congrats King! I have enjoyed playing the backpaker, and in fact have nearly worn it out! It does have diminished sound qualities for the lower strings, but as you say, it sreves the purpose well. I have actually 'rewired' mine to overcome the reduced sound from the bass. I put stirngs one octave higher on the bottom four, and play it often in an open tuning (D major).
My freinds tell me it sounds like a dulcimer with an attitude!