10 Of The Best Travel Guitars – Acoustic & Electric (2021 Guide)

Links in this article may earn us a little money if you order something. More here.

Here Are Some of the Best Travel Guitars Out There!

Heading out on the open road, traveling by airplane, or going hiking and camping? Whether you want to practice while on the road and/or have the ability to jam out with others, travel guitars (often known as backpacker guitars) are a great – and often necessary – addition to your journey.

There are loads of nice travel guitars out there – from super compact guitars to smaller, 3/4 guitars that are more durable and easier to lug around. The grand challenge can be choosing the best travel guitar for you.

Our guide breaks down what a travel guitar is, the different travel guitar options, and looks at which ones are the best travel guitars you can buy. From the Martin backpacker travel guitar to folding travel guitars and other top 3/4 size guitars, here’s a detailed breakdown of the best travel guitars.

10 of the Best Travel Guitars

If you know you want a travel guitar and are just itching to start looking, you’ll find our top three travel guitars below.

These models – a Taylor, a Martin, and a Washburn – are at the top based on a combination of factors like personal experience, reviews in the guitar space, and their overall function, reliability, and quality.

Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar
Washburn Rover Steel String Travel Acoustic Guitar
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany GS Mini Acoustic Guitar , Sapele, Mahogany Top
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
Washburn RO10TB Rover Steel String Travel Acoustic Guitar - Transparent Blue
Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany GS Mini Acoustic Guitar , Sapele, Mahogany Top
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
Washburn Rover Steel String Travel Acoustic Guitar
Washburn RO10TB Rover Steel String Travel Acoustic Guitar - Transparent Blue

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar

Taylor GS Mini Mahogany GS Mini Acoustic Guitar , Sapele, Mahogany Top
  • "Body Body type: Taylor Grand Symphony Mini Cutaway: No Top wood: Solid Mahogany Back & sides: Layered Sapele Bracing pattern: GS Mini With Relief Rout Body finish: Matte 2.0...
  • "There's something undeniably inviting about the Taylor GS Mini's scaled-down size, yet a single strum reveals the impressive voice of a full-size guitar

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: Mahogany top and sides, closed tuning pegs, 20 frets
  • Pros: Excellent sound in a smaller body, comes with a sturdy padded bag
  • Cons: Much more expensive than other guitars on this list

From a name like Taylor, the GS Mini is widely considered to be among the best 3/4 guitars on the market.

This popular Taylor travel guitar is known for its sound and its versatility as more than “just a travel guitar”. It’s a 3/4 guitar that could be your main guitar if you’d like.

Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar

Sale
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar with Bag
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Solid Tonewood Back and Sides

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: The classic backpacker guitar with a unique, stripped away body
  • Pros: Lightweight guitar, comes with a hard bag
  • Cons: 15 frets might be a little short for some, might be awkward to play given the body shape but it comes with a guitar strap

When it comes to small guitars, the Martin Steel String is kind of known as the original portable guitar to take with you.

With a wildly unique body shape and from a brand like Martin, the Backpacker travel guitar is among the best small body guitar on the market.

Washburn Rover Steel String Travel Acoustic Guitar

Washburn RO10TB Rover Steel String Travel Acoustic Guitar - Transparent Blue
  • Full size 24" scale
  • Solid spruce top, Mahogany body and neck Rosewood fingerboard

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: A small, compact travel guitar with a full-scale neck
  • Pros: All wood construction but with a durable body, comes with a solid bag
  • Cons: The neck is heavy and the body lacks mids and lows for sound quality but it’s for playing quiet or in an intimate setting (like at a campfire) anyways

The Washburn Rover Travel guitar is another very popular travel guitar option. It makes a great camping guitar because it is quite a bit smaller (the body is slim and tapered) but still has a full-scale length neck and produces a decent sound.

Yamaha APXT2 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: A reliable 3/4 scale guitar with nice curves and a cutaway
  • Pros: Pickup and tuner built-in, comes with gig bag
  • Cons: Model depending, laminate construction can feel cheap to some

Those looking for a Yamaha travel guitar will find a winner with the APXT2. This 3/4 scale guitar is acoustic-electric which can allow you to have the best of both worlds.

