Rather than buying a guitar when you reach your final destination, or carry a cumbersome full size guitar when you are backpacking, why not choose a quality travel guitar for your backpack. When looking for a backpacking guitar there is a wide range of out there, but we have decided what we think are the best value for money ones.
We will look at some of the high end guitars like the Martin Backpacker, the Little Martin and the Taylor Baby range. We will also take a look at some of the more budget guitars as well such as the Dean Flight and Luna Safari, and also just for good measure we may even throw in a strange on or two.
One thing to note though, if you asked us about backpacking with instruments, we would say ditch the guitar altogether and take up the harmonica, or if you must have strings, why not take an uke. We have honestly seen way to many weary backpackers in the past carrying around their backpacking guitars like they are a dead weight, and not getting the chance to use them half as much as they like. If you on the other hand are planning to spend a fair bit of time in one place, then why not take you guitar, and enjoy the many magical moments that you can spontaneously create!
The best backpacking guitars of 2016
The Martin Backpacker guitar (The most portable)
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the Martin Backpacker for transportability! This steel-string (and nylon) Backpacker travel guitar is lightweight, tough, simple to play, tune and is designed to fit into the smallest of spots. Don’t let the tiny size of the Martin Backpacker Guitar trick you. It is well made, has a solid tonewood top and a solid mahogany neck, back, and sides that gives this cool little guitar a shockingly huge projection.
Built to withstand the rigors of outdoors, trekking, and as much road romping voyaging you can throw at it. Incorporates fantastic chrome-encased tuners. Our only recommendations with this would be to possibly install a piezo pickup in it, and maybe if you really want to be compact make your own bag, as the supplied gig bag does seem larger than it needs to be. It doesn’t have the fullest of sound and may give you a slight uke flavour to your tone, but for portability you just can’t beat it.
The Baby Taylor Travel Guitar (One of the best sounding)
If we had to pick the best backpacking guitar to take with us, it would either be this one if the Little Martin. Don’t ask us which one is better as we honestly do not know, it is like that age old Windows or Mac argument where both are right. The baby Taylor travel guitar does come in two sizes, various tone woods and comes with a built in pickup. This sounds that good that we recommend this guitar for everyday use, the simplicity of the build gives it a good sold tone, we honestly believe that things like pearl inlays etc, can affect the tone enough that basic can sound better. I may be a little biased as I do personally own a 00015 martin, and let’s be honest you can’t really get any more basic than that lol….
The ¾-size Baby Taylor set its roots as a backpacking guitar of choice years ago and today is more prevalent today than it has ever been before. At the heart of everything is a genuine guitar sound and welcoming playing feel. It is built with a layered sapele back and sides and a top of solid Sitka spruce, you can include a capo, high-string it, tune it down, play it around the open air fire, help your children shape their first guitar harmonies, anyway you want to utilise it,
The Big Baby Taylor travel guitar is adaptation of their 15/16-scale Dreadnought , and has a laminated sapele back & sides, a solid Sitka spruce top, and Taylor’s Expression System (ES-B) pickup. The pickup is controlled by a built pre-amp that also has a really helpful chromatic tuner. The preamp/tuner unit has a LED display for tuning and low battery indication, along with both Tone and Volume controls.
Both sizes of guitar come with a quality Taylor gig bag.
The Little Martin Backpacking Guitar (One of the best sounding)
At the time of writing I believe there are six Little Martins in the range. As usual you cannot beat the quality of a Martin guitar. These are great for the serious traveling musician, and if you get an electro-acoustic version, you can be gigging while you travel. The whole range is big on tone and small in size, so they are pretty much the best backpacking guitars out there. A lot of musicians use these for their regular gigs so it must tell you something about the quality.
This backpacking guitar is ideal for travel, student practice or for just playing around the campfire, on the beach or some random train station you may be in. If we were to pick one travel guitar it would probably be one of these or the baby Taylor. Our only gripe with this guitar is that it would be nice if they produced one in all solid wood, as this would then bring it into a league of it’s own. We do understand why though as the HPL back and sides does make for a more robust travel guitar.
