Best Travel Guitar Review – Top Rated Models in 2020 with Buying Guide
There’s usually not that much thought going into acquiring a cheap travel guitar, an item commonly seen as an inexpensive piece that we are willing to put through a punishing regime on the road. This short guide is meant to meet just the needs of the unconcerned or time-strapped shopper — with a brief selection of some of the top picks in the field. But even so, the best travel guitar is not to be underestimated, as some models, like the Traveler Guitar SPD HRB V2, are designed to perform as close to their full-sized counterparts as possible. And the SPD HRB V2 does this while substantially cutting in size by placing the tuning system inside the body, which eliminates the headstock while keeping the scale regular length for better playing performance. If you prefer a silent electric guitar that can be used in the same way as an acoustic for gigs, then the Yamaha SLG200NW should prove a good choice.
Our Top Choice
This travel guitar is perfectly sized to be transported without much trouble. It weighs roughly 4 lbs and fits in most airline overhead bins, making it perfect for concerts abroad when you want to make sure your gear doesn’t get lost on the way. A deluxe bag is included, to help provide a safe environment for the instrument during your trips. The built-in headphone amp of this item has four tones.
When you use it with headphones, you might hear a faint hissing sound which some users find displeasing.
Aside from ease of transport, this guitar will also offer you the possibility of excellent performance.
More suitable for classical players because given that it features nylon strings with regular spacing, this guitar delivers a near-silent performance that is great for practicing in public spaces, which is the case with many musicians that travel a lot. You can use it as a substitute for an acoustic guitar given that its pickup system has a very natural feel to it, almost like the original alternative.
This particular option is not suited for the needs of a beginner, and that might be discouraging.
Jamming will become easy when you’re using this option that’s always ready for setting off on a trip.
Made using mahogany back and sides combined with a top that features solid spruce for increased durability, this guitar is a miniature version that will weigh less than the original size and still produce an impressive sound. It has a smooth satin finish that adds a bit of style and comes with a custom string set, already tuned to A. The packaging includes a custom gig bag.
The strings included might not last as long as expected, according to some customers.
Unlike the usual fractional size guitar, this one has a full-width neck so your performance won’t be affected.
7 Best Travel Guitars (Reviews) in 2020
We’ve looked through a number of travel guitar reviews and made a selection of the best-appreciated products out there, so you won’t have to churn through literally hundreds of items when browsing for a travel guitar for sale.
- 1. Traveler Guitar SPD HRB V2 Speedster Hot Rod Electric
- 2. Yamaha SLG200NW Nylon String Classical Silent Guitar
- 3. Cordoba Mini M Travel Acoustic Nylon String Guitar
- 4. Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
- 5. Voyage-Air Transit Series VAOM-02 Folding Orchestra Model Acoustic Guitar
- 6. Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric Travel Guitar with Gig Bag
- 7. Dean FLY NYL SPR Acoustic Guitar
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently asked questions about travel guitars
- 5 Great Benefits of a Travel Guitar
1. Traveler Guitar SPD HRB V2 Speedster Hot Rod Electric
The aptly named Traveler Guitar brand is widely appreciated for delivering some of the best items of these type out there, and the compact SPD HRB V2 is no exception. It comes with everything you need to practice or jam on the road, like a headphones line with a 4-tune preset amp and an aux-in for an external signal so you can jam alongside your favorite bits of music.
Of course, this is all neatly packaged in a ¾ sized instrument, that fits neatly in the overhead compartment of a medium-sized airliner (thin Boeing 737-300 or Airbus A 300), so you’ll be able to bring your guitar along while flying with a budget airline.
This doesn’t come at the expense of the tonal range, however, as the V2 has a regular-sized scale, which should allow for the same possibilities as a larger guitar. This has been achieved by eliminating the headstock and placing the tuning keys in the guitar’s body. Speaking of which, the V2 has been designed with ergonomy in mind and should be comfortable to use even by taller players.
The name of this guitar suggests what its main purpose is – to be an efficient guitar that you can take anywhere, and the brand is known for delivering high-quality guitars created for this purpose.
It has all you need to practice on the road, including a headphones line where you can plug in an amp or an aux-in to get an external song on which you can play along.
The guitar is ¾ the size of a normal one and that means it can easily fit in any luggage, in a car or airplane.
Although it’s smaller than a regular guitar, the scale has the same length, so you don’t lose any range.
It’s an ergonomic instrument that can be used by everybody and it has a unique design that will catch the eye.
