7 Best Travel Guitars to Bring on the Road (2024)

Best travel guitar

Being a guitarist and having the travel bug don’t often mix. In fact, traveling with a guitar, especially by air, can be a bit of a nightmare. Luckily for you, travel guitars exist, and if you invest in a good one, these portable instruments may not sound much different than a standard guitar!

In this post, I’ve selected 7 of the best travel guitars. From small portable acoustic to creative electric counterparts, this list will cover all your needs.

Best Travel Guitars 2024

  • Taylor GS-mini Mahogany
  • Martin Backpacker
  • Taylor BT2 Baby
  • Donner HUSH-I
  • Traveler Travelcaster Deluxe
  • Traveler Escape MKIII Mahogany
  • Blackstar Carry-On Travel Guitar ST

1. Taylor GS-mini Mahogany (Best overall)

Taylor GS Mini Mahogany GS Mini Acoustic...
  • "Body Body type: Taylor Grand Symphony Mini Cutaway: No Top wood:...
  • "There's something undeniably inviting about the Taylor GS Mini's...
  • That mix of portability and musicality has proven to be a winning...
  • It's not too big, it's not too precious, and it's not too expensive

Specs

  • Top: Tropical Mahogany
  • Body: Layered Sapele
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Length: 17.8 inches
  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • # of frets: 20

What’s great

  • Fits perfectly in any car, subway, or plane overhead.
  • The GS-mini has a big sound for its size, giving you that big guitar feel without the bulk. 
  • I loved its slim and comfy neck design, which gave me a smooth playing experience.
  • Consists of ES-B, a built-in digital tuner, and easy-to-use tone and volume controls, so you get effortless sound shaping at your fingertips.
  • Every GS Mini comes with a gig bag for worry-free travel. 

What’s not so great

  • Due to its smaller size, it may lack projection in larger settings.
  • The GS-mini has a relatively higher cost.
  • I wasn’t impressed with its low-end, which sounded limited compared to larger guitars. Its smaller soundhole is also to blame for that. 
  • It may struggle to compete with louder instruments in a band setting.

Sound

The GS-mini’s sound is impressive. The mahogany top and layered Sapele back and sides create a warm and full tone. Strumming or fingerpicking it delivers a surprisingly rich sound. It’s not the loudest guitar, but it packs a punch, making it suitable for various playing styles and settings.

Size/Portability

At just over 36″, it’s compact and travel-friendly. It fits easily in overhead compartments and is great for road trips or plane rides. It’s not a folding guitar, but its smaller size makes it a convenient choice for musicians on the go.

Price

In terms of cost, the GS-mini is relatively expensive, but it offers good value for a Taylor guitar. It’s not overly expensive, considering the quality of materials and craftsmanship.

Durability

This Taylor travel guitar is pretty sturdy. That said, being a standard acoustic, you will have to be pretty careful with it. It should hold up fairly well to the wear and tear of travel, but it may get some scratches and dents.

Should you buy it?

If you can afford to spend about $700 on a traveling guitar, by all means, you should go for it, as you get the Taylor brand assurance, along with a good sound for a small and portable guitar.

2. Martin Backpacker (Best for volume/loudness)

Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel...
  • Solid Spruce Top
  • Solid Tonewood Back and Sides
  • Unique Contour Neck Shape
  • Features 24-Inch Scale Length

Specs

  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Hardwood 
  • Length: 24 inches
  • Weight: 5.15 lbs
  • # of frets: 15

What’s great

  • The guitar is exceptionally compact. Martin did a good job of designing a portable guitar without making it ugly.
  • Despite its small size, the guitar produces a good sound. It’s somewhere in between a banjo and a guitar in terms of tone.

What’s not so great

  • The lack of a body makes the guitar awkward to play, and the imbalance between the heavier neck and the absent body requires additional effort to hold up with the left hand.
  • This travel guitar only features 15 frets.
  • The sound of the Martin Backpacker does not meet the standards associated with the Martin brand. The design is a potential cause of the less-than-great sound, described as both a blessing and a curse.

Sound

I can vouch for the Martin Backpacker’s impressive volume, but I noticed a minor trade-off in bass resonance, giving it a brighter “tinny” tone. It might not perfectly match the classic Martin sound, but it is something worth considering if you have specific expectations.

Size/Portability

This is the best travel guitar for those who want something lightweight and easy to take on the move. One of its standout features is its slender and elongated body, making it lightweight, compact, and super easy to carry on a plane. This is my go-to choice for plane travel. 

Durability

Due to the size and sturdy build of this Martin travel guitar, it scores highly by me in terms of durability. The thinner body makes it less likely to get dinged up when in transit and will withstand most small drops.

Price

The Martin Backpacker travel guitar is priced at $300, which is a great price for what you get. You can certainly find cheaper options, but they won’t sound as good or be as easy to travel with as this guitar.

