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There is nothing like taking your show on the road, but sometimes packing up all our gear is just not an option. That is where the best travel acoustic guitars comes into play. Lightweight, small and portable and able to go places a full size guitar cannot is just some of the benefits of these micro miracles.
Ever since the first acoustic guitars were introduced to the world, they have been a staple in music. From the parlor room to the concert hall, guitarists have been using these beautifully crafted instruments for centuries. With that being said, it’s hard to find one that can suit your needs. You need one that is acoustically stunning and durable for a lifetime of playing on different stages or any time you take it out with you.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of some of best travel acoustic guitars from beginner models all the way up to professional ones so you can choose which guitar suits your lifestyle best!
What Is A Travel Acoustic Guitar?
A travel acoustic guitar is an extremely small and portable acoustic guitar that usually has a body that’s 1/10 the size of it’s full-size counterpart. What makes these guitars so popular is that they are extremely ergonomic, lightweight and can be used by anyone without any previous experience.
They’re often made with laminated tops, back and sides to maintain tonal quality while cutting down on unnecessary weight. Not only do you get a great sounding guitar from these backpacker guitars, but you also get a real quality instrument that’s made with the best materials.
About Our Testing to Identify the Top Travel Acoustic Guitars
The guitars we’ve chosen to test are the “best of the best” that have been around for a while. They have stood out in several categories and come highly recommended by people who use them on a daily basis. We’ve tested them individually and compared their pros and cons to see which guitars stand out from the pack.
Luckily I own three travel guitars in my family so have a pretty good idea what to look for. For the remaining, I borrowed three from friends to test and spend some quality time with and the others I auditioned multiple times at my local guitar store.
What to Look for In the Best Travel Acoustic Guitar
The best travel acoustic guitar should be lightweight, have a durable design yet not sacrifice sturdy construction or tone. You want one that comes with a strap and is made from quality materials and has a relatively affordable price tag.
While this is the perfect list of what you should look for in the best travel guitar, it’s worth mentioning that there are hundreds of other options available if you prefer something different.
Below are the top factors to consider when buying a travel guitar. These include:
Full-Sized fretboard vs Scaled-Down Guitar
How often you travel and your personal preferences have a role here. Having a full-sized fretboard on your instrument will make it feel more like a standard guitar to you. However, if you frequently travel and don’t want to carry along the extra weight of a full-sized guitar, consider purchasing a 3/4-sized guitar.
It’s important to keep in mind that guitars with smaller fretboards have a unique feel. This fretboard isn’t for everyone; some guitarists despise it.
Choosing a guitar based solely on its size and portability is a bad idea. If you want to buy a guitar, make sure you like it. What’s the use of having a guitar if you can’t play it because the neck is so difficult?
Small-Bodied vs Removable Neck
There are numerous small-bodied guitars on the list, but only one has a detachable neck. Now, consider yourself if you really need a full-sized guitar or if a compact travel guitar will do.
Small-bodied guitars lack the necessary volume, yet they are lightweight and portable. If you have a removable neck guitar, you can take your standard guitar anyplace. Those who have been dreading the thought of tuning their guitar have now found some relief.
It’s okay if you’re not quite ready to accept a travel guitar into your life. Check out this video to learn more about the many guitars available and their dimensions. If you’re interested in learning more about guitars, you can also try your hand at classical, acoustic, and electric guitars.
First and foremost, you need to think about this. Knowing that you are not in complete control of the situation while traveling is a fact of life. Because you’re carrying a lot of baggage, your instrument can get bumped or fall on top of you.
Learn to play guitar, must learn guitar scales
Make sure that your instrument is able to withstand any bumps or knocks. Verify the quality of the wood and the finish. Also, be sure to inspect the neck, which is crucial. What good is a strong body if the neck cannot support it?
What Are The Best Travel Acoustic Guitars?
Contrary to popular belief, travel acoustic guitars aren’t just for beginners or acoustic beginners. They can be used by professionals as well who want to take their sound on the road. These guitars have been around so long that there are a wide variety of them to choose from. You’re bound to find one that fits your needs perfectly.
Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar – Top Pick
Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar, Mahogany Top
Top Pick for Travel Acoustic Guitar
To set the standard for others to follow. Elegantly constructed from wood with a Sepele back and fretboard in ebony, this guitar is a standout amongst its peers. It’s a musician’s instrument, so it’s a little heavier and longer than you’d expect for travel or mini travel guitar.
If you plan on taking this guitar on a long road trip, you’ll want to know how it handles fluctuations in temperature very well. I have travelled with mine and forgot it in both a hot car and a cold cabin and it still keeps chucking along regardless of the abuse.
The chrome-plated hardware is of good quality and has held up well over time. The sound has a quality to it, with a pleasant tone and just a tad of a deficiency in the bottom end. Considering I prefer Martins, you know this one has to be good for me to give it our top pick. Unexpectedly, it’s quite loud.
While sitting, it is well suited to your body’s proportions and is well-weighted. Playing is very natural although the neck is a bit narrow for my liking. The Baby Taylor retains its tone and loudness even when played fingerstyle. Fret buzz can be heard from time to time, although it’s barely audible. Of course, it won’t sound as well as its bigger sibling, but for something that’s just about three-quarters the size, the tone quality is impressive.
Pros: Stunningly crafted with mahogany that has a lovely grain to it. It’s has a wonderful, well-balanced sound.
Cons: Price-wise, it’s on the high end of the travel guitar spectrum, but it’s worth every penny. Missing a bit of the low-end bass we hear on the Martin.
Taylor GS Mini Review – Best Overall Runner-up
Taylor GS Mini-e Rosewood ES-B
Best Overall Runner-up
The Taylor GS Mini is a Grand Symphony Mini Cutaway. If you’re going to take your guitar with you, look no further than the Taylor GS Mini. Due to its cost, design, and sound quality, it is undoubtedly one of the most popular guitars for traveling.
In appearance, it appears to be the same as any other acoustic guitar, but a few clever features make it suitable for the road. It’s true, however, that you’ll also want to play this guitar at home.
Taylor’s first ploy is the use of sapele laminate for the neck, backs, and sides, which not only adds strength but also reduces the overall cost. There are two options for the top wood: solid Sitka spruce or mahogany. The one I borrowed was the Stika spruce top so I did not get to test the hog version. In contrast to the rest of the guitar, its ebony fretboard makes the fret markings easier to read.
A combination of the GS Mini’s X Bracing, arched back, and relief path makes it very stable and secure. With a scale length of 23.5″, it has the appearance of a 3/4 size guitar but retains the full size guitar’s sound and playability. There are no cutaways to play high up on the neck, but the body echoes completely when played.
The one I tested did not have electronics but there is a ES-GO model that includes a passive magnetic soundhole pickup that can be installed. From other reviews, the sound amped up is top notch.
The GS mini is surprisingly loud for a guitar of its size (especially with the sitka spruce top models). Tonal character is unbeatable, no matter which top wood you choose. There are no tinny or unpleasant frequencies in this collection. A full-sized guitar’s sound can be heard. Despite the fact that it’s typically referred to as a “travel guitar,” you’ll find yourself using it in your recording sessions as well.
Pros: Everything about the guitar, from sound to flexibility.
Cons: I did not have enough time with it (I only was able to borrow it for 1 day). With some more time, I may consider it ahead of the Taylor Baby.
Martin LX1 – Best Sounding Travel Guitar
Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar
Best Sounding Travel Guitar
If you are looking for the best sound from a small package, the Martin LX1 is for you. I would say there is not a better sounding travel acoustic guitar on the market. I’ve used this model for years and it has an incredible sound that maintains its quality through multiple movements and playing styles.
Its solid spruce top makes it more susceptible to dents and dings, but the sound is indistinguishable from a typical Martin in any way.
There are 20 frets (14 of which are clear of the body) on the rosewood fingerboard of this Martin guitar, which is made of Rut-stratabond neck, Micarta bridge, Tusq saddle, and rosewood fingerboard. It includes a padded gig bag that is of a higher quality than the normal free gig bags.