Luna Aurora Borealis Acoustic Guitar

Luna Aurora Borealis 3/4 Acoustic Guitar, Black Pearl
  • Luna Guitars' Aurora line offers the perfect beginner guitar, especially for young players
  • A student guitar line that pairs affordability with Luna's characteristic easy-to-play design features

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: An affordable 3/4 scale all-acoustic travel guitar
  • Pros: Choice of tonewood is decent for sound quality, pretty detailing
  • Cons: Acoustic only so no chance at pickups and an amp, no bag comes with it

LAVA ME 2 Carbon Fiber Guitar

LAVA ME 2 Carbon Fiber Guitar with Effects 36 Inch Acoustic Electric Travel Guitar with Bag Picks...
  • The World’s Leading Unibody Guitar: One-piece injection moulded technology makes LAVA ME 2 more comfortable to hold, gives it excellent acoustic performance. LAVA ME 2 can...
  • Play with Effects without Plugging In: The FreeBoost Technology on the L2 pickups uses rear surface of the LAVA ME as a speaker. Turn on the pickups anywhere anytime, you can...

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: A unique, unibody travel guitar with built-in amp/effect
  • Pros: Durable materials make the guitar able to withstand varying conditions, comes with a bag and charging cable
  • Cons: The materials might not resonate (for your liking) like real wood, comes at a higher cost

If you want a full-scale travel guitar that is built like a tank, check out the LAVA ME 2. Sporting an unconventional design and futuristic look, the LAVA ME 2 is light to carry and able to take whatever you throw at it when it comes to travel.

Traveler Guitar 6-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Acoustic Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • Full 24 3/4" Scale acoustic-electric travel guitar
  • Fits in airline overhead bins. Only 2 lbs. 15 oz. & 28" Long!

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: A sleek, minimalist guitar with a full 3/4 scale neck and gig bag
  • Pros: Very lightweight, made of real wood, pickup and output installed
  • Cons: The lap rest and/or overall design might take a while to get used to

The Traveler Guitar is the ultimate name in light, minimalist travel guitars. With reduced body lengths and a unique tuning system and no headstock, these guitars are super lightweight and made to be packed away nice and small.

The Traveler acoustic-electric also comes in a Pro Series and in an ultra-light solid body electric guitar.

Cross Guitar 2.0: Foldable Classical Nylon Acoustic-Electric Travel Guitar

Cross Guitar 2.0: Folding/Foldable Classical Nylon-String Acoustic/Electric Travel Guitar Silent...
  • Built-in pickup system with headphone jack 3.5mm Aux-in, 3.5mm Headphone, and 6.35mm main output to enhance your playing experience.(Must plug in headphone or cable for the...
  • No assembly nor footstool needed

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: A minimal, collapsible travel guitar made of real wood (maple)
  • Pros: A very compact guitar, built-in pickup system
  • Cons: So small that it may be awkward to get used to

The Cross Guitar 2.0 might be taking travel guitars a step too far – but what a fantastic concept!

With a unique cross and folding design, the Cross 2.0 might be the smallest travel guitar available. The above version is for nylon strings but there’s also a Cross Guitar 2.0 with steel strings.

Kmise Guitarlele (Mini Travel Guitar Ukulele)

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: An affordable guitarlele with a number of great accessories
  • Pros: Very lightweight, much smaller than a full-scale acoustic, closed tuners, comes with gig bag
  • Cons: Not quite a guitar, not quite a uke… some people either love it or hate it

If you think a guitarlele will fit the bill as your travel guitar, the Kmise guitarlele is for you. Merging the best of both worlds – a small 6 string guitar on a baritone ukulele body – this hybrid instrument makes a unique choice for those seeking out a travel guitar.

Cordoba Mini II M Nylon String Guitar

Cordoba Mini II M, Mahogany, Small Body, Nylon String Guitar
  • Comfortable 1/2 size guitar, with standard tuning
  • Layered Mahogany top, back and sides

Last update on 2021-03-09 at 01:50

  • Features: A great mini 1/2 scale nylon string guitar from a top brand like Cordoba
  • Pros: Beautiful all-mahogany construction, compact scale size
  • Cons: Nylon strings over steel might not produce the sound you’re looking for

If you know anything about Cordoba, you’ll now they know classical guitars. Their Mini II is a slightly larger take on their popular Mini M – one of a number of short-scale guitars designed for travel.

The 1/2 size might make for a good little guitar depending on your needs. This mini travel guitar is also a great nylon string travel guitar (with more of a classical feel) if that’s what you’re looking for.

What Is A Travel Guitar And Why You Need One

If you know you want a travel guitar, you might not need an explanation. If you’re new to the concept, then a brief overview of what a travel guitar is – and how it differs from other guitars – might be super handy.

