Traveling the world and playing guitar are my two greatest passions. But unfortunately they don’t seem to go hand in hand – do they? Traveling requires minimalism, and guitars are big, awkwardly shaped and are not fun to haul around in airports and buses.
For years I had to make the tough decision – to either travel without a guitar, or to painfully drag my oversized acoustic around the world. Both options sucked, and after years of this, I needed something different.
So finally, I bought myself one of the best travel guitars – and my life literally changed forever.
Unfortunately, as I was researching which travel guitar to buy, I realized there are hundreds of travel guitars… and a ton of them suck.
Which is exactly why I wrote this epic guide to the best travel guitars.
As a guitarist of 15 years, and a non-stop world traveler of 10 years, I know exactly what is needed from a travel guitar.
With the help of this guide, you’ll be able to easily know which of the best travel guitars is perfect for you and your music/travel style.
Get excited, some of these best traveling guitars are epic…
Table of Contents
- Quick Answers – The Best Traveling Guitars
- Best Travel Acoustic Guitar #1
- Martin Steel String
- Best Travel Acoustic Guitar #2Baby Taylor BT-1
- Best Travel Electric Guitar #1Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Electric Travel Guitar
- Best Travel Electric Guitar #2Traveler Guitar TCD SFG Deluxe Electric Travelcaster
- Best Travel Electric-Acoustic GuitarTraveler Guitar Ultra-LightAcoustic-Electric
- Best Budget Travel Guitar #1Yamaha GL1 Guitalele
- Best Budget Travel Guitar #2
- Hohner HAG250P 1/2 Sized
- Best Folding Travel Guitar #1
- Journey Instruments OF660M Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar Matte
- Best Folding Travel Guitar #2
- Voyage-Air VAD-04 Folding Dreadnought
- Best Travel Bass Guitar #1
- Traveler Guitar TB-4P Electric Travel Bass
- Best Travel Bass Guitar #2
- VOX APACHE2BBK
- Best Travel Classical Guitar #1
- Cordoba Mini SM-CE Travel Acoustic-Electric
- Best Travel Classical Guitar #2
- Hohner HC03 3/4-Size Classical Acoustic Guitar
- What to look for in the best travel guitars
- Can a travel guitar replace my primary guitar?
- Closing thoughts on the Top Travel Guitars
Quick Answers – The Best Traveling Guitars
|Martin Steel String
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|Baby Taylor BT-1
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|Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Electric Travel Guitar
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|Best TravelElectric-Acoustic Guitar
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|Yamaha GL1 Guitalele
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|Journey Instruments OF660M Carbon Fiber Acoustic Guitar Matte
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|Traveler Guitar TB-4P Electric Travel Bass
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|Cordoba Mini SM-CE Travel Acoustic-Electric
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Best Travel Acoustic Guitar #1
The Martin Steel String Travel Guitar was an easy pick for the best travel acoustic guitar
If you are looking for the best travel acoustic guitar, do yourself a favor and stop right here, because this travel guitar is as good as it gets.
Martin’s Steel String is an extraordinary instrument, and they have accomplished the goal of creating an affordable, high quality, travel acoustic guitar.
In typical Martin fashion, you get only the best of the best. A solid spruce top, a unique fret design, and a 24-inch scale length mean that you’ll never have to sacrifice quality to have an amazing travel guitar.
This Martin was designed for lightweight travelers in mind. The guitar and strap only weigh a total of 2 lbs combined, making this our smallest travel guitar. And when placed in the included protective bag, the two combine to weight a total of 5 lbs!
While I clearly think this guitar is clearly the cream of the crop… I don’t recommend it for everyone.
This guitar is perfect for lightweight backpackers, who love to travel with their guitar, but aren’t trying to do anything too hardcore with music.
In an effort to make this guitar as travel friendly as possible, Martin made it only 15 frets. This means you’ll be able to play some chords and maybe a few scales, but don’t expect to be able to rip a Metallica solo on this guitar. Because of that, I think this guitar better suits the casual-musician.
Bottom line – If you are a traveling professional musician, or need more than 15 frets, this might not be the guitar for you. Everyone else – if you can afford it, the Martin Travel Guitar is literally as good of a travel guitar you can get. Check the button below for the best price.
Best Travel Acoustic Guitar #2Baby Taylor BT-1
The Baby Taylor BT-1 is one of the best travel acoustic guitars on the market
Taylor guitars are one of the most reputable acoustic brands on the planet – and this guitar is an incredible example of why.
