Have you ever gone on a vacation to find that you packed too much stuff and your guitar does not fit in your vehicle? Well, I have, and it has been a real disappointment being forced to leave my guitar behind.
As a musician, I love to take my guitar with me on my travels. I can sit on a beach and play while feeling the warm ocean breeze on my back, or if I am camping in the woods, I can enjoy the crisp night air while playing tunes by the fire.
Having a travel guitar means that you do not need quite as much space in your vehicle to bring it on these types of vacations. I was tired of leaving my guitar behind, so I decided to do a little research to find a great guitar that I could take with me on the road.
Stylish, great sound, and is easy to play, one of the lightest full-scale options, over 40 percent lighter than a traditional guitar.
Top Pick: Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric
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Stylish, great sound, and is easy to play, one of the lightest full-scale options, over 40 percent lighter than a traditional guitar.
I have been playing the guitar since I was 12 years old. My parents always told me that a travel guitar was pointless, but when I attempted to bring my full-sized guitar on vacation with us, our small car was always full once the five of us were situated in the vehicle. Now that I am vacationing with my own family, I decided that I wanted a travel guitar.
I started looking for a travel guitar when I saw a Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric at my local Guitar Center in Yonkers, New York. It was a mini guitar that really caught my eye. I loved the look, but of course, you cannot make a purchase without doing ample research.
I began to check out other guitar shops in the area to see what travel guitars they had in stock. I found several guitars that I liked, and after digging deeper into the specs of the guitars, I still choose the Traveler Guitar as my new instrument.
Now that I have a travel guitar, I know how much enjoyment I was missing without one. I created this guide to help others find the perfect travel guitar for their needs.
Benefits of a Travel Guitar
As a musician, it is important to be able to play whenever the mood arises, and having a travel guitar allows you to do just that. Since these guitars are smaller in size, you can easily play one on a chair that has armrests without any difficulty.
You can take these types of guitars on planes, trains, buses, and in your own car. Many of the mini guitars that you will consider for your first travel guitar are compact instruments that are designed to be lightweight so that they can even easily be carried while you are riding a bike as well.
Travel guitars are also great for when you will be waiting for someone. There are a lot of situations where you need to wait in life, so having a travel guitar on hand makes it easy to pull out your guitar wherever you are and play a few tunes.
You can play something while you are waiting on a plane, waiting at a park to meet up for a dinner date, or even when the traffic is keeping you waiting. No matter the location, you can bring out your travel guitar and share your music with those around you.
A tense situation like a car accident that has traffic completely stopped can suddenly become a lighter situation that can almost be enjoyable for everyone.
Acoustic or Electric
If you typically play on an electric guitar, you may want to continue playing on one while you travel around the world.
The issue with an electric guitar is that you also need an amp to be able to hear the tunes from any distance. An amp is one more thingy you’ll have to pack, which may take up more room than you have available.
To avoid this issue, you can simply use the headphone jack on the travel guitar to play the music in your head, this works great if you are traveling alone, but if anyone else wants to hear your music, you need an amp.
An acoustic guitar is a better idea for those impromptu campfire jam sessions. They essentially have the same design as a full-sized guitar, but they are simply toned down to a smaller, more manageable size for travel.
The sound of this type of guitar will be soft as well. This is because of the size of the neck and body of the instrument. Softer is not a bad thing, it just means that you will not be able to disturb your neighbors quite as easily.
The best option for a travel guitar is typically an acoustic-electric guitar. It gives you the best of both worlds, and in the event that you have an amp to plug into, you have that option.
It is always best to be prepared for an impromptu jam session, so get a travel guitar that will allow you to join in on the fun.
Which Size is the Best for Me?
You can purchase a ¾ size guitar to help you save space in your trunk or even a ½ size model, but if you want to play complex pieces of music on the instrument, you will also want one that has a full-sized scale.
Reducing the number of frets that you have available to you will only make it impossible to play certain music. If the length of your guitar is an issue, then a headless style may be a great space saving tool that you can take advantage of. It allows you to have a shorter length without sacrificing your frets.
If the length of your guitar is an issue, then a headless style may be a great space saving tool that you can take advantage of. It allows you to have a shorter length without sacrificing your frets.
