You’ve packed, made sure your passport is safe, and you’ve bought the suntan lotion. Just one more thing to pack. Your acoustic guitar.
Whether it’s a city break, a two-week stint on a beach or backpacking around the world, we’ve had a look at some of the best acoustic travel guitars available for you to take on your next trip.
But which is the best travel guitar?
There are things you need to bear in mind such as the…
Weight, size, overall sound quality and of course, the cost. We’ll be covering all of those plus each guitar’s pros and cons in this extensive review.
So, let’s have a look at some of the best acoustic travel guitars from the many on offer.
Top 10 Best Acoustic Travel Guitars In 2020 Reviews
1 Yamaha Steel String Silent Guitar
This Yamaha is the first of two instruments by this famed manufacturer, and this first one is interesting, to say the least. A distinctive design sets it apart from conventional guitars, and the color is indeed eye-catching. A bit more on that later.
The slim body and is easy to play and is very portable being only 43 inches long. It’s also lightweight, coming in at just 9 pounds. Its size will allow it to fit easily into overhead lockers on aircraft.
The innovative control configuration, consisting of volumes and tones, allow you to create sounds using the piezo pick ups with an emphasis on the acoustic depth of a full-bodied Yamaha.
This control panel, which is conveniently located, accommodates the headphone input and a line out, as well as the two reverb settings and chorus. Built into the control panel is a tuner, which is a good addition to the options.
The Yamaha Silent Guitar, therefore, allows you to play quietly when practicing or in the company of others, or to use the headphones or the line out when you go ‘live.’ It should be noted that the control panel requires 2 AA batteries.
So how does it play?
The action is a little high though this might not be the case on all models, but, that is an issue that is easily sorted. The sound, when used with headphones or line out, can be a little thin and if you are expecting a round acoustic sound, then you will be disappointed.
It is a generally a decent sounding guitar, with lots of options. Sound is a personal thing of course, but I doubt there will be many who are disappointed. The fittings and hardware are adequate.
Going back to my previous point, the color and design of the guitar may not be to everyone’s taste. The color especially will be eye-catching to some, but I can see how others, may not find it attractive or appealing.
This is a guitar, however, will fit the bill, and it plays very well. It comes with a gig bag.
2 Martin LXM Little Martin
The first of two Martin guitars in this review. A name synonymous with quality. If you say, you play a Martin, people sit up and take notice. However, if you are expecting the rich sound of a full-size Martin, then you will be disappointed. That can never be achieved from a three-quarter size guitar. Nevertheless, the sound for the ‘Little Martin’ is exceptional.
It weighs in at 8 and a half pounds and is just 38 inches long. This makes it great for portability. It has been made to be carried around and played. Like most smaller size guitars it will take lighter gauge strings, better than the heavier variety, which will have an effect on the overall performance.
A good sound though can still be achieved with the lighter strings. It is naturally attractive, with its bright spruce finish and mahogany headstock. Though we have reservations about laminate finishes on instruments, as they are sometimes prone to peel away from the main body, in certain conditions.
However it is easy to hold and to play, it has all the attributes of a quality smaller sized guitar, and when considering buying an acoustic travel guitar, playability is a factor. Besides its portability, it needs to be easy and comfortable to play and not too much hard work, and this Martin achieves that.
All things considered, a quality guitar, produced by a renowned manufacturer and as long as you remember you are buying three-quarter size guitar, then you will not be disappointed in its performance.
Comes with its gig bag for traveling.
3 Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic
This instrument is interesting to say the very least and carries some creative features, though it must be said we are not sure they all achieve their purpose.
As a travel guitar, it certainly fits the bill weighing just 3lbs and being 28 inches in length. It might actually fit into some suitcases.
As you consider the instrument in more detail, you get the feeling that it has been designed more from a ‘how different’ can we be, rather than how can we make a great travel guitar.
Our initial reaction was that it was more like a toy guitar, but as you work with it, you begin to realize it is no toy, but a real instrument and plays like one.
What about the construction?
It has a one-piece maple body and neck and a truss rod, which is a huge positive. But, it has no headstock. Tuning is through the in-body tuning system, and we are left wondering how precise that might be in different climatic environments.
On the plus side, if it stays in tune, the tuners themselves are hidden away in the body, so do not suffer from an occasional knock, putting the guitar out of tune.
It has a built-in acoustic pickup and a quarter inch jack socket so it can be amplified.
