The best travel guitar makes a perfect companion for busy, on-the-go guitarists searching for playability that’s built to move. There are electric options, acoustic options, and even hybrid electro-acoustic travel guitars. Whether it’s for practice and warming up, or full-blown gigging and session work, there is a unique portable guitar for every musician.
What Differentiates “Travel Guitars” from Regular Guitars
Portability is the number one feature of the “travel” guitar, which typically comes in the form of shorter scale lengths, smaller bodies, and lighter weight. Some guitars retain a normal scale length, and thus a regular playing feel, but they’ve been otherwise shrunk down to squeeze into the travel category.
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Features to Look for in a Travel Guitar
Other features to look for in a travel guitar are pretty much the same as when shopping for a regular guitar. The first distinction will be acoustic, electric, or electro-acoustic based on your playing style and needs. Travel guitars sometimes have features exclusive to the category, such as built-in headphone outputs for practice. In most cases, however, the right guitar for you shouldn’t be too difficult to determine — you know best!
The 5 Best Travel Guitar Options for Acoustic Players
1. Taylor Baby Taylor
The Baby Taylor series is one of the most popular 3/4-size acoustic guitars ever made. Everything about the design makes it a great choice for beginners because the necks are slim and easy to play. Experienced players can enjoy a Baby Taylor as a travel or practice guitar as well. Options include different top woods and the choice of built-in electronics.
2. Martin Backpacker
The steel-string Martin Backpacker is one of the best examples of an acoustic travel guitar. It has 15 frets with a 24″ scale length, with a uniquely shaped body that cuts away all of the bulk of a traditional acoustic. This is ideal for anyone prioritizing portability.
3. Traveler Escape Mark III
The Traveler Escape Mark III offers familiar electric guitar-style playability in an acoustic package with built-in electronics. Highlights include 22 medium frets with a 25.5″ scale length. Active electronics come with volume, bass, and treble adjustments, as well as an aux input and headphone output.
4. Taylor GS Mini-e Koa
The Taylor GS Mini-e Koa is a mid-range travel guitar for serious players. Despite its small size, the guitar’s voice is huge, and even comes with a built-in pickup for electro-acoustic playability. Compact scale length seats this in the travel category, but it’s really just a nice all-around acoustic-electric guitar.
5. Yamaha CSF3M
A travel guitar in the most traditional sense, the Yamaha CSF3M is a parlor-style acoustic similar to those which traveling guitarists played in the early 1900s. While much more compact than a full dreadnought-style acoustic, these guitars are excellent for the studio or the stage, with a built-in passive undersaddle pickup for amplification.
The 5 Best Travel Electric Guitar Options
1. Travelcaster Deluxe Electric Travel Guitar
Ever wanted to know what an S-style guitar looked like if everything around the pick guard was gone? Well, here it is! This is a very cool electric mini guitar with a traditional 25.5″ scale length, three single-coil pickups, 5-way pickup selector, and all the appointments of a standard S-type — with much smaller body!
2. Blackstar Carry-On
Anything but traditional, the Blackstar Carry-On is an innovative instrument and quintessentially made to move. It features 18 frets on a 20.7″ scale, with a single mini-humbucker with coil-split. The guitar is strung with 12-54 gauge strings to recreate standard scale tension on a very short scale instrument.
3. Steinberger Spirit GT-Pro Deluxe
Steinberger headless guitars debuted in 1979. At the time, and for many years, there was nothing quite like them. They’re amongst the most playable and versatile small guitars around. The Spirit GT-Pro has 24 frets, a 25.5″ scale length, an HSH pickup configuration, 14″ radius, and a tremolo system.
4. Hofner Shorty Travel Guitar
Hofner Shorties came out in the ’80s, aimed at players who didn’t want to miss a moment of practice. The familiar feel is a major selling point for many guitarists, with 24 frets on a 24.75″ scale length. There is a single humbucker with volume/tone controls, and a simple gig back to take on the road.
5. VOX SDC-1 Mini
Last but not least, we have the VOX SDC-1 Mini. With 19 medium jumbo frets and an 18.75″ scale, it’s perfect for beginner guitarists, players with smaller hands, or anyone looking to take their instrument with them anywhere.