What makes a Blackbird a professional-level instrument?

These carefully conceived and built instruments are easy playing, with better tone and reassuring resiliency- great attributes regardless of experience level. They feature master luthier quality fretwork, set-up and ergonomic design for easy playability. The sustain, clarity and evenness of our engineered composite tone materials and hollow uni-body design translates to superior plugged in experience. All of our models, are suitable for performance and studio work.

Question 2

This is the answer to question 2.

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This is the answer to question 3.

Where is the Pickguard?

We stopped shipping our guitars with a pickguard after coming to the conclusion that it has a slight sound-dampening quality (some Riders with pickguards still shown). A pickguard make sense on wooden guitars because the soft wood under the thin/brittle finish is so easily punctured. This is not the case with carbon fiber- the pick would wear down before the material would be compromised. Another note is the clearcoat finish we use is really quite durable and can be easily buffed out if scratches occur.

Any future models?

We're open to all stringed instruments, so to keep up with Blackbird, subscribe to the mailing list here.

Do you ship internationally?

 Yes. Wherever this guitar needs to be, we'll get it there-including Antarctica (seriously).

Is there a 13 pin connector or MIDI available?

 RMC electronics option has an eight-pin connector which connects to the Polydrive IV preamp and features a 13 Pin connector.

What is standard action or string height feel like?

Standard action is comfortable and easy-playing for most players, in most styles including fingerpicking and strumming. The string action as low enough make you want to play, but not so low as to lessen the full sound from chords or create buzz when you dig in and strum a bit harder. We can accommodate specific action requests when practical. Low action is usually well suited for lighter touch playing. 

Are these good guitars to learn on?

Absolutely. It's a great guitar to learn on even though many folks that own a Blackbird are pros. Carbon durability means the guitar stays out of the case and enhanced portability means people on-the-go can play whenever and wherever. Now you can practice at your convenience and pick up your Blackbird whenever inspiration strikes, be it home, the office, the skies, the seas and the mountains. With a Blackbird, you never have to be more than an arms length from a great guitar for practice or performance again.

What strings do you recommend?

Please check the specifications page for each specific model. If you buy direct, we can customize the action for you with your preferred strings. Many dealers can do the same.

Where did the name "Blackbird" come from?

The Blackbird name was partly inspired by the song, usually one of the first songs learned on guitar, and also by the bird that inspired the song. Blackbirds are common here in San Francisco (as elsewhere) though they are as overlooked as pigeons. They are beautiful (and loud) singers- despite their diminutive size.

Can you put nylon strings on a Steel string model, or vice versa?

The Nylon model was designed for use specifically with nylon strings, with the bracing and hardware specifically tailored to nylon stringing. And the steel string is set up and designed for steel strings and the bracing and tuners are designed to accommodate the higher tension of steel strings.

What is your warranty?

We have a limited lifetime warranty. To read our warranty statement, click here. If you buy direct, you can try out the instrument for three weeks and return it if you are not satisfied for a full refund.

Where can I buy this miracle of an instrument?

We sell through our custom webshop and through select dealers. We make instruments in small batches which means that we care about every single one- throughout its life-cycle. This means, we have personal relationships with our dealers and trust them as stake-holders in our business. Our instruments are quite unique and so often are our customers as well. We believe our direct connection with our customers makes our instruments better!

Will the airlines let me bring the Rider models on the plane as a carry-on?

Six tips for stealth airline travel with a Blackbird Rider [and other small body guitars]

We all hate the notion of putting our precious guitars under the plane so we designed the Rider to get on as a carry-on. While no one has ever had a reported problem traveling with a Blackbird Rider on a plane, these are some useful best practices we’ve gathered to keep it that way. They are just precautions that will help you be safe rather than sorry, and likely useful for anyone who travels by air with a guitar even a wood one*.

  1. Research your airline and flight- become informed about their rules and regulations because you then may find yourself better informed than the airlines' courteous staff. After the whole United Breaks Guitars incident (copy and past into YouTube search if you don't get the reference), I suspect that airlines are getting a bit more sympathetic to guitarists.
  2. Get a small guitar designed for travel- In the event you have to engage any airline personnel, with a small guitar you can explain that this guitar is compact, light and is designed to fit in the overhead along with a full bin of carry-on luggage. Smiles and a friendly demeanor are useful in these situations- you don't want to be like Ben Stiller in Meet The Parents.
  3. Present a non-guitar-esque package(see ours above)- You don't want your instrument to even register as a guitar to the airline staff- a streamlined guitar in a tight case is key. The rider is designed to slip past the radar -think SR-71 Blackbird; it looks very discreet to watchful eyes. The gig bag should also be as un-flashy, un-pocketed and I would argue black as possible. Wear a black jacket while your at it- its a good look for traveling anyway. Being un-flashy also helps prevent theft.
  4. Avoid another carry-on if possible- If you just bring your guitar and only your guitar as a carry-on, it should be easier to get on the plane because you can say something like 'but this is all I am carrying, miss"
  5. Wear your gig bag as a low-rider (excuse the pun)- Wear your soft case as a backpack. Make sure to loosen the backpack straps so the guitar hangs low on your back and voila you’ll be in stealth mode- the head should not be visible from the front view.
  6. Overhead bin positioning- Once on the plane, put the guitar in the back of the overhead bin with top facing against the back of the compartment. This will protect the top, generally the fragile part of the guitar, and prevent the guitar from falling out when the door is opened (and bags shifted in flight).