Pros: Lightweight and attractive with a small body that can be easily packed away when not in use. Well constructed with good materials and a very comfortable neck. Great looking in finish as well! Quality workmanship that lasts for years to come and that classic Martin tone.
Cons: Expensive but well worth the price tag. Many people have reported loose tuners, so you may want to look into a set of quality tuners if you are investing in this guitar.
Martin LXK2 – Best Martin Tone on A Budget
Martin LXK2 Little Martin Koa Pattern HPL Top with Padded Gigbag
Best Martin Tone on A Budget
In terms of travel guitars, Martin offers a lot to choose from. The Martin LXK2 Little Martin, on the other hand, has captivated the attention of many guitarists around the globe. The Natural Stratabond modified low-oval neck of this guitar has a 23-inch scale length.
The top, back, sides, and headstock are all made of Koa-grained HPL (high-pressure laminate), the same quality materials used by high-end Martin guitars. There are rosewood frets and Natural Stratabond, which make it very easy to play. This is a great companion for practice and vacation.
Pros: The sound is well-balanced, with a greater emphasis on the midrange. There are no sharp fret edges on the fretboard. Made of high-quality materials that are resistant to deterioration.
Cons: Strumming is not as enjoyable as fingerstyle guitar. The one I played had high action out of the box. Kept longing for the tone of the LX1.
Martin LX1 vs Martin LXK2
The LX1 is a far superior guitar than the LXK2. It is full, rich, and deep; it makes an excellent first guitar and is convenient to take on the road. Of course, the LX1 also rings in at twice the price of the LXK2 so you may not want to take this one on any very adventurous journeys.
Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric – Best Travel Electric Acoustic Guitar
Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Best Travel Electric Acoustic Guitar
It’s a well-made travel guitar that sounds great even when packed into a small space. Even though it is extremely small (in terms of length), it has a standard length scale.
The electronics feature a single twin rail pickup that does not offer any volume control but produces great sound. The neck on this tiny guitar plays wonderfully and has excellent build quality. Testing out of the box at the store, the action was perfect and frets were level. The saddle and intonation are also excellent.
Comes with a cheap gig bag and some starter accessories.
Pros: Good electric tone and great playing fretboard. Nice setup out of the box.
Cons: Doesn’t have any tone or volume controls.
Yamaha NTX700 Cedar Top – Best Travel Classical String Guitar
Yamaha is a name synonymous with quality and this nylon string travel guitar does not break the mold. The NTX700 Ceadar Top String Acoustic-Electric Steel String Guitar has an elegant finish of a clear lacquer, which provides the instrument with an incredible look. As far as features go, this is one of the nicest travel guitars you can find.
Its body of solid cedar top ensures its structural integrity and provide superior tone. This is a dream to play fingerstyle on for a travel sized guitar.
Pros: It’s well-made, looks great, and plays great. You’ve found a piece of history when you add high-quality electronics to the mix. This is not even a beginner’s guitar, even though it is the lowest model in the Yamaha NX Guitar Series. This is a professional-quality guitar with a lot to offer, and it’s priced fairly.
It comes with a perfect build built of high-quality solid wood. The quality and performance make up for the lack of elegance and fine details. To get the most natural, dynamic, and expressive electro-acoustic sound, Yamaha placed an ART-2 acoustic pickup under the bridge. This was a deliberate design choice.
Martin Steel-String Backpacker – Best Backpack Sized Guitar
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
Best Backpack Sized Guitar
The Martin Steel-String Backpacker is built to withstand the rigors of camping, trekking, and other outdoor activities. The top and back and sides of this 24-inch guitar are crafted of solid spruce, and the neck and sides are built of solid mahogany. It has a contoured neck structure that makes it easy to get to the top frets.
Despite its small size and low weight, this guitar has a powerful sound. The encased chrome tuners on this guitar ensure that it stays in tune even after a lot of playing. Strings that come with the guitar are of excellent quality and sound fantastic.
This has been my go to for hiking trips for many years. Fingerpicking is a breeze on this guitar since it sounds so good. Even when it loses some volume, the projection is still excellent.
