Travel guitars are awesome. They’re small. They can be carry-on luggage. You can take them anywhere, so you can write and practice wherever you go.
The problem is that a lot of them are just terrible. They play poorly, their sound is thin and tinny, and they can even be awkward to hold. The only thing that’s universally good about travel guitars is that they’re cheaper than standard guitars. And they should be! Travel guitars are small by nature, so they use less materials to make.
We don’t want you wasting your time and money on a travel guitar that you’ll hate, so we’ve reviewed six of them for you. They’re not necessarily in order of best to worst, because they all have some pros and cons depending on your needs. But I’ll start with my favorite.
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1. Larrivee P-03 Parlor Acoustic Travel Guitar
The Larrivee P-03 isn’t marketed as a travel guitar, because honestly it sounds too good to be one. It’s a parlor guitar that’s easily small enough to be a travel guitar – especially in a soft case.
Larrivee makes some of my favorite acoustics. They’ve got this distinctive, full, rich sound. Something I’ve always loved about these guitars is how balanced their sound is. Right across the sonic spectrum, these guitars stay even and beautiful.
The thing most people won’t like about this guitar is the price. They’re about $1,000 USD and they’re fairly difficult to find used – simply because people love them.
If you want a travel guitar that does more than just travel – that stands up to any full size guitar – this is the one for you.
2. Top Small Guitar On Sale: Baby Taylor BT2
Again, this guitar isn’t cheap as far as travel guitars go. It comes in around the $300 USD mark. Not bad, but it’s at the top end of what most are willing to pay for a travel guitar.
Nonetheless, this is a great little guitar. It’s a classic dreadnought build, and all wood. It’s durable and will last you a long time.
The guitar is also surprisingly loud. It has a clean bright sound, and the fretboard is quite fast and responsive too.
Now, if you’ve played a Taylor before, you’ll know that they’ve got a certain “Taylor sound” to them. Some people love it. Some people don’t. But either way, this guitar doesn’t really have that. It makes for a decent travel guitar, but this is not a cheap way to get your paws on a Taylor.
All in all, this guitar has an attractive look (sharper than most travel guitars) and a sound that sets it apart. If you’ve got the money, I would recommend it.
3. Martin Backpacker Guitar, Discounted Compared To The Rest
Shaped like a paddle, this guitar will definitely make you stand out from the crowd. It’s a weird looking beast, but it packs a lot of volume! Coming it at around $190 USD, it’s a reasonable price for a brand name guitar.
However, as far as the sound goes, you are making a serious sacrifice for the portability of the instrument. The top end is loud and bright, but there’s none of the deep richness you would expect of a Martin.
Perhaps I’m being too critical – this guitar is tiny. It comes with a cool little soft case, and you can pretty much fit it wherever you need to. It’s also super-light, so you can carry it wherever!
The guitar is solid wood, which is uncommon among cheaper travel guitars.
All in all, this would be my first pick for a travel guitar under $300. The durability and construction are huge bonuses for me, and while the sound leaves something to be desired, it does have a pleasant, loud tone.
4. Little Martin Acoustic Backpacker Guitar
This is another Martin that definitely deserves a spot on the list. Somehow, this guitar, as opposed to the Martin Backpacker, has the rich low end you’d expect out of a Martin.
There are a number of different models for this particular product, so they range from $299 to $399. This is a reason why I feel it’s justified to put another Martin on the list. It sounds better than the Martin Backpacker, but you pay for it, and it’s bigger.
To make it cheaper, these guitars are all-laminate. But you can get a solid-wood top for a price (of course). Personally, I doubt you would need to, because these sound great as-is.
I would say that this is on par with the Baby Taylor, but it just comes down to the tone that you’re into. The Taylor is shiny and bright, the Martin is rich and, well, Martin-y.
5. Yamaha FGR1 Travel Guitar, A Small Option For Kids
This little guitar is one of the best in the cheap range. It’s billed as a great kid’s guitar, as well as a travel guitar. Because of its aim at the kid market, it’s built very well. Well enough to hold up to kids!
The sound is fairly loud and clear, which is all you can ask of a guitar of this price range and size.
It looks like many of the full-size Yamaha’s do, except smaller. The neck is quite playable and it seems to stay in tune quite well.
The only reason I would buy the Martin Backpacker over this gem is because of its truly tiny size. This is a great little travel guitar – make no mistake.
6. Dean Flight Travel Guitar, Best Price
Dean guitars are favorites among beginners. As far as travel guitars go, this is on the low end of average – around $149 USD.
Personally, I think they’re fairly visually appealing. I’ve always liked the winged Dean head stock. As far as aesthetics go, the Deans come in four colors/makes: spruce, mahogany, black mahogany or bubinga.
The build is average. All-laminate, made in China. But hey, you’re saving money, and they come with a custom soft case.
These guitars do what travel guitars are supposed to do: they play nice, travel well, and aren’t terribly expensive. They’re great options for the traveling guitarist or guitar newbie.
Transporting And Protecting Your Travel Guitar With A Guitar Flight Case
While having a travel guitar is great for moving around, don’t forget protecting it properly. You should always bring a guitar flight case so you can transport it safely when traveling abroad. This will help protect it from breakage, as the last thing you’d want after a long flight to tour is a guitar which you can’t play. There are a number of good cases to choose from so have a look.
Compare The Best Travel Guitars Conclusion
If you’re dedicated to your instrument, it’s nice to know that you can find a travel guitar you can take with you wherever you go. Some will be cheap, some not so much. You’ll never have to miss a day of practice! Just don’t forget your guitar picks and get traveling with your new guitar. 🙂