Top Budget 3/4 Sized, Parlor And Travel Acoustic Guitars

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Last Updated: May-05-2017
As one of the most innovative categories, weve made some changes to our chart of the best travel acoustic guitars. Weve removed several dated models such as the Oscar Schmidt O315 and the Eastman E10P Parlor, replacing them with two excellent acoustics from Traveler Guitar(the AG-200EQ and the Ultra-Light), the super value Washburn Rover, the wonderful silent Yamaha SLG200S, and the stylish little Dean Flight Series Bubinga.

When picking one out you need to figure out what your needs are. Are you looking for an instrument to take to places you wouldn’t take you favorite guitar? Are you looking for something to take up as little room as possible? Or, are you looking for something just to take along that you can practice on? Maybe you need a combination of the above. We’ll show you some examples to help you figure out what’s best for you.

Top 12 Best Travel Guitars:

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Acoustic Electric
Summary
User Rating
Traveler Guitar AG-200EQ
Traveler Guitar AG-200EQ
A stylish travel-friendly electro-acoustic from Traveler Guitar – great quality.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Yamaha SLG200S Silent
Yamaha SLG200S Silent
Yamaha’s silent travel guitar offers the full acoustic experience.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Washburn Rover
Washburn Rover
Great value for an incredibly portable guitar with a full-sized neck.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light
Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light
Portable, robust and light – a wise choice for guitarists on the move.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar
Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar
Featuring a highly distinctive and compact oar-shaped body.
4.8 Stars
Total of 4.8/5
Dean Flight Series Bubinga
Dean Flight Series Bubinga
A solid entry from Dean’s Flight Series, with great style and tone.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top
Highly distinctive and highly affordable guitar.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Fender CP-100
Fender CP-100
One of the best inexpensive travel guitars on the market.
4.7 Stars
Total of 4.7/5
Yamaha JR1
Yamaha JR1
The tone is loud and clear.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5
Baby Taylor BT2
Baby Taylor BT2
Classic dreadnought body curves in a small package.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
Martin LXK2
Martin LXK2
A great guitar from a great builder.
4.5 Stars
Total of 4.5/5
Martin LXM
Martin LXM
Great travel sized guitar with a sound that is hard to beat.
4.6 Stars
Total of 4.6/5

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

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.5 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

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

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

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.


Washburn Rover

Washburn Rover

Body&Neck:4.6 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

The Larrivee P-03 is without a doubt one of the best sounding acoustic guitars on today’s market. It sports high-end components, stellar sound, and excellent build quality. If you are after clarity and rich frequencies across the entire sonic spectrum, then this is the one for you. The all solid wood construction features a Canadian Sitka Spruce top and Indian Rosewood back and sides. An ebony fingerboard is laid across a smooth and very playable mahogany neck. Ebony is also used in the bridge and for an overlay on the headstock. Modern touches on this turn-of-the-century design include enclosed chrome tuners, and the option of adding electronics.


Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light

Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light

Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.3 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

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.


Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar

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Body&Neck:5 Stars
Hardware:4.6 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.8 Stars

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.


Dean Flight Series Bubinga

Dean Flight Series Bubinga

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

For a travel-friendly guitar with a warm, full sound that doesn’t break the bank, the affordable Dean Flight Series Bubinga is a worthwhile contender. With a compact, 3/4 size non-cutaway body (22” scale length), the guitar sports an attractive satin-finished bubinga top, with mahogany back and sides, resulting in an eye-catching little instrument. This is complemented by some cool Dean decoration such as the iconic winged headstock and a stylish rosette. The C-shaped set mahogany neck is comfortable, and features a rosewood fretboard and 19 frets. Hardware includes sealed chrome die-cast tuners, a solid rosewood bridge, and a gig bag. Be sure to check out our full review of the Dean Flight Bubinga for all the details on this awesome little guitar.


Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

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Body&Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

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.