I tried out a new one in the store and there is no need to make any adjustments to the action, it was perfectly low and smooth on the one I tried.
Two complaints I have about this mini guitar. First, the neck is heavier than the rest of the body, therefore your left hand bears the brunt of the burden. Second, the guitar’s high E-string is almost at the very edge of the fretboard.
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy – Best Budget Travel Size Guitar
Gretsch Guitars 6 String Acoustic Guitar
Best Budget Travel Size Guitar
Style that lends itself to campfire music. The Gretsch G9500 “Jim Dandy” Flat Top is our top pick on a budget. This is a vintage-looking 24″ parlor guitar. With a classic sunburst finish and an off-white pickguard, this guitar is stunning. A tone wood comparable to the pines, Agathis, used in the early acoustics that inspired the G9500 was utilized for its top, back, and sides, which preserves the look and sound original while providing durability that isn’t achievable with soft woods like pine.
There are no bridge pins to loose, so you’re less likely to have problems while on the road, making it easier to change strings. Gretsch has kept this instrument purely acoustic in order to cram in as much quality as possible while keeping the price as low as possible. Steel-reinforced, nato wood neck is used. For a guitar this little, the neck is attached to the body at its 12th fret and the bouts are enlarged, making it capable of projecting more than its size would suggest.
If you look at the headstock, you’ll see the old “Jim Dandy” lettering and vintage-style open tuning mechanisms.
In the end, the Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is an excellent option for players on a budget who don’t want to be without a guitar while on the road. It’s made entirely of solid wood, which is rare for a product of this caliber. However, while the raw, delta blues tones may not appeal to all ears, the guitar’s compact size and tremendous projection make it a perfect travel companion for everyone.
Yamaha GL1 Guitalele – Best Cheap Travel Guitar
Yamaha GL Series GL1
Best Cheap Travel Guitar
OK, there is budget and below that we have best cheap travel guitar. This is for people who want a smaller guitar on the cheap without sacrificing on quality! The Yamaha GL1 Guitalele is one of the best cheap travel guitars you can find.
With a little bit of modification, you have an excellent full-sized guitar that is easy to carry around and be quite street-legal. This will be perfect way for beginners to get into the world of playing music and enjoy something that feels less manly but just as fun at the end of the day.
Does it sound like a Martin acoustic guitar. No, of course not. But it does sound good enough and the setup out the box is reasonable. The GL1 Guitalele is a great example of Yamaha’s low-cost, high-quality guitars. This was an obvious choice for the best budget travel guitar due to its high ratings and low price. It is an excellent value for the money!
Some things to keep in mind are that this is not a guitar that can be taken with you on the road. This instrument is a cross between a ukulele and an acoustic guitar, as the name suggests. Yamaha tuned this guitar to A/D/G/C/E/a/a in order to provide the greatest possible fusion sound.
Don’t be alarmed! A non-standard E/A/D/G/B/e tuning works best on this guitar’s smaller size, so that’s all it implies. An excellent cheap travel guitar, this is also a great gift for someone who travels a lot.
For me, if you’re willing to spend $75 more, you can obtain a much superior product.
For many, the best travel acoustic guitars are ones where aesthetics are highly important. This is especially true for those who grew up playing a guitar that looks similar to the “real thing.” Not only do these instruments look like their full-sized counterparts, but they also sound as good.
It’s also important to consider touring in a van or bus, where size may be limited and you need something compact. In these cases, choosing the best cheap travel guitar is based entirely on personal preference.
Honorable Mentions for Best Travel Acoustic Guitars
Although the guitars below did not top any of the categories in my travel guitar roundup, I found they were still worthy of consideration.
PRS SE Parlor P20 – Honorable Mention Travel Acoustic
PRS SE P20E Tonare Parlor Vintage Mahogany
Honorable Mention Travel Acoustic
The iconic PRS design in a portable form factor. Despite the fact that the PRS SE P20E was the best overall winner in our 7 best parlor guitars review, we opted to go with the P20 acoustic-only version for our travel guitars review. The pickups are absent from this model, which is otherwise made to the same high standards. To refresh your recollection, the top, neck, back, and sides are all made of real mahogany, and this combination produces a wonderful warmth that rivals that of any full-size guitar. The tone is further enhanced by the use of bone nut and saddle.
