Travelling with a guitar can be a hassle. The challenges, stresses and demands asked of an instrument on the road – both acoustic and electric – are quite different from those of a housebound guitar. And there's plenty of angst associated with hauling a fragile, expensive, temperamental music-maker around.
Fortunately guitar makers have developed increasingly crafty ways of building decent, playable, portable guitars. Whether it’s an instrument that folds at the neck, or one that disassembles completely, there are many options on the market vying for your consideration.
UPDATE: There’s a new premium guitar range from Fender and its as sleek and luxurious as you’d expect from the brand. The American Ultra Series have new body contours designed to improve comfort for the musician, advanced electronics and new colours including Cobra Blue, Mocha Burst, Texas Tea and Plasma Red Burst. You do have to pay for the premium though, as the cheapest guitars - the American Ultra Stratocaster and Telecaster - start at £1859.
Choosing the right travel guitar is all about understanding your needs as a guitarist, but our list provides a great cross section of the market. All should sound incredible, be easily transportable and prove robust.
Upvote the one that has a place on your tour bus.
Related: best travel backpacks tested
Best travel guitars
1. Traveler Ultra-Light Electric
Don’t be put-off by the Ultra-Light Electric’s unusual looks (it is 28% shorter and 68% lighter than a standard guitar). The instrument’s tuning keys have been relocated to its body, removing the need for a headstock. Despite this the guitar offers a wonderful playing experience, and the removable lap rest makes it great to play sitting down as well as standing.
2. Martin Backpacker
One of the most distinctive-looking guitars from one of the most revered names in the business, the Martin Backpacker impresses on a number of levels. It’s incredibly light, rugged, very easy to play due to the low action (how close the strings sit to the fretboard) and – despite the odd shape of the soundbox – produces a great sound.
3. Yamaha GL1 Guitalele
The size of a ukulele but with the six strings you’d normally associate with a regular guitar, the ‘Guitalele’ offers a very portable experience. It also boasts a beautifully warm sound, significantly better than you’d expect of something this size, and is also generous on the wallet. Definitely worth considering for beginners.
4. Cordoba Mini SM-CE
If you’re after a portable classical guitar this should be near the top of your shortlist. The Cordoba Mini SM-CE has a surprisingly good finish for the price. And with a solid cedar top, spalted maple sides and back, you’ll be surprised by how rich and warm it sounds. The guitar even features an electric pickup, great if you plan to gig with it.
5. Washburn Rover Travel Guitar
A nice alternative to the Martin with a slightly different look, the Washburn is excellent to play out of the box, and comes with an especially decent travel case. Due to the size and shape of the instrument it can sound more banjo than full six-string, but that shouldn’t detract from what is an excellent, well-priced companion for your travels.
6. Yamaha JR1
A compact guitar roughly three-quarters the size of a standard instrument, this affordable option is primarily designed as a first guitar for children. It still makes a fantastically priced, compact travel option, however, and unlike many travel guitars it’s very nicely balanced in the hand, making it extremely comfortable to play.
7. Jammy Guitar
This award-winning electric guitar breaks down into its fundamental parts to make it extremely portable. Not only can you play it through an amp, as you would any electric guitar, you can plug it into your computer and use it as a midi controller. A load of advanced sensors allow you to simulate guitar techniques, like hammer ons and string muting. It’s the future.
8. Journey Carbon Black Top Matte
This striking guitar is dripping in patented technology. The detachable neck system means the guitar collapses into a very portable package, and the under-saddle transducer pickup provides an accurate tone when playing through an amp. The carbon fibre construction is also temperature resistant, making it a rugged option for life on the road.
9. Taylor GS Mini
The Taylor GS Mini is one of the most popular travel guitars on the market. It’s about three quarters the size of a regular guitar, but features a solid mahogany top and ebony fretboard. Both contribute to a bold, full sound that’s especially suited to playing the blues. It looks as good as it sounds, making it a great option from one of the best luthiers in the industry.
10. Voyage Air Guitar VAD-04G2
Voyage Air Guitars offer amazing portability, courtesy of the patented hinge, which lets you fold the guitar in half at the neck. A proprietary bag comes included, and you can even spec a left-handed model and pickups (both for an additional cost). The latter let you play the guitar through your amp.