The Best Travel Guitars - Electric & Acoustic

The Highest Rated Travel Guitars

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Travel guitars are meant for people who want to enjoy playing their favorite instrument as they move from place to place. And to make the guitar portable, manufacturers have employed various changes and innovations, from using miniaturized parts, to using totally novel designs.

Here we feature the best travel guitars, divided into acoustic and electric guitar models, along with a special section for a highly rated collapsible acoustic travel guitar, based on the most recent reviews and ratings data up to September 2020. Each of the featured travel guitar comes with detailed descriptions along with important travel-friendly specifications. More importantly, we provide the pros and cons of each one, based on our analysis of actual market responses.

The Best Travel Guitars

The Best Acoustic Travel Guitars

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$169
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

With its compact parlor style profile, the G9500 is lighter and takes up less space, which in turn makes it easier to carry around.

But it's not just about being travel friendly, because the G9500 is also well received for its distinct midrange-focused tone, which works nicely with many musical styles, especially old school blues.

This acoustic is a modern reproduction of '30s era Gretsch Rex guitars, having the same look, vibe and tone - without the extra cost and fragility often associated with older instruments - thanks to modern manufacturing technology and the use of renewable materials.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Parlor
  • Top: Agathis
  • Back & Sides: Agathis
  • Neck:Nato
  • Fretboard: 12" Radius Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 24"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: None
  • Body Length: 18"
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs

Pros

Feedback on the Gretsch G9500's portability is generally positive, but more importantly, most users are impressed by how good it sounds given its small size. Its distinct tone and appearance also gets a lot of praise, while others note that the G9500's build quality exceeded their expectations. Being easy to play is another reason why many rate this instrument highly.

Cons

Speaking of build quality, there are a few reports of cosmetic flaws. Those who are looking for fuller sounding acoustic tones may not find its mid-emphasized voicing to their liking.

Overall

The Grestch G9500 is a compact acoustic guitar that harkens back to the parlor guitar style, highly recommended for both its portability and its distinct tone.

Cordoba Mini M

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$219
Cordoba Mini M

Cordoba continues to rake in great reviews for the quality of their nylon string guitars, so it's not surprising to find them represented in this guide by the Mini M which lets you enjoy Cordoba's brand of build quality and playability virtually anywhere thanks to its miniature size.

It features a 1.96" wide nut, similar to regular sized classical guitars, which means that minimal left hand technique adjustments are needed. However, the scale length is shorter, which means that the strings are easier to fret thanks to less tension.

Speaking of tension, the default tuning for this guitar is A, but it can be tuned to standard E with some adjustments.

Finally, the top of this guitar is crafted from solid spruce, a feature that you don't normally see from other similarly sized and priced instruments.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Miniature/Parlor
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Sides: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood 18-Frets
  • Scale Length: 20.07"
  • Nut Width: 1.96"
  • Bundled with Gigbag: Yes
  • Total Length: 30.51"
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs

Pros

Balancing portability with the playability requirements of nylon string guitarists is a hard feat, but based on reviews, the Cordoba Mini M is doing well enough to get high enough ratings. Aside from nylon string guitarists, Ukulele players are also impressed with this guitar, describing it as a good transition instrument. Many also appreciate the Cordoba Mini M's distinct tone, and how the tone will only improve as the guitar's solid top gets broken in.

Cons

Some are not pleased with the wide classical size nut width, it can be quite a significant adjustment especially for those who are used to the small nut widths of steel string acoustics and electric guitars.

Overall

The Cordoba Mini M's solid top, and classical style nut width makes it a a great choice for those who want to travel with a nylon string equipped guitar.

Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$369
Taylor BT2

Known for their premium acoustic guitars, Taylor has set its eyes on the entry level market with their compact "Baby" series of guitars, the BT2 being among the best rated in their line up.

This guitar is essentially a smaller version of the popular dreadnought shape, albeit with Taylor's brand of build and sound quality.

While it was initially designed to be a starter guitar for kids, it made its way into the hands of professionals who appreciate its balance of portability and quality.

This guitar features a solid mahogany top, and layered sapele for the back and sides, a potent combination that complements the midrange'y tone expected of small body acoustics.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Dreadnought Baby
  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back & Sides: Layered Sapele
  • Neck: Sapele
  • Fretboard: African Ebony
  • Scale Length: 22.75"
  • Nut Width: 1 11/16"
  • Electronics: None
  • Bundled with Gigbag: Yes
  • Body Length: 15.75"
  • Weight: 8.1 lbs

Pros

Sound quality and playability are the top two reasons cited by reviewers for why they love the Taylor BT2. A lot of users appreciate its warm tone, which works well with various musical styles, from folk fingerstyle to strumming. Others are equally pleased with its overall build quality. For the price, many also consider the inclusion of a solid mahogany top in conjunction with the Taylor brand to be a great deal.