The Taylor Baby BT-1 is not technically a travel guitar – it’s just one of the best 3/4 guitars out there. This means that it’s 25% smaller than a normal-sized acoustic guitar, and many 3/4 guitars are made for kids.
But obviously one can see why 25% less would be VERY beneficial for travelers. 25% smaller means a big weight off your back, and the ability to stow this guitar on tons of flights.
Plus, along with a smaller size, you also get everything else that is amazing about Taylor guitars – solid wood, ebony fretboard, and a beautiful sound that resembles a choir of glowing angels.
What you’ve got to love about this guitar is that for a 3/4’s size, it almost sounds exactly like a full sized acoustic, which is why it’s easily one of the best travel acoustic guitars on the market. Typically 3/4 guitars sacrifice sound for size – but with this Taylor the tradeoff is barely noticeable.
Taylor has earned their reputation, and this guitar is another sterling example. If you don’t mind dishing out a bit more cash, you’ll be very pleased with the tone and sound of this instrument.
Bottom line – The Baby Taylor BT-1 delivers a phenomenal sound, long term durability, all of which comes at 3/4’s the size of a regular acoustic guitar. If you are looking for an ultralight travel guitar – look elsewhere. But if quality is your number one concern, you may have found the travel guitar of your dreams.
Best Travel Electric Guitar #1Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Electric Travel Guitar
While not the most creative company name, Traveler Guitar has put together some pretty impressive traveling instruments, and this was an easy pick for best travel electric guitar.
Amazing design and stellar reviews make this guitar one of the coolest travel guitars on the market. The Traveler Ultra-Light comes with dual rail humbuckers and packs an impressive sound. Depending on your amp and pedals setup, this electric should be able to get whatever sound you need out of it.
The Ultra-Light guitar is 28% shorter and 68% lighter than a typical guitar – all of which while retaining 100% of its size between the nut and the bridge. This means that while this guitar is not going to feel 100% like a full sized electric… it’ll come close, and you can shed all of that weight in the process.
This travel electric guitar is perfect for super lightweight travelers who need an electric guitar with them at all times. But unfortunately, the lightweight build comes with some sacrifices. And the sacrifice here is balance.
By eliminating 68% of the weight, some reviews claim the guitar is difficult to balance, or that it’s too light to play or solo on comfortably. Others claimed this was easily overcome with a couple days’ practice. Regardless, if you are considering purchasing, expect a bit of discomfort and imbalance at first. But don’t worry – you’ll be rocking that Red Hot Chili Peppers cover in no time 😉
Bottom line – Maybe not the best choice for professional musicians – this is a great travel guitar for someone who loves to travel and loves to shred. While the balance might take a bit of getting used to, there is simply no better-designed travel electric guitar on the market.
Best Travel Electric Guitar #2Traveler Guitar TCD SFG Deluxe Electric Travelcaster
An intuitive design makes this guitar super lightweight and our pick for the best travel electric guitar
Traveler Guitar gets the number one AND number two spots for best travel electric guitar.
Just like the Ultra Light Travel Guitar (above), this model is unique in it’s design.
But unlike its sibling, Traveler Guitar looked at the Travelcaster as an opportunity to give you a full electric experience, while also trimming as much weight as possible.
To accomplish this, they’ve basically cut out everything in the body OUTSIDE of the pickguard.
By cutting out the majority of the body, Travelcaster has created an electric guitar that is 14% shorter and 35% lighter than a typical electric guitar. And the impressive part? All of that is done while still keeping the guitar 100% at scale from the bridge to the neck!
Aside from its innovative design, this kickass travel electric guitar comes with 3 single coil pickups, 2 volume knobs, 1 tone knob, and a 5-way pickup selector.
While this guitar is highly recommended, you will have to accept that its bold design can cause some complications. While this travel electric attempts to mimic a full-sized electric – don’t expect it to feel exactly like a Strat or Tele. It comes close, but you can’t expect the same feeling (especially when sitting down).
Truthfully, if you are looking for one of the best electric travel guitars – there aren’t tons well-reviewed options, and Traveler Guitar is the only company putting our quality products.
Bottom line – If you are a traveler looking to shed a few pounds off your electric guitar – this is a kickass option. The Travelcaster was meant to be lightweight while sacrificing as little as playability as possible… Highly recommended for a professional who isn’t sure if the Ultra-Light (reviewed above) can make the cut for them.
Best Travel Electric-Acoustic GuitarTraveler Guitar Ultra-LightAcoustic-Electric
Welcome back Traveler Guitar!
With their third product on this list, I have to say I’m impressed by Traveler Guitar’s commitment to their niche. And this product is one of their best!
