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Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Taylor GS Mini Mahogany at Amazon
"Plays and sounds like a much larger guitar."
Most Portable: Traveler Ultra-Light at Amazon
"The ultimate portable guitar only weighs three pounds."
Best Lightweight: Martin Steel-String Backpacker at Amazon
"Fits in the backseat of your car or slung over your back on a hike."
Most Versatile: Guild Jumbo Junior at Guitar Center
"Gives you the most options at your disposal."
Best for Singer/Songwriters: Yamaha SLG200S at Guitar Center
"As thin as an electric with the sound of an acoustic."
Best Splurge: Journey Instruments OF660 at Sweet Water
"A great guitar that comes with a TSA-compliant backpack."
Most Durable: KLOS Black at Amazon
"A beautiful guitar made out of foam-carbon-fiber."
Best for Kids: Coco x Cordoba Acoustic Guitar at Guitar Center
"Inspired by Disney's Coco, this is a real guitar meant for kids."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
Taylor is a name that probably won’t surprise you as the top brand on this list — even if you aren’t a guitar player, you’ve heard the name and you at least have a cursory understanding of the quality. This beautiful mahogany guitar embodies that quality in a travel-friendly form factor. The shape is Taylor’s Grand Symphony Mini, which isn’t quite as bulbous as a dreadnaught, but definitely affords a rich depth of sound. The sound is further bolstered by the solid mahogany top, which offers a degree more warmth than other types of wood. Plus, with layered, laminate backs and sides, there’s more durability, which is important for travel.
It’s a shorter scale length than standard guitars at 23 ½ inches, and the neck profile is slimmer than a normal Taylor concert guitar. But, at only about 4 ½ inches thick and 14 ½ inches wide, it occupies a much smaller footprint than a full-sized acoustic, but it comes pretty close to giving you the same depth of sound like a much larger guitar.
Most Portable: Traveler Ultra-Light
It’s obvious that the Traveler Ultra-Light is meant as a travel-friendly guitar—why else would they name it a Traveler? But it’s not just in the name; this tiny unit only weighs three pounds and measures 28 inches long. What’s most impressive about that is you’ll still get a full-scale fretboard (24 ¾-inches), meaning you won’t need to sacrifice familiarity and comfort just for portability. The design is pretty unique, as they’ve forgone the headstock and put the tuners inside the body of the guitar itself. It’s a design that takes a bit of getting used to but is a really smart way to save space. The company has included a Shadow piezo pickup that sits underneath the bridge of the guitar, so you’ll get a very acoustic-like sound when you plug it into an amp.
It’s important to note that you won’t get much sound out of this guitar without plugging it in, but that’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make for the weight. The package comes with a slim-profile, detachable lap rest for comfortable playability and a high-quality gig bag that Traveler claims will fit comfortably in most overhead airplane compartments.
Best Lightweight: Martin Steel-String Backpacker
To some degree, all travel guitars are light due to the focus on keeping them easy-to-carry. But with a striking, unique design that looks as if Martin has lopped off two big chunks of a normal acoustic, it’s easy to see how this travel guitar is one of the lightest available (it's only five pounds). Martin, a company that has really earned its stripes in the acoustic instrument world, has designed this tiny guitar to not only withstand the rigors of hiking and adventures, but they’ve also attempted to give you really impressive sound projection from such a small footprint.
That’s, in large part, due to the solid top on the guitar. The top of a guitar is the part largely responsible for the sound and volume, so by giving you this solid-wood top, but opting for a laminated mahogany neck, back and sides, you get an affordable, sturdy build, with a solid sound response. Round that out with enclosed chrome tuners that are also built to last, and you have a nice, skinny sidekick for all your adventures — whether this guy is in the backseat of your car or slung over your back on a hike.
Most Versatile: Guild Jumbo Junior
The Guild Jumbo Junior may seem like it’s named oxymoronically, and that’s partly by design. Inspired by Guild’s famous jumbo dreadnaughts, this shrunken-down version aims to give you a ton of audible depth without taking up a lot of physical depth in space. At 23 ¾ inches, it aims to give you a pretty solid full-length scale, which is important because the guitar isn’t just aimed at travelers. But the rest of the build is significantly smaller than a standard dreadnaught, which means it could be a go-to travel guitar, too. The satin finish on the neck gives you comfortable playability, and the solid Sitka spruce top will give you a punchy, bright projection.
