A while back I reviewed the kind of odd Shredneck guitar trainer. This is a practice tool that is designed to simulate the string tension of an electric guitar help improve strength and dexterity in your playing hand, as well as helping to build or maintain calluses. Well, I just got one of their Dreadneck models (the DN-7), which is the same concept except for acoustic guitars, so here we go!
It is weird - just a chunk of guitar neck with tuners on the end. You get seven frets to play with, so you can master the cowboy chords in no time flat. This acoustic model has a 1 ¾-inch wide nut, and the whole thing is about 16 inches long. I have no idea what it is made of (mahogany?), though the fretboard appears to be rosewood with just a little grain. There are not really any specs on their website about what it is made of. It has a nice feel, with flat C-profile that does not feel like any Martin or Taylor I have ever played.
When you play it, it does not sound like a guitar, or even terribly musical. How could it? With such a short scale length the frets would have to be stupidly close together to make it sound like a guitar, so just tune it so the strings feel like the same tension as your regular guitar and go to town. The headstock acts as the body, and there is some felt stuck to the end so it does not slide off your knee. There are also strap pins, but I am not sure how you would ever use them.
And, you know what? It works pretty darned well. For my left had, it feels like a guitar, and I can sit there and noiseless fret chords while chatting on the phone or watching TV in the hotel room. It is pretty cool to keep my fingers in shape and my calluses nice and thick while on the road or when parking my butt in otherwise useless situations.
The one I got is relatively well built. The fret ends are good, and it is a solidly made piece of work from China. My wife has messed around with it a bit too, and as one who ants to build up her calluses she gives it her seal of approval.
The Dreadneck comes with a handy carry case, and it would be easy enough to throw in a briefcase or carry-on bag for your next flight. One nice add-on is the tuner tips which fit over the ends of the tuner posts to cover up pointy string ends that could puncture your hand or snag on your sweater. All of this can be yours for the low price around 70 bucks from Amazon or Musician’s Friend (MSRP is $99.99).
If you like the concept of this tool, it is also available in models that approximate the feel of 6 or 7-string electrics, basses, and a model that simulates playing in the upper registers. Also, if you have a hankering to get one that is inspired by your favorite artist (Zakk Wylde, etc.) they might be able to hook you up.