Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Acoustic Travel Guitars Part 2

(I apologize that this review took so long to publish. I had some issues come up in December that delayed  finishing the article. Thank you for understanding.)

Upon doing some further research I discovered there are many companies that offer acoustic travel guitars as part of their line up.

Part One of Acoustic Travel Guitars was based on instruments which I am familiar. Part Two is Acoustic Travel Guitars that I have run across on the web or in reading material.

Blackbird Nylon strung
The first highly unusual and highly expensive acoustic travel guitar is made by a company named Blackbird. The Blackbird Rider Nylon guitar is made of carbon fiber, in the manner of Rainsong Guitars. This is considered a green guitar, although the finish is actually black. No trees were harvested by its manufacturer. So it is CITES approved.

The Rider is indestructible according to the literature. It weighs in at right around 3 pounds. The body on this guitar is somewhat trapezoidal.

There is no sound hole. Instead it has been replaced by a “sound scoop” on the upper bout facing the player. The Rider also comes in a steel string version.

Perhaps the downside is the price. The nylon string version sells for $1900 USD and the steel string Rider sells for $1800.

The Composite Acoustics Cargo travel guitar is another instrument made of carbon fiber, which the manufacturer refers to as composite. As with all carbon guitars, including this one, you get durability and strength in a lightweight package. This guitar holds up well in extreme temperatures and if the airline handles this guitar in a rough manner, it is not going to break.

The instrument’s unique design might be mistaken for an Ovation guitar. It has a fairly deep cutaway which slants downward at the end of the guitars neck, making those high notes very accessible. The sound hole is traditional on this short scale guitar. The fingerboard is also made of composite material, as are the top, back, sides, bridge, saddle and nut.

This instrument comes with an active L.R, Baggs Element, under-saddle transducer with a volume control.

The scale is 22-3/4 inches. Like the Blackbird Rider, this guitar is much too expensive. Its suggested retail price is $1800, but you could probably get one for around $1478 if you are so inclined.

Composite Acoustics: (337) 233-4119;

The Hawaiian Backpacker Acoustic Travel Guitars, looks much like a Martin Backpacker. The Asian manufacturer refers to it as a Hawaiin/Dulcimer Acoustic Camping/ Backpack guitar.

The guitar is 35 inches from the top of the neck toward the distal end of the guitar. It is only a mere 7-3/4 inches at its widest point.

This is a steel string instrument. The bridge is a traditional style (probably movable) wooden bridge. A mandolin style tailpiece anchors the strings. The Hawaiian Backpacker Acoustic comes with its own gig bag and is a steal for under $40 USD. It comes in natural, black and burnt-red finishes.

The Enorez Travel Guitar is made by a Chinese manufacture and imported by an east coast USA company called Zero One. If you spell zero one backwards, it is loosely Enorez.

Their travel guitar is quite unique. The thin and small body is reminiscent of the shape of an old mandolin. The strings are anchored on the head of the neck and are strung to the tuners at the bottom of the instrument. It looks backwards. This guitar comes with a hardshell tweed case and will set you back $170 to $180 USD.

Yamaha comes in with a sort of acoustic travel instrument they call The Guitalele  GL-1. This is actually a small nylon strung acoustic guitar.

Back in the 1920’s stringed instrument manufacturers were coming out with variations on the banjo such as the banjo-uke, the banjo-mandolin and banjo-guitar. The Guitalele seems to be the current decades version.

Yamaha suggests you tune this instrument to ADGCEA, to compensate for the short scale. This allows you to play guitar chords on the instrument and stay in tune.

The price is around $100 USD. Yamaha considers it to be a fusion of the guitar and the ukulele.

The price is not much more than what mid-priced ukes are currently selling for. The benefit of the Guitalele for a guitarist is not having to learn ukulele chords.  I could be a great at instrument for a guitarist looking for a new way to play, or a ukulele player who wants to produce a fuller sound. The scale is 17", so tuning up a fourth is a must. This is another travel guitar that is sized small enough to fit in an airline overhead compartment.

Tanglewood TB Baby
The TB Baby and Baby Deluxe were offered by the Tanglewood Guitar Company of the U.K as part of their Evolution series. The TB Baby has a similar appearance to the Baby Taylor. The guitar was an all laminate model. The TB Baby Deluxe came with a solid top and sold for around $129 USD. They also made a TB Big Baby. You might check eBay for used models.