Fender CP-100

Fender-CP-100-300x300

Body&Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars
Average:4.7 Stars

The Fender CP-100 is an affordable travel guitar from a respected builder. It has a laminate spruce top with laminate mahogany back and sides. The neck is also mahogany with a rosewood fingerboard. The neck joins the body at the 14th fret, which open up a bit more access to the higher strings than most parlor sized guitars. The neck has a dual action truss rod, pearl dot inlays, 305mm (12”) radius, and 20 frets. The nut and compensated saddle are synthetic material made by Graph Tech. The bridge is made of rosewood. A great choice for the player wanting the travel sized instrument with a warmer voice and very good projection.


Yamaha JR1

Yamaha JR1

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars
Average:4.6 Stars

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.


Baby Taylor BT2

Baby Taylor BT2

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.4 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

The BT2 is a very durable pick that will be with you for many years. The Baby Taylor offers a nice, clean, and loud sound despite its smaller size. The guitar is very responsive and it is really fun to play. The mini-dreadnaught style body of the Baby is curved to give it a special and more attractive look that will separate it from any other travel competitor. The top is tropical mahogany with sapele back and sides. The fingerboard is ebony which gives it even more style. This is a small guitar with a big sound and great playability. There is even a gig bag included with the guitar making even more ready to hit the road.


Martin LXK2

Martin LXK2

Body&Neck:4.5 Stars
Hardware:4.3 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.4 Stars
Average:4.5 Stars

The Martin LXK2 has a high level of craftsmanship that you would expect from Martin. It has beautiful lines and is made with Earth friendly techniques and materials. The voice of the instrument is just as pretty as it looks. The Koa laminate top is sure to get as many compliments as the tone that projects from this smaller scale guitar. The natural birch laminate neck is both rigid and very playable. The herringbone ink rosette is a touch of class on an already beautiful instrument. The chrome enclosed tuners are very solid and keep the LXK2 in tune no matter how hard you play. It is all ready to get out of the house with the included gig bag.


Martin LXM

Martin LXM

Body&Neck:4.3 Stars
Hardware:4.5 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.3 Stars
Average:4.4 Stars

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 should the best travel guitar have?

There are a few key factors that you should always consider when you are comparing different brands, models, price tags, sounds, and so on. Above all, you want a compact size. The 3/4 acoustic guitars are quite common for starters, people with small hands, and women, but they are also proven to be a great choice for an instrument to have with you on the go. Keep in mind that not all 3/4 size guitars are appropriate for traveling, and all the other adventures that you will go through with them.

Take the Art & Lutherie Ami for example, which is present in our best acoustic guitars under $500 list. This is a small sized parlor guitar that is everything, but a travel solution. It is built with quality materials, but you don’t want to subject such a beautiful instrument to harsh conditions. For a smaller amount of money you can get a durable little monster that might not sound as good as the Ami, but will survive your travels.

The next thing you want is a loud sound projecting from your guitar. Playing by the campfire, surrounded by people telling stories, laughing and enjoying the day or night might be useless if you are the only one hearing the music. Be ready to sacrifice quality for volume. The third most important factor is the price, spending anything over $300-$400 for a travel guitar makes no sense when a $100 guitar will do the job.

Conclusion

A lot of people will probably disagree with what they saw in our list, but we are standing firm behind our ratings as all of the models above are tested and proven to do a great job. There are a lot of other travel guitars that are available, and we will review more of them in the near future. But do not expect drastic changes in our top 5. Yes, we are aware that there are some outstanding parlor guitars priced over $1000, but we have no plans to review them, if you are interested in such instrument the Parlor Guitars roundup article is a great place to start.

Most of the time your travel guitar will end up damaged by the atmospheric conditions, or get miss placed. If you want to save yourself from all the trouble of constantly thinking how to protect your guitar, go with a less expensive instrument.

These are most of the important things that you should consider carefully. After reviewing your options you will have a pretty clear picture of what guitar will work best for you. Just like with every musical instrument, a different brand and type are suitable for different types of music and playing styles; travel guitars are no exception to this general rule. Play as many as possible to figure out what works best for you.