Want more budget guitar recommendations? Head over to my list of the best cheap acoustic guitars.

Should you buy it?

If portability and volume are your top priorities, the Martin Backpacker could be a solid choice. Its look and feel are very unusual compared to the guitars you must be used to playing, but overall, it’s designed for traveling purposes only.

3. Taylor BT2 Baby (Best overall sound)

Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor Acoustic Guitar,...
  • 6-string Acoustic Guitar with Mahogany Top
  • Layered Sapele Back
  • Sides - Natural
  • Neck Width 1-11/16 inch

Specs

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Back: Sapele
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Length: 38 inches
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs
  • # of frets: 19

What’s great

  • The Taylor BT2 has a high-quality sound, with little noticeable sonic difference from a standard-size guitar.
  • Weighing in at just over 4 lbs. and measuring 38 inches in length, the Baby Taylor is highly portable.
  • Despite its smaller size, the Baby Taylor delivers a remarkably rich sound that surpassed my expectations.

What’s not so great

  • I found issues with the guitar staying in tune, requiring frequent tuning adjustments.
  • It is a bit more expensive than other options.

Sound

Despite its size, the Baby Taylor produces a surprisingly loud sound, making it suitable for acoustic jam sessions and travel. Overall, it offers a wonderful balance of volume, brightness, and clarity. Open chords may sound a bit muddy, but barre chords and riffing sound very clear.

Size/Portability

The guitar’s weight of under 5 lbs and its short length makes it ideal for travel. Its compact size ensures ease of transportation, making it a favorable choice for musicians on the move.

Durability

Mahagony is an extremely durable wood that can withstand most general wear and tear. Although hollow, this Taylor guitar is pretty tough and will hold up well as a carry-on for flights and other travel situations.

Price

The Taylor BT2 Baby is priced at $449, which is a pretty reasonable cost for a guitar of its quality, comfort, and portability. That said, there are cheaper options out there if you are looking for a budget travel guitar.

Head over to my guide on the best guitars for less than $500 for more recommendations.

Should you buy it?

If you prioritize comfort, portability, and a rich sound, the Taylor BT2 Baby is a perfect choice. Its compact size and impressive tonal qualities make it suitable for both beginners and experienced players. 

However, you must be aware of reported tuning stability issues and consider whether the aesthetics meet their expectations.

4. Donner HUSH-I (Best budget travel guitar)

Sale
Donner HUSH-I Guitar For Travel -...
  • [Best Partner for Travel] - Donner HUSH portable guitar is as...
  • [Practice Anytime, Anywhere] - Ultra-quiet -30-45dB LEVEL pizzicato...
  • [Superior Sound Quality] - The ideal practice guitar is equipped with...
  • [Make Practice More Comfortable] - The HUSH travel acoustic guitar has...

Specs

  • Body: Maple
  • Neck: Maple
  • Length: 33.5 inches
  • Weight: 7.3 lbs
  • # of frets: 21

What’s great

  • Ultra-quiet -30-45dB level pizzicato playing, suitable for silent practice with natural-sounding acoustic tones through headphones.
  • Powered by a 9V battery, providing 50 hours of headphone usage or 30 days of 6.35 speaker usage.
  • Anti-phase button for noise reduction, 2-stage EQ, and volume knobs for customized tones.
  • Neck design offers better performance and reduced wrist fatigue.

What’s not so great

  • HUSH-I’s asymmetrical neck design may not be for everyone.
  • I noticed some scratchiness and static using the aux input.

Sound

The Donner HUSH-I pleasantly surprised me with its tonal versatility. The clean tones are crisp and articulate, while pushing it into overdrive yields a satisfying crunch without compromising clarity. 

The dynamics are noteworthy, responding well to nuances in playing style. What’s impressive is that it maintains a quality sound even at higher volumes, making it suitable for various musical genres. 

While not equivalent to a high-end traditional guitar, the sound quality certainly exceeds expectations, given it is a low-cost travel guitar.

Size/Portability

Here’s where the HUSH-I truly shines. Designed for travel, it is lightweight and fits in an airplane overhead bin with a compact gig bag.

Weighing in at just 7 pounds and measuring 33 inches in length, this guitar is designed for guitarists who are always on the move.

Durability

One issue with this guitar is the build quality. The metal wires that surround the body are not the most durable and may eventually break or loosen over time. While it is a nice touch to include a removable frame, it compromises the durability.

Other than these frames, the guitar is pretty sturdy.

Price

The Donner HUSH-I strikes an excellent balance between cost and quality. It’s a budget-friendly option without skimping on the essentials. For musicians looking for a reliable travel guitar that won’t break the bank, this is a solid choice.

Should you buy it?

If you appreciate the harmonious mixture of sound quality, portability, and affordability in one guitar, then this definitely wins its place as an ideal companion.