Due to its design, resting your arm on this guitar while playing isn’t a possibility and that will become tiresome.Click to see the price on Amazon!
2. Yamaha SLG200NW Nylon String Classical Silent Guitar
The Japanese manufacturer needs no introduction and some of the advanced technology they are famous for can be found in the new SLG200NW. First, there’s the patented SRT-powered pick-up system, which should give this silent electric guitar a natural acoustic tone, reminiscent of what you will get with a classic instrument.
Besides offering clear and crisp tones, the SLG is 80% quieter than your standard acoustic guitar, which means you will be able to practice just about anywhere without bothering others. To further facilitate this, it also comes with a pair of headphones in, but if you want to use it for a gig, you can connect to an amp via the line-in plug.
There’s no other way to put it, but this compact guitar just looks cool, with a hollow body that follows the classical shape you are used to around the edges. However, you’ll have to fork over some fair dollar if you want to buy it since this Yamaha isn’t exactly cheap.
Yamaha is known as a company that makes quality instruments and you won’t be disappointed with the construction of this guitar.
The guitar comes with a special patented pickup-system called SRT-powered, and this will give it the natural acoustic tone that you would be looking for in an instrument.
Due to its body and technology used in creating it, this instrument is a lot quieter than the regular acoustic guitar and you can play it anywhere.
To help you keep all your music to yourself without distracting your neighbors, the guitar also comes with a jack for headphones.
You can also connect it to an amp or anything like that if you want to project more sound volume.
The body is completely hollow yet the outer edges still remind you of the elegant curves of a classical guitar.
This isn’t much smaller than an electric guitar and traveling with it can prove difficult.Buy from Amazon.com for ($749.99)
3. Cordoba Mini M Travel Acoustic Nylon String Guitar
The Cordoba Mini M is a more budget-friendly solution (but not the friendliest on our list!), and it boasts sounding as close to a regular acoustic guitar as possible. Of course, this is a ¾ sized instrument, with a 20” scale and a 50” nut width, which means it will be easy to fit in the trunk of your car or in the overhead compartment of an airliner.
It also comes with a set of custom Aquila nylon strings, and it’s been pre-tuned to A. This should satisfy even those who are prissy about having the right strings, and would spare them from acquiring a quality set after purchasing the guitar, as many of these people do.
People who’ve played it report that the tune is as sweet as you would expect from nylon strings and that it offers a remarkably high volume, which should make it a workable stage instrument. The top is made of spruce, which should give it good direct tone, while the rest of the body is mahogany.
Because it’s like a smaller acoustic guitar, it’s sound is really close to the real deal, both in terms of tonality and volume.
The instrument is only ¾ the size of a regular guitar and this means it will fit better in the trunk of your car or on the plane.
The strings on it are pristine, a set of Aquila, and they are also well-tuned. You can basically start playing it as soon as you get it.
The nylon strings and the body give it a sweet tune, and the volume is surprisingly loud.
With a top made of spruce wood and the rest of the body of mahogany, it is clear that it’s a high-quality instrument.
The neck feels too thick for something so small, and although it should give the feel of a classical guitar, it makes the instrument a bit too hard to play.Buy from Amazon.com for ($198.98)
4. Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
With a 24-inch neck, this Steel String Backpacker offers a slightly higher range than your typical traveling guitar. This won’t make it in any way cumbersome, however, as it’s small enough to fit the overhead luggage compartment in an airplane.
It is also reported to be quite durable, so there shouldn’t be any hang-ups about taking it camping or playing it on a bus, where it might fall and break. Due in part to this, it should also make a great beginner’s guitar, especially as it is remarkably easy to tune.
People who’ve bought had only good things to say about its sound quality, which is fairly close to a regular-sized instrument. Like with most other guitars, the top is made of spruce while the rest is mainly mahogany, which should give good sound projection to the metal strings.
The unique shape of its body may or may not fit your preferences, but it’s certainly compact, making it comfortable to hold for smaller players.
When looking at this guitar you could say that it’s almost entirely all about the neck, and that is quite true, as it has a 24-inch neck, which gives a higher range than a regular travel guitar.
Due to its compact and slim design, it can fit neatly in many compartments and small spaces.
The construction is also a durable one so you can throw it in the back trunk without worrying about it.
It’s one of the most suitable travel guitars for beginners due to how sturdy it is and how well it stays in tune.
The sound quality is surprisingly good you could say the sound is produced by a full-size instrument.
Its metal strings will have great projection due to the spruce top and the mahogany body.