Despite the fact that PRS isn’t well-known for its acoustics, the “birds in flight” fretboard inlay and PRS headstock ensure that everyone knows exactly what you’re playing. The X-brace/classical bracing hybrid in the body delivers superb top resonance with a strong back and sides for excellent parlor-style projection, despite the compact size of the instrument.
The guitar’s playability is among the greatest in the industry. It boasts a thick, “wide fat” PRS-style neck that’s comfortable in the hand. If you’re willing to spend a little more money, you’ll get an heirloom-quality instrument that sounds and looks fantastic.
A parlor guitar that’s equally at home on the road, stage, or studio, the PRS SE Parlor P20 is a high-end parlor guitar with a versatile sound. It’s a high-quality instrument with a rich, powerful sound that should last for many years to come. It also includes a gig bag, which can come in handy when you’re on the road.
Cordoba Mini M – Honorable Mention Travel Classical Acoustic
Cordoba Mini II M, Mahogany, Small Body, Nylon String Guitar
Honorable Mention Travel Classical Acoustic
For the price, this nylon string travel guitar rates high in the price to performance ratio. Though not up to the standard of my top classical traveler, the Yamaha NTX700 Cedar Top, this little guy will do you proud.
A wide variety of stunning classical guitars are made by Cordoba. Spruce-topped, the Cordoba Mini M is ideal for on-the-go playing. The classic guitar is a lighter and more portable option, and it comes in a variety of side and back finishes to accommodate a wide range of musical tastes. Classical guitar strings can be found right here.
The fret spacing and neck width are standard for a full-size guitar, so it plays and feels exactly like a full-size guitar. Acoustic guitar strings tuned a fourth higher than conventional ADGCEa come with the set. A normal E set can be substituted for this recommended tuning for the best vibrancy.
It has a bright and remarkably loud sound for a small acoustic instrument, the basses are extremely strong, and we recommend adhering to the A tuning since the E guitar strings change it radically into a pretty unimpressive instrument and they maintain far less tension.
It’s a terrific value for the money, it’s well-built, and it’s actually small, making it a viable option for backpacking.
Ibanez EWP14OPN – Honorable Mention Budget Travel Acoustic
Ibanez EWP14OPN Exotic Wood Piccolo Acoustic Guitar Natural
Honorable Mention Budget Travel Acoustic
I was able to borrow the Ibanez from a close friend and got to spend a week with it. I was glad I did! The instrument’s surprisingly high output loudness was a surprise. Small groups could enjoy it by the campfire or in the park.
Ibanez is a well-known brand in the guitar community since their instruments are both affordable and high-quality at the same time. Ibanez’s reputation for making cool-looking instruments extends to its travel guitar, which is no exception.
The guitar’s small size makes it suitable for traveling with you. An ukulele-sized instrument with a 17-inch scale length is what you’ll get with this guitar It has a distinct sound because of its diminutive stature. In addition to its mandolin-like tone, it is slightly higher pitched than a typical acoustic guitar. To fully understand it, one must listen to it.
I enjoyed it because it’s a beautiful little guitar with a distinct sound. Piccolo players will be pleased to know that this instrument has a surprising amount of volume for its size.
Bonus Picks for Best Portable Guitars
While reviewing acoustic, I got overzealous and tried out some travel electric guitars and a few travel bass guitars. I will be circling back to these but below are some of my favorites so far.
Traveler Guitar LTD EC-1 – Best Electric Travel Guitar
Traveler Guitar 6 String Solid-Body Electric Guitar, Right, Snow White (EC1 SWTG)
Best Electric Travel Guitar
A guitar that can travel with you wherever you go. In order to build the best travel-sized electric guitar, Traveler Guitar collaborated with ESP. With its quilted maple finish and Les Paul-style mahogany body, this guitar looks like a $4000 PRS in terms of aesthetics. It sounds just as good as it looks. You can still get 24.75″ scale length, but Traveler Guitar has managed to reduce it by 24 percent in length and 29 percent in weight by taking out the headstock and compressing its body, all while keeping the ergonomics and playability of a full-size LP style instrument. Both action and intonation may be fine-tuned with the EC-1’s adjustable saddles.