100% full scale from the nut to the bridge, this travel electric-acoustic is 31% shorter and 43% lighter than a typical acoustic guitar.
In particular, this guitar has a nice aesthetic and a gorgeous finish. Reviews claim the neck is smooth and that the guitar is durable and stays in tune very well.
But where I think their other products are more versatile… I would only recommend the Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric for a very specific person.
Simply put – this guitar only sounds great when it’s plugged in.
Well think about it – this guitar has no body (aka – where an acoustic gets that warm, vibrant, reverb-y sound from!). In the pursuit of lightness, Traveler Guitar made an instrument that only sounds good when plugged into an amplifier – which can totally work for the right person!
When it is plugged into an amp it sounds very nice! But otherwise it’s basically just another electric guitar that gives much less when unplugged.
Bottom line – Look at the Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic-Electric as an electric-acoustic guitar, and ONLY as an electric-acoustic guitar. If you love to record acoustic while you travel, or play a ton of live shows – this could be your axe. Everyone else – look elsewhere.
Best Budget Travel Guitar #1Yamaha GL1 Guitalele
I’ve gone through a ton of guitars in my life, but one of the best, most durable acoustics I ever owned was a $200 Yamaha. Did it have the rich sound of a Martin? Obviously not. But it played well, had great action, and was so durable I was convinced it would survive a nuclear apocalypse.
This is exactly why the Yamaha GL1 Guitalele is my pick for best budget travel guitar!
Yamaha makes solid guitars for low prices, and the GL1 Guitalele is a perfect example. Well reviewed and affordable, this was an easy pick for best budget travel guitar.
Something to consider – this is technically NOT a guitar. As the name would suggest, this is a hybrid between a ukulele and an acoustic guitar. To accomplish this fusion in the best way possible, Yamaha strings this guitar up to the 4th in the tuning of A/D/G/C/E/a.
If this scares the crap out of you – don’t worry! It just means due to it’s smaller size, this guitar sounds best with a non-standard E/A/D/G/B/e tuning. Since this is a great budget travel guitar, this also makes for a great traveling gift!
Bottom line – If an alternate tuning doesn’t scare you and you are on a budget – this is the best budget travel guitar. A cool guitar-ukulele-combo, the Yamaha Guitele is a solid choice for a traveler looking to save a bit of money on their instrument without compromising too much on quality.
Best Budget Travel Guitar #2
OK, before I continue, I should clarify – this is absolutely, 100% a toddler guitar.
It’s small, not of the highest quality, and won’t last a lifetime… And that’s exactly why it’s the best budget travel guitar on this list!
Think of it this way… have you ever been to a hostel and they have that small, beat up, classical guitar sitting in the main room? Or have you ever been to a beach party, and some dude with dreadlocks busts out a nylon-stringed guitar that looks like it was made in 1953 for a hobbit?
That’s exactly what this guitar is. It won’t win you a grammy, but it’s cheap, and you better believe that it will play… albeit maybe slightly out of tune.
This guitar is here for anyone looking for a cheap travel guitar to buy online. Simple as that.
Bottom line – This is the ‘I’m on a shoestring budget backpacking through Southeast Asia. I’m go to party on beaches, and all I want is a throwaway guitar I can play some Sublime singalongs on, in between cheap beers, in hopes of getting laid’. If this sounds like you, then look no further.
Best Folding Travel Guitar #1
To be fair – in terms of quality this is absolutely, without a doubt the best travel guitar that money can buy.
But that’s it’s one con – it’s super expensive.
But if you have no problem dropping a bit more money, this is a guitar that will not only be your primary travel guitar… it will be your primary guitar – period.
Made from carbon fiber, the Journey OF660M is a modern, durable, sexy looking axe. This guitar gives a super warm, bright and rich tone, and is extremely versatile.
Old school guitarists might not like the new school design or the fact that it’s made of carbon fiber. But I must disagree….
While I think carbon fiber is an amazing material for any guitar, it’s especially perfect for traveling guitarists!
Traditional wood guitars need to be kept out of humidity and heat to keep them from warping. In contrast, carbon fiber means you can bring your guitar in any weather and travel to any climate – stress free. While I respect the traditionalist view, carbon fiber has proven to be a durable material for guitars, while also providing the guitar with a modern, cool look. No warping, no fear of heat or humidity. This is a huge factor to consider for any traveler.
Bottom line – If you have the budget, don’t need something super-light, and are looking for the best sounding travel guitar money can buy, you’ve found your match.
