Artists, and especially musicians, are known for their individuality. Their own, unique creative perspective and work of art is what their audience wants. Hence, no musician can be a replacement for another. If it is John Mayer that people want to listen to, the only solution is to arrange a John Mayer show. For this reason, traveling is not something musicians do once in a blue moon. They are invited to play in different corners around the globe because it is only them the audience wants to listen to. They typically have back to back travel scheduled to play gigs and concerts in different parts of the world.
If not that, musicians are gypsies. Their creative mindset persuades them to change their surroundings every now and then. They love to travel, explore new places, go camping or hiking, and just simply take a break from this monotonous and exhausting world. This refuels their ability to create new art. Either way, there is a lot of traveling involved in a musician’s life.
Contrastingly, traveling with guitars is a hideous task. As much as they love or need to travel with their guitars, musicians usually face a lot of problems when they travel with their 6-string partner. It is either because guitars are large in size and also very sensitive, or because the airport staff decides to be a pain. A guitar is usually not allowed to be carried as hand carry, and the fragile luggage section is not really handled with care. They throw stuff here and there like frisbees.
God bless guitar makers for being aware of this fact. There are companies that acknowledge this problem and have constantly worked towards making guitar models that are travel friendly. ¾ sizes can work in acoustic travel guitars, but for electric guitars, it gets a little frustrating when players don’t get their desired tone and have lesser notes to play. Here we have compiled a list of electric guitars that have been specifically designed for traveling.
Top 10 Best Travel Electric Guitars 2020
1. Stewart Electric Travel Guitar
Stewart Electric Travel Guitar tops every list of best travel guitars there is on the internet. By design, Stewart a classic, full-sized Stratocaster. It has a complete 648mm scale with 22 frets that are medium-sized, just like on a Strat. The fretboard, the most important part of the guitar, is made of Amarnath wood to keep the playing smooth. The dot inlays are simply Pearloid. The radius of the neck is the standard 14mm and it is made of Maple wood. Amarnath makes the fretboard sensitive and smooth while Maple neck gives it the strength it needs.
The body has 2 cutaways which make it very easy for the player to reach frets at the higher end effortlessly. It is basically a standard Strat Alder body, as mentioned earlier. The finish is the traditional tobacco sunburst which is pretty popular in Strat models. It has 3 controls at the bottom right, one for the volume and the other two for tones. The five-way coil switch is given to switch among built-in pickup settings. Coming to pickups, it has 3 single-coil pickups made of Alnico. For those of you who don’t know what Alnico is, it is a type of iron alloys, just like steel.
However, the best feature of this guitar (which also makes it top the list of travel guitars) is the detachable neck. Yup, the neck can be detached from the body! It has a clip joint with the body which makes attaching and detaching the neck a matter of seconds. Also, interestingly enough, it is designed such that there is no need to take the strings out. And they even remain in tune after you have detached the neck and attached it back. Yes, it sounds fairly impossible but that is how it is mate. It is designed in such a way that when the neck is detached from the body, the whole guitar falls under the criteria of carry-on size in the airlines. So, you would not have to send it in luggage and label it fragile (which is of no use, really). You can carry it with you.
That being said, questioning the sound quality of the guitar would not be illogical. But Stewart sounds exactly how a Strat with 3 low output Alnico single-coil pickups should sound. There is no difference at all. And with two tone controls and a five-way switch, there is a lot of room to make a mix of tone.
2. STVD-CS Shredneck Travel Guitar
Now that we have a travel version of a Strat, why not a Les Paul? Not every musician wants to play blues and overdrive. Some players are more into rock and the Strat model would not really favor their style of music. For all such musicians, we have the STVD-CS Shredneck Travel Guitar.
STVD-CS is essentially a travel version of the widely popular Les Paul. It has the ¾ scale of the original Les Paul and is fairly small, 9.5 inches across and 33 inches high. It has a Maple top made from NATO which has the iconic cherry burst finish, very similar to the Les Paul. The neck is also made from Maple wood, but the fretboard is carved out of Rosewood to give it the Les Paul smoothness. This 22-fret fingerboard ends on a beautiful headstock that has chrome-plated tuners. It does not weigh more than 22 Lbs. The entire body description tells us that the guitar is fairly small and weighs really less, making it easy to carry and therefore, perfect for traveling.
The functionality is more or less like Les Paul, as well. There are two controls, one for master volume and the other for tone. Between the two knobs is the three-way toggle switch that controls the settings of 2 strong humbucker pickups. If they had Les Paul as their idol, what made them decide that the toggle switch should be between the knobs, though? It is never placed there. In the Les Paul, it is on the top left corner of the guitar top and that’s exactly where it should be. It looks super weird in its current position.
As far as playability is concerned, it is pretty much the same. The humbuckers do not disappoint at all. They are loud and heavy once they are given gain. There is no compromise on their sound compared to the original-sized Les Paul. Moreover, with the smaller ¾ size, there is less tension in the strings and relatively, it is way easier to bend them and play some juicy licks. People with big hands might find it a little difficult to play it smoothly because the fret size is smaller. But for the general normal-sized audience and people with small hands, this would probably be more natural than the original size.
