Which is the best travel guitar

Travel guitars - the ultimate overview & what you need to know

Your travel guitar - the perfect companion on the go

The ultimate travel guitar comparison - mit videos and table!

Imagine: You are traveling and do not just want to sing to the harmonica by the campfire in the evening (... is also bad at the same time ;-)), but also want to play guitar.

Great thing, but neither your electric guitar will be of use to you here, nor your rather large dreadnought that almost fills the trunk by itself.

In addition, you may not want to take your "good" guitar with you on your travels, because on the one hand, cold, damp nights and hot campfires are not exactly the best environment for a guitar (see "Storing a guitar").

To make matters worse, guitars around the campfire have a habit of being passed through many hands. Anyone who has played three chords before would like to give them the best on an evening like this ... and to be honest: there are always people there who I don't want to entrust my good acoustic guitar to. Not even for a song.

So: A travel guitar is needed.

What is a travel guitar?

A travel guitar is usually an acoustic guitar:

  • She is small. The body has shrunk to a minimum and the neck is also shorter than normal.
  • The fingerboard still has dimensions that are more made for adult hands. This is what distinguishes a travel guitar from a children's guitar.
  • A travel guitar is made of wood, but veneer is used here. At most the ceiling is made of solid wood. And that makes sense: veneer is more resistant. (If you want to know more about it, you can find it in the article "Veneer or solid wood - which is better with an acoustic guitar?"

How is a travel guitar tuned?

The subject of mood is a big issue with the travel guitar.

A travel guitar should be as small as possible. This is why a shorter length is often used so that the neck becomes shorter.

However, the shorter scale length means that the strings are more loosely tensioned if you want to achieve the same pitch with the same string length.

To a certain extent, the shorter strings can be compensated for by correspondingly thinner strings (e.g. this one here). And to a certain extent a somewhat loose tension of the strings is to be tolerated. But at a certain point it gets difficult.

Updated: 05/22/2021 | Advertising | Images: Amazon API

Some travel guitar manufacturers therefore choose to deliver their guitars with a higher tuning. The mood here is typically a fourth higher. So it's like putting a kapo in the fifth fret on a normal guitar. This then ensures that the strings are taut and playable again despite the shorter scale length.

The tuning of the travel guitar by a fourth has a major disadvantage: If you want to play around the campfire with other guitarists whose guitars are normally tuned, you can no longer play the same fingerings as they do. Because if, for example, both of them grasp the normal C major grip on a C major in the songbook, a C sounds on the normally tuned guitar, but an F. on the travel guitar.

There are several ways to solve this little travel guitar dilemma:

  1. You ask the other guitarist to simply put his kapo in the 5th fret. Then you can play the same holds again. Disadvantage: Most of the songs are designed to be easy to sing. Now everything will sound 5 semitones higher - which might be too high for many voices.
  2. You prepare well and have a songbook in which you have transposed chords for the most popular songs next to the normal chord symbols, transposed down a fourth. In my opinion this is the best solution. If you choose one or more of the popular campfire songbooks (I've listed the best ones here), then you can be pretty sure that you can play along with most of the tuned songs. The only disadvantage of this method: One or the other typical guitar run or you won't be able to play one or the other intro like the one to Sweet Home Alabama as it is done in the original key. But you can get over that around the campfire ... The main thing is that everyone can sing along.
  3. You just tune your guitar normally, ignoring the loose and maybe purring sides. This is the "emergency solution" when nobody has a kapo with them and there is no time to first transpose the songs. Works ... and the purring of the loose strings and the somewhat limp sound may not be great, but that doesn't matter. The main thing is that you and the other guitarist can make music together.

List of all the top travel guitars

Would you like to get an overview of all recommended travel guitars?

OK, here you are! With their typical peculiarities and possibly advantages and disadvantages. And if you are into facts, you will find many videos for the sound impression of the guitar at the bottom and a comparison table.

I have not included individual custom-made products and small series from small guitar makers in this list, as they would only be of benefit to a few - but I think this way you have a really good overview and can decide which travel guitar is right for you.

If in doubt: just order the guitar and try it out in peace. That's the advantage of online orders: You don't have to try out the guitar in the unfamiliar store environment and decide in a few minutes whether it is your instrument or not. You can take your time at home on the living room sofa.