If you're planning to hit the road soon but you don't want to lose precious practice time on the guitar, look into travel electric guitars. These portable instruments make it easy to bring your strumming and shredding on the road or in the air.
A Portable Electric Guitar
This type of guitar is designed for portability, and this means it has one of two designs:
- It is made smaller and lighter than normal, full-sized guitars so it can fit in small carrying cases and not be a burden.
- It is a full-size guitar, but it is designed to be disassembled and easily stowed away for travel.
However, it's more than just size and portability. These guitars are also designed to sound good and offer a quality playing experience in any setting or situation. Their builders take everything into consideration, from the pickups to the headstock, to achieve both adaptability and good sound quality for on-the-go situations.
- Unusual placement of tuning pegs
- Interlocking parts that quickly disassemble and reassemble
- The removal of a traditional body, leaving only the bridge, pickups, and neck in some cases
- The use of carbon or aluminum or other more durable materials that can handle travel and make the guitar lighter
Benefits and Disadvantages
Like any product, owning an electric guitar designed for travel has its ups and downs, including the following things to consider:
- Pros: A high quality guitar not only gives you the freedom to practice on the road, but it is often used in performance settings. Touring can be rough on guitars, and some pros like using top-notch travel guitars during intensive tour schedules. It allows them to keep their most expensive guitars at home safe and sound.
- Cons: While a travel guitar, especially a quality model, sounds great, it's hard to duplicate the sound of a full-size electric guitar with a large amp and effect set-up. Likewise, like learning a new instrument, the smaller size of a travel guitar can feel uncomfortable because your muscle memory has learned to play on a full-size guitar.
Of course, these pros and cons depend largely on your situation and what you're hoping to achieve.
Some Great Options
The good news is there are many types of travel electric guitars on the market, so the odds are good you will find the product that meets your needs.
The Ridgewing Foldable Full-Size Guitar
The revolutionary Ridgewing is listed first because it may very well be the future of travel guitars, if not the future of all guitars, as Guitar Player has pointed out. It is the first guitar to be completely modular and portable, meaning you can disassemble and reassemble it in under a minute, ready to play at pitch. You can take it apart and store it in a small briefcase.
The following disassembly video of the Ridgewing is jaw-dropping to behold.
Technically, it is a hybrid, which means it is an acoustic-electric, but it has a normal electric guitar plug-in that allows it to be played into any amplifier or effects processor. It costs about $800 new.
For something really fun, you can watch Ridgewing's model that has a built-in LED light show that you can control using an app on your phone.
If you love Fender Stratocasters, then the Travelcaster Deluxe travel guitar will be near to your heart. It has the classic Fender shape, three Strat-style single coil pickups, and a Strat-like whammy bar. It is a 25 1/2" scale electric guitar with a short headstock. It weighs a little over 5 pounds and is 33.74 inches in length.
It retails new for about $300 and comes in Surf Green or Black depending on what the manufacturer has in stock.
Wright Guitar Line and the Jazzy NightCat
The Wright Electric Guitar company has become well known for its quality travel electric guitars. One of its latest models, the NightCat, has a rich, warm tone that is impressive for a travel guitar. The player in the video below demonstrates how this guitar's warmth works especially well for jazz. Features include:
- Neck position humbucker
- Nut width is 1.75"
- Full scale length of 25.5"
- 33" long
- 22 frets
- Cutaway body for access to higher notes
The NightCat retails new for $3000 directly from Wright Electric Guitar, and it comes with a custom-built travel case. It is on the high end of travel guitars, certainly, but if you're a serious jazz player or love jazz electric guitars, this company should be at the top of your list as you investigate options.
The Wright Electric Guitar company, a boutique custom-style shop, regularly rotates the models that they are selling and they do not sell in high volume. Check their site regularly for exciting new models.
Pignose PGG 200
The Pignose is famous for its built-in amplifier, which brings the convenience of a travel guitar to a new level. With the Pignose, you don't need to bring a small amplifier with you. Besides a built-in amp, the guitar has a 24 1/4 inch scale size, 22 frets, a maple neck, and a quarter inch jack that gives you the option of plugging into an external amp.
The Pignose PGG 200 retails for about $400.
Nomad by Fernandes Guitars
If it was put to a vote, the Nomad travel guitar by Fernandes Guitars would likely win in the "Most Stylish" category. Its wild flame-art and American flag designs (just to name a few), and its unique round shape that perfectly fits the shape of your leg makes it a one-of-a-kind instrument.
It also sounds amazing, thanks to built-in effects that come loaded into the guitar. You simply toggle switches on the top of the body to switch between effects.
Nomad guitars can be difficult to find new from a retailer, but you can purchase them used from about $200 to $1200 for a higher end custom model.
The Lapstick Guitar, made by a boutique custom shop in Europe, has become known for its simple, tiny size but robust tone and performance quality that has been blind-tested with a Gibson guitar and stood its ground amazingly well. It is 3/4 the size of a normal guitar, and its neck-only design is small enough to fit in the pocket of an overcoat.
The guitar ships to the US and costs about $750 before shipping, but you must contact the boutique shop before ordering to check availability for the model you want.
The Palm Guitar (V2 Custom)
The Palm Guitar, billed as the "world's smallest guitar," is an astonishingly short 26 inches in length, several inches shorter than most travel guitars. (Most of them average around 33 to 34 inches in length.) And the V2 Palm Guitar, which is made from polyurethane microcellular material, only weighs a little over 3 lbs. It has 20 frets and two humbuckers that give it a superb sound.
The V2 costs about $800 plus shipping. They also offer the V1, a more expensive graphite composite guitar that sells for about $1,600 and is custom made-to-order for each client. For the V1, customers must contact the boutique-style shop first to get an exact quote.
Hit the Road
Now that you've been properly introduced to the travel electric guitar world, you should easily be able to pick out the one you like and head off on your next adventure. Don't forget sunblock, a good book, and your travel guitar, and you'll be ready for whatever the journey throws your way.