Travel Guitars - 200$ price range - your recommendations

Skip to the bottom

  • @scottlake  Jan 4

    Currently about to pull the trigger on this:

    Convince me of something else if you have a recommendation.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 4

    I've had this Martin for a few years,

    It sounds great and has a funky shape (that makes it almost unplayable if you don't use a guitar strap!)

  • @scottlake  Jan 4

    Thanks John, I had already ruled out backpacker due to the sound and shape. That one is great for backpacking and compactness. I can tolerate more weight and size in my travels.

  • @tootoobee  Jan 4

    Unfortunately, above your price range, still a cool travel guitar with the carbon fiber body and detachable neck.

  • @scottlake  Jan 4

    There are many out of my price range! There are a couple different types with detachable necks, and the oh-so-delightful CA Cargo that doesn't need to be broken down and could actually be used for a canoe paddle because of it's all carbon-fiber construction.

  • @bootlegger Jan 5

    That's a tough call. I was in the market a few years ago and ended up splurging and getting a gs-mini mahogany. I play it more than any of my other guitars though cause it's just so easy to play and convenient.

    That Yamahaay well be your best bet in the price range. Just make sure the neck is straight when you get it and it doesn't have any signs of being too dry and get a good setup. The good thing about those cheaper $200 guitars is hardly any of it is real wood so as long as it's okay to start it shouldn't warp too much.

    I have a "campfire guitar/beater" at my parents house I leave there that just sits in their basement and I haven't even had to tune it in years. It just stays put. It's just some cheap fender dread.

  • @spingo  Jan 5

    I've actually been playing a Yamaha JR-1 as my main guitar in my band. They show up on all the time as ignored kid guitars and you can easily get one for under $50 shipped.

    I got the classical equivalent (CGS-102A) because I like my Yamaha Guitalele so much, but it's a little hard to make some chords because I have gorilla hands. I didn't like it at all -- the string tension was just weird, where the JR-1 somehow feels fine.

    I wrote a couple of songs the first week I had the Guitalele because it's so EASY to pick up. It's tuned to A, so like a capo on the 5th fret. Those are $100 new and I got mine used at a pawn shop for $50.

    I got one of these to make t

  • @spingo  Jan 5


    I got one of these to make the JR-1 acoustic-electric but haven't installed it yet.

  • @spingo  Jan 5

    I've been kind of on a mini-guitar kick (I've been playing a $50 Squier Strat Mini and my other guitars are gathering dust) and found Harley Benton acoustics (various folks love their electrics).

    This is their $138 GS Mini knockoff and it may sound decent, based on watching very few YouTube videos.

  • @scottlake  Jan 6

    Got to play 4 travel sized guitars today back to back. All nearly same size.
    Mitchell DJ120
    Martin LX1
    Taylor Baby Taylor
    Luna Muse

    The Luna had razor sharp fret ends. The Baby Taylor needed a neck adjustment. The Martin sounded nice for the size. The Mitchell was the big surprise. Almost indistinguishable in sound from the Martin, solid spruce top, bound fretboard, and 1/3 of the price of the Martin at $99. Tomorrow I try out the Yamaha.

  • @scottlake  Jan 6

    Btw, I made a quick back to back recording on my iPhone in the Guitar Center humidified room of the two contenders. The humming at the beginning is the humidifier running. I won’t say which is which

  • @oddbod  Jan 6

    As expected, neither has much low end - #1 has more jangle/brightness
    #2 is more middle range tonally
    It's all personal taste of course but I prefer #1 based purely on what is a rough and ready sound recording.
    The Taylor GS Mini remains the most tonally rounded and pleasing (to my ears) smaller guitar I've tried (which is why I have one) - though of course you have to pay more than $200.

  • @scottlake  Jan 6

    Yamaha APXT2 no longer a consideration. Really crummy sound and poor build materials by comparison.

  • @valeriecox  Jan 8

    I'd second the Baby Taylor. Those sound really good for their size. If you could find one used in your price range, it'd be well worth it.

  • @scottlake  Jan 10

    @spingo i think that the Harley Benton brand might be made by the same company as the Mitchell brand sold in the US

  • @spingo  Jan 10

    @scottlake I would not be surprised in the least, or that they both come from the same factory, etc.

    I'm tellin' ya, Yamaha Jr 1 from shopgoodwill will do you right. This one is $40 incl shipping at the moment, and there's another up in a couple of days.

  • @vomvorton  Jan 10

    Electric rather than acoustic, but has anyone used a Hofner Shorty? I'm kinda tempted to get one to play in the car on my lunch break (using an iPad or some mini battery powered amp thing to rock out on headphones).

  • @helenseviltwin  Jan 10

    I have one of these

    It's not what you're looking for, but it vaguely relevant. I don't use it often, but it folds up to the size of a trumpet case so I can take it anywhere (including on flights)

  • @scottlake  Jan 10

    @helenseviltwin thats a cool concept!