A travel guitar is much like the name sounds. It is a guitar that is meant for travel. Generally, this means the guitar is smaller in overall size and often more compact in shape than a full-sized guitar.

Some travel guitars even strip away unnecessary body material or are foldable for an extra small overall guitar footprint.

Since it’s often expected that they are meant to be moved about and potentially run into bums and scratches, travel guitars are often made from denser materials than just solid tone woods and usually come with a bag or soft case.

Travel guitar are used for a variety of things: from playing on the road, and entertaining with campfire tunes on a camping trip to personal usage for practicing. Travel guitars come in all acoustic, acoustic-electric, and even full-electric versions – each with their own pros and cons.

Most types are travel acoustic guitars because it’s more likely that you’ll be unplugged and so an acoustic body is needed to produce your sound.

However, a battery-powered electric travel guitar used with an amp (or your headphones) isn’t out of the question if you are using your guitar for simple practicing while on the road.

The Different Types of Travel Guitars

If you’re in the market for a traveling guitar, there are a few different variations for what people consider “travel guitars”.

Aside from these different variations listed below, travel guitars often feature the versatility of playing unplugged but having the option to amplify the sound plugged in.

So, many travel guitar models end up being acoustic-electric. You can definitely find just acoustic travel guitar models or just electric travel guitars if you are seeking out one. Let’s dive into the different types of guitars considered suitable as travel guitars.

3/4 Guitar

A popular, go-to option for a travel guitar is simply buying a 3/4 size guitar. This is a smaller guitar that is 3/4 the scale and size of a full acoustic guitar.

Essentially, 3/4 scale guitars are just mini guitars. They are smaller than a classic dreadnought and easier for travel because they are physically smaller.

A pro of using a 3/4 guitar as a travel guitar is that they sound more like a full-sized dreadnought with a large, complete body. A con is that they are not as compact as other true “travel guitars” you might find on this list.

A great example of a 3/4 guitar is the Taylor GS Mini or the Luna Aurora Borealis for a more affordable option.

It should be noted that 3/4 guitars are not just great as a travel guitar. These guitars are also good for beginners, people with smaller hands, and kids who are looking for their first guitar. Their “scaled-down” size makes 3/4 guitars easier to play.

Now, not all travel guitars are good for kids, nor are all kids guitars great as “travel guitars” so watch out for this distinction. This list is all about travel guitars and we’ll write about kids guitars and other 3/4 size guitars soon.

“Minimalist” Travel Guitar

Another kind of travel guitar are those that fall in the category of minimalist guitars.

These instruments come in two main kinds: those guitars with a much smaller body shape and/or size OR those guitars with much of the non-essential materials stripped away (like body and headstock).

Both types of guitars feature full-scale or 3/4 scale necks – it’s really the body size that is reduced.

Some examples of travel guitars that have a “complete” body but are just reduced in body size are the Washburn Rover or the Martin Steel String Backpacker. A classic example of the “stripped away” guitar leaving only the essential parts needed to play and create sound is the Traveler Guitar.

These minimalist travel guitars come in both acoustic, hybrid a/e and fully-electric. A pro of these guitars is that they weigh very little (even compared to a 3/4 sized guitar). They might make for a great backpack guitar since many of them will fit inside their case and slip inside a larger backpack.

A con to these guitars – more so the stripped-down version – is that they only have the bare bones for what you’d need to play. This means these guitars don’t always produce sound like a full-bodied acoustic.

Sound volume and quality also depend on if you are plugging it into an amp. Often, these guitars can be used for practicing since they are much quieter unless plugged into an amp or heard through headphones.

Also keep in mind not to confuse these guitars with practice/pocket guitars. These minimalist guitars are fully functional guitars while pocket guitars are practice aids.

Foldable/Collapsible Guitar

Another variation of the travel guitar that isn’t just a smaller guitar or a very minimalist guitar is the foldable travel guitar.

Also known as a collapsible travel guitar, these guitars do exactly what you’d expect – they come apart in one or two places, usually at the neck joint where the neck meets the body. This smaller overall size makes foldable guitars come with a special case or bag which is much easier to travel with.

Depending on the model of foldable guitar you buy, it may be able to play acoustically or it may have little to no resonating body so you have to plug it in to hear the sound.