Wechter guitar offers a small travel guitar, model 1720 Elite. This comes with a solid mahogany top, sides and back. The neck is contructed of nato wood. The fingerboard is made of rosewood. All Wechter guitars use the Plek Pro Setup system which gives each instrument a personalized factory set up for accurate intonation and is guarenteed to prevent fret buzz. This is done through a computed aided machine with the ability to level frets within .001 mm of accuracy. This enables the 1720 Elite model to maintain a low action for enhanced playability.

The furniture grade mahogany gives this guitar added strength in the event it gets knocked around on a vacation or camping trip. The guitar has a satin finish and a 23.3" scale.

Ovation AA13
Ovation also offers some travel guitars under it's Applause line. These are the Mini-Applause AN13 nylon string guitar and the AA13 steel string acoustic guitar. Both come with spruce tops and Ovation's parabolic back and suggested selling price is $249. The AE13 is an acoustic electric model of the AA13 and sells for $50 more. Gig bags are extra for these instruments

I've mentioned Voyage Air guitars in the past. This company manufacturers full sized guitars with an unique hinged neck. This allows the player to fold the guitar in half an place in a backpacker style case that is included with the instrument. This design meets requirements for airline carry-on luggage.

To pack the guitar away, one simply unscrews a nut at the neck heel.

Surprisingly the hinged neck design is reported not to effect tonality.  Most models sell from $600 to $1000 USD.

This instrument features an East Indian rosewood fretboard and chrome plated tuning heads that top off the neck. The African mahogany bodies with solid spruce tops are manufactured offshore in Korea. The necks are manufactured in the USA and the instrument is assembled in the USA.

Some additional features of the Voyage Air VAOM-04 Songwriter include and hand inlaid 2-ring rosette and 6 ply binding. The saddle is compensated and Voyage Air comes with a proprietary nut design the manufacture refers to as the Captured Nut. The scale is 25.5".

The Amigo Travel guitar can be found on any number of musical instrument web sites including 

This small guitar has an elongated mandolin shape. The top is solid spruce. The back and sides are mahogany. The Amigo AMT10 comes with a padded nylon carry bag. It is priced from $90 to $120 USD.

The Breedlove Guitar Company offers the C250/CM travel guitar. It is manufactured in Korea. The top is solid western red ceadar. The back and sides are laminated mahogany. It has a short scale of 19.1" and has a street price of aproximately $450 USD.

Breedlove suggests you tune this instrument up 5 frets to A on the first and sixth string to compensate for the short scale. 

The C250 comes with an undersaddle piezo pickup with a built in preamp powered by a nine volt battery. Included is a chromatic tuner that is built in the guitar as well as a tone control.

Emerald X5
The Emerald X5 Life Woody is/was made in Donegal, Ireland. This guitar is the creation of Alistair Hay or Emerald Guitars.It features a one piece carbon composite body and neck. The instrument is enhanced by a redwood burl veneer over the composite fiber. The fiber construction allows the neck heel to have an extreme tapered design allowing easy access to the higher frets. The instrument scale is 25.5" or full scale.

It comes with a B-Band pickup system with a built in tuner and is/was priced at 995 EURO's. It is a beautiful instrument.

Great Divide
For those of you that are short of funds, which would include many of us these days, you may want to look into The Great Divide Campfire SST-N Travel Guitar. $99 USD buys you a small guitar with a solid spruce top, a dove tailed, glued-in mahogany neck topped with a 19 fret rosewood finger board, a bone nut and saddle. The back and sides are laminated sapele wood. The scale is small at only 22.7" and it comes with a gig bag.

Sierra Compass

The Sierra Compass Series ST10 Travel Acoustic Guitar is an excellent travel instrument. It features a solid spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides. Die-cast chrome tuners and a satin finish.

This instrument includes a high quality padded gig bag. Suggested price is $300 USD.

Alvarez RT16
The Alvarez RT16 Regent Series 7/8 Travel Size Acoustic Guitar is a perfectly formed travel sized dreadnought. Compact, yet plays just like a full size acoustic.

The RT16 comes with an Alvarez padded gig bag and has a spruce top and mahogany back and sides. As a 7/8th sized guitar, the neck profile is easier to play. The guitar is constructed using a dovetail neck joint. The bridge is the patented Alvarez bi-level model, designed to enhance vibration. The scale is short at 22.5". The neck radius is 10". The neck is mahogany topped with a rosewood fretboard.

Newporter Mini
Fender guitars offers the Newporter Traveler Mini Acoustic model. This is named after Fender's well known 1965 Newporter guitar.

