Have you ever wanted to take along your guitar on a trip but you didn't want to be saddled with a bulky guitar? Enter the travel guitar: Portable, small, and pretty fun to play too.
This article covers the best travel guitars on the market and walks you through all the things to consider.
At a Glance: Our Choice Of The Best Travel Guitars On The Market
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Buyer's Tips: Why choose a travel guitar in the first place?
Whether lack of space, destination or simply personal choice; the reasoning for choosing a travel guitar instead of a standard size is a matter of opinion.
For instance, I have chosen to use a travel size purely because of a long road trip where I didn't want to damage my full sized, favorite guitar.
Types of travel guitar
There is a choice of acoustic, electric or acoustic-electric travel guitars that you can choose from. The problem with taking an electric is you'll you have to consider bringing a decent amp with you. For those travelling in a small car or by plane, this can be the deciding factor.
An acoustic may be more for you if space is an issue, however, due to the stark difference in sound, this still may take some looking.
Some travel guitars, such as the Martin Backpacker, can be smaller in size yet still pack a good sound. If choosing an acoustic guitar.
How to travel with one?
As with traveling with any instrument (whether that be a full size guitar, a horn instrument or even portable drums) you still need to be careful with your travel guitar when you're on the road.
Even the best travel guitars can break if they are misused. If flying, make sure the strings are loosened as pressure changes on planes can put strain on the neck of the guitar which can snap. Make sure the guitar case is packed adequately.
Bumps in the road and general travelling can jostle the instrument around. Make sure a few socks or shirts are protecting the guitar.
What's the downside of taking a travel guitar?
There have been a few arguments against using travel guitars. Here are a few:
- Vanity: Children play these mini guitars, so you may look a bit silly (our view: get over it!)
- Neck size: The fact the scale neck is smaller can also be a disadvantage for others who rely on the length of the full-size guitars for comfortable playing (our view: the portability of these guitars more than makes up for lack of frets)
- Holding: People complain that holding the travel guitar can be difficult to do without a strap (our view: the same complaints can be made against full sized guitars)
These smaller instruments come far and wide with many people opting to search for the best travel guitar they can find.
Anyone can enjoy using a travel guitar, whether a child, professional, beginner or someone that just enjoys playing the instrument. What makes a good travel guitar encompasses the points just covered, why you want one, what to choose and whether you can use it correctly.
Ready to check out some travel guitars? Here are five of what I consider to be some of the best travel guitars on the market right now.
Best Travel Guitars
1. Washburn Rover R10NG (Editor's Choice)
The Washburn Rover 10 is a strong contender. Its full twenty four inch scale means it's a compact guitar with no compromise. It has a solid spruce top, mahogony body and neck along with a rosewood fingerboard. Personally, I found the lightness of this guitar to be a great asset as I spent a few hours teaching my young niece how to play. The light weight made it easier for her to hold and enjoy learning to play.
Here are some of its pros and cons:
- Excellent sound quality compared to other acoustics
- Very light and compact, weighing in at only two and a half pounds
- Nearly fully sized
- There have been complaints of an odor coming from the guitar
- The neck weighs slightly more than the body which can be awkward to hold
2. Traveler Guitar Speedster
This electric travel guitar is one to admire, from its full twenty four inch scale to its unique look, this is one to further investigate. It has a one-piece maple neck and body with a high output dual rail humbucker. The speedster boasts a modern-retro look and is designed for performance with chrome hardware and an upper armrest that detaches. Weighing at four and a half pounds, this guitar makes up for its weight with its sound. Its in body tuning system makes for a great feature.
Here are some of its pros and cons:
- Can fit in most airline overheads
- Very easy to play, feels great
- Quite expensive
- Restringing was a bit of a pain
- The neck is slightly too wide for my liking
3. Martin Backpacker
This small acoustic guitar is perfect for those that want a guitar for on the move. I appreciate the size of this travel guitar as I took it camping last year, its smallness meant very little room was taken up. It's uniquely contoured neck makes the guitar look different to others, its solid spruce top tone-wood sides gives this travel guitar a sleek, finished look. The shaped body gives a strong resonance which makes for a quieter sound.
- Great shape to the body
- Lovely sound
- Sturdy material - I've taken camping and on road trips with no problem
- Shape can be awkward, some people may need to stand to play
- Neck is heavier than body
- Not a full body as some travel guitars
4. Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Electric Travel Guitar
Another electric travel guitar makes it into the list as this instrument is so lightweight, you wouldn't think it could be electric. Weighing at just over three pounds, this guitar feels great and is an excellent starting instrument for any beginner or child wanting the sound of electric. It has a full twenty four inch scale and an Eastern American hard maple neck through body. The tuning pegs are protected inside the body, making it hard to be knocked about, the overall tuning stability is quite good. This guitar is made of quality materials and certainly feels it.
This product has huge potential for anyone travelling due to its size and weight. It's a favorite of mine due to travelling but wanting the sound of an electric guitar.
- Good medium frets
- Very light
- Shape and size make it extremely portable
5. Yamaha APX 3/4-Size Acoustic-Electric Guitar
This acoustic-electric guitar looks just like a standard guitar with its familiar shape and body. However, its 3/4 size makes it a portable version of everyone's favorite. It looks sleek with a spruce top and rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The sound quality is excellent when plugged into an amp, sounding exactly like more expensive pieces. The sound when not plugged in is still great, yet for some might not be the true acoustic sound they may want.
- Built in tuner
- Very affordable price
- Give you best of electric and acoustic
- Interference when plugged in
- Reports of neck cracking after some usage
Good as they all are, if I had to chose my favourite it would have to be the Washburn Rover 10.
Its size and weight gives it the extra edge over the others as a travel guitar needs to be portable. I love the feel, sound and weight of this instrument which I find is exactly what you want in a travel guitar. For the price of the Washburn, its flexibility and ease of use, I find this is the best travel guitar on the market.
Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.