10 Best Travel Guitars For The Road

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Last Updated: Nov-09-2018
Since our last refresh, a few travel-friendly models had fallen out of production and were no longer readily available. We therefore removed acoustics such as the Dean Flight Series Bubinga and the Fender CP-100, and replaced them with the innovative Voyage-Air VAOM-02 and the cute nylon-stringed Cordoba Mini O.

Traveling the world? Good for you! But if you’re a true guitarist, you aren’t going to want to hop from country to country without a trusty axe by your side. But please… make your life easier – leave your $5,000 solid-wood Martin at home, and pick up a dedicated travel guitar instead.

As you’re about to see, there’s no one-size-fits-all travel guitar. You could use a smaller version of a full-size guitar, such as a parlor or a 3/4 size; you could use a full-size guitar where the neck folds in half (yes, they do exist!); or you could use a travel-dedicated guitar which, truth be told, don’t really look like guitars in the first place!

Whether you’re off on a six-month global voyage, or just heading to a different state for the weekend, check out the following chart of travel acoustics, which will give you a good idea of what’s worth taking with you on your next trip.

Top 10 Best Travel Guitars:

ImageAcoustic Guitar / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Traveler Guitar AG-200EQ Traveler Guitar AG-200EQ

Total of 4.70/5  

A stylish travel-friendly electro-acoustic from Traveler Guitar – great quality.

+ - Yamaha SLG200S Silent Yamaha SLG200S Silent

Total of 4.70/5  

Yamaha’s silent travel guitar offers the full acoustic experience.

+ - Voyage-Air VAOM-02 Voyage-Air VAOM-02

Total of 4.72/5  

Finally – full-size tone and playing experience wherever you go!

+ - Cordoba Mini O Cordoba Mini O

Total of 4.70/5  

A cute and compact Cordoba classical that’s perfect on the road.

+ - Martin Steel String Backpacker Martin Steel String Backpacker

Total of 4.82/5  

Featuring a highly distinctive and compact oar-shaped body.

+ - Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light

Total of 4.60/5  

Portable, robust and light – a wise choice for guitarists on the move.

+ - Washburn Rover Washburn Rover

Total of 4.65/5  

Great value for an incredibly portable guitar with a full-sized neck.

+ - Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Total of 4.67/5  

Highly distinctive and highly affordable guitar.

+ - Yamaha JR1 Yamaha JR1

Total of 4.57/5  

A small scale Yamaha with a big voice.

+ - Martin LXM Martin LXM

Total of 4.42/5  

Great travel sized guitar with a sound that is hard to beat.

First, let’s discuss some of the things you need to consider. Keep an eye on your budget. Any guitar that you take out of your house is going to be subject to damage or loss. How much can you afford to lose, or how much are you willing to pay to replace it? A cheap guitar is not necessarily the answer, but it is an option.

Next, the size of the guitar will matter how much space it will take up, but it also effects playability and the sound it produces. A parlor style instrument has a certain sound and vibe that may not be to your liking.

It might tick the boxes of the right price point and the right size, but you have to make a connection to the instrument. It doesn’t matter if it travels well, if you don’t like the guitar you won’t be playing it.

The guitars we have listed will answer some of these needs, but none of them answer them all. We hope to help you narrow your choices down to get the best travel guitar for you. We have links to our more in depth reviews to let you have the best information to make an educated decision.

Traveler Guitar AG-200EQ

Traveler Guitar AG-200EQ

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The Californian-based company Traveler Guitar produce a huge range of travel-friendly guitars, including this excellent AG-200EQ, which has the style and sound of an acoustic guitar in a neat little package.

With an included padded gig bag, the AG-200EQ features a full-size 25.5” scale length glossy black body made from solid spruce on the top, with mahogany back and sides. The neck is also mahogany, and features an ebonized rosewood fretboard with 20 jumbo frets.

With no headstock, the guitar opts for knurled tuning knobs instead of conventional tuners. It sounds pretty decent acoustically, although plugged in – via the Shadow preamp and pickup – it really shines. Make sure to check out our complete review of the AG-200EQ.

