If you’re a guitar player and you also like to bounce around town, the country, or the world, you likely encounter a problem–most guitars aren’t easy to take around with you. Sure, it’s not a tuba, but with a few feet in length and a semi-blocky, obtuse build, an acoustic guitar is not a particularly travel friendly item. So, as with any innovative and progressive industries, the leading makers of acoustic guitars sought a way to solve this problem. And thus the travel guitar was born.
With the many varieties of travel guitars, big names like Martin and Taylor—along with some others, have found a way to shrink the overall volume of the instrument and make it travel friendly, while still being wonderfully playable.
Some travel guitars look like a normal acoustic guitar, just shrunken down a bit. Others have a whole different style. These guitars are durable, compact, and will afford you the sound and feel you’ve been missing when you’re on the road. To figure out what works best for you, read on.
The Little Martin (LX) line is comprised of small-scale, highly affordable Martin acoustics, perfect for taking with you wherever you may roam. With a 23-inch scale length, the LX Series makes the best use of affordable materials to accommodate players of all levels who want truly excellent sound in a compact design. Within the Little Martin series, there are slight variations between wood types used, as well as whether or not each guitar has electronics, so you will find some variance in price within this line. Some LX guitars are also available in left-handed versions.
A bit more affordable and way more compact, the Martin Backpacker defines the term “travel guitar” for many. Yes, it looks weird, but Martin made it that shape so it could fit anywhere. You still get acoustic tone, but you can put the Backpacker in an overhead compartment, under a chair, or sling it over your shoulder as you hike up a mountain.
The Backpacker features a Sitka spruce top, 24″ scale length, and 15-fret, ecologically friendly Richlite fingerboard. It comes with a soft gig bag to make carrying it around really easy. It’s nimble, it’s fun, and it’s an instrument you’ll be glad you have with you on your trip. It’s also available in a left-handed model.
Very affordable and incredibly fun, the P304 is a great buy for anyone. It features a smaller body and 23.5″ scale length, making it ideal for guitarists on-the-go. The all-mahogany construction lends to the guitar’s warm acoustic voice and the rosewood fingerboard brings home that classic feel and sound.
The Baby Taylor packs a tremendous punch for such a small size. With a solid top, and a slight arch in the construction of the back and sides, you end up with compact guitar that offers rich, full tone. The Baby Taylor is incredibly versatile and ready for anything you have to throw at it. Alternate tunings, capos, or standard tuning, the Baby Taylor is an awesome choice for any musician. The Baby Taylor also comes in a variety of tonewoods, and optional onboard electronics.
- 3/4 size Dreadnought body style
- Solid Mahogany spruce top
- Layered sapele back and sides
- Sapele neck
- Ebony fingerboard and bridge
- Pearloid dot inlays
- Die-cast chrome tuners
- 22-3/4″ scale
- Scalloped X-bracing
- Taylor gig bag included
Junior Acoustic Guitars
Junior Acoustic Guitars take compact to a whole new level. Typically, these range in size somewhere between a tenor ukulele and a portable acoustic guitar. They come in various shapes and sizes, but have the potential to be incredibly compact. They may be small, but guitar makers design them to deliver authentic tone for the musician on the go.
The Yamaha FG JR is a compact model based on the highly acclaimed FG series of guitars. They offer authentic tone, playability, and all wrapped in an incredibly small form factor. This guitar is perfect for anyone. Whether you’re playing guitar for the first time, or a seasoned pro that wants something to take on the road, the Yamaha FG JR will give you the size you need with the tone you want.
Looking for a quality, inspiring travel guitar? Michael Kelly’s got the axe for you. Making use of their port technology, which features an offset soundhole and unique side port, the Forte Koa has a reduced 24.75″ scale length (from 25.5″) which still gives you the sound and feel of a full-size guitar. Not to mention, the body is all-koa, which makes for a beautiful aesthetic and rich tone.
The GS Mini is a guitar with a persona all its own, standing out even amongst all Taylor’s very impressive models. Taylor had the insight to use their inimitable skills to shrink their ever-popular Grand Symphony model, creating a premier travel guitar. While it may be on the high-end of travel guitars, it’s quite affordable for a Taylor.
The playability of the GS Mini is off the charts. All GS Mini models boast a 23.5″ scale length sapele neck with a 20-fret ebony fingerboard, for lovely sound and smooth feel. The standard GS Mini has a layered sapele back and sides, a Sitka spruce soundboard, and X-bracing with Taylor’s tone-enhancing relief rout. The GS Mini is also available in a koamodel, with Taylor ES-B electronics, and a walnut model, with Sitka spruce top and electronics.
The Martin Dreadnought Junior 10E packs all the Martin quality you desire into a tight, bold package. Crafted in Martin style with excellent woods, classy appointments, and Fishman electronics, this guitar gives you the true Martin aura at a very modest price.
Crafted in Martin Style with Excellent Woods
This Junior model of course sports the classic dreadnought shape, shrunken down a bit. It’s 000 body depth is thinner than previous models, with softer back edges, which makes for a very comfortable feel against your body. The DJR 10E is all solid wood, with a Sitka spruce top and sapele back and sides. It comes in natural and burst finish.
The neck of this Martin is hand-rubbed and boasts a high performance taper. The fingerboard is FSC Certified Richlite, lined with mother-of-pearl dot inlays, and there’s a beautiful rosette around the soundhole. It also has a white corian nut and chrome enclosed gear tuners. Special “retro” strings come standard on this guitar. These vintage styled strings have a warm, played-in sound right out of the box.
Not only does it look great and feel great to play, but it sounds great coming through any amplification system. The Fishman Sonitone electronics which come stock on the Martin DJR 10E are made to enhance all the beautiful tone this guitar has to offer—and make it as loud as you need.
- Dreadnought Shape with Thinner Body
- Sitka Spruce Top with Sapele Back and Sides
- High Performance Neck Taper
- FSC Certified Richlite Fingerboard with MOP Dot Inlays
- Chrome Enclosed Gear Tuners
- Fishman Sonitone Electronics
- Includes Soft Gig Bag
As you might guess, Traveler Guitar is focused on this niche market exclusively—and their dedication to it makes for some very innovative designs. The body style of some of these guitars is about as unique as you’ll find anywhere. A majority of Traveler Guitars are without a headstock and feature tuning machines within the body. Despite just being super cool, this adds to their very compact nature.
Wherever You Go, I’ll Follow You There
Whatever type of traveler you are, one of these excellent travel guitars is sure to fit your style so you’ll never have to be without your instrument. If you’re obsessed with playing as much as the Sam Ash crew, that’s a real great thing.