These mini guitars are great for travel, but do not forget that they can also be used for children who are learning to play the guitar. My goddaughter loves to hear me play my guitar, and she has been trying to learn to strum simple songs on the instrument.
The issue is that she has really small arms because of her age, so I purchased a ¼ size guitar for her to learn to play, and she absolutely loves it.
Features to Consider
Before you decide which travel guitar is right for you, just like with any purchase, there are a few specifications that you want to make sure the guitar has.
Here are a few of the features that will be important to consider during the purchasing process:
When you are looking for a travel guitar, the main thing that you want to guarantee is that you will be able to take the guitar wherever you go.
If you are traveling on a bus, train, or an airplane, you will need to make sure that it is the correct size to fit into the overhead compartments and designated storage spaces.
If you will be walking or biking a lot during your travels, you need a lightweight option that will be easy to carry.
Driving will most likely give you the most freedom in the travel guitar that you select, but it may still need to be toned down from a full-sized model.
Some travel guitars are designed with an unusual shape. This can make it difficult to hold and strum without a strap.
Make sure that you try playing on the mini guitar that you are thinking to purchase to make sure that you are comfortable using it.
A travel guitar is never going to sound like a full-size guitar, but in order to practice your music, you need it to sound as good as possible. Once again, the best way to test the sound quality is to play the instrument.
Remember that you will be traveling with your guitar, so you need to make sure that the material that it is crafted from can withstand the heat and humidity of certain locations and the cold frigid air of others.
Most travel guitars can be purchased at a relatively cheap price point. Once you decide to make a purchase, you should expect to spend anywhere from $50 to as much as $500.
You want a great sounding instrument, but you also want to keep the price relatively low because travel can do damage to the instrument, especially when you do not know who will be handling in during transport.
A travel guitar is not great for projecting and resonating sound, so you may not have the sound quality that you are used to.
For many, being able to play while you are away from home is enough to make up for the lower sound quality, but for the traveling musicians who want the perfect sound, you will never get the same quality as you would on a full-size guitar.
If you do have space for a full-sized model, consider taking that on instead of a travel version. If you like to record your music, a lot of travel guitars are not able to perform this function.
After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.
|It is stylish, has great sound, and is easy to play||$220.15
|The quality of the sound is quite impressive||$329.00
|Great option for young ones who are learning to play the guitar||$329.00
|Able to produce a sound quality that is very similar to my full-size model||$169.00
|The sound projection that this guitar offers is great for indoor playing||Check on Amazon
|Give it a louder resonance, but plucking the strings sounds better when you are in an outdoor environment||$199.00
|Beautifully red-tinged mahogany that is very attractive||$149.00
|Available in a few different colors||$199.99
|Built-in tuner on the guitar as well as a headphone jack that allows you to play without the sound||$479.99
The Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric is the best mini guitar because it is stylish, has great sound, and is easy to play. It is an acoustic-electric style guitar, and it is one of the lightest full-scale options that is available.
The headstock is missing and so is the majority of the body, but the neck remains the same length. This allows the guitar to be over 40 percent lighter than a traditional guitar; making it weigh only about three pounds in total.
It is only about 28 inches long, so it will easily fit into a carry-on compartment on an airplane. There is a leg rest on the one side to make it easier to hold the instrument.
The bottom of the base has a jack where you can plug an amp in and play. If you do not like the lap rest feature, it can easily be detached from the body of the guitar.
I found that this guitar works best with a strap, so I have detached the bar from my Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric Travel Guitar.
Since there is not a headstock on this model, the tuning knobs need to have another home. They can be found on the inside of the body in a hollowed out area on both sides of the strings. The body is complete with a natural finish, and the neck is maple.
There are a full 22 frets on this travel guitar, and it also features a piezo pickup that is designed to brighten the acoustic creations of the guitar.
One thing to note is that changing the strings on this model takes a bit to get used to, so if you are doing it for the first time, it may take a bit to figure it out.
Tuning is also odd because of the way that the tuning knobs are positioned, but you will have no issues getting used to the style of the guitar. It does come with a 3-year warranty, so if you have any issues with the model, it will be taken care of.