Giving it a somewhat unnatural look is the detachable support bar, which was designed to allow the guitar to be played on your knee. Not a particularly convenient feature, as it tends to slide down your leg and make the instrument somewhat unbalanced.
It is, what it is. A very portable guitar with some interesting features and is not too expensive. As a guitar to carry around on your travels for practice and a bit of fun, it ticks most of the boxes. It is, however, only available as a right-handed guitar, which isn’t good news for lefties.
The guitar comes with a travel bag.
4 Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar
Our second Martin in the review and this instrument is vastly different to the first one.
The clue is in the name. It’s a backpacker’s guitar.
It is a short scale 15 fret guitar, nicely made in mahogany with a spruce top, and the construction is excellent.
At 36 inches long it will be at the maximum end of the travel options for storage, and it might be advisable to check that it will be allowed into overhead lockers on aircraft. It’s lightweight though, at just over 5 lbs.
It has to be said its different, with its unique shape, and some may find it not to their liking. The shape means that it is very neck heavy and therefore awkward to play while seated.
Even, when used with a strap it can still feel a little strange.
Travel guitars by nature must be small and light, and because of that, certain standard attributes must be sacrificed.
Having said that, to be able to play comfortably is important, and this guitar can feel unbalanced and awkward at first.
How about the sound?
The sound though is very good for a travel guitar, though it can buzz a little if played too hard. The action is ok, but, I can see how some may feel it is a little high. It does lend itself to a finger-picking style.
Being a Martin you would expect it to be well manufactured, and it is, and there are some other plus points. It is realistically priced so will not break the bank, and that alone will make it an attractive option to some. It will, however, take a bit of time to get used to its playing style, due to its shape and balance.
The guitar comes with a gig bag.
5 Washburn RO10 Rover Steel String Travel Acoustic Guitar
Washburn makes quality guitars, so reviewing this instrument was going to be interesting.
As with many travel guitars, the shape is entirely different. It is essential to ensure the fingerboard replicates a full-size guitar for playability. But it is often the case this is at the expense of the body size which has a marked effect on the sound generated.
As long as you remember this is a traveling instrument, and the sound it is capable of reproducing is a traveling guitar sound, then you won’t be too disappointed, and this instrument is a good example of this.
At 33 inches long, it’s length will not make traveling with it difficult, especially on aircraft. If this is an issue, it rather defeats its purpose.
The construction is excellent, with its mahogany body and spruce top. A truss rod is included, and it has a rosewood fingerboard. The neck is also good and feels right.
On first view, it is visually quite attractive.
Necessity though, as mentioned, means the body is small, and it is not comfortable to play and feels unbalanced and all neck. It will take some time to get used to, but it is a travel guitar, not a concert instrument.
What about the sound?
The sound is ok, but as with the majority of travel guitars, the ‘mids’ and ‘lows’ are non-existent giving it a more treble-y sound.
If what you want is a guitar to sit around the campfire in the evening and knock out a few songs, it ticks all the boxes.
Washburn has tried hard to produce a travel guitar, that looks like a guitar and keep as many features as possible from its big brothers. They have only partially succeeded, and playability has been sacrificed to a certain extent.
Supplied with a gig bag
6 Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top
Another famous name in guitars have produced their own travel guitar, and many would agree when compared with its competition, it looks and feels like its bigger brothers.
Maybe it does suffer a little with its overall sound, but all small guitars have that problem, but few play as well as this.
The conventional design makes it easy and comfortable to play sitting or standing.
Being Gretsch, it is well made though the actual finish is rather disappointing, but not something that ought to be an issue.
At 35 inches long, it is not small by comparison to its competitors, but at just over 2lbs, it’s very light.
A nice rosewood neck gives you the feel, complete with its adjustable truss rod.
Unlike some of its competitors you can sit down with this, and it feels like a guitar. It certainly plays like an instrument that may cost more, than its modest price.
A little neck heavy it sits neatly and is not prone to slipping and sliding.
It is tough to find anything to be negative about, with this guitar. It plays well, it’s easy to hold and feels like it should. But, it is a travel instrument, which as we have said will impact on its sound potential. But, this Gretsch has a certain feel to it, that most players will like and enjoy. Importantly though, it looks the part and will impress.
The action may be a little high but there is no or little fret buzz, and with the adjustable truss rod, it can be set up to suit.
A super little travel guitar with an established manufacturer it scores very well.
7 Yamaha JR1 FG Junior 3/4 Size Acoustic
For a travel guitar, this Yamaha stands out amongst the crowd. Conventional design and excellent finish, mean it could either be a travel guitar or a starter for a young learner.