Yamaha SLG200S Silent

Yamaha SLG200S Silent

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The Yamaha SLG200S has a unique twist – it’s silent! One of the more expensive models in our chart, this steel-string electro-acoustic is made with a detachable maple and rosewood frame with a solid mahogany body that extends from the satin-finished mahogany neck.

The guitar feels very light but comfortable to play, with a generous single cutaway allowing good access to the 22 frets that sit on the rosewood fretboard.

As we highlight in our full review of the Yamaha SLG200S, it’s voiced by an SRT Powered preamp system with an undersaddle pickup, and features versatile controls including a built-in effects rotary control, with reverb and chorus. Sounds great through an acoustic amp or – with the built in headphone socket – played quietly to yourself.

Voyage-Air VAOM-02

Voyage-Air VAOM-02

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Unlike the others on this list, here we have a full-size 25.5” scale length guitar. Why is it travel-friendly? Because this innovative acoustic from Voyage-Air folds via a patented hinge at the 14th fret, allowing it to double over into half its size.

Slipped into the included padded travel case, it’s a very convenient way to transport a full-size guitar. The VAOM-02 features a non-cutaway OM body style which looks great with laminate select spruce on the top, and laminate mahogany back, sides and neck.

As for tone, it beats the majority of others on this list, with a big, robust projection and nicely balanced sound. Check out the full VAOM-02 review for all the details.

Cordoba Mini O

Cordoba Mini O

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Cordoba’s Mini O is out to prove that classical guitars can travel just as well as their steel-string brothers! The Mini O sports a compact body made entirely of ovangkol – solid on the top and laminated on the back and sides.

With a length of just over 30”, the mahogany neck is near full-size and very playable, retaining a 1.96” nut width, with a rosewood fretboard and full 18 frets. As mentioned in the complete Mini O review, the guitar is a little quiet in projection, but the warm tone is more than ample for practice and small performances.

Throw in a cool padded gig bag, and the Mini O proves an excellent travel partner for the classical guitarist on the move.

Martin Steel String Backpacker

Martin Steel String Backpacker

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Featuring a highly distinctive oar-shaped body, the Martin Backpacker travel guitar was made to be ergonomic, convenient, and easy to hit the open road with. The Backpacker comes from the legendary builders at Martin who have been building amazing instruments for over a hundred years.

The Backpacker sacrifices tone so that it can be more portable. Think of the Backpacker as a traveling fretboard to keep your fingers limber while you are away from home.

There are only fifteen frets on the select hardwood neck with a scale length of 24”. Martin’s building techniques and alternate materials are used to make a more forest friendly instrument. It also comes available in a nylon string version.

Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light

Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light

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Another Traveler Guitar model on our list, the Ultra-Light electro-acoustic is a little more affordable than the AG-200EQ. With three color choices and a full-size scale length of 24.75”, the body and neck are made from a single piece of solid Eastern American hard maple, with a smooth satin-finish.

The neck includes an ebonized rosewood fretboard and 22 medium frets. At only 28” long and around 2lbs in weight, this acoustic is incredibly light and portable. With a detachable lap frame it’s also very comfortable to play with.

Other hardware includes good quality chrome tuners, a gig bag, and a piezo pickup which offers the guitar a voice. Check out our full review of the Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light for all the details.

Washburn Rover

Washburn Rover

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With a backpack-friendly body, a full-size neck, and sub-$200 price tag, the Washburn Rover is a real steal. It features a unique and robust little body that’s easy to store anywhere, and is comprised of a solid spruce top, and mahogany back and sides.

With a 24” scale length, the steel-stringed Rover features a satin-finished mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard and 17 full frets, with three extra on the treble side. As for hardware, the guitar is fitted with a solid rosewood bridge, chrome die-cast tuners, and D’Addario strings.

As we mention in the full review of the Washburn Rover, it comes shipped with a robust foam-lined softshell case, a strap and picks. Great value!

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

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A highly distinctive and affordable guitar with a characteristic mid-range punch and twang. The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is a steel string parlor guitar with prewar roots. The body is made from all laminate agathis, which sounds like pine without that wood’s poor aging qualities.

