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7 Best Travel Guitars That are Built for the Road

Are you looking for the ultimate travel guitar? Something light and compact but doesn’t compromise too much on sound? Then, walk this way.

Many players prefer these smaller-sized instruments versus their full size brothers. Whereas dreadnoughts and other large acoustic guitars can give out a boomy, low-end sound, smaller body guitars have a vibe all of their own. Just ask Ed Sheeran 🙂

So grab your backpack. Here’s our pick of the best travel guitars available.

Our Favorite Travel Guitars Reviewed

Traveler Guitar EG1C BLK V2

Traveler Guitar EG1C BLK V2 Custom Electric Travel Guitar with Gig Bag, Black
  • Full 24 3/4 Scale electric travel guitar
  • Built-in headphone amp w/ clean, boost, overdrive, distortion
  • Aux-in for jamming with your music

Looking for a travel electric guitar? Does such a thing exist? It sure does.

Meet the EG-1 from Traveler Guitar. It’s a bit of design genius at play.

The traditional tuning mechanism you find on guitars (tuning pegs on the headstock) has been eliminated here.

Instead, the tuning is built into the lightweight body between the bridge and the neck. This avoids one of the biggest issues when traveling, namely, the strings getting knocked out of tune.

That’s the genius bit I was referring to.

There’s a single humbucker pickup (you only get one, don’t be greedy), a volume and tone knob that allows you to cycle through clean, boost, overdrive, and distortion tones. All very handy when you’re probably without pedals.

Finally, the headphone jack for late-night jams in your youth hostel (or wherever it is you young dudes hang out these days :-).

Features:

  • Shrunken down electric guitar that’s built for travel (and light as anything)
  • Full-size scale length (24 ¾”) with headstock and tuners built into the body
  • Gold covered alnico humbucker pickup
  • Built-in headphone amp w/ clean, boost, overdrive, and distortion
  • Aux-in for jamming with your music
  • Chromatic note indicator

Martin Steel-String Backpacker

Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Solid Tonewood Back and Sides
  • Unique Contour Neck Shape

The Martin Steel String Backpacker is a pretty far-out looking guitar, but bear with me, it has some tricks up its sleeve.

One word captures the essence of this guitar: portability (the name ‘backpacker’ may have given that away).

It’s extremely thin: the body is hardly wider than the neck. The neck itself is also very short, only containing 16 frets, so perfect for those fans of short-scale guitars. It’s basically a slimmed-down guitar.

But despite its size, it vibrates well. The tiny body and unique contour body take a bit of time to get used to, but once the adjustment is made, it produces some surprisingly good acoustics.

It has a solid Sitka spruce top, which gives it an excellent resonance, and it’s made of solid tonewoods.

It’s also a quality piece of kit that’s easy to tune and sounds much better than you’d expect.

There are no electronics, so this isn’t the kind of instrument you’d put before a sound engineer.

It’s perfect for those who need something reliable that they can carry around without the stress that can accompany transporting an instrument.

Features:

  • Tiny size and super slim
  • Ultra-lightweight: weighs around 2lbs case included
  • Exceptionally portable – ideal for backpacking (as the name suggests!)
  • Solid Sitka spruce top, for excellent resonance
  • Affordable choice

Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar

Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar, Mahogany Top
  • 6-string Acoustic Guitar with Mahogany Top
  • Layered Sapele Back
  • Sides – Natural

The Baby Taylor BT2 from distinguished guitar makers Taylor is a ¾ size, dreadnought shaped travel guitar.

It’s a flipping great guitar. So good that Taylor Swift supposedly uses one.

The choice of tonewoods is excellent, with solid mahogany top and neck, and an ebony fingerboard (ebony is generally considered the creme-de-la-creme when it comes to choice of fretboard wood).

The scale length is 22″ (the size of a typical short scale guitar) with 19 frets but with no cutaway.

It projects amazingly well for its tiny size, with plenty of low end.

Finally, it comes with a decent padded travel bag. Not the most important, but you want to keep your guitar safe from harm on those long haul trips, don’t you.

Features:

  • Taylor are one of the great acoustic guitar brands
  • Comfortable and convenient to grab and go
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • Mahogany top and neck

Little Martin LX1E

Martin LX1E Little Martin Solid Sitka Spruce/Mahogany HPL Acoustic/Electric w/Gig Bag
  • PROFESSIONAL SOUND: Martin’s Little Martin LX1E acoustic-electric guitar has a Sitka spruce top and high-pressure laminate (HPL) construction. It is Martin’s smallest guitar and while small in size, it is very big on tone, quality, and versatility. It sounds great being played around the campfire or while practicing at home.
  • SUPERIOR APPEARANCE: The Little Martin LX1R acoustic-electric guitars are made with a Sitka spruce top and mahogany high-pressure laminate (HPL) back and sides with a warm satin finish. These guitars are built with sustainable wood certified parts and a mortise and tenon neck joint, non-scalloped X-Brace, standard tapered neck, and chrome-enclosed gear tuners, making it look as captivating as it sounds.
  • Handmade from the highest-quality wood, Little Martin guitars are built to stand up to late-night jams, long studio sessions, and plenty of strumming or picking. These solid-wood, acoustic-electric guitars deliver classic designs, professional sounds, and enjoyable playing.highest-quality wood, Little Martin guitars are built to stand up to late-night jams, long studio sessions, and plenty of strumming or picking.

