Have guitar, will travel.
Since when have we wanted to travel with our guitars? Always we think, but it was usually not easy. The gigging musician carried his gear around, but what about those who just wanted a guitar.
Maybe you are away for work or holidays, or maybe traveling all the time?
An easy way to store a guitar would be a good thing. But what about making a guitar that was just smaller? We had smaller sized acoustics. Even some scaled-down electrics, but they were still quite bulky. This was especially true for airline travel.
Back in the 70s and 80s as people began to travel more, there was no Traveler Guitar 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar. It didn’t appear for another ten years. People had problems if they wanted to take an instrument of some kind with them. But then there was a wind of change.
Established in 1992 in California. After a year of not getting it quite right, their first guitar was sold in 1993. For the next few years, they were selling them before they could make them such was their popularity.
Fender offered them some production space, presumably for money, at the Corona plant. Things really took off from there. Now they have quite a range of guitars you can put in your hand luggage.
Close but not quite…
They are quite close in some ways as you can get to the real thing without being the real thing, if you know what we mean. They have huge drawbacks in some areas. But they are portable. You can take them almost everywhere. And providing you aren’t using one of these for a concert at The Royal Albert Hall you should be ok.
We’ll be looking at one of their most popular products. So let’s get going with our Traveler Guitar 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar Review…
The first point we would like to make with this guitar is this. It might look at first glance like a toy or a bit of a gimmick, but it certainly is not. It has its drawbacks, a few of them, but it is not a plastic toy. This is a real guitar with real sounds; however, there is one point we would like to make at the outset.
This is labeled as an acoustic-electric guitar. Now forgive us, but we really cannot see how this could be described in any way as an acoustic anything. Electric yes, with its pickup, etc., but acoustic?
We will look more closely at that issue later…
If you are going to design and build a guitar for traveling around, it is not feasible to just scale down the real thing. It won’t really work. It almost then becomes a ukulele. So if you want to carry a guitar with you on your travels, this is an alternative.
It is 24 and ¾” long and is compact enough to be placed in the overhead bins of aircraft. Its total length is 28 inches, and it weighs just under three pounds. It has some interesting design features included.
A little bit different…
They are created to make it work as a sit-down and play guitar. In some cases, they make it a little more awkward than they were designed for. But when you are looking and considering this guitar, it must sit in its place. It is not here to challenge the Strat; it is for packing away in your luggage, and off you go.
Therefore, it is different, and if you can get used to those differences, it has its place.
The most important thing in our view is that the neck is right and plays very similar to whatever you have at home. That is a crucial issue, especially if you are using it for practice while you may be away.
So, let’s have a closer look…
It won’t get much simpler than this. One piece of maple in a nearly rectangular shape. It angles back at its point of entry with the neck. This allows full access to the fingerboard as there is no room for a cutaway. The body is less than two inches thick, and being maple is quite lightweight.
To make it feel like a guitar when it is being played, it needs some height if you rest it in your knee. They give you that with a detachable lap rest. It is a simple clip-on affair that just raises the guitar off your knee or lap, to make it more comfortable. It can be removed and stored when you are on the move.
Slip and slide…
This is one of those design situations that you will have to get used to. There is a good reason for it, but some people just cannot get on with it. It can slide very easily off your knee in certain playing styles. In others, it doesn’t feel very stable. It will take a little adjustment in the way you play.
Certainly, the easier the style, the better it will function. Lots of quick movements up and down the neck for chords or soloing, and it may move around a bit, which won’t help. As we say, it is something you will have to adjust too.
There is no sound hole in the body; it is just a piece of wood. In other words, an electric guitar. But as we said earlier, we will discuss this in more detail later.
It has an attractive antique brown finish.
The neck is also maple and is a through-body design. It has a black walnut fingerboard with traditional dotted inlays. The big design plus with the neck is that it has a 24 and ¾ inch scale. That is the same playing area that you will get on most guitars. It will, therefore, feel exactly like the real thing on the fingerboard just in a smaller size.
No machine heads…
Of course, there is another potential problem, that there are no machine heads at the headstock. Now, this is not uncommon on full-size guitars, but it is something else you will need to adjust to.
When you are in full flow, do you look for the nut out of the corner of your eye as a marker to where the low notes are? It won’t be there, so that is something that needs adjusting in your mind.
Are you a traditionalist?