The neck is mahogany with an 18 fret rosewood fingerboard. The tuning machines are nickel plated open-back geared tuners with white plastic buttons. It has a rosewood top-loading bridge with compensated PPS saddle.

The finish and painted accents are not the best, but it has a vintage sound that truly sings when fingerpicked. Definitely worth your consideration when looking for a travel guitar.

Yamaha JR1

Yamaha JR1

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This travel sized masterpiece by Yamaha has a loud and clear voice. It is modeled after the company’s very successful FG series, but in a smaller package. The Yamaha JR1 is a shorter scale length folk guitar.

This is a well built and durable instrument that can withstand the trials of the miles. It has a spruce top with meranti back and sides. The neck is made of nato, which has similar tonal characteristics to mahogany.

The fingerboard and bridge are both made of rosewood. It is a great beginner’s instrument with its smaller size and solid construction. If you want a travel companion you could do much worse than the JR1.

Martin LXM

Martin LXM

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This is one of the best travel guitars that you can find on the market today. The difference between this one and the LKX2 are the tonewoods that were used for crafting them.

The Martin LXM comes with a spruce top and mahogany side (all laminated, of course). The LXM also uses the same forest friendly materials that are the trademark of Martins in this price range.

A soft gig bag is included in the price of the guitar making it even more travel worthy. This Martin seems to be more appropriate for contemporary music and blues. The LXM is a solid choice with classic looks, and she deserves your attention.

What is a Travel Guitar?

A travel guitar could technically be a full-size Jumbo model, providing you are happy to take a huge guitar like that on the road, train or plane. However, when most people discuss travel guitars, they are talking about those that are specifically designed for quick and easy transportation.

As some of the models on our chart will have shown, travel guitars come in all shapes and sizes. They could be as simple as a 3/4 or 1/2-sized guitar, which retains a full (albeit smaller) real wood tone. Travel guitars could be a full-size guitar that fold at the neck, offering full-size playability and tone but with the convenience of being able to fold the guitar in half! Or they could look like the Traveler collection, which are a little alien in design, but ultra-convenient to take along on your travels.

What Should the Best Travel Guitar Have?

There are a few key factors that you should consider when comparing different brands and models of travel guitar. Above all, you want something with a compact size. Travelling with a full-size dreadnought is all well and good for tone, but try maneuvering it along an airplane aisle or through a crowded train and you will soon be longing for something smaller.

Of course, you will also want something that looks good and is built with quality materials, although you don’t want something that is so precious you feel scared to take it on the road with you. Thankfully most travel-dedicated guitars are robust in their build, capable of taking a few bumps.

Talking about materials, solid wood isn’t so important when it comes to travel guitars as solid wood is not as resistant to temperature and climate changes as a laminate. If you still want the tonal benefits of solid wood, choose something with solid wood on the top but laminated back and sides.

As for tone and projection, the smaller you go, the quieter the guitar tends to be. It will depend on whether you are travelling with a guitar for practice or performance. If you are looking for something to impress with on a street corner or in a coffee house, a full-size guitar that folds – or a small acoustic with a pickup and preamp system – is vital.

If you are just wanting something with which to strum on the beach or noodle with in your hotel room, you can be more flexible. In that case, choosing a small guitar or silent guitar is a smart choice.

Finally, consider the price. You don’t want to spend too much on a guitar that is more susceptible to being lost, stolen or damaged. Unless you are a professional musician or a gigging artist, travelling with an expensive guitar is silly when travel guitars exist at around $100 to $400. If something bad happened to it (God forbid!), it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The Final Word

There we have it – a selection of ten excellent travel models ranging in sizes, styles and price categories. We hope this article has given you a little inspiration, whether you are buying or just browsing.

A full-size folding guitar is very different in terms of tone and playability compared to a Baby Taylor, which is as different from an ultra-portable Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light. So be sure to try as many models as you can and figure out what works best for you.

Good luck with your new axe on the road!


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Comments

    • All of the listed guitars are great choice and are great bang for your buck. Pick what you like and that suits your budget and you can hardly go wrong with your choice!

  1. I would like to buy a pocket guitar for my husband he is a beginner, teaching himself for a year now. What would you recommend

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