Now, the pros of the collapsible travel guitar are that they are certainly smaller than a one-piece 3/4 guitar. You also have the benefit of a larger body to create a better sound compared to other foldable guitars that lack much of a body.

A con to these guitars is that more joints/moving parts creates room for structural issues down the line. Another con is the materials used to construct guitars that fold may affect sound quality when they are put back together.

You might look at the Cross Guitar 2.0, the Journey Instruments OF660M Overhead (made from carbon fiber), or the Furch Little Jane as a higher-priced (but very reliable) foldable guitar that is made from solid wood. The fact that there is a solid wood collapsible guitar is pretty awesome.

Carbon Fiber Guitar

Another type of travel guitar that we haven’t already mentioned is something like the LAVA ME 2. This is a full-scale guitar so you don’t compromise sound or size. So, what makes a full-sized dreadnought a prime candidate for travel? The material it’s made out of is super durable.

In fact, the LAVA ME 2 is an injection-molded carbon fiber guitar. This composite material that is not wood makes the guitar strong but also far more resistant to scratches, dents, impact, and temperature changes.

A pro of this kind of guitar – a guitar made from a different, more durable material – is that it’s simply more durable. This can b a great asset when it comes to traveling with an instrument. A con is that while it might be light, it’s still physically large to haul around.

Guitarlele

One final type of travel guitar you might consider isn’t technically a guitar at all – it’s a guitarlele! Technically speaking, the guitarlele is a hybrid instrument consisting of a guitar and a ukulele. We actually talked about these instruments briefly in our post on types of ukuleles.

A guitarlele is a six-string ukulele. It’s actually the same size as a larger baritone ukulele but it plays more like a guitar with a wider fretboard and more strings. Basically, you get the six strings of an acoustic fit into the chassis (to borrow a car term) of a baritone ukulele.

In terms of tuning, the guitarlele is tuned to A-D-G-C-E-A (or a 4th up). This is the same as a regular guitar with a capo on the 5th fret. This means you can play the same acoustic guitar chord fingerings on it… they just sound higher (they are pitched up).

An obvious pro to the guitarlele is that it’s small and more compact to play and travel with. It’s good for people with smaller hands and/or people who want an instrument with a full body to create a nice round. If this interests you, check out the Kmise Guitarlele or Yamaha GL1 Guitarlele.

A con is that it’s not actually a guitar and usually has nylon strings on it. Depending on the guitarlele you get, you may be able to swap them out for steel strings to mimic more of an acoustic guitar tone.

3 Benefits Of Using A Travel Guitar

There are a number of benefits of owning and playing a travel size guitar. Below, you’ll find them outlined and explained in detail. This way, if you are on the fence about buying a travel guitar, you can gather all the necessary information to help you decide.

Compact Size/Weight

An obvious first benefit of having a travel guitar is its smaller size and lighter overall weight. This makes it ideal for packing and taking with you if you are going hiking/camping or heading to the beach for the day.

As for the mode of transportation, the smaller travel guitars make traveling on an airplane easier since some of them fit inside an airplane overhead bin. Be sure to check with any individual airline you are flying with for the size and weight dimensions of their carry-on bags.

If you end up traveling by car, these smaller guitars are easy to pack among other items and don’t take up nearly as much room as a full-sized acoustic.

Durability

One element of any guitar intended for travel – besides the compactness – is its relative durability. Short of slamming the guitar against a surface or object, you can expect most travel guitars to hold up against a little more wear and tear.

Some guitars above are made of carbon fiber while others are made from a combination of other materials. Guitars with composite material bodies and necks are meant to be even more durable but every material has its breaking point/temperature.

You can find some guitars with a mix of wood and HPL (high pressure laminate) which is a more durable material that still resonates well and has a nice tone. Compared to solid wood, HPL is generally stronger and less susceptible to dings and dents while still being a lighter material overall.

Affordability

The last benefit to buying a travel guitar is that – generally speaking – they can be priced lower than most full-sized acoustic or electric guitars. This is usually because some travel guitars are just 3/4 the size.

A smaller price tag also makes a travel guitar a good secondary guitar in your guitar arsenal. It can do the heavy lifting and traveling while your more expensive, primary guitar, gets played at other times.

That said, a Taylor GS Mini (shown above) isn’t “cheap” by any means. With a higher price tag, that particular guitar would be more of an investment. However, for that price, you get an excellent quality travel guitar with great sound quality from a top acoustic guitar maker!

