For musicians, creative inspiration can hit you at the strangest times. It could be by the beach or halfway up the mountain. The most creative ideas tend to strike you when you are far away from your home studio, and traveling with your usual gear can be a hassle (and a risk many don’t like to take). Fortunately, travel guitars have hit the market, making it easy to keep playing while you’re on the go.
From the small versions of acoustic and electric travel guitars to the bespoke travel guitars designed to keep portability at the forefront, travel guitars can fill a specific niche. Let us look at the best travel guitars in detail to consider the best one for your next trip.
Editor’s Note: You can also downsize like I did, and carry a ukulele instead. Outdoor Ukulele makes a really sturdy one that I toss in my backpack if I’m going to be away for longer than a few days.
What We Cover
- TL;DR: Top Picks by Type
- Best Travel Guitars
- 1. Martin Backpacker
- 2. Taylor Baby Taylor
- 3. Hofner Shorty travel guitar
- 4. Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe
- 5. Traveler Travelcaster Deluxe
- 6. Voyage-Air VAOM-0262
- 7. Traveler Escape Mark III
- 8. Traveler Guitar TB-4P Electric Travel Bass
- 9. Journey Instruments OF660M Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar
- 10. Fender CT-60S
- 11. Cordoba Mini II MH
- 12. Yamaha JR 1
- What is a travel guitar, and why should I consider one?
- What are the differences between travel guitars and regular guitars?
- What size are travel guitars?
TL;DR: Top Picks by Type
|Steinberger Spirit GT Pro Deluxe
|For Air Travel
|Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar
|Journey Instruments Carbon Fiber Travel Guitar
|Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
Best Travel Guitars
Let’s start with the original travel guitar – the Martin Backpacker. This unique guitar has a solid spruce top, mahogany back, and sides – which means it sounds better than my composite guitars at home. A scale length of 24″ means you can play like you do at home. This guitar certainly has a unique shape, and coming from a name like Martin, you can rest assured that the guitar will perform exceptionally.
Thanks to the solid mahogany in the body, it has an outstanding projection and volume for its size. This guitar was launched in 1992 and has carved a niche in music. It has excellent build quality, which means it will last for years and will be your travel companion for several trips.
The size is perfect for a musician’s version of minimalist travel and is light in weight, making it the industry standard when it comes to travel guitars.
Pros of Martin Backpacker
- It is easy to transport
- Budget-friendly for a solid instrument
- Exceptional tone
Cons of Martin Backpacker
- The shape might not appeal to all
- Solid tonewood is more susceptible to environmental factors like humidity
Taylor Baby Taylor is considered one of the best travel acoustic guitars. It has a solid spruce top and a layered Sapele side, neck, and back. It has a scale length of 22.75″ and an ebony fingerboard with 19 frets. It has a 3/4th size dreadnought with the projection and quality you would expect from the best and the biggest acoustic guitars in the industry.
It is the perfect size for travel; you can carry it anywhere. It is an ideal option as a travel guitar or as a second guitar in your collection – actually, this has been on my wishlist ever since I switched from a full-scale six-string to a tenor ukulele. It’s great for players with smaller hands, regardless of travel aspirations.
The guitar’s design allows it to be easily taken across the globe. If you have larger hands, you might feel slightly cramped in getting used to the 22.75′ scale length. However, for most people, this guitar is a great choice.
Pros of Taylor Baby Taylor
- Good build
- Classic Taylor tone
Cons of Taylor Baby Taylor
- Not suitable for large hands
- Smaller scale can be hard to get used to
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The Hofner Shorty travel guitar is an inexpensive option for all-electric players and it’s the best travel electric guitar in my opinion. It comes with a maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and a scale length of 24.7″. Its stylish looks and performance make it an easy choice as a budget-friendly travel guitar.
Hofner is a reliable name, and their Shorty has been a favorite of guitarists looking for a portable electric guitar they can travel with. It has a full-scale-length familiarity combined with a tiny body to make a unique playing experience.