Cons

There are a few who gave the Taylor BT2 lower scores because of the included gig bag, which some describe as sub-par. Some users also caution that those who are looking for a full sounding acoustic guitar will probably not like the distinctly warm tone of the Taylor BT2.

Overall

All in all, the Taylor BT2 is a travel guitar that you won't be ashamed of carrying around.

Martin LX1E Little Martin

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Martin LX1E Little Martin

There's no denying the popularity of the "Little Martin" LX1E, it gives the guitarists a chance to own a proper Martin guitar that's reasonably priced and portable.

But more than just a parlor/travel guitar, the LX1E is a true workhorse instrument, with its solid sitka spruce top, sturdy HPL back and sides, and stage ready Fishman Isys T electronics.

So much so that it continues to be the instrument of choice for many musicians, including big name artists like Ed Sheeran who plays a Martin LX1E signature, even when he can afford other more premium alternatives.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Modified O-14 Little Martin
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Sides: HPL (High Pressure Laminate)
  • Neck: Stratabond
  • Fretboard: Richlite 20-Frets
  • Scale Length: 23"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: Fishman Isys T
  • Battery: 1 x 9V (Piezo Preamp)
  • Bundled with Gigbag: Yes
  • Total Length: 34"
  • Weight: 8.6 lbs

Pros

In the eyes of its users, the "Little Martin" is anything but small - rather many of them revere it as the best acoustic travel guitar on the market. Its genuine woody Martin tone continues to rake in good reviews, while others are drawn in by its practical portability, elegance and playability. Even a popular artist like Ed Sheeran is impressed enough to make it his main instrument.

Cons

There are a few experienced players who nitpicked on some workmanship/cosmetic issues, most of which are on the neck, but they are still happy with the instrument overall.

Overall

If you're looking for a workhorse travel acoustic guitar, then the Martin LX1E is perfect for you.

Collapsible Acoustic Travel Guitar

Here is an acoustic travel guitar that folds up nice and conveniently.

Journey OF660M Carbon Fiber

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1300
Journey Instruments OF660M Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar

As the label implies, the Journey OF660M Carbon Fiber does away with traditional wood to turn it into a super reliable travel guitar.

As special as that may be, the carbon fiber body of this guitar takes a second seat to what really makes this guitar special: which is its removable neck system. While removable necks are nothing new, the Journey OF660M has pulled it off in a way that detaching and attaching the neck is convenient and very easy - without straying too far from the familiar acoustic guitar shape.

It even comes with a matching gig-bag so you can safely store the neck and body separately, while keeping the strings in a position where it doesn't break or scratch the guitar.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: 00 Travel
  • Top: Unidirectional Carbon Fiber
  • Sides: Fiberglass Reinforced Carbon Fiber
  • Neck: Carbon Fiber
  • Fretboard: Carbon Fiber
  • Scale Length: 24.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.75"
  • Electronics: Passive Piezo Pickup
  • Battery: None
  • Bundled with Gigbag: Yes
  • Total Length: 35.5"
  • Weight: 4.1 lbs

Pros

More and more guitarists are becoming fans of the OF660M, and it's not surprising because of its incredible reliability and portability. It has been reportedly put to work in places that would mess up wooden guitars, including beaches, boats, mountain trails and many more. It also impresses guitarists for its sound, which many describe as surprisingly full sounding.

Cons

Those who prefer wood over carbon fiber will not find this guitar appealing. There are also some comments about the guitar's lack of acoustic projection, but this is to be expected, given its use of special materials.

Overall

If you're willing to make the investment and go beyond conventional acoustic guitar builds, then the Journey OF660M will make a great traveling companion.

The Best Electric Travel Guitars

Traveler Ultra-Light Electric

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$330
Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Electric Travel Guitar with Gig Bag

Weighing in at just 3.125 lbs and with a total length of just 28", the Traveler Ultra-Light Electric is considered to be the lightest and shortest electric guitar that retains full-scale length playability available today.

It features a 24.75" scale length, similar to many Les Paul style guitars, and a standard nut width of 1.75". It utilizes the company's distinct tuning system where in the tuners are located in middle of the body, removing the need for a headstock.

It also features a detachable frame that allows you to sit the guitar comfortably on your legs.

Finally, it features a dual rail humbucker that can handle both clean and overdriven tones much like a regular electric guitar.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Traveler Ultra-Light
  • Body Tonewood: Maple
  • Neck: Maple Thru-Neck
  • Fretboard: Rosewood 22-Frets 12" Radius
  • Scale Length: 24.75"
  • Nut Width: 1.75"
  • Pickups: 1 x Dual-Rail Humbucker
  • Bridge: Adjustable Tune-o-Matic
  • Bundled with Gigbag: Yes
  • Total Length: 28"
  • Weight: 3.125 lbs

Pros

The Traveler Ultra-Light Electric guitar appeals to guitarists who are looking for a portable practice axe with similar playing feel as their Les Paul style instrument. Most reviewers commend it for its incredibly light and portable design.