*Other guitar airline travel considerations

  • With a wood guitar, make sure you have a humidifier and loosen the strings (no need with a carbon fiber Blackbird of course!). If you know you will be checking your guitar under the plane you should get a very robust hard case. Get travel insurance that covers your guitar (and any other lost or damaged luggage while you are at it)

Email us with any other tips at info[@]blackbirdguitar.com 

Why no truss rod in Blackbirds?

Because the carbon fiber hollow neck is super stable and stiff none is needed. In addition to the already stiff and stable neck, there is a static truss 'tube' running the length of the fretboard that tie into the top bracing. Finally, the composite fretboard is a very stiff and stable. This layered construction provides redundant stability. 

Are the Rider models comfortable to play?

Most of our customers find their Blackbird more comfortable than a conventional guitar. The Rider guitars a perfectly balanced on your lap and with a guitar support, are more ergonomic than many conventional guitars. To see guitar support on the Rider Pages under features.

How durable are they?

Humidity changes wreck nice wooden guitars. This is a non-issue with a Blackbird. If you could play in a tropical rain storm and be instantly teleported to a desert, the instrument would be fine (you'll need new strings and maybe tuners). These guitars do not need to be babied because carbon fiber has several times the impact strength of wood. The finish is more durable and scratch resistant than a conventional guitar finish so keep it out of the case and around the house care-free. You will want your instrument in its gig bag when bush-whacking as it is not scratch-proof. Blackbirds endure heat better than wood guitars, but it is best that you treat your instrument more-or-less as you would yourself. So sustained temps of 150f (65c) and above are not ideal- a temp that can be reached in a hot car in very hot conditions. In these cases, keep the guitar out of direct sun, in its case and detuned. Wait until the instrument cools down until you tune it back up. These are precautions and if the temp does not exceed 120f (50c) there will be no problem. Cold temps are never a problem afterall our guitars have been ice-diving in Antarctica!

Why should I get a premium Blackbird instrument rather than some cheapo knock-off?

Hollow neck/uni-body carbon fiber construction is the highest performance way to make instruments for the greatest responsiveness. Some models may be rather compact but feature uncommonly beautiful and rich sound-quality that is exceptional for its size, and thus a category all its own. We use the highest quality composite materials because premium cost translates into better sound and greater resiliency. The handcraft process is as laborious as it is expensive and our San Francisco-made instruments are built at the highest level of precision. 

Folks buy high performance laptops, bikes, and cameras to enhance their lives so players should have the same option available to them. Exceptional durability means freedom from the tyranny of worry that comes with travelling with a wooden countertop and so many customers play their Blackbirds more as a result. The bomb-proof and beautiful instrument ready to ride with you anywhere.

 What makes Blackbirds professional-grade?

These well-conceived and built instruments are easy playing, with better tone and reassuring resiliancy- great attributes regardless of experience level. They feature master luthier quality fretwork, set-up and ergonomic design for maximum playability. The sustain, clarity and evenness of our engieered composite tone materials and hollow uni-body design translates to superior plugged in experience. All of our models, are suitable for performance and studio work.

Why are Blackbird models more responsive and resonant?

The short answer is the high bar we set for tone and playability. Our models all share a rich and deeply satisfying acoustic tone with remarkable frequency range, response and dynamics. Blackbird guitars and ukueleles are instruments for all occasions including the road.

Here is the long list of how we get a big sound from a small body:

  1. Innovative, synergistic and patented design features to maximize resonance including: hollow neck and hollow head increases resonance chamber, body extension with back cutaway for access to higher frets, assymetric design, off-set sound hole (except Lucky/El Capitan), head sound hole (no standing waves from hollow neck and additional sound projection). 
  • Composite materials are lighter, stiff in two-directions unlike wood, with high-strength to-weight ratio and therefore more resonant instrument.
  1. Responsive soundboard and light bracing. That is the thinnest and therefore most resonant in the industry because we make it differently and out of a higher grade of carbon (pre-preg)  than all other competitors.

Why the hollow neck and head unibody construction?

The main benefit of Blackbird's hollow body, neck and head design is the entire guitar becomes the sound box contributing to its loud and full-bodied tone, greater sustain and wonderful eveness througout the fretboard. Secondary benefits are less weight and physical balance (not neck-heavy)- a problem with conventional guitars.

What is so special about Blackbird guitars?