  • @scottlake  Jan 12

    @spingo I picked up a used Yamaha FG JR1 today. No intonation issues on the b string, but there is one on the low E - but I did put mediums on the guitar - I probably need to file the nut slot down just a bit for that string. Got a brand new Baby Taylor bag for $34 for it.

  • @spingo  Jan 12

    @scottlake Hooray! I hope you enjoy it. I have Martin Flexible Core custom light 11s on mine and it's been great. Though I did just get some nickel 12s based on a Recording King parlor YouTube demo.

    @vomvorton I haven't tried that guitar (I use the neck pickup a lot), but my $50 Squier Strat Mini plays and sounds much much better than it has any right to with 12s on it. (Maybe 11s, but I think 12s). The short scale likes thicker strings, and they're not harder to play at all and stay in tune great.

    I've barely played my full-sized electrics since stumbling across it at a pawn shop. Also constantly found at shopgoodwill! And all over OfferUp.

  • @torsten  Jan 14

    I also have a snapdragon: I'm more than happy with it. Cost's around 250$ and I use it together with a blackstar fly mini amp (60$).

  • @scottlake  Jan 18

    @spingo - if you are in the US, Musician's Friend has Baby Taylor gig bags right now for $40, and it fits the FG JR-1 just right. Very well padded.

  • @spingo  Jan 18

    @scottlake Thanks! I have the paperthin one it came with somewhere, but it rarely leaves the house anyway.

  • @ustaknow Jan 18

    @scottlake - I've had many of all kinds; I've kept my Hofner, elec with batt amp. and stuck a Gibson SG pup in mine. A very cheap unit and once Setup as I can do, - plays "OK"... still awkward since ends at bridge, pup... (there are wire inserts for hand rests, but to much for here, now).

    However, why I respond is that for what these are how they sound I've picked up, e.g. "SX" brand necks from his parts side for the cost of lunch. (This is a great Luthier 101 project for kids, etc. anyone). Then, using the bridge to nut length, for Scale, screw the neck/locate it, - INSIDE an Olive Oil Can, or e.g., metal Gas Can and thread the strings along the back lip. You can make a bridge from anything, a Bridge, a bridge, 😀 , a pencil, a chunk of plastic, dried chicken bone, etc., - and just slide it under the strings to intonate and adjust height. Also, the neck bolted inside the Can (well, you can get fancy and pull the Frets and flatten the top of neck fitting inside the can, makes for a great fit), makes for great initial action, - adjust fwd bow on the neck if needed.

    If you want to get creative you can sink metal threads into the neck, for infinite neck removals, -- or just be careful with regular neck screws, - take it apart a few hundred times 😀 Some may use large washers on top too, and etc. design, fancy elements, metal slip on top soundboard for QA of breakdown.

    Unless you cut a hole or large hole, the Can holds up structurally well, and is both Acoustic as-is or you can put a contact pickup on it for, like, .25 cents, - I got a bag of them.

    Oh, and with the contact tab pickup, it seconds as a great "AM" radio sounding Mic 😉 - screaming into you guitar can be cathartic too.

    You can screw any other kind of pup, and get a large sound.

    Also, since a standard size neck, - does not throw me off and looks interesting.

    The sound on all of them are marginal other than maybe tootoobee's recommendation, - those look interesting, carbon fiber composite.

  • @ustaknow Jan 18

    Hey @scottlake - since you're here asking this, figured you want input, right? 😀

    So, looked that over at the yamaha site... specs, - and the string gauge, looks heavy which fits since a shorter scale will be "floppy" and needs a "stiff" string. However, stiff strings come in lighter gauges, -- so, since I too love amazon with prime and free returns, -- I'd take my time. I see it has a pup in it too.

    It looks like a nice unit, --can't tell if solid spruce unless missed that. For a unit like that a ply-top could be a benefit, or not.

    In case you wonder Scale Length, - its from the bottom of the Nut, to the middle of the Bridge, generally speaking. This is 22 13/16 ... likely as short as one can get and still be in *Standard Tuning. Sometimes in Travel Bass's the E-string gets funky in a number of ways, due to the floppy-ness of the string. (There's a great no-brand one on Amazon, no issues... but I digress.)

    I didn't read all you may have written, but as well, when I've traveled, one-off/one time stuff, with all things considered, I'd just buy an el-cheapo there and give it away when left, e.g., Key West, foreign countries. Lots of pawn, 2nd hand shops, or just plain cheap-new.

    It's why I tossed in the above too, since if even got crushed, likely can bang it out and play anyway 😉 -- no loss, or go to any restaurant/hotel dumpster. You can put that neck in with a can opener or pocket knife 😀 -- very green here 😉

    I figured while I have the time, I'd toss that in. -- And there may be others who like the Folk-enginuity instruments.

  • @scottlake  Jan 18

    @ustaknow i bought the guitar already. I do like 4 string bass is an SX and my Classical is a Valencia, sold by Rondo, which is the sales outlet for SX in the US. The little Yamaha I bought actually sounds pretty great, as good or better than a Baby Taylor.