The Little Martin Series from the brilliant Martin are a fantastic range of miniature guitars that sound great despite their size.

The LX1E is an acoustic-electric guitar has a Sitka spruce top and high-pressure laminate (HPL) construction. It’s Martin’s smallest guitar, and despite its tiny size, is big on tone. Many travel guitar aren’t serious guitars. Not the LX1E – here you get a mortise and tenon neck joint, non-scalloped X-Brace, standard tapered neck, and even chrome-enclosed gear tuners.

It comes fitted with a high-quality Fishman Sonitone pickup, making it easy to plug in and play. It also means you won’t need to fork out for an additional pickup and acoustic guitar preamp when you realize you need one for gigging (it will happen).

This instrument isn’t cheap, but the quality and craftsmanship that goes into the build is worth it if you have spare money.

Features:

  • Unrivaled quality and craftsmanship from nearly two centuries of guitar-making
  • Solid Sitka spruce top offers a superior resonance
  • High-pressure laminate (HPL) construction makes it tough as houses and less susceptible to changes in humidity
  • Quality Fishman electronics (pickup and tuner)

Washburn RO10SK-A Rover

Washburn Rover 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Right, Natural, Full (RO10SK-A)
  • Solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides, matte finish
  • Travel size/mini body
  • Quarter sawn scalloped Sitka Spruce bracing

The Washburn RO10SK-A Rover is another extremely thin, portable model.

It has a mahogany neck, body, and back which give it a rich, warm tone and a solid spruce top that has excellent resonance and projection.

The thin shape still has the grooves of a full-size guitar, and the neck is also pretty long with 18 frets, so you have access to up the neck.

The bridge and fretboard are rosewood, adding to the smoothness and the tuners are chrome die-cast, so you can trust it to hold its tune.

Features:

  • Thin, portable shape
  • Solid Spruce top, mahogany back and sides
  • Sitka spruce bracing, ABS rosette, offset dot fingerboard inlay
  • Matte finish, engineered fingerboard
  • Gig bag included

Cordoba Mini M

Cordoba Mini M, Mahogany, Small Body, Nylon String Guitar with Gig Bag
162 Reviews
Cordoba Mini M, Mahogany, Small Body, Nylon String Guitar with Gig Bag
  • Solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides
  • Miniature nylon string guitar with full size feel and playability (20.125″ [510mm] scale length, 1.875” [48mm] nut width)
  • Natural satin finish

The famous guitar maker Cordoba are known for their full-size classical guitars but they also make a pretty great mini classical guitar too, called the Mini M.

The Mini M is a solid spruce topped with your pick of back and side tonewoods such as mahogany.

Despite its small size, the Cordoba Mini M has plenty of bass, with a satisfactory depth of tone and a generous amount of projection.

It sounds bright and surprisingly loud for its size with plenty of bottom end.

As it’s a classical guitar, it comes with nylon strings and there’s no pick-guard option. There are also, of course, no electronics.

The strings are tuned a fourth up (A-A tuning, notes: ADGCEa). While you can tune it to standard E, it’s worth sticking to this tuning as it’s so much easier to play.

It will suit beginner players and seasoned fingerstyle players alike as a portable, pleasant-sounding instrument that be easily transported.

Features:

  • Mini guitar from master builders Cordoba
  • Nylon strings are easy on the fingers, and tuned to A-A
  • Surprisingly bassy and projects well

Fender CT-140SE

Fender CT-60S Right Handed Acoustic Guitar – Travel Body – Natural
  • All-new Travel body style
  • Solid spruce top with scalloped “X”-bracing
  • Mahogany back and sides

Fender have a travel option too, of course. The CT-140SE Travel body may well remind you of the auditorium guitar shape – that’s because it’s been modeled on it, but with a shortened-down scale length of 23.5”.

The CT-140SE comes packed with top-of-line design features that players of all levels will surely appreciate, including rosewood back and sides and a Fishman Presys preamp system. It also features a solid spruce top and a new easy-to-play neck with rolled fingerboard edges.

Features:

  • new travel body style modeled on the auditorium
  • Solid spruce top with scalloped “X”-bracing
  • Rosewood back and sides

Buyer’s Guide – Key Considerations

There are a few things to consider before rushing out to buy a mini-guitar.

Traveling

Compared to other instruments such as drum kits (although there are some pretty decent portable ones now) guitars are relatively good for traveling anyway. That said if you’re planning to do extensive traveling for months at a time, and size and weight is an important consideration, one of the ‘traveler type’ guitars may suit you much better as they’re incredibly small and light.

If you want something more substantial but still portable, a ¾ or ½-size guitar will do you nicely. Also, if you’re planning to busk your way around the world (lucky you), consider what you’re going to sit on. Some superb collapsible lightweight guitar chairs give you the right posture for playing.

Built-in Pickup

Will you need to mic it up? If so, get a model with a built-in pickup. Although sound engineers can mic up acoustics, they often don’t like doing so, and if you’re playing into a mic you’re limited in terms of how much you can move. A built-in pickup will instantly transform your acoustic into an amplified guitar, making life easy for both yourself and the sound engineers you deal with.

Budget

Some of these are quite high-end in terms of price. It tends to be the ones with built-in pickups that are higher in price. The choice of wood also plays a big part in the price – a lot of mahogany and solid-spruce top models will ensure quality but are on the pricey side. However, if you sacrifice the solid-spruce for laminate spruce, the price often comes down.

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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