I Picked 4 Of The Best Travel Guitar Models For Different Travel Needs.
Some say that a dog is a man's best friend, but many guitar players would argue that the right travel guitar is a better companion for the road than the dog, because it requires much less maintenance, you can't strum your dog around the campfire, or keep him quiet on the bus or in the hotel room.
TOP 4 BEST TRAVEL GUITARS ACOUSTIC / ELECTRIC
Choosing the right travel guitar depends on what your specific purposes and preferences are.
Because there are literally hundreds of travel guitars available on the market, I scoured the market and reviewed 4 of the best acoustic and electric travel guitars for your convenience, but you might need to answer a few questions for yourself first.
A few questions to consider before buying yours. . .
#1- Are you buying this for yourself or as a gift for another person?
#2- Does it need to be smaller than full size or do you want a full sized practice guitar that can take a little bit of a beating but still sound good
#3- Do you prefer to have an acoustic or electric to travel with (or both - do you need the option to plug it in)?
#4- Will you need it to perform small gigs or record?
#5- Do you just want a minimalist, small back-pack acoustic type of guitar - one that won't get in the way but can be there for practice or a small campfire setting?
Our top 4 choices that suit different traveling needs are:
1 - The Traveler Guitar Pro Series (acoustic electric) - yep - that's the brand name
2 - The Baby Taylor (3/4 size acoustic- larger than a back-pack guitar and you can install a pickup or buy one with a pickup)
3 - Martin Steel String back-packer - (true acoustic only, minimalist pure travel size guitar)
4 - The Yamaha Silent Guitar series - (although not backpack size guitar- it does break down and has silent playing options appropriate for some travel requirements)
Let's get into more detail on each of these top 4 travel guitar picks below. . .
#1 - The Traveler Guitar Pro Series ($379)
This company (Traveler Guitar) focuses completely on creating outstanding quality guitars for traveling purposes. They have many different models to accommodate the acoustic player, the electric player, they even make traveling guitar models for the bass player.
This travel guitar series is most likely to fit most guitar players in terms of having the most options for the traveling guitarist's budget, and that is why it is our #1 choice.
This Traveler Guitar Pro Series is an acoustic electric guitar with a gig bag, and is excellent for the acoustic player or the electric player who can get along with an acoustic feeling travel guitar.
If you click on the video image to the left, you will go to a review page on Amazon and be able to listen to the video (I could not embed that video for you here but it is a good video to watch if you are interested in this model).
What I really like about this guitar is that it has a standard, full size neck and fret board, at 24 - 3/4" and is made from solid maple for durability. The tuning keys are protected in 2 carved out areas of the flat body, and this protects them from being knocked around and coming out of tune while traveling. If you have ever traveled with a normal size guitar in a gig bag, you will have experienced the tuning keys getting bumped and affecting the string tuning (which is not a huge deal, but is a nice convenience and great design feature of this travel guitar).
The Traveler Guitar Pro has a nice detachable lap rest so that it sits at the right height for playing, although a lower height than a standard dreadnought. It is thinner, so you have to get used to the arm and hand position differences, but this will be true on any smaller guitar body if you are used to playing on a full size guitar.
The neck has an adjustable truss rod so that you can adjust the set of the neck with respect to the guitar string height for personal playing preferences.
It comes with a really cool feature, a stethophone type headphone setup (just like a doctor's stethoscope) you can plug in to hear the pure vibrations of the strings' sound, without needing electricity and without bothering your neighbors, making semi-silent playing a reality.
If you need to plug this in for a small gig or are have access to a travel amp or regular size amplifier, you have a standard 1/4" jack in this for acoustic/electric amplification through the on-board custom acoustic pickup for acoustic sound or single coil for more of an electric guitar sound and the option to blend either of the 2 pickup sounds for your most favored output tone (whether you favor more of an acoustic sound or an electric sound, or something in between)
The length is perfect for travel at 28" overall, as it also fits in the overhead compartment of most airplanes, so no worries about taking it on your next flight.
The company is over 10 years old, and they offer a great 3 year manufacturer's warranty, but you could add a few additional years with a Square Trade warranty as well.
This guitar can use any gauge acoustic guitar strings, and comes stocked with D'Addario EJ15 Phosphor Bronze Round Wound Extra Light Acoustic Strings to start. So no worries, you can put your favorite Ernie Ball, Martin or Elixr strings on this traveler without a problem.
The guitar can be played in the seated position, but also comes with pins for a shoulder strap.
When you buy the Traveler Pro here, you get everything you need to head out the door on your next trip including:
- Traveler Pro Series Steel-string Electric/Acoustic Travel Guitar
- deluxe gig-bag
- truss rod wrench
- owner's manual
- and warranty card
For about $379, this travel guitar by Traveler Guitars meets all of the requirements of a true acoustic / electric traveling guitar that can be played silently, or plugged in for projection, recording or performance, and it is our #1 choice to meet the universal needs of most guitar enthusiasts when searching for a true "travel guitar".
#2 The Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar ($299 to $399)
The Baby Taylor is our #2 pick for a travel guitar, as it is not a backpack sized travel guitar, but is a nice 3/4 size acoustic guitar that sounds great when miked or around a campfire. If someone is a purely acoustic guitar lover, and does not want to sacrifice tone and keep the playing feel as close to an acoustic guitar as possible, the Baby Taylor is a great 3/4 size acoustic guitar to travel with.
This guitar is also not a child's toy, but is a true acoustic guitar at 3/4 size (although it would be wise for some kids to start on a model this good).
