The Best Travel Guitars - Electric & Acoustic

The Highest Rated Travel Guitars

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Travel guitars are compact instruments that prioritize portability, making them convenient to carry around as you move from place to place.

To shed some of the bulk and weight, most manufacturers utilize smaller and lighter components, while others go for novel streamlined designs that include having parts that collapse or fold.

Here we feature the best travel guitars, divided into mini-acoustic, collapsible, and headless electric guitar models, based on the most recent reviews and ratings data up to mid November 2021. Each of the featured travel guitars come 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

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

The Best Acoustic Travel Guitars

Yamaha JR1

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$160
Yamaha JR1 Travel Acoustic Guitar

The JR1 is Yamaha's response to the hype around "mini" acoustic guitars, this one being the compact version of their popular FG (Folk Guitar) design.

Being a smaller FG means that it retains the familiar dreadnought shape and feel, with less of the bulk and weight. As such it is touted as a good travel guitar and a good starter instrument for young musicians. It also appeals to those who want a smaller acoustic that's easier to play.

The back and sides are crafted from laminate meranti, a low cost timber that is known for its structural strength, while the top uses laminate spruce, which is quite common in the entry level price range.

Other features include having a nato neck with rosewood fingerboard, opened chrome tuner, and it has a shorter scale length of 21.25".

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: FG JR1
  • Top: Spruce
  • Back & Sides: Meranti
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 21.25"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: None
  • Body Length: 15.3125"
  • Weight: Not Specified

Pros

Most users agree that the Yamaha JR1 is a guitar that is easy to play. Most declare it as a great fit for young students of the instrument, while others even recommend it for older players who just want a compact and comfortable beater guitar. Thanks to its combination of good quality and playability, users are generally pleased with what they got for the money.

Cons

Some comment that it sounds thinner than a regular sized dreadnought, but this is to be expected given its miniature size. There are also a few who aren't too happy with the included gig bag.

Overall

With Yamaha's reputation for student friendly guitars, the Yamaha JR1 is a great travel guitar option that can double as a reliable student guitar.

Sigma 10Mini

88
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$220
Sigma 10Mini Travel Guitar

The Sigma 10Mini is a compact and affordable acoustic guitar with solid spruce top, a feature that you won't normally see in its price range.

The guitar's solid top is supported by laminate sapele back and sides, forming a shape that's similar to vintage concert style acoustic guitars, albeit smaller.

The neck is crafted from nato, and topped by a 23.5" scale rosewood fingerboard.

Completing its vintage appeal is its sunburst gloss finish and square headstock shape.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Mini Concert
  • Top: Solid Spruce
  • Back & Sides: Sapele
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: 12.6" Radius Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 23.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.685"
  • Electronics: None
  • Body Length: 17.5"
  • Weight: Not Specified

Pros

Given that it comes with a solid spruce top, many comment that this guitar is a great buy. For something affordable, it is able to surpass build quality expectations, with users reporting being stunned at the feel and action of the neck. Most users are also pleased at its tone, which is described as balanced with a nice ring.

Cons

Some experienced musicians noticed minor imperfections in some parts of the guitar. Some less experienced reviewers report that it lacks low end, but this is due to its smaller body size.

Overall

It's hard to top the value that you can get from this compact vintage style travel acoustic guitar.

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$189
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top Parlor 6-String Acoustic Guitar

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 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, users are impressed by how good it sounds given its small size. Its distinct gritty tone and old school appearance get 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.

Taylor Baby Mahogany BT2

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Taylor BT2

Known for their premium regular size acoustic guitars, Taylor is now doing just as well in the travel and entry level market, thanks to the likes of BT2.

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 Steel String Backpacker

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 1250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$299
Martin Steel String Backpacker

With its odd compact body shape, the Backpacker easily stands out from among the many traditional style acoustic guitars of C.F. Martin & Co.

The odd shaped body is stripped of much of its depth and width, having a long triangular shape - resulting in a lighter and smaller acoustic.

And while it looks different from the usual Martin guitar, it does retain Martin's penchant for build quality and even sports a solid spruce top.

More importantly the Backpacker is quite affordable for a Martin branded instrument.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Backpacker
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Sides: Tonewood
  • Neck: Tonewood
  • Fretboard: Not Specified
  • Scale Length: 24"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: None
  • Bundled with Gigbag: Yes
  • Total Length: 33"
  • Weight: 2.125 lbs

Pros

Many are happy with the Backpacker because it allows them to own a good quality Martin guitar without having to shell out the usual dough. Being portable is another important factor why it continues to be popular. Reviews indicate that it does live up to its brand in terms of build quality and aesthetics, some even turn it into a display peace when not in use.

Cons

Understandably, the odd shaped body may not click with fans of Martin's vintage style designs, but it is much appreciated by travelers. Some caution that the body design makes it awkward to play without a strap. Sound projection is limited, as expected from its compact body design.

