How to Choose the Best Travel Guitar: A Beginner’s Guide

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Traveler Escape MKII Best Travel Guitar


The call of the open road is strong for many, but for musicians, it can come with a dilemma: what about your beloved instrument? Lugging around a full-size guitar on adventures can be cumbersome and impractical. Fear not, wanderlusting music makers! Travel guitars offer a perfect solution, allowing you to keep the music alive wherever your explorations take you.
But with a vast array of travel guitars available, choosing the perfect one can feel overwhelming. This beginner’s guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to find the best travel guitar for your needs and playing style.

So, You Want a Best Travel Guitar? Let's Talk About Size and Portability:

The defining characteristic of a travel guitar is its compact design. Here are some key factors to consider when it comes to size and portability:

  • Body Size: Travel guitars come in a variety of body sizes, typically ranging from ¾ to ½ the size of a full-scale guitar. Smaller bodies translate to easier transportation and storage, perfect for fitting in backpacks or squeezing into tight airplane compartments.
  • Scale Length: This refers to the distance between the nut (where the strings attach to the headstock) and the bridge (where the strings fasten to the body). A shorter scale length makes the guitar more compact and allows for easier finger positioning, particularly for those with smaller hands. However, keep in mind that a shorter scale length can also slightly alter the tone and playing feel.
  • Solid vs. Hollow Body: Solid body guitars, often associated with electric guitars, are generally lighter than their hollow-bodied counterparts. This makes them ideal for travel as they put less strain on your back and shoulders. However, hollow-body guitars, sometimes seen in acoustic-electrics, can offer a warmer, richer sound due to their internal resonance.
  • Folding or Full Body: The ultimate in portability comes with folding guitars. These innovative instruments have detachable or collapsible features that make them incredibly compact. While undeniably convenient, folding guitars can be pricier than their full-bodied counterparts. Full-body travel guitars, although slightly bulkier, tend to be more affordable and offer a more traditional playing experience.

Playability and Sound: Don't Compromise on the Music!

A travel guitar might be small, but your desire for great sound and comfortable playing shouldn’t shrink along with it. Here’s what to consider when it comes to playability and sound:

  • Action: This refers to the distance between the strings and the fretboard. Lower action allows for easier string pressing, making it less tiring on your fingers and ideal for beginners. Many travel guitars come with adjustable action, allowing you to fine-tune it for your preference.
  • Neck Profile: The neck is the backbone of a guitar, and its shape significantly impacts playability. The most common neck profile is C-shaped, offering a comfortable fit for most players. V-shaped necks are generally thinner and may be preferred by shredders or those with smaller hands, while U-shaped necks are fuller and favored by some blues and jazz guitarists.
  • Sound Quality: While travel guitars may not project with the same power as a full-size instrument, a good travel guitar should still produce a satisfying sound. Look for guitars made with quality tonewoods, such as spruce or mahogany for acoustics, and consider the type of pickups (electric guitars) that will complement your musical style.

Beyond the Basics: Other Considerations for Choosing Your Perfect Travel Companion

Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on size, playability, and sound, here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Price: Travel guitars range in price from budget-friendly options perfect for beginners to high-end instruments crafted with premium materials. Determine your budget beforehand and choose a guitar that offers the best value for your money.
  • Brand: Several reputable brands specialize in travel guitars, including established names like Yamaha, Fender, and Martin. These brands offer a variety of models with proven quality and playability. Don’t be afraid to explore lesser-known brands as well, as they may offer hidden gems at competitive prices.
  • Pickups (Electric Guitars Only): If you’re an electric guitarist, the type of pickups will significantly influence your sound. Single-coil pickups offer a bright, twangy tone, ideal for clean tones and classic rock. Humbuckers are known for their fuller, warmer sound with increased output, perfect for heavier styles of music.

Best Travel Guitar Examples:

Little Martin LX1E:

This travel-sized acoustic guitar from the renowned C.F. Martin & Co. is a popular choice for players on the go. Despite its ¾ size, the LX1E boasts a solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides, delivering a surprisingly bright and punchy sound. The comfortable neck with a modified low-profile profile makes it ideal for beginners and players with smaller hands. Additionally, the LX1E comes equipped with a built-in electronics system, allowing you to plug in and amplify your music whenever needed.

Luna Muse Series Safari Mahogany Travel Guitar:

 This eye-catching travel guitar from Luna Guitars is a perfect companion for adventurous musicians with a penchant for style. The Safari features a comfortable ¾ size mahogany body with a beautiful laser-etched animal print design. Don’t let the unique aesthetics fool you – the Safari packs a punch sonically as well. The mahogany construction delivers a warm, rich tone, while the comfortable C-shaped neck with Luna’s signature satin finish ensures smooth playability. This travel guitar is perfect for unplugged sessions around the campfire or late-night hotel room jams.

Bonus Tip: Try Before You Buy!

While online reviews and specifications are valuable resources, there’s no substitute for trying out a travel guitar in person. Visit your local music store and get a feel for the instrument’s size, weight, neck profile, and most importantly

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