And again a guitar that can be disassembled. With The Slite from France, another company tries its hand at the travel guitar theme, playing like a real guitar. If that works we will have a closer look today.
If you like to travel with your guitar, you will appreciate the small packing size and light weight. But what should not be left behind is the playability. What good is the smallest travelguitar if it doesn’t play like the guitars you usually play? This often means that the fun of playing is lost and you can save yourself the trouble of taking it with you.
That’s how guitar builders get the idea to build guitars that can be taken apart. If you can quickly separate the neck from the body, the packing size is often quickly brought to a comfortable length. The slite now works in the same way.
The slite consists of five parts. A two-piece neck in normal scale (25.5″ length and 9.5″ fretboard radius with a C-profile), the pickup block (slite core), an upper and a lower body part (slite wing). The fun is delivered in a small and handy bag with 10cm x 28cm x 46cm size.
The strings remained mounted even when disassembled. For this purpose strings are locked at the head similar to a Floy Rose tremolo. How fast the guitar can be tuned again after assembly is unfortunately not shown in the videos.
So that you can play loud on the road, there are some gadgets in the body parts. The lower part contains the effect section. Here you have to choose between a low gain module and a high gain module. Both modules should have an analog design and an analog signal path. While the low-gain module has an overdrive, a reverb and a tremolo, the high-gain module contains a distortion, a fuzz and a preamp.
The Slite is adjusted with rotating discs, which indicate the setting via a LED ring around the writing. If this is useful to use while playing is probably a good question. I never look at the potis when I play. And whether a flat turntable is easy to turn and adjust… I don’t think so. But you have to try if you can make friends with it. In the end everybody uses the pots on the guitar in his own way.
Even the pickups can be exchanged quickly, because they are held by magnets and are not soldered. Unfortunately this is a proprietary system. If you want to use pickups of other manufacturers you have to use a soldering iron again.
Let’s get loud
If you don’t want to carry your 4×12″ with you, you can use a small amplifier with built-in speaker as the upper module. With 15 W power and about 6 hours capacity of the battery you should have enough time for the session in the city park. Whereby I would be interested to hear how the part sounds like. Because even if good components should be used here, you should not forget that the position of the speaker is placed in a way that it is exactly under the right playing arm. Depending on how much you move it, it can happen that the speaker is sometimes open and sometimes covered. Will this bring joy to the listeners?
If you decide to use a classic amplification, you can connect The Slite to other devices with a normal guitar jack cable, a small stereo headphone cable or USB-C. The same applies to those who choose the base version without amp wing.
The target delivery date is March 2021. With a kick-start price of about 1500 Euro plus additional costs for the base version without amp and 1820 Euro for the version with amp wing, The slite is 30% below the later targeted market prices. So despite the crowdfunding discount this is unfortunately not cheap fun.
Should I or should I not?
Now we come to the popular question whether one should dare to support the project. As exciting as The slite sounds and as sexy as the turntable pots with their LED rings look, I’m a bit reserved. This has different reasons.
As always you buy the cat in the bag. That might not be a problem with a Fidget-Toy, but it is with a guitar. Too much depends on your personal playing preferences and if you can’t test it in advance it’s a matter of luck if you can handle the neck and body contour shaping. But let’s assume that the neck is similar to what you usually play, there are still some questions.
The turning pots look cool, but are they useful live? If you order the amp wing with the guitar, is the weight distribution of the guitar still correct? How easy/difficult is tuning the guitar? What is the feel of the wings? They do look a bit like plastic.
The modular approach sounds great at first sight. If I want to vary the tuning, I just change the corresponding wing or pickup and don’t have to lug around several guitars. But in practice I’m not convinced about modular systems anymore. This is because a modular system can only show its strengths if there is a sufficient number of different modules available. And up to now, the market power of startups has always been so limited that after the initial modules have been installed, nothing has been added. And if there was a second round of new modules, you can be sure that at the latest by round three something will change, that the new modules cannot be inserted into the old device.
Module systems only work if a global player brings something like this to the market and then only for things that are sold in such large quantities that it is worthwhile for other manufacturers to jump on the bandwagon. The slite will most likely not achieve this. And the only point where modularity would really be a useful innovation, namely the pickup pickup, is implemented in such a way that you can only choose between two or three pickups from The slite. It would be a real advantage if you could exchange pickups here independent of the manufacturer. But unfortunately this is not possible.
And last but not least we come to the usual Kickstarter mantra. The prototypes shown all look very good, but to what extent this can be implemented in series production is always the big question. There are so many stumbling blocks here that I honestly doubt the delivery date of March 2021. Especially if there are still aspects in some places that are not completely developed, as is written in the campaign under “Risks and challenges”. And if you want to have parts produced in China as usual later on, I would say that the timing is completely illusory, because then the often overlooked Chinese New Year comes into play.
Considering all this, you should ask yourself if you need these small packing sizes at all. For the money you can just as well buy a Standberg Boden Classic. And with a small mini-amp or via smartphone you can get it loud. It is not that much bigger than that.