveler Guitar Strings In CaseWhat’s funny is that I always carry a spare set of strings in the gig bag.

And it seems to me, if I was a crazy guitar-wielding ninja-spy, that a steel guitar string would make a pretty effective garrote.

But I’ve never once been asked about those! Airport security can feel pretty arbitrary.