From impressive tones to travel-friendly design and a price tag that won’t give you a headache, I highly recommend this guitar.

5. Traveler Travelcaster Deluxe (Best strat travel guitar)

Traveler Guitar Guitar 6 String...
  • Full 25 1/2" Scale Guitar
  • 5 lbs. 3 oz. And 33 3/4" long
  • 2-point fulcrum tremolo with steel saddles
  • Poplar Body, Maple neck and Fretboard with bone nut

Specs

  • Body: Poplar
  • Neck: Poplar
  • Length: 33.7 inches
  • Weight: 3.19 lbs
  • # of frets: 22

What’s great

  • The guitar has a travel-friendly design and is compact and lightweight.
  • The three single-coil pickups deliver a descent tone reminiscent of classic Stratocasters.
  • Maintains a comfortable 25 ½” scale length despite its compact size.
  • Comes with a quality padded gig bag for travel protection.

What’s not so great

  • The whammy bar and strings included with the travel guitar are not very good quality.
  • It does not have a very versatile sound.

Sound

The Traveler Guitar Travelcaster Deluxe has three pickups that provide classic electric guitar tones – think Texas blues or country twang. Even though it’s small, it doesn’t lose that inspiring sound you’d expect from a standard-sized guitar. 

While it’s great for travel and practice, I cannot vouch for its usability for recording and production, as the overall tones are not very versatile.

Size/Portability

This guitar is super light, just a bit over 3 pounds., and not too long at 33.75 inches. It’s perfect for fitting into your luggage or backpack. 

The gig bag it comes with is like a bodyguard for your guitar – it keeps it safe wherever you go. Thanks to its poplar body and maple neck, it’s comfortable to play with.

Durability

While the design may not look very tough, it is a surprisingly durable build. Essentially a Stratocaster body with 50% less wood, it is definitely strong enough to handle frequent travels.

Price

Travelcaster Deluxe, at a $300 price point, gives you a good deal. It’s not crazy expensive, and you won’t be far off from a full-size guitar experience. This is definitely the best electric travel guitar for the price on the market.

Should you buy it?

If you’re a musician on the move, the Travelcaster Deluxe could be your go-to companion. It’s ready to play right away. However, I suggest trying it out or listening to videos of other players before buying it to ensure you like the way it sounds.

6. Traveler Escape MKIII Mahogany (Best traveling acoustic guitar)

Traveler Guitar Acoustic Guitar 6 String...
  • Full 25 1/2” Scale acoustic/Electric travel guitar
  • Mahogany body with bolt-on Mahogany neck; natural finish
  • Custom Shadow preamp with headphone out and 1/8” aux-in
  • Built-in chromatic Tuner

Specs

  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Length: 29.5 inches
  • Weight: 4.38 lbs
  • # of frets: 22

What’s great

  • Has an innovative In-Body Tuning System.
  • Despite its size, it retains a full 25.5-inch scale.
  • Its mahogany body offers a warm, slightly muted tone with impressive sustain.

What’s not so great

  • Unlike some travel guitars, it doesn’t fold down, which may be a consideration if you want ultra-compactness.
  • It is a bit more expensive than some other travel guitars.

Sound

The Traveler Escape MKIII Mahogany is definitely a hidden gem in the guitar world. The mahogany body produces a warm and slightly muted tone that’s truly captivating. While it may not fill the room with booming volume, it still has a well-rounded tone that you can definitely use for practice or small gigs.

Size/Portability

The Traveler Escape MKIII may not fold like some travel guitars, but it’s a compact powerhouse. Despite its smaller size, the full 25.5-inch scale ensures a playing experience comparable to a standard guitar.

The absence of a headstock, thanks to the In-Body Tuning System, makes it 26% shorter and 47% thinner than a typical acoustic. Remarkably, it fits seamlessly into overhead compartments on flights.

Durability

This travel guitar is a tough, travel-friendly answer to a standard acoustic. It is thinner, with less hollow space, so it is less likely to break or be crushed when traveling. The minimalism of the guitar essentially eliminates any unnecessary risks so that you can carry on with your travels worry-free!

Price

While it may not be the most budget-friendly option, the mahogany build and innovative design justify the cost. It’s a unique instrument that stands out in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. 

The inclusion of a deluxe gig bag enhances the overall value, making it a purchase that pays dividends in quality and style.

Should you buy it?

MKIII Mahogany’s distinctive sound may not appeal to everyone, but if you like how it sounds, go for it! If you appreciate uniqueness and want an instrument that commands attention, this is one of the best traveling acoustic guitars out there.

7. Blackstar Carry-On Travel Guitar ST (Best electric travel guitar)

Blackstar Amplification Carry-On Travel...
  • Perfect Companion: The Blackstar CarryOn is the perfect companion for...
  • Essential Travel Item: CarryOn is an essential travel item for all...
  • Portable Size: Using 12-54 gauge strings, this guitar has the feel of...
  • Construction: The body is built from a single piece of Okoume and...

