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You’ve always been hesitant to take your guitar on trips. The notion of jamming your full-size baby into a crowded overhead bin is just too much. You’re in the market for the best travel guitar, and you want to start your research.
There is a vast selection of travel guitars in stores and on the Internet. We’ll start by discussing some important things to consider before purchasing a travel guitar, then move on to our review of five of the best travel guitars available on Amazon.
How to Select Your Travel Guitar
Some important things to consider when selecting your guitar:
Do you want your travel guitar to project sound and volume like your full-size acoustic guitar? Will you be playing it at a concert venue, or around a campfire for family and friends? Are you more concerned about bass, or treble? The tonewood will affect the sound of your guitar.
Travel guitars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. One guitar may have excellent sound, but feel awkward to play. Another may not be quite small enough and take up too much space, defeating the purpose of your purchase. Before you make a final decision, make sure the guitar is the right size for your needs. (Please note that size will also influence sound).
Wider necks are great for fingerstyle, and slimmer necks are better suited for small hands and strumming. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. You might feel more comfortable with a certain type of neck. You’ll want to try different necks and make a selection based on your playing style and personal preference.
How often will you play your travel guitar? Do you need this guitar to be durable for the long run? If you need a sturdy guitar as a travel companion, you may need to consider spending a bit more, as this would be a long-term investment. On the other hand, if you aren’t picky and just need a guitar you are comfortable traveling with, you could spend less and be happy with your purchase.
Keep in mind that a travel guitar probably won’t produce sound exactly like a full-size acoustic. It will feel different due to its smaller size and lighter weight. There could be a brief adjustment period as you get used to playing a travel guitar.
- Tonewood will influence sound
- Not all travel guitars are the same size
- The neck should accommodate your playing style
- If playing frequency, a travel guitar could be a long-term investment
Our Top Picks for the Best Travel Guitar
• Mahogany or Meranti Body
• 21 ¼”
• Slim neck
Travel guitars usually don’t project the same loud sound as full-size acoustics, but the sound of the Yamaha JR1 comes pretty close. This is a well-made, solid guitar, as we have come to expect from most instruments with the Yamaha name. It’s a high-quality instrument for the price: $160 for the Mahogany, and $135 for the Meranti.
This guitar is very lightweight, and the neck is slimmer than that of a full-size acoustic, making it an ideal guitar for a child. Adults, however, may need to get used to playing on it.
My personal rating: 90%
Bottom Line: A solid, affordable guitar with good sound, great for kids.
· Spruce top and solid tonewood (Martin does not disclose the specific tonewood)
· Contour neck shape, thicker than a full-size acoustic
The Martin Steel String Backpacker has great treble but doesn’t project a deep bass sound. The body width is narrow, which can make it feel odd when playing it on your lap. The size isn’t scaled down much from the standard 24 ¾”, so if you need to fit your travel guitar into small spaces while on the go, this one might be too big. With that being said, however, the guitar is very lightweight.
The Martin has a contour neck shape that is thicker than that of a full-size acoustic, making it suitable for players with larger hands. At $200, this guitar is a good purchase if you don’t need bass and plan to play it often.
My personal rating: 80%
Bottom Line: The Martin Steel String Backpacker is a good purchase if you don’t need a lot of low end. It may not travel well due to its larger size.
• Solid Spruce Top, Mahogany Body
• Normal size neck
This guitar is extremely lightweight with a sturdy build and full sound. However, the neck is long compared to the short body, so it can feel lopsided unless you use the included strap. You can purchase a Washburn pickup for plug in, and the guitar comes with a case that travels well and fits perfectly in an overhead compartment. The guitar is quite affordable at $175.
My personal rating: 85%
Bottom Line: The Washburn RO10 is an affordable guitar that travels well, but can feel awkward to play.
· Solid Spruce Top, Mahogany Body
· Thin, U-Shaped Neck
At 20”, this guitar is extremely lightweight and compact, with clear tone and a loud voice.
The thin, U-shaped neck is comfortable. The string spacing is that of a full-size acoustic, giving you the standard “feel” you are used to. The Cordoba Mini M is affordable at $198.
My personal rating: 95%
Bottom Line: The Cordoba Mini M is reasonably priced and well suited for travel, with great feel and playability.
• Spruce Top, High-Pressure Laminate Body
• Oval Neck
The LX1E has a nice, deep sound that is unexpected for a smaller guitar. The oval neck makes this comfortable to play and feels stable in your hands. It’s also a great guitar for kids. The Fishman pickup is pre-installed, making it convenient for use with a portable amp.
This guitar is pricey at $389, but if you plan to plug it in frequently, it may be worth the money. The guitar would cost even more if it weren’t for the High-Pressure Laminate Body, which is undetectable.
My personal rating: 85%
Bottom Line: The LX1E has a lot of depth in its tone, and is the perfect travel guitar for use with an amp, if you are willing to spend the money on it.