We all have this dream, to go traveling the world with only our trusted guitar as a companion. We’d visit exquisite places, make new friends and play our guitar relaxing after a long day. What a life!
However, vacationing isn’t all about sipping a cocktail on the beach only; you need to go through the pains and demands of long journeys too. So, none can blame you if you don’t want to lose or break your precious guitar. To avoid the risk of damages, travel guitars come handy.
Travel guitars aren’t a different breed from normal standard guitars. They are more like a modified version with special size, tonality, and playability. Being smaller sized than average guitars doesn’t make travel guitars worse or inferior; rather their popularity comes from having a convenient and distinct appeal. Sure, if you’re a professional musician going on tour, travel guitar won’t help you much. But for amateurs and pros going on a trip or extended visit, they can be the perfect travel buddy.
Travel guitars also come with different shapes and sizes, and not all models available on the market are of the best quality or construction. To help you avoid sorting through less deserving instruments, we have compiled the reviews for the best of the best products and included a buying guide. So, you can look through the article and be able to find the best guitar for travel.
Martin Steel-String Backpacker
Martin is already famous for producing some of the finest six strings acoustic guitars. And their affordable Backpacker model is one of the most popular travel-friendly guitars.
The Martin Backpacker Travel Guitar is a six-string acoustic guitar. It features a body of mahogany sides and back, along with a solid spruce top. Moreover, the strong mahogany neck has a contour shape, and the classic rosewood fingerboard offers 15 frets, a 24-inch scale length, and white dot inlays. The chrome tuners and the bridge make the guitar stay in tune for some time and deliver a top-level intonation.
The sound is quite loud and resonant considering its compact size. Certainly, the sound has less bass and volume compared to standard full-size guitars, but that is to be expected from a travel guitar. In actually, Martin delivers a top-notch sound without fret noise which you can’t easily find from similar models.
Some may not like the oar-shaped design which is different from the typical guitar shapes. However, its unique body shape makes the Backpacker more convenient, ergonomic and practical for travel. Being small and light enough, you can easily stow the guitar in the overhead compartments on plane/train/bus or any transport. Also, high-quality materials and well-built construction make it sturdy enough to withstand traveling strains. The Martin Backpacker comes with a padded gig bag that offers adequate protection.
- Portable and Compact Design
- Great for Finger Picking Style
- Reasonable Pricing
- Slim Shape Suitable for Beginners
- Playing May Need Some Getting Used To
Travel Guitar Buying Guide
Travel guitar doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller size. You can bring your full-size guitar on vacation if you feel like it. However, quick and easy transportation is the main concern during traveling. You will be much more comfortable with a smaller lightweight guitar compared to bigger standard size guitars. So, it’s better to bring a guitar specifically designed for travel.
But what are the features that make a guitar suitable for travel?
Here, let’s consider the factors to look for before making the purchase.
Portable and Compact Size
As mentioned earlier, size is arguably the determining factor for a travel guitar. As you’ll have to maneuver through transports and store your guitar on the overhead compartment on bus/train/plane, the more compact size guitar the better. Most compact travel guitars have short necks and some even have collapsible necks. While this seems like a great addition to portability, guitars with the collapsible neck are expensive too. It’s better to look for a model with a portable lightweight design that you can comfortably carry to places.
While traveling, your guitar, along with your luggage is bound to get pushed and knocked around. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you need to factor in the possible chaos that comes with travel. Thankfully, most travel guitars have a robust sturdy body, capable of resisting bumps and knocks.
Good construction and quality materials are important but you shouldn’t take your precious expensive guitar on the road. Travel guitar should be resistant to temperature and climate changes as well, which makes laminate a better choice than solid wood. To make the best of it, choose a guitar with a solid wood top but laminated back and sides.
Tone and Projection
It’s a sad truth but you need to remember, smaller guitars won’t be able to give you the full and rich sound of standard guitars. Travel guitars are not an exception to that. These guitars aren’t designed for performances, recording or anything on a professional level. They are mostly suitable for your personal playing and a little practicing during travel. However, travel guitars have their own charm and different style of sound they produce. Smaller guitars create less resonance and a more bright tone which are more preferable to some musicians.
Also, you need to be careful with your guitar’s upkeep if you want it to last long. Pressure differences during air travel may negatively affect your instrument. Better to loosen the strings before boarding a plan, so that the strings don’t snap at the joint. Moreover, your guitar will need frequent tuning before gigs, so look for a guitar that is easy to tune.
Additional accessories are not essential for playing but these enhance playability and enjoyment. Accessories like carrying cases, headphones make your traveling experience more convenient. Carry bags with padded lining will give you maximum security for your guitar. And believe us; you need all the protection you can get during travel. Also, look if your guitar has a headphone and/or amp outlet so that you can plug in a pair of headphones. That way, you can silently practice even on road without disturbing others.
Getting a travel guitar doesn’t necessarily mean you are choosing portability over quality and comfort. Your travel guitar has a rather bright tone and still produces great music. As your travel buddy, it can keep you company on lonely nights on the road.
Hopefully, our article has given you a little insight into what to expect when you’re looking to get the best guitar for travel, be it acoustic or electric. Although if you are still feeling unsure and can’t figure out what to choose, why don’t you leave us a comment? We’ll be happy to help you look for what you need.