Specs

  • Body: Poplar
  • Neck: Maple
  • Length: 20.7 inches
  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • # of frets: 18

What’s great

  • Blackstar Carry-On ST has a small yet durable construction.
  • With beautiful aesthetics, especially the blue and yellow versions, this guitar looks pleasing to the eyes.
  • Despite its compact size, this petite guitar has impressive sound quality and remarkable versatility.
  • Carry-On ST has a stable tuner and is suitable for doodling, composing, and practicing songs for longer periods.

What’s not so great 

  • It doesn’t come with a gig bag.

Sound

Despite being on the smaller side, the Blackstar Carry-On packs a punch. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sound. It’s got this balanced tone that you wouldn’t expect from a travel guitar. 

Overall, it has versatile sonics! Whether you’re into strumming or picking, it’s got your back.

Size/Portability

Blackstar designed this guitar with the traveler in mind, making it compact enough to fit into those tight spaces and easy to carry around.

The build quality is solid, which is great for anyone who wants to bring an electric guitar with them on vacay. Plus, it’s quite fun and comfortable playing it, with its neck and fretboard being comfortable and light. 

Durability

Despite the affordability of this travel guitar, it is quite sturdy. I don’t really have any complaints in terms of build quality.

Price

This Blackstar travel guitar is priced quite reasonably. For under $200, you get a good return.

Should you buy it?

In a nutshell, the Blackstar Carry-On Travel Guitar ST is a solid choice for musicians who are always on the go. It’s got the portability, the build, the playability, and the sound.

What makes a travel guitar good?

Think about it! Traveling is not the most convenient or comfortable activity to do. While you’re traveling, regular guitars can be quite a liability, as they are heavy and fragile.

So, having an instrument that is designed specifically for traveling is an excellent choice. When looking for the perfect travel guitar, here are some of the most important factors I considered.

Sound

Even though it’s smaller, a good travel guitar should still belt out a sweet sound. It might not be as booming as a big guitar, but it should be good enough for playing anywhere – from your room to the outdoors. Quality construction and materials also contribute significantly to the instrument’s sound.

Sound accounted for 25% of the total score.

Size/Portability

The size of a travel guitar is one of the most important features to consider. It should strike a balance between being compact enough for easy portability and large enough to provide a comfortable playing experience. Picture this: it’s small enough to carry easily but not so tiny that it’s awkward to play.

A well-designed travel guitar ensures that it is not too bulky, making it convenient for travel, yet retains a playable and ergonomic form.

Size/portability accounted for 25% of the total score.

Price

Affordability is also a key consideration, especially for those who see the travel guitar as a secondary instrument. It should provide value for money without compromising on essential features. Your choice must be such that you get a great deal without skimping on quality.

Price accounted for 25% of the total score.

Durability

Since travel involves various environmental conditions and handling, a good travel guitar should be built to endure these challenges. Sturdy construction and reliable materials ensure that the instrument remains in good condition despite the rigors of travel.

Durability accounted for 25% of the total score.

A good quality travel guitar is a real treat for any guitarist. Check out my list of the best gifts for guitar players if you want more tips.

Final tips for buying travel guitars

Here are a few additional things to consider when searching for the best travel guitar.

Try Before You Buy

Test the guitar firsthand and strum a few chords to feel its vibe. Make sure it’s comfortable and resonates well with your style. I suggest you make this purchase offline or at least visit the store and try different options, and then go for the best deal, whether online or offline.

Stick to Trusted Brands

Opt for brands with a solid rep. Check online reviews and go for those known for quality instruments. A trusted brand often ensures a better musical journey.

Explore Your Options

Don’t settle too quickly. Explore different models and brands. Whether it’s acoustic or electric, find the one that fits your musical groove.

FAQ

What is a good size for a travel guitar?

Most people find travel guitars, which are 3/4 times the size of a regular guitar, as the ideal size, which is generally 40 to 30 inches (100 to 76cm) long. However, your preferences may be different, so choose accordingly. 

Are travel guitars easy to play?

If you’re used to playing a regular-sized guitar, initially, you may find it challenging to play a travel guitar. It’s all about getting used to and bringing your instrument to your muscle memory.

Do travel guitars sound different?

Travel guitars sound different due to their smaller size and soundhole, resulting in lower volume, especially in the bass frequencies. Although well-constructed travel guitars may match the overall volume, they might still lack low end.

Wrapping up

Travel guitars open up the doors for many musicians who love to travel. With the right instrument, you’ll be able to travel the world and bring a decent guitar with you while you move! 

If you are looking to purchase a portable amp to go along with your travel guitar, check out my guide on the best travel amps.

Last updated 2024-02-29 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API