The odd shape means that you can’t hold it too well and playing it feels awkward.Buy from Amazon.com for ($228)
5. Voyage-Air Transit Series VAOM-02 Folding Orchestra Model Acoustic Guitar
What makes this Transit Series model stand out among items on our list is the fact that it can be folded. The premiere advantage to be seen from this is that it allows for a regular-sized 25.5-inches scale to be used, allowing for a full range of sound.
With a solid spruce top that should give you good volume and projection, this acoustic guitar is a delight for all fingerstyle fans. Again, there are no complaints about the sound quality and people who purchased it seem to really appreciate it as an instrument to sing around a campfire.
It will, of course, fit the overhead compartment — even on smaller planes — and it comes with a very well appreciated double-layered carry bag. The only item of complaint one might find about it is its price, which is not exactly on the cheap side, but this is somewhat made up for by the fact that it sounds as well as a more expensive item.
You know a travel guitar is good and compact when it can get folded, and that’s exactly the case with this one.
Due to that advantage, the guitar can still offer a regular scale of 25.5 inches, which will let you have the range that you need.
The guitar basically looks and feels like a normal acoustic one and the spruce top will offer you the volume needed.
The instrument doesn’t compromise on its sound quality and that’s why it’s preferred by many travel enthusiasts that like to use it around a campfire.
Because it can be folded it will fit in overhead compartments, and it will stay there safe due to the double-layered carry bag.
The craftsmanship is top-notch and that means the guitar will always sound good.
The bag it comes with isn’t waterproof so you can’t really take it anywhere you want, in any weather.Click to see the price on Amazon!
6. Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric Travel Guitar with Gig Bag
This compact piece from Traveler Guitar is an electric-acoustic, which means it can be used both free-hand and with an amp. It is exceptionally quiet without amplification which makes it well suited to being played on the road, without bothering fellow passengers. There’s also a headphones line for those who prefer to practice with an amp.
Like other models from the same manufacturer, the tuning keys had been moved to the body, so this guitar is significantly more compact than other instruments with the same scale length. Of course, the scale is a full 24 ¾ inches, which should allow for a wide range of sound.
The body is mostly maple, with ebonized rosewood being used for the scale, and only weighs in at 2 pounds 14 ounces, which should make it very comfortable to carry for a long time.
It also comes with its soft own gig bag, and it takes up very little space when packed.
The body of this instrument is made of hard maple and that makes it sturdy but it also gives it a nice look.
The scale length is a full size one of 25 inches, but due to the compact design, the guitar can still fit in the overhead compartment in a plane.
It’s also light and easy to carry, weighing only 2 pounds.
There is no headstock and thus the instrument is more compact and the tuning pegs are placed on the body.
The guitar also comes with good quality D’Addario strings that should sound great on the light body.
When it’s unplugged, the guitar is like an electric one, so silent that you almost can’t hear it, and that makes for great silent practice on the road.
The guitar comes with no EQ or volume control, so that will solely be determined by the settings on your amp.Buy from Amazon.com for ($479.8)
7. Dean FLY NYL SPR Acoustic Guitar
This Dean model is a pretty basic acoustic guitar, cut down to ¾ of size to make it more portable for traveling. It has a 22-inch scale, which should be enough for a wide range of sound, and there is a choice for the top material between mahogany and spruce.
The rest of the body is made out of mahogany, while rosewood had been used for the fretboard and bridge to give it extra durability. It has a classic look, so those that like the traditional shape of a guitar should appreciate it.
The metal hardware is chromed, to give it better rust protection while the strings are nylon so it should give out a crystalline sound.
You shouldn’t worry about it sounding more like a uke, however, as people who’ve used say that it’s acceptably close to a regular-sized guitar.
On top of that, this guitar is pretty inexpensive, which makes it a pretty good pick for beginners or as a secondary guitar for experienced players.
Despite only being a small travel acoustic guitar, it still looks great and it will give you style.
It’s ¾ the size of a normal acoustic guitar and it can fit in the back of your trunk or in the plane.
The neck is a C-shaped profile and that means it’s easier to play, also allowing you to reach the 19 frets better.
This guitar looks beautiful and that is enhanced by the wonderful headstock, a brand characteristic.
Given the quality wood used in making this guitar and the fact that it has the acoustic shape, the sound of this instrument is a full one, with ample projection.
Because of its beautiful sound, it can be taken to play on hiking occasions, or around the campfire.