Looking for a full-size electric guitar? See our Best Electric Guitars Under $500
The tuners, which are located in the center of the guitar’s body to economize on space, are another notable aspect of this instrument’s design. The strings pass over the bridge and into the body before ending at the machine heads at the back. With a built-in headphone preamp, you don’t even need to bring a little amp with you when playing this guitar. Then all you have to do is plug in your headphones and go. A full-size ESP Designed active humbucker is installed to produce full, rich tones. Aside from your guitar and headphones, you don’t need to bring anything else besides the amp’s built-in amp’s clean boost, overdrive, and distortion settings.
It is possible to get the Traveler Guitar LTD EC-1 in quilted maple Dark Brown Sunburst or quilted maple Violet Shadow finish.
The Traveler Guitar LTD EC-1 is the best option for a high-end guitar that you can take with you wherever you go. It has a far more traditional look and feel than other electric travel guitars due to the use of high-quality materials and design.
Traveler Guitar TB-4P Best Travel Bass Electric
Traveler Guitar, 4-String Bass Guitar, Right, Sunburst (TB4P SB MP)
Best Travel Bass Electric
Like their travel guitars, this bass guitar is designed to feel as close to a conventional bass as possible, while reducing the weight to the absolute minimum. Both the reviews and the design of the Traveler Guitar TB-4P have been quite positive. Besides being 25 percent lighter, it’s also 22 percent shorter than a regular bass, which comes in handy when you’re on the road. I want you to slap that thing around the world!
Traveler Guitar’s Travel Bass has volume and tone controls, as well as the standard electronics needed to connect to any pedal or amp! In addition, they have a 1/8-inch headphone port as a nice bonus feature. In other words, you can still jam out while you’re away from home, even if you’re using headphones. Remember, though, that the sound will be pleasant, but not as full-bodied as a conventional bass will sound. Don’t expect to sound like Flea with this bass’s Duncan pickups, though.
Overall it has good tone quality and seems to be durable. It has an innovative and well-executed – a wrap-around tuning design.
One drawback I noticed when testing is it was a bit of a challenge to find a good balance when sitting. For the sound quality, it is on the high price side.
Traveler Guitars EG1C – Honorable Mention Travel Electric Guitar
Traveler Guitar 6 String EG-1 Custom (Gloss Black), Right, (EG1C BKG)
Honorable Mention Travel Electric Guitar
The EG-1 offers a more acoustic-sounding guitar-like sound at a certain setting. However, there is only one pickup on board.
There are 2 pickups in the EG-2. It has a more resonant tone (kind of like a Fender Strat).
Both of them are extremely light and compact, making them ideal for travel.
Both of my EG-1 and EG-2 guitars have the same drawbacks: they don’t keep a tune very long. Every 30 minutes, unless I play extremely softly, I have to re-tune the guitars EG-1 and EG-2.
Both the EG-1 and the EG-2 guitars are excellent in my opinion.
However, they are worth every penny.
FAQ for best travel acoustic guitars
What makes a great travel guitar?
An acoustic guitar that’s ideal for traveling should not only be light and portable, but also include a robust build and a rich sound. For a reasonable price, you want something with a strap, decent materials, and a reasonable price tag.
It’s worth noting that there are a plethora of other guitars to choose from if you prefer a different style of guitar.
Can I gig with a travel guitar?
Absolutely, and many acoustic travel guitars contain inbuilt pickups and preamps to enable for this. Ed Sheeran is one of the most famous living guitarists on the planet and plays a small-scale travel guitar onstage and in the studio. He’s so enamored with them that he’s even started his own series.
Even electric travel guitars made for headphone practice may be used with amps if you wish, so they could be a terrific choice for going to jams or impromptu gigs with.