Overall

It's hard to go wrong with a Martin acoustic, well worth checking out if you're not too keen on traditional body shapes.

Collapsible Acoustic Travel Guitars

Here is a couple of acoustic travel guitars that fold up nice and conveniently.

Yamaha SLG200S Silent Guitar

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$730
Yamaha SLG200S Silent Acoustic Guitar

The Silent Guitar from Yamaha is a steel-string acoustic guitar with a detachable body frame.

It doesn't have an actual body to project acoustic sound from, but it has frames in the shape of an acoustic body for supporting your arms. This way it can be as portable as possible while still providing familiar acoustic playability.

Note that its acoustic volume is very low, so it works best when plugged into an amplifier, via its built-in SRT pickup and preamp system. Speaking of preamp, it lets you blend in the sound of "miked" acoustic to the basic piezo sound.

It also comes with reverb and chorus effects built into the unit.

Wrapping up its features include a headphone jack for silent practice, an aux input for jamming along with your favorite tracks, and it has a built-in tuner.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Silent Guitar
  • Body: Mahogany (1-Piece Body & Neck)
  • Collapsible Frame: Maple & Rosewood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: 15.75" Radius Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 25"
  • Nut Width: 1.6875"
  • Electronics: SRT Pickup & Preamp
  • Body Length: Not Specified
  • Weight: 4.375 lbs

Pros

The SLG200S is described as a fun all-in-one travel guitar that's good enough to be both your practice and stage instrument. Having been made by Yamaha, build quality is reported to be exemplary, which results in it being easy to play. Owners are pleased at how easy it is to assemble and disassemble, and many are impressed at how beautifully done the wooden frames are.

Cons

Since it doesn't have an actual body, it is not meant to be played unplugged. To make the most out of this guitar, many recommend using it with headphones.

Overall

The Yamaha SLG200S is a feature rich travel guitar that takes the acoustic guitar concept beyond what you'd normally expect.

Journey OF660M Carbon Fiber

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 30+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1450
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

Eart GW2 Headless

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$369
Eart GW2 Headless Travel Electric Guitar

To get rid of the extra bulk and width of electric guitars, some manufacturers have opted for more streamlined headless designs. Case in point is the Eart GW2, which allows for standard 25.5" scale length playability, while having a travel-friendly small profile.

The guitar's body is crafted from roasted Padauk, a reddish brown wood that's similar to rosewood in terms of durability and looks.

To cater to modern guitarists, the headless neck follows a compound radius profile. And to better handle heavy gauge strings and lower tunings, the neck is reinforced by utilizing 5-pc maple/padauk material.

Giving this guitar its voice are two covered humbuckers, designed to cater to modern cleans and high-gain style playing.

Other features include having a rosewood fingerboard with zero fret, and a fixed hardtail bridge.

Finally, the Eart GW2 Headless comes with a relatively affordable price tag given its unique design.

Specifications:

  • Body Profile: Headless
  • Body: Roasted Padauk
  • Neck: 5-Piece Roasted Maple/Padauk
  • Fretboard: Compound Radius Indian Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 25.5"
  • Nut Width: 1.6417"
  • Electronics: Dual Humbuckers
  • Body Length: 18"
  • Weight: Not Specified

Pros

For an affordable guitar, the Eart GW2 headless is able to meet the playability expectations of modern guitarists. This is reflected in reviews that commend its neck for its fast and comfortable feel. Being friendly to high-gain tones is another big reason why most users rate this highly. And while it plays much like a standard size guitar, users love that it is smaller and easier to carry around.

Cons

There are some who feel that the guitar shape and weight/balance takes a bit of getting used to. There are also a few reports of bad parts, along with setup related or quality control issues.

Overall

The Eart GW2 is an affordable travel guitar meant for those who are into modern guitar styles. It is also a good entry way into the world headless guitar designs.

Traveler Ultra-Light Electric

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$350
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 a light and compact electric guitar that retains full-scale length playability.

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.

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 2017 and the current edition was published on November 12, 2021.

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 2021 edition, we ended up with a shortlist of 33 guitars, which entailed the gathering of over 8000 relevant reviews, ratings and discussions, including those written recently, up to mid November of 2021. All these data were then fed into the Gearank Algorithm, which resulted in rating scores our of 100 that we used to finalize each list above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using a public domain photograph.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

Snapdragon guitars are made

Snapdragon guitars are made in the UK, which makes them worth a mention in itself. And they fold. And they're not the most expensive.

Would think you should add

Would think you should add the Stewart Travel Guitar Line.

See the Stow-Away

See the following:

See the following:

Recent Stewart Review

[Review removed - it was a positive review copied from another website but we don't have the rights to publish it on gearank.com - Editor: Jason Horton]

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.