The maple backs and sides bolster that sound with even more punch, and the satin finish is carried over to the rest of the guitar, giving the wood room to resonate and breath. Plus, with a Guild Piezo pickup built right under the bridge, this will give you the option to plug in and play a gig if the need arises. Another premium feature here is the bone used in both the nut and saddle, giving you better tuning stability at a pretty comfortable price point. It may not be the most portable option on the list but it's certainly one of the more versatile.
Best for Singer/Songwriters: Yamaha SLG200S
Yamaha’s SLG200S is one of the more unique options on this list, thanks to the interesting outlined silhouette design that aims to emulate a standard dreadnought shape. It almost looks like someone tried to draw a guitar-shaped logo. The instrument itself is actually pretty cool because of its full 25-inch scale length and a 14-inch body width combined with a thickness of less than 3 ½ inches. This means that it’ll fit into the included gig bag with the tenuity of an electric despite emanating sounds more suited to a folksy acoustic show. You can chalk that up to the SRT-powered pickup system, which offers rich audio in the form of what is, ostensibly, an electric guitar.
What’s more, you’ll be able to control bass, mids, and treble using a three-band EQ. Yamaha even included built-in effects including two different reverbs, chorus, and a chromatic tuner. It all amounts to a versatile all-in-one system that’ll work plugged into any PA or amp system. And because the outlined body comes in a Tobacco Brown Sunburst or a Translucent Black, it looks classy enough to play at even a more discerning singer/songwriter showcase.
Best Splurge: Journey Instruments OF660
The Journey Instruments OF660 has been designed from the ground up as a travel guitar. In other words, built with a temperature-resistant carbon fiber to prevent both cracking and warping, it doesn't make concessions for its portability. Instead, it exhibits unprecedented durability. If you're thinking, wow, its profile sure does look like a wedge, you'd be right. Two reasons for that: 1) The eccentric shape solidly projects even at a smaller size and 2) It will sit pleasantly against your body.
This time around, Journey Instruments has put in a bone nut and saddle for exquisite tuning stability, under-saddle transducer pickups for plugged-in amplification, and a shallow C neck profile for the full-scale length fingerboard. This all comes in at such a transportable footprint because of the amazing patented removable neck system. All you have to do is unsnap the neck from its pocket (without removing the strings), and you have a guitar that occupies half the space. Perhaps most enticing of all, Journey Instruments is even including a TSA-compliant backpack, making this the ultimate travel instrument.
Most Durable: KLOS Black
KLOS began its journey for the perfect travel guitar as a Kickstarter project just a few years back. And with eye-catching videos of people using the guitars to hit balls during a softball game, its focus was evident. To achieve unparalleled levels of durability, the company built the body completely out of carbon fiber. But unlike other carbon fiber guitars, it made a foam-carbon-fiber sandwich top that prioritizes flexibility for its impeccable sound production. Also included is a wooden bridge and a neck composed of mahogany and blackwood, resulting in a more organic feel during real-life play sessions. Even with the tiny footprint of the body, the full-scale length and low action ensure the KLOS Black feels and sound like a full-size guitar.
Because it's bolted on, you can remove and reattach the neck for travel, though we found the mechanism for doing so just a bit clumsier than those of its competitors. The price, while seemingly high, is actually the best we've seen considering it bundles a neck sleeve, custom-made gig bag, capo, strap, truss rod adjustment, and bolt-on neck removing tools.
Best for Kids: Coco x Cordoba Acoustic Guitar
Normally, kid-focused guitars border on corny and unusable (the models you find on the shelves at department stores that don’t even use real strings is what comes to mind). This Disney/Pixar Coco-inspired option doesn’t fall into that pitfall because it’s made in partnership with Cordoba, a respectable guitar brand. First off, this is a parlor-size guitar, which means it’s the smallest standard body shape you can get, and the size makes sense as it’s aimed at children. Secondly, out of the layered mahogany top emerges a reasonably warm sound, and the laser-etched Coco design will no doubt appeal to Pixar-heads.
But don’t let those fun features fool you: With a dual-action truss rod for precise playability adjustment and included Savarez 500CJ nylon strings, this thing is really easy to play, letting out a nice, warm, well-rounded sound every time you strum a chord. The hardware seems solid, too, given the NuBone saddle and nut, in addition to the open-gear tuners.