The currently range of Little Martin backpacker guitars comprises of six different models which are the LX1E, LX1, LXK2, LX, LXM, and LXME. All of these travel guitars are the same size as each other and all of them come with a quality padded gig bag. The differences are mainly in the materials they are built with and whether they have electronics or not.
The Washburn Rover Travel Guitar
Even though this backpacking guitar has a little body, it shows that the size does not make a difference to quality of the sound that this instrument produces. Compared to it’s full size counterparts, the Washburn Steel String backpacker Guitar stands its ground when you take into consideration its travel guitar size. Also for the price it is hard to beat when you are considering buying a backpacker guitar. This guitar also comes in various colors, which we are sure you will find pleasing.
This backpacking guitar comes with a full 24-inch scale. No taking shortcuts either as the materials used are quality with a solid spruce top, a mahogany body and neck and also a rosewood fingerboard. The guitar is finished with high quality tuners and has a professional binding and inlay..
This is the sort of guitar that can be used for practice as well as for travel. Its projection and rich tone keeps up with full size guitars and the 24-inch scale gives you ease of playing. The neck is exceptionally agreeable for fingering, the body isn’t massive and fits into tight spaces and the quality of build is keeping pace with full sized guitars for similar money. This backpacking guitar just feels great and asks to be played.
The Washburn Steel String Travel Guitar comes complete with a quality cordura case with a hard foam lining and folded interior. This case incorporates interior and outer pockets for storage of accessories, a backpack with luggage straps, rings to alter the strap and clasps for an accurate fit to your body. And, at last, the case is designed to fit aircraft overhead lockers on airplanes.
While it can’t compete with a backpacker guitar such as the likes of the little Martin or Baby Taylor travel guitars. At this price it is a winner, and you won’t worry about the odd dent or prang that you give it during your backpacking trip.
The Luna Muse Safari Backpacker Guitar
The Safari Muse Spruce 3/4 Size Travel Guitar is light on your back and easy on your wallet! While it is a small travel guitar, Luna Safari Guitars convey a full size tone and tonal voice that give a false representation of its little size. This backpacker guitar is wonderfully built from select spruce, mahogany & rosewood. The Safari travel guitar oozes a quality build to match its sound and design. Whether searching for a travel and backpacking guitar, a guitar for off the cuff gigs, more youthful players as an student guitar or songwriting on the go, the Luna Safari Series are ideal for an assortment of players and requirements. This guitar is also available with a Mahogany top. Cushioned gig pack included.
The Dean Flight Travel Guitar
Ibanez Piccolo Backpacking Guitar
As and when we find a new travel-guitar that is worth listing, we will add it. Just remember when you go to buy your travel guitar use your ears. It is honestly the best and only way, as only you know your style. As we mentioned previously we recommend the little martin backpacker guitar and the baby taylor guitar but you may think other wise. We also like the voyage air guitar which is a nice folding guitar but is not always easy to find.
It is also worth looking at a small guitar such as the 000 series Martins, but this are larger than a travel guitar. You could always look at a mini guitar like the electric Hofner Shorty but you would then have to carry a mini guitar amp with you. A mini-guitar could be a good option though if you wanted to play live.
If looking at electric the Traveler guitar range is also worth a look at. They have both acoustic and electric travel guitars and various models. We have not tried these travel guitars out ourselves but have heard good things about them.
For ultimate portability you cannot beat the martin backpacker guitar. It is small and well built, but for us we just can’t get over the twanginess of it. But if you just want a travel guitar to practise with and not play I’ve, this is definitely worth a look.
For a budget backpacker guitar the Washburn Rover is tough to beat. It does come in at a great price. Obviously it is more expensive than the martin backpacker and baby taylor guitar. But at least you won’t have to worry about knocking it about on your travels.
So in summary we do think that the martin travel guitar range is probably the best range of backpack guitar to look at. But to actually say which is the best travel guitar this is a question that only you can decide!