Runner Up: Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic
The other travel guitar that was high on my list was the Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar. It is a beautiful mahogany guitar, but the main reason that I did not choose this guitar is that it only has 19 frets.
I like to play a wide range of music, so I did not want to be missing frets at all on my travel guitar. This little guitar is a ¾ size model, and it really packs a punch when it comes to sound. I was really impressed by the volume that it could produce when I played it at my local music shop.
The quality of the sound is quite impressive. It does not produce a tinny sound that is often heard by smaller scale guitars. It produces great tones, but if you are looking for a clean sound, you may get a tone that sounds a bit muddier than you like.
It is fine with most music, but there are a few pieces that need a cleaner tone. This is the perfect choice for an individual who has a shorter arm span to pick up and play.
Other Travel / Mini Guitars to Consider:
The Martin LXM is a beautiful mahogany acoustic guitar that is designed for travel. It is a ¾ size model of guitar that is easier to hold for individuals who have short arms and tiny fingers.
Not only is the tone nearly as perfect as it would be on a full-size guitar, the volume is quite loud as well. The only major issue that I had with this travel guitar is that it is made from high-pressure laminate instead of actual wood, which brings the quality level down for me.
The guitar features a three by three headstock, but there are only 20 frets available on the fretboard, which makes it a great option for young ones who are learning to play the guitar.
Since this is solely an acoustic instrument, there is no option to plug it in, which can be a turn-off for those who enjoy electric style guitars.
This is the perfect instrument if you are looking for a travel guitar to play near the fire, especially since it will only cost you around $300.
However, if you are looking for more depth and the ability to plug in, you can always upgrade the model to get the additional features.
The Gretsch G9500 is a great little guitar that is designed with an authentic look that is both unique and stylish. I love the retro style that this guitar features.
It is able to produce a sound quality that is very similar to my full-size model, and the projection level of this mini guitar is great.
It is easy to play, and comfortable to hold. I had no issues playing the guitar while standing without a strap when I was checking out this model.
I love that this instrument always seemed to be perfectly in tune every time I picked it up at the guitar shop, but I did detect a bit of fret buzz on occasion.
The nylon strings on this model are perfect for younger guitarists, but personally, I like the way the strings sound when they are strummed rather than picked.
If you are on a budget, then the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is a great option that will end up costing you less than $200, so even though the sound is not perfect, it is a great low budget guitar that is perfect for your travels.
Fenders are great guitars no matter what skill level you play at, so when I saw a parlor size fender model that looked perfect for my travel needs, I had to check it out.
The sound projection that this guitar offers is great for indoor playing, but once you venture into an open area in the great outdoors, the sound can be drowned out by the surrounding noise.
The neck of the guitar is a bit narrow compared to most others that I have experienced, but it works fine with my small hands, I would simply suggest not using thick gauged strings on the model until you are used to the width.
It features a gorgeous rosewood fretboard that has dot inlays. There are only 20 frets on this travel guitar, so if you need the higher frets, you may not want to purchase this option. It also has a three by three style of headstock that is complete with chrome tuners.
The guitar is made from laminate wood, which is not as strong of a material as wood, but it is sturdy enough for a travel guitar. For less than $200 you can have a vintage style guitar that stands up to the competition of most full-size models.
If you are looking for a unique travel guitar that looks different from the rest, then the Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar is the perfect option for you. It has a solid spruce top that looks great.
The body of the guitar is designed in a bell-like contour shape. It is a smaller scale model that is great for a beginner, but advanced guitarists may not like that this model only has 15 frets.
It is a great backpack guitar that you can take on hikes into the great outdoors. The guitar is a bit unusual to play because of the shape of the body. You will not be able to sit down and play the guitar, but if you have a strap, it will only take a small adjustment period.
The sound is not the loudest, but it sounds great when it is played with another guitar. Picking the strings will give it a louder resonance, but plucking the strings sounds better when you are in an outdoor environment.
For a guitar that you can purchase for less than $200, you cannot ask for much more. I have noticed that this guitar does not seem to keep it’s tuning between visits to the guitar shop, so that may be an issue that you will have to deal with if you choose this travel guitar.
