Best Travel Acoustic Guitar: The 6 Top Roadies of 2018

List of Travel Acoustic Guitars 1Hitting the road?  Touring the country?  Flying over seas?

You want to leave your solid-bodied, very expensive guitars at home where it’s safe from the rigors of travel.  So, what do you take instead?

A trusty, dedicated-travel guitar.

Does that mean parlor, 3/4-size, and scaled-down models?  Sometimes.  It might even mean an acoustic guitar that can fold in half.  They have those?

You’re about to find out!

 

The Best Acoustic Guitars for Travel

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
tsj-table__imageMartin Steel String Backpacker
  • Body: Mahogany/Spruce
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Richlite
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tsj-table__imageVoyage-Air Songwriter VAD-04
  • Body: Mahogany/Spruce
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
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tsj-table__imageTaylor GS Mini Mahogany
  • Body: Sapele/Mahogany
  • Neck: Sapele
  • Fretboard: Ebony
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tsj-table__imageMartin LX1 Little Martin
  • Body: Mahogany/Spruce
  • Neck: Birch
  • Fretboard: Richlite
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tsj-table__imageGretsch G9500 Jim Dandy
  • Body: Agathis/Agathis
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
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tsj-table__imageLuna Aurora Borealis
  • Body: Basswood/Basswood
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Black Walnut
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Our 6 Top Travel Acoustic Guitars

You’re familiar with the toll traveling takes on you.  Long days, in and out of cars, taxis, and planes, and shuffling between hotels and visiting family and friends.  That’s no life for a $5000 guitar, so please, leave it at home.

But, it doesn’t mean you’re void of music, showing off your skills, or breaking the ice on a train ride.  A guitar specifically made to endure the abuse of being lugged around will be the traveling companion you never knew you needed – until now.

We have some extraordinary acoustic electric travel guitars that we reviewed here, and to be frank, it takes an open mind to appreciate the design.  So, in this section, we’ve focused on pure acoustic guitars.  Although a guitar or two may seem quirky, we’ve vetted them and they more than meet the requirements we’ve set.

Before you hit the road with a guitar you don’t want to get a scratch on, consider any one of these travel-worthy axes to withstand the road and skies at your side.

 

 

1

Martin Steel String Backpacker Travel Guitar

Martin Steel String BackpackerThe Backpacker might give you an odd impression, but it’s in the tame category compared to some wild travel guitars we’ve seen in our day.  This is a Martin-brand instrument in the unbelievable price range of under $300, and believe it or not, it has quite the fan base.  It’s still a Martin after all.

The Backpacker Travel guitar is made to be compact, small, and lightweight.  It checks off in every aspect weighing in at only 2.4 pounds.  But, get this, the entire guitar is solid wood.  It has a spruce top and mahogany back and sides.

It’s only 34″ long and it has a body depth of 2″.  It doesn’t get much more compact than that.  We’re sure it leaves you with more than a few questions.  Get them all answered in our full review.

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2

Voyage-Air Songwriter Series VAD-04

Voyage-Air VAD-04Take a big price jump and you’ll land in the budget range where the Songwriter VAD-04 lives.  This guitar can handle it all.  Expertly packing the guitar in the trunk of a car along with suitcases and bags?  Fold it up.  Taking your guitar to the beach, mall, or a mate’s house?  Fold it up.  Packing it away in a tight storage space?  Fold it up.  We think you get the idea.

This guitar has been redesigned to sport a foldable neck with a self-lubricating hinge.  Crazy, right?  But, oh so convenient.  How would it work without strings coming loose or out of place?  Two words: captive nut.

You’d think it would be parlor size or scaled-down too, but no.  This is a full-size dreadnought.  Voyage-Air couldn’t have hit the nail on the head any more accurately than what they’ve done with the Songwriter guitar.  Need a case?  Oh, they include one!

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3

Taylor GS Mini Mahogany

Taylor GS Mini MahoganyIt has a solid mahogany top.  It’s a 3/4-size scaled-down grand symphony guitar.  It’s a mini guitar.  It’s a Taylor.

For a great price, you’re getting Taylor quality in a travel guitar that many other guitars can’t even replicate in their premium models.  To stand up to the bumps and knocks of being on the road, the body and back have triple layered construction with a Sapele veneer.  It’s more durable to climate and environmental damage, and it’s tough.