The new model is a mini-dreadnought with a short scale at only 22.6 inches.

The guitars top is made of spruce with mahogany back and sides. Fender has used a satin finish for the Newporter. The neck is made of mahogany topped with a 20 fret rosewood board. The bridge is also made of rosewood. Like the '65 model, the mini Newporter comes with a Stratocaster style headstock.

Unfortunately one of the best travel acoustic guitars is no longer in production. You might find one on eBay or another auction site. The Tacoma Papoose, by the Tacoma Guitar Company, was made in Washington state.

This wonderful instrument came with a solid cedar top, solid mahogany back, sides and neck. The fretboard was rosewood, as was the bridge.

Since the scale is 19.1", it was suggested by the manufacturer to tune it to A. It was sold with its own gigbag. Uniquely, the "paisley" soundhole was on the upper top bout.

The bracing on these guitars was proprietary and know as the Voiced Bracing Support System.

Tacoma Guitars were designed by Terry Atkins and George Gruhn, the well known collector/appraiser.

Back when these were being marketed, the list price on the P1 model was around $800. Though most Papoose guitar manufactured were six string models, Tacoma also offered a 12 string model.

Breedlove Passport. This is an excellent arrangement - Chet meets Queen.


patrick said...

Hi Marc. First, just to say well done on this post. I learnt a fair bit even though we think of ourselves as specialists in this class of guitar.

I'm Patrick at and I just wanted to add a couple to your list and make a couple of new comments too.

You mentioned the Irish Emerald X7 but they also have the X5 (with offset soundhole) and the latest T8 - a traditional shape without cutaway - so they are really embracing the "travel" format in a big way. Our link to Emerald is here

One you need to know about is the Furch LJ10 - a Czech made acoustic with detachable neck (and headstock), a solid cedar top and an incredibly small pack size. This is much smaller packed up than the Voyage Air and sounds superb – and absolutely no problem as hand baggage in the cabin of the smallest aircraft - sets the new standard to beat, I think. See the LJ10 ...

We also think that the Walden models are very worthwhile. Well put together, they sound great and are so much better finished than many other makes.

As an aside, we know that many acoustic players don’t consider the electric models specifically made for them. The advantages however are many ... smaller and tougher than a full acoustic, quiet (really important when practicing at 3am in a hotel or campsite!) and if you gig, you get a road warrior without the common feedback issues.

There are numerous but for the steel string player I’d point people to the new SoloEtte Rhody

Or perhaps the Swiss TheBONE Western

You could also think about the Traveler Escape Original but they also have the Escape MKII and Ultra Light models.

There are others too but I'll leave it there for today.

Anyway, thanks for the nice blog.

Thanks, Patrick

Marc said...

Thanks Patrick. I'll be checking out your site soon. I profiled the electric guitars you mentioned awhile when I wrote about electric travel guitars. Check it out sometime. I'll have to check out a few of the guitars you suggested as I was not aware of them.

Thanks for visiting and don't be a stranger.

John said...

This informative post has the potent to give precise info about this string instruments that have positive effect on music. Acoustic electric cutaway guitar is also one of the best musical instrument which can bring music in perfect rhythm.

Sandy Bali said...

This is a very useful information for frequent flier guitarists. What brand would you suggest that will not get out of tuned because of climate and temperature changes? Thank you. Sandybali

dokan sam said...

Guitar is a stringed musical instrument with a fretted fingerboard, typically in curved sides, and usually six or twelve strings. It beautifies the melody of songs. I am so happy and I want to tell you lot of thanks for you interesting writing skills.
Play Guitar

the guitar learner said...

i have the cheapest one, the Yamaha CX-40 nylon guitar.. it has a nice sound but i think the pickups isn't work well in delivering the tone.. i need a microphone to capture the whole sound character. i guess the price define the quality indeed.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the Ashbury Acoustic Electric travel guitar in there. Maybe because they don't seem to make it any more, but there must be a fair number around. I got mine a few years back from Hobgoblin, to give me something a bit easier to carry around at festivals. Well made, and very pleasant to play, and good value. I'd recommend it to anyone, if they can find one.

James L. Ashworth said...

This guitar is second to none in it's class of travel guitars or even full-sized guitars. Plugged in, on a full-sized stage, to a professional sound system, on a cruise ship, this Rider sounds awesome. Close your eyes and you won't believe the sound from its Fishman Matrix Infinity electronics. I am a vocalist, not a guitarist, but people who gather around me to listen to my vocalizations, are amazed to hear what comes out of this small musical instrument.

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