  • @vomvorton  Jan 19

    I picked up a Hofner Shorty today, my local second-hand shop had one in and since I was there to clear out some unwanted gear I ended up getting it for free (disclaimer: unless you consider the money I spent on the stuff I was getting rid off, but that was Long Ago). It's a little top-heavy, but with a strap on it seems to be very playable sitting down or standing up, and sounds good plugged into the iPad via an iRig. A bit of fret buzz in places but definitely seems like a lot of fun, hopefully this will open up my lunch breaks for some songwriting and basic demo recording!

  • @ustaknow Jan 22

    Hey @scottlake -- good to know; and very glad it works for you! Thank you for that update.

    It's so hard to make assumptions with instruments, even, e.g. the gauge strings 12's, - do not necessarily dictate "hard to play" and my be *needed to move the "Soundboard". String Action for me is everything.

    I had a Fender Jazz Bass, fretless, with a certain brand and very light gauge string (which surprised me, -"light" is not usually what I go to), and even somewhat floppy (no stiffness, core wire), -- well, setup that way, some buddy who was in some regional theater house band, orchestra "had to have it" so let him. It had a very special "voice"... --we get lucky sometimes!

    My favorite Bass is my Fender Precision fretless... but, sometimes even it can get a bit woody-muddy in certain mixes and move to a Washburn Bantam XB100 ! 😀 ... w/DiMarzios, (precision design) w/super light African Mahogany body, -- a $50 bass, (aside from the pups) ... I wouldn't sell it for any amount, and lives on many tracks.

    -- Great thread!

  • @jacobeverettwallace  Jan 23

    I've also been looking for a small body/travel acoustic and I've had a few people recommend Orangewood guitars to me, they have a couple of smaller/parlor body options. I haven't tried one yet. Anyone familiar?

  • @scottlake  Jan 23

    @jacobeverettwallace whatever you buy, do not pass up on the Yamaha FG-JR1 or 2. These can be had for nearly free and there are tons out there. The one I bought had way better than entry level fretwork and to my ear sounds much better than Baby Taylor’s and Martin LX1 models and runs circles around Martin’s Backpacker. Just recorded this tonight with mine direct into my phone using Apple’s free Music Maker app.

  • @spingo  Jan 24

    @scottlake Happy to see another JR convert! I love mine and play it 10x more than my dreadnought. I think it actually fits in mixes better than the big guitar because of the limited (but enjoyable) tonal range.

  • @scottlake  Jan 24

    @spingo you are the one who convinced me to give them a try. Better quality than Yamaha’s APXT2 in tone and materials, better intonation than Little Martin, Baby Taylor and Guitar Center’s store brand. It was an easy choice

  • @tawalker  Jan 24

    I got a Yamaha guitalele in 2012, and as both a guitarist and ukulele player, I really like the "blend" of instruments in the little fella. Just one gripe, though: the string-spacing is SO cramped!

    I would dearly love to get hold of an Enya guitalele:

    I already own their EUR-X1 (a round-bodied soprano ukulele) and love it, but their guitalele model looks as if you somehow have to order it directly from Enya in China.

  • @tawalker  Jan 25

    Also... I'd nearly forgotten about this Aria "parlour guitar", the ASA 18H:

    In the UK, I've seen it sell for £109 (though £129 seems to be the current "average"), so I'd guess you could find it in the US for about $99 if it's available there.

    I have quite a sizeable instrument collection by now, so I fear my wife would take a dim view of another (unless I "unloaded" a few first!)... but if I "needed" a travel-friendly acoustic guitar, this Aria would be top of my list.

  • @spingo  Jan 25

    @tawalker I have giant gorilla hands and have to basically grab the headstock of the guitalele to make an A minor shape, yeah. But it's so fun!

    I had a baritone uke for years I never gelled with because of the wide string spacing, and even with the spacing issues, my hand just knows how to grab a C shape on the guitalele.

  • @tawalker  Jan 25

    @spingo I partly bought the Yamaha guitalele in 2012, because I had just started the 50/90 Challenge (my first go at it - only did it twice!).

    I wrote and recorded almost half the songs for the challenge, using just the guitalele and an ancient iPod Touch (no outboard gear, just the iPT mike) running Garageband! I sometimes think I should strip things right down again like that...

    Many of the guitalele/GB songs are here: (I'm especially fond of "I'll Be Late Today": (

  • @spingo  Jan 25

    @tawalker There's something really appealing about making the gear as small as possible. I rarely touch my full-sized guitars any more, and having a DAW (and Moog and etc) in my pocket is kind of thrilling.

    (I tried 50/90 and got about 10 in--not bad, not amazing.)

  • @evinwolverton  Jan 29

    A used Taylor GS mini. Buy one on FB / CL and be done with this search. Nothing else comes even halfway close. Baby Taylors are bonfire kindling by comparison.

  • @oddbod  Jan 29

    @evinwolverton a man after my own heart

  • @spingo  Jan 30

    @evinwolverton The GS Minis are nice. I don't like the usual crispy spruce Taylor high end, for some reason, but I came pretty close on the mahogany one.

Leave a Message. Log in to FAWM or sign up first...