The humbucker pickups are sensitive enough to blast out your favorite tunes. At the same time, you will feel immediately at home with the classic rosewood and maple combination of the fingerboard and neck. You can adjust the tone, and traveling with an electric guitar is a bit less nerve-wracking than traveling with something like the Baby Taylor.
Pros of Hofner Shorty travel guitar
- Small in size
- Decent build quality
Cons of Hofner Shorty travel guitar
- Limited tonally
This quirky guitar comes with ample charm. Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe is an electric travel guitar with a maple neck and body. It has a rosewood fingerboard and a scale length of 25.5.’ The guitar comes with a headless design that makes a bold statement.
The Spirit GT-Pro has a scale length of 25.5″. It is also tough to find neck-thru bodies at this cost, which makes it one of the best travel guitars for picky players.
Pros of Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe
- Versatile sound
- Unique looks
Cons of Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe
- The fold-out leg rest is very flimsy
This electric travel guitar has a scale length of 25.5″ and a poplar body. It comes with a maple neck and a Catalpa hardwood fingerboard. This travel guitar comes with Stratocaster outlines from the pickguard and has control knobs with three single-coil pickups.
The guitar is much lighter and shorter than usual, making it a good choice for travelers. It weighs only 5 lbs, and you may need some time to get used to it visually, but when you put it to use, it will provide the same experience as any other guitar. It has the same tone, versatility, and scale length as other popular guitars.
Pros of Traveler Travelcaster Deluxe
- Light in weight
Cons of Traveler Travelcaster Deluxe
- Small size is hard to get used to
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This innovative acoustic travel guitar has a mahogany back and sides with a spruce top. It has a mahogany neck and a laurel fingerboard with a 25.5″ scale length. If you are someone who does not want to compromise on the dimensions or the size in any case, then this guitar is your answer.
Guitars have a slightly awkward shape to travel with due to the neck, and Voyage-Air solves your problem with a patented neck hinge that will fold the guitar in half.
Pros of Voyage-Air VAOM-0262
- Packs down well
- Gives proper projection from the guitar
Cons of Voyage-Air VAOM-0262
- Feels strange folding up the guitar
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The Traveler Escape Mark III is an electro-acoustic guitar with a maple neck and an alder body. It has a scale length of 25.5″ and a black walnut fingerboard. It’s a high-quality travel guitar that fits into any quiver.
It’s shorter and lighter than a regular guitar, thanks to the tuning pegs in the body, meaning no headstock is needed. The guitar has an under-saddle pickup system, aux-in, chromatic tuner, and headphone jack, making it a complete setup for travelers. This is the best travel guitar if you want to save space, have versatility, and don’t like carrying many accessories.
Pros of Traveler Escape Mark III
- Superior quality material
- Good electronics
- Great amplified sound
Cons of Traveler Escape Mark III
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Traveler Guitar TB-4P Electric Travel Bass makes the perfect light instrument and is an easy pick for the best travel guitar. It is designed to feel much like a standard bass but light in weight. This guitar is well-designed and well-reviewed.
It is 25% lighter than a standard guitar, which you will love while traveling, and shorter than a standard design. You can carry it across the seven continents with ease.
The travel guitar has volume controls, standard electronics, and tone control to rig the bass to any pedal you need. It has a 1/8-inch headphone jack, which is an excellent side perk. The sound will be nice but not as great as a standard bass. This is an intelligent travel guitar and offers value for money. If lightweight is what you need, this is it.
Pros of Traveler Guitar TB-4P Electric travel bass
- Lighter and shorter than a standard guitar
- Great sound
- Excellent design
Cons of Traveler Guitar TB-4P Electric travel bass
- Balance could be an issue for many
A perfect folding guitar with outstanding quality, the Journey Instruments OF660M Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar Matte is the best carbon fiber travel guitar you will find. It has an impressive make and packs up quickly. But this means you will pay slightly higher than the other acoustic travel guitars on the market.