We know, we just couldn’t get on with a bass guitar in a similar format and gave up with it very quickly. This is different, of course, being essentially a practice guitar. We mention it only because it is something you will need to adjust to.
There can be no complaints though about the neck itself, and its fit to the body is secure enough. It is fitted with a truss rod that is adjustable. It comes with a wrench to make those adjustments.
There are some excellent design ideas with the hardware. Normally we start ‘up top’. In this case, there is no ‘up top’. The headstock has gone, by necessity, walkabout.
It has an ingenious design for the machine heads, which are located in the body of the guitar. Known as the in-body tuning system, they work exactly the same and are actually quite good.
They are sealed chrome-plated tuners with a ratio of 14 to 1. There are string rollers that offer a wrap-around design for string installation and tuning. Incorporated into the stringing design is a fixed bridge.
The Traveler Guitar 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar was becoming in our eyes an interesting instrument. And certainly one worthy of some further attention. However, it is rather ruined by the electrics, or perhaps more accurately, the lack of them.
It features a traveler piezo pickup underneath the bridge. There is a ¼” jack socket to plug it in. As is usually the case with a pickup in this situation, there will be a preamp. Sadly that is not the case with this guitar. The pickup is very basic and doesn’t offer that much.
A little too basic…
The lack of a preamp is rather limiting the guitar’s possibilities. No preamp means no volume control, tuner, tone or EQ on the guitar.
We do find that a little disappointing. You would think at the price point this guitar is offered; it would have what are considered very basic additions.
Traveler Guitar 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar Review – How does it play and sound?
It is a style of playing you will need to get used to. And we can see how some might not be able to adjust to it. It is going to be one of those things you love or hate. For us, the central point of its practical use is not that, but that you can put it in your bag. However, that is a great idea if it works.
There is another important issue. Does it feel like a guitar when you play it? And that is divided into two sections. Firstly what you’re doing with your fingers on the neck. Secondly, how does it feel to hold it?
When you play it, it feels fine…
They have done a decent job of getting the playing area on the neck right. You can play your chords and your solos, and it doesn’t feel an awful lot different from what you might have at home. There is the lack of a headstock, of course. But that is probably something even the skeptic will adjust to.
The second issue is slightly more of a concern. It doesn’t feel very comfortable to play sitting with it on your lap. It wobbles around, and it can hardly be called stable. And it can easily actually slide off your knee as you come down the neck while playing.
We can see the idea is good, but the application of a detachable lap rest in this design doesn’t work for us. It places it in the right position to make it feel a little like a guitar. But when you start paying, it is anything but like a guitar. Some people we am sure will disagree but for us, not really.
And the sound?
As far as the sound is concerned, it is a piezo pickup, so that says a lot. However, the sound is not that good, though, it will depend on what you do with the amp. By the way, you will need an amp or a good set of headphones despite it saying it is acoustic-electric. We will deal with that in that next section.
We can see how you might get a decent sound out of a good amp and some effects. But isn’t this supposed to be a travel guitar? You aren’t going to have them with you.
Traveler Guitar 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar Review Pros and Cons
- Compact size.
- Detachable lap rest.
- One-piece maple body.
- It’s not acoustic.
- Tuning issues.
Looking for some other excellent guitar options?
You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Portable Guitar Amplifiers and the Best Mini Amps because you are certainly going to need to put this traveler guitar through a half-decent amplifier.
Traveler Guitar 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar Review Conclusion
What we think?
So let us go back to the issue we have alluded to on a couple of occasions. It is advertised as an acoustic-electric. Electric, yes, it has a pickup. Acoustic, no. It is about as acoustic as my Telecaster, in other words, not acoustic at all.
We cannot see how it can possibly be considered as acoustic. There is no sound hole or sound chamber for a start. When you strum it unplugged, it is just like an electric guitar. If you play this, you are going to need an amp or headphones.
You can buy some small clip-on type amps, but that piezo isn’t going to shine, it will sound OK through headphones but who wants to wear them for hours while practicing?
However, it is just for practice, so possibly the quality of the sound is not that important.
It’s getting bigger and heavier…
It is rather expensive as well, and no cheap offering. And when you add on the price of a small carry-on amp, the price has gone up. And so has the space taken up in the overhead locker.
It is made in China, and there can be no complaints about the quality of the build. It is well put together, and it all works as it should do.
We think it is a good idea, but for us, it just doesn’t work very well. It is not in any way acoustic, and so you will need an amp. Some will appreciate it, but it is not for us.