The die-cast tuners do a decent job, but when you get the guitar out of its bag it will be out of tune most of the time.Buy from Amazon.com for ($169)
Yearly Guide & Report
If you’re asking yourself “what is the best travel guitar?” you first need to know what exactly makes one of these items good in order to reach an answer. Like any musical instrument, it needs to sound well, or at least sound good to us, to fit our preferences when it comes to things like tune or pitch. Other than that, it obviously needs to be rugged for life on the road or at least cheap enough to be expendable.
Size and what it means
Size is one of the first factors to consider, and arguably the defining feature of a travel guitar, so it’s only natural to start our analysis of this type of item by considering size, and anything that goes with it.
Travel guitars are generally designed to be ¾ of a typical instrument so that they take less space in the car or will fit the overhead luggage compartment of an airliner. This last bit is especially important, as handlers working in airports aren’t exactly known to be kind to your baggage.
Overall length and volume are cut down by making the top more compact, and by shortening the case. The first thing is especially easy to achieve when full-bodied (the top is one solid piece) electric guitars are concerned but might lead to some loss in resonance with hollow top acoustic or acoustic-electric instruments.
However, what most people seem to find to be a drawback in compact guitars is the loss of range that a shorter scale entails. This is circumvented by some manufacturers by simply leaving the neck full-length and accounting for the ¾ size in some other manner. The headstock might be excluded, or the body might end abruptly at the bridge.
A less serious issue that some people have with reduced size is that these instruments aren’t exactly “cool” since children tend to use them when they first start playing. In the same vein, a taller guitarist might feel himself looking awkward when wielding an undersized piece.
The type of wood a guitar is made of is considered to be the most important factor determining how it will sound. This is obviously the case with acoustic pieces, but despite the popular misconception, the best electric travel guitar for fingerstyle will have to resonate with the body as well, so that the notes hit by the player get transmitted to the audience as clearly as possible.
The most important part when it comes to creating resonance is considered to be the guitar’s top. Other parts of its body might be made from different material, but the wood used for building this will affect the instrument’s sound characteristics the most.
Probably the most commonly used essence out there is Spruce, more exactly of the Stika species. This is a relatively light but hard essence, which allows for a very thin top, good for directing high-velocity sound. It also has a powerful direct tone, that keeps its clarity when played forcefully.
Cedar offers a balanced, warm sound and is a favorite for fingerstyle player due to its prompt response. Mahogany sits at the polar opposite when it comes to response time, but it puts out a dense sound and low overtone. These are favored by country blues players.
Maple offers a low response rate as well, and tends to be more acoustically transparent which means that the top will be heard without too much tonal coloration. Rosewood has a high response rate and a broad range of overtones, which makes it good for hard rock and metal players.
Whichever you might prefer, the best sounding travel guitar won’t be easy to live with if the manufacturer didn’t consider its daily use and included features accordingly.
What most people ask for, even from the best budget traveling guitars is a headphones outlet, so they can practice while traveling without bothering the occupants in a car or passenger section. This is sometimes associated with an internal amp specifically adapted for headphones. (As a note, an acoustic guitar with an internal amp is called an acoustic-electric)
It’s especially important that the traveling guitar is easy to tune as you’ll be doing this quite a lot. Wooden models can lose shape due to humidity and temperature differentials and might need tuning before each gig. Another very important issue to account for is the pressure difference your instrument will be subjected to during airline travel.
The strings must always be loosened before boarding a plane. Otherwise, the guitar might snap at the joint. Speaking of which, the place where the scale and body meet is an exceptionally important part of the instrument. Take care that it looks solid before buying!
Frequently asked questions about travel guitars
Q: Are travel guitars any good?
Travel guitars can vary in quality pretty widely, and the best among them can effectively rival regular-sized pieces. These would make a good choice for stage players, but the added cost might not be justifiable for an amateur that only needs it to sing with friends.
Their most important quality is their portability, allowed for by a significant reduction in size. This makes them have a smaller tonal range relative to full-sized models, but this isn’t universally true, as some manufacturers chose to design their guitars with a regular-length scale.
Q: Is getting a second-hand travel guitar risky?
It can be pretty risky purchasing a second-hand guitar if you don’t have the opportunity to test the instrument beforehand. As a general rule, you shouldn’t buy used guitars unless you can thoroughly inspect it before handing in the money to the previous owner.
Second-hand beginner guitars are to be avoided, as inexperienced players can put their instruments through quite a deal of punishment and the $100 – $200 price difference might not be worth the hassle. After all, new beginner guitars aren’t that expensive anyway.
Q: Can you take your travel guitar on a plane?