If budget is not a problem and you do not want to compromise on the sound, this guitar will become your primary guitar in every manner. It is made from carbon fiber and has a bright, warm, and rich tone. Plus, it is very versatile. You might not like the new design or carbon fiber made, but it is an excellent material for any guitar and is perfect for travelers.
Pros of Journey Instruments OF660M Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar
- Impressive reviews
- Reliable sound
- Extremely durable
Cons of Journey Instruments OF660M Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar
10. Fender CT-60S
The Fender CT-60S is a compact guitar with top features. It has a 23.5″ scale length making it ideal for travel. It’s a good size to pack up and carry on the plane.
It has a solid spruce top and a scalloped X-bracing, meaning it’ll stand up pretty well to changes in pressure and humidity. It is paired with laminated mahogany sides and a glossy finish that resists bumps and scratches.
The design provides comfort for beginners as well as experienced guitarists who enjoy a smooth playing experience. For the cost, this guitar packs a punch.
The combination of mahogany and spruce leads to a warm and balanced tone that works well for different styles, and the projection is impressive for its size. The playability, design, and sound are ideal for a budget guitar.
Pros of Fender CT-60S
- Excellent build
- The sound packs a punch
Cons of Fender CT-60S
- Plastic nuts
- It does not come with a gig bag
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Our managing editor is a ukulele player and a big fan of Cordoba. The brand released the Mini II Series in 2018 with three new models, including this small-scale bass. It’s beautiful, with a satin and rosette finish and an abalone-style soundhole.
The Mini II has a scale length of 22.8″ and a mahogany neck. Layered mahogany is used on the top, sides, and back. You will see a set of open-geared tuning machines with a GraphTech NuBone nut.
Any bassist will be happy to take this guitar on their trip, and the acoustic-electric features and built-in pickup make it useful in many situations. The playability stands out, which makes sense to anyone who has picked up a Cordoba instrument.
Pros of Cordoba Mini II MH
- Good warmth
- Well balanced tone
Cons of Cordoba Mini II MH
- Suitable for practice and small performances
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12. Yamaha JR 1
The Yamaha JR 1 will prove that small guitar rock. I won’t pretend that this guitar holds its tuning in transit or produces the cleanest sound, but it’s reliable, easy to find, and easy to play. The guitar is simple and small in size. It will give a nice balance while being large enough to play comfortably but small enough to travel with.
It has a 3/4 scale; hence, it can get slightly cramped for players with large hands. But it works well for beginners. This travel guitar has spruce as the top and meranti on the back and sides. It has a black body binding and a standard neck. The neck is comfortable and solid, with a 20-fret rosewood fretboard. The shape and build deliver a good tone.
Pros of Yamaha JR 1
- Compact size
- Good sound for the size
Cons of Yamaha JR 1
- Average tone
- Budget-friendly build
Picking up a travel guitar is a practical solution to an old problem. Traveling with a full-sized guitar can become a headache and cause much trouble. This is where the compact, lightweight guitars work best. Choose the best travel guitar from the ones listed here – all high-quality guitars that serve different guitarists.
Most importantly, they are all lightweight, compact, and perform exceptionally well.
What is a travel guitar, and why should I consider one?
A travel guitar is a compact and portable version of a traditional guitar, designed specifically for convenience during travel. This instrument is perfect for musicians on the go, offering the ability to practice or perform no matter the location. The smaller size does not significantly compromise the sound quality, making it an excellent choice for music enthusiasts who frequently move around.
What are the differences between travel guitars and regular guitars?
The primary differences between travel guitars and regular guitars are size and portability. Travel guitars are designed to be more compact and lighter, which makes them easier to transport than standard guitars. Despite the smaller size, travel guitars aim to maintain high-quality sound and playability, although the tone might be slightly different due to the reduced body size.
What size are travel guitars?
Travel guitars vary in size but are typically significantly smaller than standard guitars. The reduced size is key for the guitar’s portability, allowing it to fit in overhead compartments of planes or small spaces during road trips.
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