Certainly, the accessory pack that comes with it is well equipped.
It is not small at 35 inches long and fits into the three quarter size range, but it feels like a guitar, and whereas some travel guitars can feel a bit like toys, this is a guitar and feels like one.
The sound is good and resonant with its decent body size, and it is well manufactured by a company renowned for producing quality.
The rosewood neck is quite thick and makes you work a little, but overall it is a nice guitar to play.
The design ensures it is well balanced and comfortable to hold.
This guitar represents huge value for money. Quality sound, well made with the Yamaha pedigree as a travel guitar it will be a good companion.
You can argue that the size compared to some of its contemporaries is a negative, but it is a three-quarter size, and for that extra bit of size and weight you get an awful lot of quality.
I am not sure Yamaha is actually marketing this is as a travel guitar. With the accessories, it lends itself to be more appropriate as a first ‘starter’ guitar, and it is of good enough quality, to fill that function. As a travel guitar though, it is very good and will fulfill its job either in a hotel room or around a campfire.
A gig bag is supplied as part of the accessory package.
8 Luna Safari Series Muse Mahogany 3/4-Size
Luna has taken a lot of time and put thought into producing a quality instrument with this guitar. On first appearance, it looks the part with its well constructed all mahogany body, that has been enhanced with some tasteful etching around the sound hole.
The rosewood neck is sturdy, and it has an adjustable truss rod. The headstock is well equipped with the tuners and more etching.
All very attractive, but how does it play?
The answer is simple, beautifully.
It’s 36 inches long and so would fit in the three quarter size medium, but its sound defies the description three-quarter size.
Bright, clean and resonant it really does have a great sound and is actually quite loud.
It is well balanced and sits comfortably if played seated, and the neck is not too wide, so it has an easy playing feel.
The tuners themselves are of a good standard, and the guitar holds its tune well.
The action on these guitars can sometimes be a little high, but that is an issue easily solved
All things considered, it is a quality instrument at a very competitive price and will impress visually and sound good.
As a travel guitar it will need to be taken care of, and whereas some instruments can be bounced around a little, this might not take too much punishment.
Its appearance though will lend itself to care as it is so well made and finished.
Supplied with a gig bag
9 Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar
The Baby Taylor acoustic. A benchmark for other manufacturers to emulate. Manufactured from mahogany with a Sepele back and an ebony fretboard, it is a class act.
For traveling, it is just a bit longer than what might be practical, at 38 inches and weighing 8lbs, it is a musicians instrument.
It has a bolt on neck, which can cause tuning issues, and it’s difficult to know how this guitar may handle extremes of temperature when traveling with it.
The hardware is chrome of decent quality.
When played there is a quality to the sound, having a warmth of tone and only lacks a little at the bottom end. It is surprisingly loud.
When seated it fits neatly into your body shape and is well balanced.
One notable plus point is that when it is played fingerstyle, it maintains its tonal quality and volume. There is the occasional fret buzz but hardly noticeable.
It will not, of course, produce the sound of its big brother but nevertheless, the quality of tone is surprising from what is essentially a three-quarter size.
The neck is quite narrow, and this must be considered when purchasing.
It’s not cheap and therefore is at the top end of cost for travel guitars, but in terms of quality, it is exceptional.
It is beautifully made with a nice grain on the mahogany.
It comes with a gig bag.
10 Orangewood Dana Mini/Travel Acoustic Guitar
This guitar has a nice aesthetic feel to it with its spruce top, mahogany sides, and rosewood neck. It hasn’t got the quality of sound of some of the other guitars, but this is reflected in the cost, which is realistic.
The sound though is nice if lacking a little at the bottom end, which most smaller guitars do by nature of their design and it is worth consideration.
It is beautifully made and pleasing to the eye.
At 36 inches long and weighing 8 lbs it is certainly no ‘mini’ instrument but benefits from a larger body which improves the general sound when compared to its smaller counterparts.
This guitar has clearly been built to suit many environments and as such is a good option as a travel instrument, even with its larger proportions. It will satisfy the requirements for carrying onboard an aircraft.
One problem often incurred by the users of travel guitars is that by being smaller by nature they are sometimes a little awkward to feel comfortable with and to play.
This guitar has none of those problems. Its shape and design lend itself to a comfortable playing position, and it does not slide around on your knee as some are inclined to. The quality neck and good balance, therefore, make it a nice instrument for taking on your travels and is well worth considering.
It comes with a gig bag.