At first blush, it is the unique and sonically efficient design and high performance composite construction that different our models. Less obvious are the other elements which work in harmony to maximize resonance including: proprietary hollow neck uni-body construction, hollow head with sound port, light composite top assembly and luthier built for exceptional playability, tone and resiliance.

Is Ekoa® as durable as Carbon fiber?

Ekoa ® is super durable with high impact strength like carbon fiber. It is also stable from -5°F (-20°C) to 150°F(66°C). Finally, it is humidity proof in regular operating circumstances though we do not recommend submerging our Ekoa ® instruments.

Will I need a custom set-up?

It is standard practise for players to have their instrument 'set-up' post-purchase so it better suits their playing style, techinique, string height preferences and in some cases tone. In some cases, a bit of fretwork may be required as well as tweaking the nut, saddle, strings, and bridge pins. Of course hollow neck, unibody carbon fiber construction is a different sort of construction from conventional fare but most quality instrument repair shops can accomodate many of your set-up needs even though we don't have a truss rod in most of our models. Blackbird also offers set-up and repair services for clients.

What shipping options do I have?

We can ship via FedEx, United States Postal Service and other carriers. Wherever the instrument needs to be, we'll get it there-including Antarctica (seriously). We suggest going through your local dealer where applicable.

How long does it take to make my instrument?

We've been building instruments since 2006 and have always been built to order due to increasing demand. Build time is 4-8 weeks depending on the model with a 20% deposit due at time of order. Note dealers carry inventory- a great alternative to waiting!

How do I start a custom shop order?

A 20% deposit is required to start a build with the remainder due upon completion. Instruments that require a great deal of custom work require a 50% deposit. 

How do I pay for my custom shop order?

We accept deposits directly on our site via most major credits cards as well as PayPal.

What are these unusual materials made of?

Blackbird guitars are primarily made of carbon fiber along with a bit of kevlar. This type of construction is similar to the structural skin of advanced planes, bikes, race cars and even fishing rods. We use carbon fiber because it sounds great, is bomb-proof and allows us to break out of the two-dimensional constraints of designing out of wood as well as being the only material stiff enough for the hollow neck construction.

We have also introduced a new material called Ekoa® which is being used in Clara, our newest concert Ukulele. It offers high performance with exceptional strength, dampening, resilience and even lighter weight than carbon fiber. Ekoa® is made with renewable plant fibers that reduce greenhouse gases and are produced using very little energy and no irrigation. With Ekoa®, musicians get what was previously unobtainable -- the experience of a vintage old-growth wood instrument in a lightweight, durable, and sustainable package.

What is the Blackbird sound?

All Blackbird models are louder and richer than their size would suggest. Carbon fiber has a clear and distinct tone with uncanny note-to-note separation. Ekoa® has a warm and clear tone. If you were to record a quality wood instrument along side a Blackbird, few folks would hear the difference. The hollow neck/carbon fiber construction is simply, a lighter and therefore more resonant way to build instruments. Every string on the fretboard is balanced and the uni-body construction means longer note sustain. Check out our video and audio on each model page or visit a dealer and hear for yourself. Our smaller instruments evoke that fancy wood guitar you leave at home except you can easily bring it everywhere and worry-free.

How does the Mi-Si pick up system work?


• Simple Jack active Battery-Free pre-amplifier
• Fishman Matrix undersaddle pickup
• Power Charger

The Mi-Si Acoustic Trio system features an active, battery-free preamp designed specifically to work with an undersaddle acoustic guitar pickup. The preamp for this system uses MiSi’s custom piezo linearization scheme - allowing for the most truthful and accurate sound from the pickup. All you have to do is power up for 60 seconds using the Mi-Si Power Charger, providing you with up to 16 hours of performance time.

We recommend professional installation of this system. Installation instructions should be studied carefully before proceeding. Mi-Si Electronics Design, Inc. will not be responsible for any damage to the instrument or personal injury resulting from installation, improper installation or any misuse of the product.


To charge the Acoustic Trio pickup, plug the power charger into a 120 VAC outlet. Then plug in the Power Charger 1/4” stereo plug into the pickup’s endpin jack and wait 60 seconds. Now you’re pickup is ready for 16 hours of performance time (actual playing time may vary depending on playing style). For best performance increase the charging time up to 120 seconds for the initial 2-3 charging cycles.
You can plug your instrument into ANY input of ANY system or amplifier regardless of
input impedance. In the same manner, you can use ANY type of shielded MONO cable
- regardless of its capacitance. Your sound will not be altered. You can enjoy the benefits of an active amplified system without worrying about batteries.

Using the Power Charger to power up your preamp is truly remarkable. But what if you forgot or lost your Power Charger? Don’t worry! Although we don’t promote the use of batteries, in this case all you need to power up your system is any stereo cord and a common 9V battery. Plug the stereo cord into your instrument. Hold the 9V battery so that the positive terminal is touching the Ring of the stereo plug and the negative terminal is touching the Ground. Hold it like this for 60 seconds and you are ready to play for 16 hours. The system will not be damaged by accidentally connecting the battery in wrong direction.