The Luna Safari Series travel guitar really has a lot going for it, especially for those guitarists who want to have a travel-sized instrument but also want to have an instrument that conveys a sense of style.
This is a beautiful guitar; its top is a beautifully red-tinged mahogany that is very attractive. The finish is satin so that this travel guitar has a lot of class in its overall aesthetics.
The full guitar is 35 inches in length so that it is a little more travel-friendly than most full-sized acoustics. As a ¾ scale instrument, the guitar isn’t very hard to get used to, and produces a resonant sound that you wouldn’t expect from a travel acoustic.
There are Celtic-inspired designs that are positioned around the sound hole. This inlay is laser-etches so that it blends right into the mahogany material.
I really liked the fret inlays on this Luna Safari guitar; each fret marker represents a different phase of the moon, which is a nice reference to the Luna theme on the instrument.
This guitar comes with a khaki gig bag, which adds an extra layer of portability to this already portable instrument. You can find the Luna in the range of $100 and $150.
The Yamaha APXT2 is an acoustic- electric travel size guitar that is ¾ size scaled guitar. It has a spruce top; the fingerboard and the bridge feature a beautiful rosewood design.
When you play the guitar acoustic-style, it sounds great. I only wish that it was a bit louder because it was difficult to hear in the guitar shop.
Once it is plugged in, the sound is so much more resonating. I’d say that they are on par with many of the full-sized guitar options that I have tested out.
There is a built-in tuner on the instrument, so when you find that your strings are out of tune, you can easily remedy the problem.
For less than a $200 price point, the sound that you get from the guitar could not be better. It is designed with a slightly shorter scale, but the few frets that are missing are often not a problem for most guitarists.
It is available in a few different colors, so if you like to express yourself through your instrument, you can do so with this travel guitar.
The strings that come with this guitar are not the best, but if you take the time to put better strings on the instrument, you will love the sound that you can get from it.
Traveler is a company dedicated to creating instruments that you want to take on the road. They are lightweight, compact, and efficient models that sound great and look good as well.
The Traveler Guitar AG-200EQ features a headless design that helps save you space in your suitcase.
The tuners are located at the base of the bridge and there are built-in electronics on the body. This is the first model that the company created that has acoustic features as well as electric.
It is made with a full-scale design, which makes it sound more like a full-sized guitar than many other travel options. It does not have the rich bass, but you can easily play a wide range of musical tones.
There is a built-in tuner on the guitar as well as a headphone jack that allows you to play without the sound. Once you plug in the guitar, the sound is projected a lot more. It could possibly be even used in a gig as long as you are not going to go to heavily into the bassier tones of the instrument.
The guitar comes in a few different colorations, so you can express your creative side with a natural of a black glossy finish.
Having a travel guitar is important for a musician, especially when space is limited in your vehicle.
I learned that the Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric is the best option for my needs. It features a headless design that takes up very little space, and it produces a sound that is not that far off from my full-size guitar. It is a full-scale model so it does not hinder my play style at all.
All of the travel guitars on this list are great options. Whether you are looking for a guitar to take on vacation of one that better accommodates your child’s arm span, there is a model that will be perfect for you.
Take a look at our reviews, consider your options, and enjoy a night of sweet music by the campfire on your next camping trip.
- McCraw, C. (2016, December 8) Personal Interview
- Emond, T. (2016, November 13). Personal Interview
- Frye, P. (2016, November 29). Personal Interview
- Left Handed Travel Guitars and Basses. (2016, December). Retrieved from http://leftyfretz.com/left-handed-travel-guitar-bass/
- How the Best Travel Guitar Could Change Your Life. (2016, December). Retrieved from https://coustii.com/best-travel-guitar/
- Good to Go: Finding the Best Travel Guitar (2015, July 1) Retrieved from http://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/guitar-buying-guides/good-to-go-finding-the-best-travel-guitar
- Crow, Krause. (2011, June 6). The 4 Great Benefits of the Travel Guitar. Retrieved from http://www.guitarhabits.com/the-4-great-benefits-of-the-travel-guitar/#