Best Folding Travel Guitar #2
Before this, all of the travel guitar options were super small – and I totally understand if that doesn’t appeal to you! 3/4 guitars and ukulele-hybrid guitars can be convenient for travel, but those gains comes at a huge sacrifice (mainly comfort, and sound!).
So what’s the solution?
Meet the folding guitar.
Although they did use to be a bit of a joke, folding guitars are all the rage right now – and they are very, VERY well built. After a few years of working out the kinks, folding guitars are now awesome, and the Voyage-Air is one of the best money can buy.
Acoustic guitar lovers will be pleased to that the Voyage-Air VAD is a full sized acoustic, dreadnought style. Made of high quality wood – the Voyage-Air has a spruce/mahogany body, a Rosewood fretboard and a mahogany neck.
It’s a great acoustic… but it also folds in half!
The Voyage-Air has a brilliant sound – super rich and bright.
And the best part? The action is PERFECT! I would personally think that a folding guitar would have terrible action, but it turns out Voyage-Air has improved this kink, delivering an acoustic guitar with easy to play, low action.
Bottom line – While folding the guitar in and out of action might seem a bit strange, you’ll quickly realize it’s well designed and quite easy to do. The reviews on this guitar are through the roof, and in my opinion… Voyage-Air could definitely charge more money. This is recommended for anyone who wants a travel guitar, but doesn’t want to compromise on quality of sound.
Best Travel Bass Guitar #1
Another Traveler Guitar? What can I say – this company does it right!
Similar to their travel guitars, this awesome travel bass guitar is designed to feel as much like a standard bass, while trimming as much weight as possible.
The Traveler Guitar TB-4P is well reviewed and well designed. The bass weighs in at 25% lighter than a standard bass – which you will definitely appreciate while traveling! It also measures at 22% shorter than a standard bass, which means it’s easier to handle as you move around the world.
The Traveler Guitar Travel Bass comes with a volume and tone controls, and the standard electronics to get your bass rigged up to any pedal or amp you need!
A cool side-perk is they also include a 1/8 inch headphone jack. This means that while you are at your hotel or AirBnb, you can pop some headphones on really jam out!
Remember though, the sound will be nice, but not as full as a typical bass. Duncan pickups help this bass to deliver some great tones- but don’t expect to sound exactly like Flea.
Bottom line – This is the best travel bass guitar money can buy. Like all of the best travel guitars, you are definitely going to sacrifice some tone for the sake traveling lighter – but if light is what you need, then Traveler Guitar TB-4P Electric Bass got you covered.
Best Travel Bass Guitar #2
While not being the most sophisticated bass in the world – you gotta admit that the Vox Apache2BBK is pretty freaking cool! More of a travel amp meets practice amp, this Vox has a fun design and is loaded with a bunch of cool features.
The most notable feature is that you get a built in amp! See the speaker in the middle of the fretboard? That’s a 4 inch Vox speaker, and while it’s not going to power you through your next gig, it’s definitely a fun thing to have and a great way to practice at the hotel.
Another cool feature? The Vox Apache2BBK comes with a built in drum machine! Don’t expect anything professional sounding, but the incorporated feature allows you to jam out with a few beats! The rhythm patterns come through the speaker, making this the perfect practice bass guitar.
The battery life lasts for up to 26 hours, and you have the option to purchase this cool travel bass guitar in four different colors.
The Apache has pretty great reviews – but you need to understand that this travel bass guitar is not for everyone. If you are a traveling professional or considering doing any gigs – this is not for you. This is a bass for someone who wants to practice while they are on the road.
Bottom line – If you are looking for a more affordable travel bass guitar, and aren’t planning on doing a gig anytime soon, this is your bass. You’ll be able to get a ton of practice while on the road, and the built in speaker and sixty six available ‘drum beats’ help make practice a ton more fun.
Best Travel Classical Guitar #1
I feel really bad leaving this guitar so far down the list. The Cordoba Mini SM-CE is a masterpiece of instrumental engineering, and could quite possibly be the best travel guitar ever made!
With a solid cedar top, rosewood fingerboard and a gorgeous maple back – this classical guitar is stunning to look at. Cordoba clearly invests a lot of time in design, and this travel classical guitar is one of the best examples of that.
And thankfully it sounds as good as it looks! This classical guitar is well reviewed, giving warm and bright tones. Similar to other travel guitars the Cordoba Mini is tuned to A. This ensures it delivers the best sound for it’s size and build.
While a bit on the pricey side, I think when you consider everything – this guitar is very fairly priced. You are getting an extremely well designed, beautiful, durable, electric-acoustic classical guitar that is built just for travelers.