With a solid top and the Taylor touch, you won’t have to worry about sound.  It’s better than good.  It performs.  It won’t let you down.

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4

Martin Little Martin LX1

Martin LX1 Little MartiinWe see this guitar a lot.  Why?  It’s an all-round, excellent instrument.  It’s great for small hands, it’s a Martin in an affordable price range, and it’s perfect for travel.

The concert body makes it ideal for wielding and swinging whenever you’re in the mood.  The solid spruce top and X bracing makes for a resonant and tonally on-point design, and the sound projection is good enough for travel.

Even though you’d have a strong tendency to shelter this Martin, because it’s a Martin, it’s made to travel the world with you.  A Richlite fretboard along with the laminate mahogany back and sides means it can weather the storms of various climates you’ll brave.  Leave your more expensive Martins and home since this one belongs at your side.

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5

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Gretsch G9500Vintage-looking.  Vintage sound.  Vintage appeal.  Gretsch is known for the parlor pre-war guitars with traditional roots.  This specific model is strikingly attractive, and you’d have to be blind not to be mesmerized by it.

With a 24″ scale, fingerboard joined at the 12th fret, and a completely laminated construction, it fits right in with travel and compact specs.  To make replacing strings easier, it features a pinless rosewood bridge.

The sound is unique and different to what you’re probably used to, but it has a rich timbre that may invoke a folksy image.  The old-school design on this parlor guitar set this one apart from the rest in the lineup.

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6

Luna Aurora Borealis

Luna Aurora BorealisThis brand goes far beyond just making brown guitars.  They allow the expression of one’s soul to be reflected in the finish.  But, one particular obsession is the moon.  The Luna Aurora Borealis may be a budget, entry-level guitar, but that’s kind of what we’re after when we’re talking about kids.

Kids want to take their toys along for a road trip, and if you’re going to buy a guitar for your little person, may as well get them one that’s fun and compact.  Laminate makes it hardy and durable within clumsy hands, and the low-price tag makes it attractive to parents.

This guitar is a 3/4 size machine, and even a hippie adult with some fun and flair could get away with playing this glittery gem.  Who says a guitar must be brown, sunburst, or natural?  Luna gives their guitars a fantasy makeover.  No one else in the skies will be sporting a travel guitar like yours.

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What to Look For in a Travel Acoustic Guitar

Compact is what you’re after, but not all compact guitars are fit for the road.  Solid bodied 3/4-size, parlor, or concert guitars should stay home.  We’re not saying that cheap guitars make the best travel guitars, but they do generate less concern when they start showing signs of wear and tear while on the road versus your $3000 Taylor.

You also want to look for the best sound and projection.  Since travel guitars are smaller in size, sound and resonance are compromised.  If you’re looking for a fill-in while at the beach, at a friend’s home, or practicing in quiet in a hotel room, a $100 guitar can do the job.  Otherwise, look at the steeper end and be brand-specific.

  • Price: If you have the luxury of spending over a grand, you could go that route.  But, for everyday trips out of the home, you’d do fine with a guitar under $500.  You can spend as little as $100 and still be happy with your travel buddy.  The budget will determine how high in quality you want to go.
  • Tone woods: Laminate is usually the choice of wood here with a solid top.  You still want to take care of the solid top by keeping it in its case during travel and maintaining the finish.
  • Size/Shape: Generally, there will be various sizes, shapes, and terms used to define a travel guitar.  But, look for concert, parlor, 3/4-size; scaled-down, mini, and baby.  You’ll also have to judge quality and materials, but size and shape will mostly determine portability and compactness.
  • Scale Length: This will be right in line with the size and shape of the guitar.  Anywhere between 22-24.9″ will be compact enough to take with you.  However, some models have unique features that allow a full-size dreadnought to fold in half!
  • Value: Most of these guitars will come with a case to boost value.  But, the real value will lie not only in the quality, but in the convenience of hauling it about.

 

Inexpensive VS Expensive Travel Guitars

Expensive travel guitars are nice pieces of work, however, for most players, they’re not performing in a studio every time they walk out the door.

A less expensive travel guitar is often the way to go.  They get damaged, salt air can ruin your finish and solid top, sitting in a hot trunk can dissolve glue joints, and worst of all, they get misplaced, stolen, and lost.  Aren’t ya glad it’s not your $2000 Gibson now?

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