Yes, this is one of the main advantages they offer, in fact. If the airline personnel claims otherwise, remind them that it’s the law for you to be able to hang on to your instrument.
According to the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012” with reference to small instruments as luggage, any passenger is allowed to carry a guitar, a violin, or any other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin without being charged an extra fee aside from the standard one. What this means is that you should pay for keeping your guitar in the cabin just as much you’d have to pay for a typical carry-on luggage of similar weight and size.
5 Great Benefits of a Travel Guitar
1) It’s highly versatile
Because it is so small, you can take a travel guitar with you anywhere. These guitars have their specially made small bags that will allow you to carry them by hand. You can also take them as a backpack or wear them over your shoulder. And if you walk with them for long distances, during hikes, for example, their small weight won’t affect you.
Travel guitars don’t take much space and that lets you carry them with you on your vacation in your car, on the plane, or if you’re riding a bike or simply walking. Bringing your guitar along will be easy and you won’t notice it’s there.
You can play it nearly everywhere. A travel guitar can be heard on a beach, at a party, at a friend’s house, during a family visit, or you can even take it with you and surprise your loved one during a romantic night out. You have the possibility to play it wherever you go.
If you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to attract too much attention, but you still enjoy playing your guitar, a travel model is ideal for you. It’s also good to have one in small spaces such as a car, a dressing room that’s used before a gig, or a tent. Once you have a travel guitar you will feel that you can play it more often than you would with a regular-sized one.
2) Takes less space
The main idea of a travel guitar is to be as space-efficient as possible. These guitars need to be small and compact. There are some models that compromise on the sound volume, because, without a large acoustic body, you won’t get the same sound. However, certain manufacturers managed to produce models that are small and yet offer a powerful, colorful tonality.
Travel guitars usually have shorter necks and fretboards, but good models manage to offer enough frets while keeping the guitar compact. Having such a small guitar is always efficient, no matter where you keep it. If you travel a lot with your car, you will appreciate how little space a travel guitar takes amongst your luggage.
If you stay at home more, you will always find a place for your small guitar and won’t need to change a whole room to accommodate it. Because it’s so small, a travel guitar can be attached to your backpack when you’re traveling and you can always access it and start playing.
People that like traveling by train a lot know that having something to play during those long hours between a city and another is always nice.
3) Good in any collection
Some people enjoy playing the guitar so much that they have more than one type, each suited for different occasions. And if you have been playing the guitar for a while and are amongst those people, it’s always nice to have a small travel guitar added to your collection too.
Many people consider having a small-bodied guitar a must, and they feel that such a guitar offers more when traveling. Taking an expensive acoustic instrument with them on a trip is something that many musicians don’t like doing, and for them, a travel guitar offers a great alternative.
When you’re traveling by plane, even if you have a hard-bodied carrying case, you won’t be 100% sure that it will be handled well enough. That is why a less expensive travel guitar serves you well in these situations. Your favorite guitar can get damaged in airports, or even worse, you can lose it.
The benefit of the travel guitar is that you can have it with you, on the plane, at all times. You won’t have to worry about its safety too much, as you will always have control over it. This is true no matter how you choose to travel.
4) It makes you free
When you put your travel guitar on your shoulder and start walking the streets with it, you feel an immediate sense of freedom. It’s the sort of instrument that offers a certain sense of independence and ability.
The travel guitar lets you enjoy music everywhere, and music helps to connect with people. So if you are an adventurer and travel to distant countries, you can make the locals happier if you play a popular uplifting song.
Furthermore, if you are that kind of person, you can use your music skills to earn some money performing on the streets or teaching people how to play the instrument. This will give you a sense of total independence if you are looking for that.
5) Saves you from boredom
Nowadays, we lose so much time waiting, be it in stationary traffic, at the airport, or when we are waiting for somebody. Although we most often use our phone to keep us occupied during those times, we can also play our travel guitar. Playing games on your phone will probably make you better at them, but you’d rather become better at playing the guitar.
You know those pianos often found in public spaces like airports; with the travel guitar, you will have the possibility to play an instrument just like that, at all times. And who knows, maybe someone will see how well you play and you will become an internet sensation. You know, Ed Sheeran wasn’t a star from the start, and that’s how he started his career, posting videos on the internet and playing wherever he could.
But the travel guitar isn’t only for those that want to become stars. Every humble player can enjoy playing this instrument when he or she gets bored. It’s a great way to learn some new things or to get those learned riffs to sound better. This way you accomplish two things at once – you do something fun and you also learn more and more.