3. EG-1 Blackout Electric Travel Guitar
Typically, the travel versions of electric guitars are made by tweaking the traditional shape of an electric guitar. The goal is to make the instrument compact and usually, the only solution companies can resort to is changing the shape of the guitar. This is not wrong, but you know, it doesn’t feel like a guitar anymore. The best part about EG-1 Blackout is that the traditional shape has been kept intact. Instead of playing around with and distorting the body, EG-1 Blackout instead removed the headstock. Let’s get into it more and figure out how.
The body is somewhat similar to a Les Paul, with one cutaway. The finish is matte black, and the guitar top is made of Mahogany wood, which is the best choice of wood for a guitar top. The matte black finish also gives it the classy Rockstar look a player needs. The neck is ¾ in size and the entire guitar is 27% shorter and 59% lighter than a standard guitar. But wait; the scale is 100% as per a standard guitar! There is no reduction in the scale, just smaller in size and way lighter in weight.
One question that still remains is how do they manage the tuning when they have removed the headstock? It is the proprietary In-Body Tuning System that allows that to happen. The strings roll to the back of the body and go into the tuners that are made inside the body only. The keys are at the front, 3 over the bridge and 3 beneath it. Hence, there is no need of a headstock. This is basically how they have succeeded in removing the headstock and making the guitar smaller than the original size. Very smart!
As far as playing is concerned, the EG-1 Blackout contains a brilliant high gain humbucker pickup known as the Seymour Duncan Devastator. It is placed in the bridge position and is an insanely heavy pickup. So yes, EG-1 might be smaller in size, but it is certainly not in sound. It also has the standard two controls, one for master volume and one for tone. But in addition to this, one cool feature that this guitar has is the aux-in. So, while you’re traveling, you can jam on your favorite tracks and warm up.
4. Hofner HCT-SH-CG-0 Cadillac Green Travel
One of the most affordable travel guitar models is the Hofner HCT-SH-CG-0. Hofner is in the guitar making business since 1887 so they can be easily trusted with the quality of the guitars they make. That being said, the price of this instrument definitely makes it a hot deal.
The Hofner HCT-SH-CG-0 is definitely a travel guitar because of its reduced body size. It is just slightly broader than the neck and this makes it a perfect size to fit in overhead in an airplane. You can keep it with you on a flight and you will be sure no one is throwing it around. However, it is interesting to note that Hofner has not made any changes in the neck. The neck of this model is of exactly the same size as other standard guitars Hofner makes, which also means that there is no reduction in frets or scale either.
The body of this article is made from Basswood and so is its back. The neck is made out of Maple wood and the fretboard, considering its sensitivity, is made from Rosewood. Hence, the guitar is a combination of multiple types of wood. The length of the fretboard is 62.8cm and it has a full scale with 22 frets. The playing is also pretty decent, considering it has a Hofner Open Humbucker pickup which does not disappoint at all.
5. Steinberger GTPROBK1 Solid-Body Electric Guitar
The Steinberger GTPROBK1 Solid-Body is a full-length guitar with a neck of 25.5 inches. It has 22 frets so there is no compromise on the scale. The fretboard is made from Rosewood, which appears to be the best choice of wood for fretboards, and it features the simple Pearloid dot inlays like most other guitars. The body and the neck are made of Maple wood which has a high gloss polyurethane finish. It is glossy enough to set your hair in before the gig, no mirrors needed. The neck is curved, which is usually called the C shape, and the radius of the fretboard is 14 inches.
The tuners of this guitar are situated at the base. Therefore, this guitar is headless. Players would need a set of double ball strings instead of a conventional string set. Nevertheless, the tuners are pretty great at their job and the tuning remains stable even if the guitar is not played in days.
The most interesting feature in this guitar is the versatility in sound that it offers. The Steinberger has 3 pickups. The one with the neck and the other on the end near the bridge are humbucker pickups. The middle one, contrastingly, is a single-coil pickup. The humbuckers make it a great guitar for heavy, attacking tones. And on the other hand, the single-coil pickup gives it the ability to pull off clean channels and brighter tones. In addition to that, it also has a tremolo, and it is not just any tremolo. It is a high-end Direct Drive R-Trem Tremolo system.
6. Speedster SPD HRR V2
Speedster V2 is one of those models that use the completely revolutionized guitar shape. This shape is specifically made for travel guitars considering the carriage difficulty, weights, lengths, playability, and all other factors.
Speedster V2 is a guitar with full scale and no reductions in neck size either. What they have considerably reduced is every other thing except the neck. For instance, the headstock is removed. It uses its patent design called the Tune-O-Matic in-body tuning. The in-body tuning design means that the tuners are inside the body, in hollow spaces above and below the bridge area. Three tuners are above the strings and three are below them. The strings go beyond the bridge in this design, till the end of the guitar body, and then turn towards its back and go into the tuner. The keys are towards the front, so they are easily accessible. Functionally, that is a smart place to put tuners because the rhythm hand is already there. The tuners become easily accessible.
Furthermore, the size of the guitar’s body is drastically reduced. It just has enough space for the controls, bridge, pickups, and strings. It is so compact that it would have been impossible for the player to balance it while playing and therefore, detachable support comes along with Speedster V2. This fixes above the body to give your rhythm hand support while you play.