Bottom line – Whether you are a professional or casual musician – if you are looking for a travel classical guitar, this is hands down my number one opinion.
Best Travel Classical Guitar #2
While I picked the Cordoba for the overall best travel classical guitar – it was for two reasons. 1) the size and 2) the price.
In contrast, this Hohner HC03 is larger, and more expensive, but if you are looking for one of the highest quality classical guitars on the market – this is your guy.
A 3/4’s sized guitar, this classical travel guitar is still a more compact size, and you’ll be in love with how much easier this is to move around. This is a guitar that is built for durability, and incredible quality sound. You’ll be pleased to get both with Hohner.
Yes, technically 3/4 sized guitars are built for teenagers (Hohner recommends this guitar for 8-13 year olds), but the best 3/4 guitars are also becoming popular as traveling guitars. Sure, you might be sacrificing a bit of tone, but as a traveler, that’s a small sacrifice to have a quality, compact instrument.
Bottom line – While I think this might be overkill for casual guitarist, if sound quality is of the utmost importance to you and budget isn’t much of an issue, then go with Hohner. It will blow you away.
As an avid traveler and musician, I can tell you that buying a great traveling guitar was one of the most important decisions I ever made. I can now easily transport a guitar anywhere I go around the world, meaning I never have to be without a guitar again!
Here are some important things to consider when you are trying to pick your personal travel guitar.
What to look for in the best travel guitars
When it comes to the best travel guitars, there are a few things in particular you want to keep an eye out for.
1. Quality of the Travel Guitar
?The guitars on this list are some of the best travel guitars on the market… but some are certainly higher quality than others. Keep an eye out for prices. Yes, we are all trying to save money, but sometimes spending the extra $50 can be the difference between an OK-travel-guitar that you’ll like, or a exceptional-travel-guitar that will literally improve your life.
This is especially true if you are a traveling professional musician. Do NOT try and get something cheap – it will quickly come back to haunt you.
Backpackers looking for a travel-friendly guitar that they can just jam on, have a bit more leniency in their choices.
2. Frets on the Travel Guitar
Something I overlooked was the fact that travel guitars don’t always have standard amount of frets! Obviously it makes sense as the smaller the neck, the more travel-friendly the guitar. Consider your guitar playing style. Do you prefer to shred solos high up the neck? Or are you just looking for something to jam out with beachside, and play some basic chords?
If you don’t need the additional frets, you’ll find that your options are better, and the guitars will be much more compact.
3. Length and weight of the Travel Guitar
The first thing you need to consider is your travel style. Are you a fast traveler or slow traveler?
If you travel the world spending a month at a time in AirBnb’s , you won’t be as concerned about the size and weight of the guitar. If you blitz from hostel to hostel, then you should seriously consider purchasing one of the lighter and more compact travel guitars.
4. Remember this one important fact
Here’s the deal…
The standard guitar is literally a miracle. It’s a perfectly crafted instrument. Over the past 500+ years the guitar has slowly been tweaked to perfection. And currently, the size, shape, and guild of a standard guitar ensures you get the absolute best comfort, sound and durability from this amazing instrument.
This is where travel guitars screw things up.
Ultimately, travel guitars are smaller, and because they are smaller they aren’t going to sound as good as standard guitar. There is no way around this. If you want a smaller guitar, you are going to have to make some other sacrifices. To get a guitar smaller, lighter, and more travel-friendly, means sacrificing a few other important things (like possibly sound, comfort, balance).
Don’t worry- the best travel guitars sound amazing! Just don’t expect it sound like a song from ‘Eric Clapton Unplugged’… Because it won’t.
But I promise you, whatever travel guitar you choose it will sound awesome, it’ll be lightweight, and it will accompany you around the world 🙂
Can a travel guitar replace my primary guitar?
The easy answer – absolutely.
The more complicated answer – it depends on your needs.
If you are more of a casual guitar player (like I am these days) then you will be stoked to know that a travel guitar can absolutely replace your primary guitar (especially if you don’t mind spending a bit more).
The selections from Cordoba, Martin and Taylor on this list are truly epic instruments, and if you don’t need to worry about gigs, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised that your travel guitar can absolutely become your primary guitar.
Closing thoughts on the Top Travel Guitars
There you have it! The 15 best travel guitars.
I know that with the help of this epic buyer’s guide, you’ll easily be able to identify and buy the travel guitar of your dreams.
Is there anything I missed? What’s your favorite travel guitar? Comment below! It’ll help other travelers know which guitar is best for them – safe travels!
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