5 Things To Consider In A Good Travel Guitar

There are a few different styles of travel guitar – and numerous different models within a style – to choose from. However, there are a few key things you should look for/consider when buying a travel guitar.

Overall Function/Size

When buying any kind of travel guitar, the function of the guitar is pretty important. Every guitar is going to (hopefully) be able to play music and allow you to play on the road. However, does the overall function of the guitar work for you?

Just because a backpacking guitar collapses into a small case the size of a flute – doesn’t mean you have to buy it. If you prefer a fuller-bodied but smaller 3/4 guitar because that’s what you’re used to then go for it.

If you want a smaller travel guitar that you can take camping to entertain friends, then don’t grab a 3/4 guitar when a more compact Washburn Rover or the Martin Steel String Backpacker might work best.

Along with the concept of function is practicality. Does this guitar work for you based on where you are taking it? Are you planning a road trip or are you taking the collapsible guitar in your carry-on luggage on an airplane?

Are you going on a multi-day canoe trip with the travel guitar? These scenarios for usage are important to consider when you pick a travel guitar for you.

Body Shape

Related to function, the overall shape of the guitar is something to consider in a good travel guitar. The actual shape of the body – whether a classic figure-8 or a minimalist guitar body – will affect both the sound quality and the way you hold/play the guitar.

Sound quality is something that you can always try to modify with different strings. However, how comfortable you feel playing the guitar is something that is hard to change once you buy the guitar. Some people don’t love the Martin Backpacker because it’s too odd of a shape for them.

For others, the weight, shape, and feel of the LAVA ME 2 is strange. It really comes down to personal preference, previous playing experience, and your ability to be open-minded and potentially adapt to something different.

Overall, the body shape affects the likeability of the guitar. This is critical. If it’s awkward for you to play, you’re not going to pick up that guitar over other guitars to jam on (given the option).

Materials

When buying a good travel guitar, you’ll want to have a think about the materials used in the construction of the guitar.

Of course, strength and durability are important – but travel guitars also need to balance this need for durability with the ability to still have good intonation and nice overall sound quality.

Some guitars are made from denser, composite materials like high pressure laminate (HPL) which can take more scratches and bumps over its lifespan compared to solid tone wood. However, these “less than wood” materials can affect sound quality.

On the other end of the spectrum, the LAVA ME 2 is made from a carbon fiber material that is super durable and even waterproof. However, this material can produce a duller, more flat sound when you play (compared to all wood).

If you really care about sound quality (see below), there are some really nice 3/4 guitars with excellent sound quality. Some of these guitars have a healthy mix of all worlds with a laminate back and sides for more durability but a solid wood top which helps the guitar to sing a bit brighter.

Sound Quality

Speaking of sound quality, it’s an important aspect to consider when buying a travel guitar. We mentioned body materials and how they affect sound quality so you need to consider that.

You can modify the sound – to a degree – with your choice of strings but overall the sound of the travel guitar isn’t going to change that much.

Again, there are some really good travel guitars with good sound quality. Travel guitars might not “sing” as beautifully as a full-bodied acoustic but you’re going to find some excellent tones coming off of these smaller guitars.

Another aspect to sound is whether you want an acoustic or electric travel guitar. Many models give the option for both – so they are acoustic-electric.

However, if you are backpacking in the woods, the ability to plug into an amp is highly unlikely so you can’t really rely on the fact that you can plug in as a potential fix to your sound quality and/or volume.

Price/Quality

Last, but certainly not least, the price of the travel guitar should be a buying consideration. To a degree, the overall price can be something that dictates which travel guitars are better than others. Price is often an indicator of overall quality – but not always.

That said, you don’t necessarily need to go out and spend just shy of $1000 on a travel guitar. You can find some excellent, well-built, nice-sounding travel guitars by guitar brands – usually top acoustic brands – that you can trust for a few hundred dollars.

Like with any guitar purchase, you might look at them as an investment. Sure, a cheap travel guitar might be more affordable in the beginning… and it might work well for a while.

But if the quality doesn’t hold up, you can run into a number of problems like poor intonation and even structural issues. Replacing or repairing this guitar is money you could have put into a better travel guitar in the first place!

And there you have it – a rundown of some of the best travel guitars out there today. In the end, there are a number of other really good travel guitars that might suit your needs.

This article was intended to bring together some of the best so you can get a solid understanding of the travel guitar options, styles, and prices. Enjoy whichever guitar you choose to hit the road with!

As always, Happy Strumming,

-E