Speedster is a one-piece guitar. It is known as a neck-through design and the entire guitar is made out of Easter American hard Maple wood. It has one pickup, but it is a humbucker pickup, which produces smooth clean tones and meaty distorted tones. Additionally, keeping into account that the model is specifically made for travelers, it also features a headphone out and an aux-in port. The players can jam on their favorite tracks with their headphones on and nobody in the plane, in the hotel, on the train or anywhere else would complain about the noise.
7. Anygig AGE SE
Talk about innovation in guitar designs and Anygig’s AGE SE might top the list. Considering all the hurdles guitarists might face while they are traveling, Anygig came up with an entirely new design for their travel guitar and named it AGE.
AGE is one of the most compact guitars ever made. The body of the guitar is almost as thin as the neck, but it has complete functionalities. The entire body and neck are made of maple wood, and the fingerboard is crafted out of Rosewood. Just like some aforementioned guitars, Anygig’s AGE also does not have a headstock. It uses a similar in-body tuning design. The tuners are located at the end of the body, 3 on each side.
When it comes to electric guitars, the only thing that matters the most is the scale. Manufacturers can play around with anything in the design, but they definitely should not change the scale size because that is primarily what the guitarists need, apart from the tone. That being said, AGE consists of a full-scale fretboard. It has 24 frets and the neck is u-shaped with a radius of 400mm.
Apparently, the primary goal of Anygig’s manufacturing team with AGE was to reduce its size and weight and make it as compact as possible. Hence, they have removed all the volume and tone controls from the top, as well. All it has is an output connection, in-body tuners and a pickup on its body. Speaking of the pickup, AGE has Anygig’s in-house manufactured Anygig Glow Humbucker pickup which is extremely solid with sound. Overall, this thing is almost 60% smaller in size and 70-80% lighter in weight than a normal electric guitar but has no reduction in quality of the sound.
8. SING F LTD Anygig Enhanced
SING is another one from Anygig’s travel series. Just like their other models, SING is a super-compact model that feels more like a stick to carry rather than a guitar. Its extremely small size makes it a perfect travel partner. It can accompany you to buses, trains, airplanes, or even if you are walking on the streets.
It contains the same in-body tuning system like other models Anygig has produced. The fretboard is a full-scale fretboard that is made from Sonokelin Rosewood and the neck is U-shaped. SING also comes with the smart detachable hand rest Anygig has developed for their travel series. It does not have any control over its body. As in, no volume or tone controls. The rationality behind this is the same; travel guitars are made with basic features and are supposed to be small and compact. SING is even lighter and compact than Anygig’s Ultra-Light designs so it can be carried as casually as your wallet, maybe.
The humbucker pickup in this one is slightly different from AGE. It is called the Open Black Humbucker. However, its sound and tone quality are nothing less. While SING is a tiny companion, it most certainly sounds really big.
9. Traveler Natural Electric Bundle Guitar
This is Traveler’s heavier model compared to their other series. Heavier in sound by the way, not in weight. It has more or less the same specifications. The in-body tuning system and headstock-less design give it the small size needed in traveling. The fretboard size is as per standards and there have been no reductions. It has a full scale with 24 frets. The fretboard is made of Rosewood and the entire body, including the top, back and neck are one piece and made from Maple wood.
One major difference that it has is of the coils. While other Traveler models use Americana Piezoelectric single pickups, this one has a Delectable Dual-rail Humbucker pickup which makes its sound punchier. Apart from that, the Natural Electric Bundle is more or less the same. It doesn’t have any volume of tone controls, nor the toggle switch. It has leg support beneath it, so it is a little more comfortable in playing.
10. Traveler 6-string Acoustic-Electric Guitar
The 6-string Acoustic-Electric is one of the Traveler’s models that has impressive circuitry and sound compared to their Ultra-Light range. It has the iconic in-body tuning system, so the tuners are inside the body and there is no need for a headstock. Even the body is extremely small and contains nothing extra. The 24-fret full-scale fretboard is made from Rosewood, while the body and neck are made of Maple wood. The U-shape of the neck gives players a better grip on the neck.
The pickup is the Americana Piezoelectric single-coil pickup, which makes this model a great choice for clean and little crunchy channels. The pickup is probably the reason why the guitar is named “Acoustic-Electric”. It is perfect for bluesy genres. The body contains no controls for volumes and tones so the players might have to control outputs from their amp or pedals/processors. Similar to the Ultra-Light range, the 6-string Acoustic-Electric has a leg rest stand beneath it to give players a better comfort. Lastly, the guitar comes with a gig bag which should always be counted as a plus.
There is a vast variety of travel guitar options available in the market but the key is to understand which one suits your needs the best. Are you looking for a guitar that is more portable, or one that is comfortable to hold and play for long periods? In this guide, we have presented a selection of travel guitar options that check most boxes on a player’s list.
What is important now is that you consider your needs carefully and ask yourself what you need from your travel guitar. Once that is done, re-read through our guide and guitar options, and making the right decision will be like eating a piece of cake.