Cons

Ironically, there are some who are on the opposite side of the fence, complaining about the body being too light, which makes playing a bit awkward, especially when digging the strings hard in rock, metal and similar music styles. The lack of volume and tone controls also raised a few eyebrows.

Overall

Still, if portability is your top concern, the Traveler Ultra-Light Electric should be high up on your list.

Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe Travel Guitar

Steinberger is known for their streamlined and compact headless guitar designs. The guitars that they produce are considered highly innovative, which prompted iconic guitarists like David Gilmour, Allan Holdsworth, Don Felder, Eddie Van Halen and more to get one for themselves.

Steinberger continues to be the poster child for compact electric guitars, with the Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe leading their lineup in popularity and ratings.

This model combines full scale playability (25.5" scale length and 1.625" nut width) with portability at a very reasonable price point.

Note that the headless design requires you to use double ball strings, which can be a bit harder to acquire, but it works in conjunction with the Direct Drive R-Trem bridge to give this instrument tremolo control without compromising sustain and tuning stability.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Steinberger Headless
  • Body Tonewood: Maple
  • Neck: Maple Thru-Neck C-Shape
  • Fretboard: Rosewood 24-Frets
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.625"
  • Pickups: 2 x Steinberger Humbuckers, 1 x Steinberger Single-Coil
  • Controls:5-way pickup selector, Volume, Tone
  • Bridge: 40:1 Direct Drive R-Trem Tremolo
  • Bundled with Gigbag: Yes
  • Total Length: 30.25"
  • Weight: 7 lbs

Pros

While some consider this iteration as substandard compared to older or more expensive models, the overall market response to the Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe is still positive - thanks to its impressive quality and value for money. Most users find themselves enjoying the guitar's sound and playability, while others get even better results by upgrading the pickups.

Cons

Being an affordable mass-produced guitar, there are some who noticed minor flaws, but they are not enough to stop users from commending the guitar for its overall appeal and performance.

Overall

The Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe deserves to be a top consideration for guitarists who are looking for a workhorse travel electric guitar.

Things to Consider When Buying a Travel Guitar

  • Size & Weight

    The main point of having a travel guitar is portability and convenience, and this is where size and weight factors in. With this in mind, we have included the weight and total length (where data is available) of the guitars listed, so you can decide on what you prefer. Most of the guitars in this list are expected to fit in the overhead compartment of planes, and are allowed as hand carry.

  • Playability (Scale Length & Nut Width)

    Scale length (length by which the strings are stretched from the nut to the bridge) and nut width (how wide the neck is at the nut) play a big role in playability. As such, it is recommended that you get a travel guitar with similar neck specs as you're main axe. On the flip-side, guitars with shorter scale length are generally considered as easier to play. So it will be up to you, whether you prefer uniform playability, or something that's more comfortable to play with.

  • Playing Comfort

    Since travel guitars are lighter and have smaller bodies, you may find them awkward to play at first. But with some adjustments, and familiarity, this becomes a minor issue. Some recommend using a guitar strap to keep your travel guitar in position as you play both in standing or in sitting position. It is worth noting that some manufacturers provide extensions that let you rest the small body on your legs, much like a regular size guitar would.

  • Built-in Electronics

    Having the ability to plug your travel acoustic guitar into a portable amplifier is always a nice plus, thankfully, this is a given for electric guitar models. So to make the most out of your travel guitar, we recommend pairing it with a good portable amplifier, or a guitar headphone amp. Speaking of amps, there were some guitars with built-in amp and speaker, but they don't have high enough ratings, probably because they don't meet the size or quality expectations of guitarists, for us to recommend them.

  • Aesthetics

    Finally, make sure to get a travel guitar that appeals to your eyes, get one that will inspire you to play more often, because that is the entire point of having a travel guitar. The ones on this list scored highly in this aspect and some of them are available in different finishes - so all you have to do is pick one that tickles your fancy.

Best Travel Guitar Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in July of 2017 written by Alexander Briones who also wrote the latest edition published on September 24, 2020.

Like its previous iteration, we first made a short list of the most popular and top rated travel guitars, focusing on those that can be readily bought from major US retailers. For this update, we ended up with a shortlist of 30 travel guitars, we then gathered and analyzed all relevant reviews, ratings and discussions pertaining to each of the travel guitars, including those written recently, up to September of 2020. All these data were then fed into the Gearank Algorithm, which resulted in scores that we used to finalize the list. Finally, we divided the list into two main sections that feature the best travel acoustic guitars, and best travel electric guitars, and added a special feature for a highly rated collapsible acoustic guitar. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

Comments

Would think you should add

Would think you should add the Stewart Travel Guitar Line.

See the Stow-Away

Snapdragon guitars are

Snapdragon guitars are amazing and very good value too. Converted some of my mates too.

for those interested in the

For those interested in the OF660, but not fans of carbon, Journey has collapsible wood models in steelstring and nylon for around $600 with case and pickup.

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