You can also read our full review on the Baby Taylor here, but I will go into enough detail on this page to help you understand why we picked this as one of our top 4 travel guitars.
The Baby Taylor costs around $299 and comes in several finish options, and you can even buy one with an acoustic-electric pickup, or have one installed. The only one I have found with the pickup already installed is the Taylor Swift model, which is an extra $100, around $399, and probably won't suffice for most guys out there who are sensitive about playing a guitar branded after a female singer, having vines and the words "love, love, love" inscribed around the sound-hole, but hey. . . to each his own.
However, it is not very difficult to have a pickup installed if you want to shell out about $100 to $150 extra at your local guitar shop and buy another one of the Baby Taylor models.
The sound of this Baby Taylor is going to come closest to a larger acoustic guitar, and comes with mahogany or sitka spruce for the top and sapele laminated wood for the sides and back, giving these guitars a mid-range punchy sound like mahogany, but having the durability of a laminated wood guitar (so they should weather a little better because they are laminated).
The Baby Taylor is great for kids too and is one of 2 that we picked on our review here for best kids guitar as it is smaller than a full size dreadnought, and does not sacrifice in craftsmanship or playability for someone who wants to grow into a larger guitar in a few years.
Some other important stats of this guitar if you are considering it are some of the measurements:
- Body Width: 12 1/2 Inches
- Body Depth: 3 3/8 Inches
- Body Length: 15 3/4 Inches
- Overall Length: 33 3/4 Inches
You can also read more reviews and details, and what other people have to say about this great sounding 3/4 size travel guitar here at Amazon.
#3 Martin Backpacker (just under $250)
The Martin Backpacker is true to it's name, and is a purely acoustic back-packing travel guitar. This no-frills guitar is great for someone who wants to travel light and play a small, easy acoustic guitar.
If you are purely price-driven, this is the least expensive of out top 4 choices without sacrificing quality and playability.
Because it is made by Martin, you can expect some great craftsmanship standards, albeit it is made in Mexico. I have not found if they manufacture them in any other countries than Mexico, but it is a solid pick for the price.
The Martin Backpacker is perfect for biking, hiking, traveling, camping etc. when sound projection, performance and plugging in are not necessary.
You will certainly not get a booming bass sound from this, as the body is too small, but it will give a nice, resonating, treble acoustic sound which is great for the no frills traveler who wants to have his or her trusty acoustic around to play on with a consistent feel and quality sound & playability.
If you are never going to plug in your travel guitar, and do not need a full size or 3/4 size guitar to boom a little more sound, but just want a solid traveling companion, the Martin Backpacker is probably the best fit for you.
The only cons of this guitar is that the narrow body width makes for a different feel when trying to play this on your lap. You will be more comfortable putting a strap on this and standing up, or cradling it against the inside of your strumming arm as it is narrow. You can rest it on your leg to play, but it just might take a little adjusting to if you are used to playing a full size acoustic most of the time.
It does boast a few nice crafted features like solid spruce top, solid tonewoods for the back and sides, although Martin Guitar company does not specify which tonewood is used (I would guess a Sapele or cousin to Mahogany like Nato), but it is not a laminated guitar body. The scale length is just under the common 24-3/4 inch length at 24", and has a total of 15 frets, all clearing the body as the body is narrow and the entire fretboard is playable with the chording hand.
The fingerboard at the nut width is 1-11/16" and 2-1/8" at the 12th fret, making it very comfortable for people who are used to playing a standard guitar size, with just a little bit less space on each fret due to the slightly smaller scaling of the fretboard.
The sound of this guitar is going to be noticeably less projecting in the mid-range like the Baby Taylor, and you cannot plug this little backpacker in, but for a traveler who wants to keep his or her chops warm and be able to play a good sounding, bright acoustic guitar while not lugging a big, heavy backup guitar around, this is about the best you can get for a traveling acoustic guitar that literally fits in it's own little over-the-shoulder back pack, and really sings and plays well, staying in tune on the entire fretboard.
Some of the cons or downers of this guitar are that:
The neck is thicker than a standard steel string guitar. The shoulder strap pin is placed where it makes it challenging to play on the higher frets past (past fret 9 without moving your chording thumb around) while attached, which is not an issue in the seated position or without the shoulder strap, and you could replace the pin or strap it at the end of the head stock. Also, the string action comes a little high at initial setup (so you might need to file down the saddle), and there is no truss rod for adjusting the neck, which is probably why they made the neck extra thick. You will want to keep light strings on this to protect the life of the neck too. However, one should not buy this guitar for performing, because of the obvious. It is a back-packer and is durable enough to travel to a lot of different environments, and give you hours of fun while keeping your skills sharp, while giving a surprisingly solid sound and projection. Also, the center of gravity on this is closer to the headstock making the guitar neck heavy in balance, but overall it's a fairly light at , durable, good sounding guitar for the camper, mountain biker or cross-country traveler.
Also, the Martin Guitar Company is not going to fix it's seal of approval on just any guitar, because of their decades of leading the industry with quality heritage and always striving to live up to the quality name of a true "Martin". Some people would disagree, but try this solid back-packer out for yourself and remember. . . it's a back-packer - not a high end studio or touring guitar so it will feel different, play different and sound different than a full size guitar.
If you are looking for the most universal, light-weight, easy to manage, bare bones acoustic traveler guitar, the Martin Backpacker is perfect for just under $250.
#4 The Yamaha Silent Guitar Series ($579 to $679)
Here is a good summary chart in 1-glance, with information taken directly from Yamaha's site.