Principles Behind Travel Guitars (Pt2): Drop the Body!

As a sequel to the previous article dedicated to short scaled travel guitars, let’s have a look on the second method to build a compact guitar for traveling purposes.

Full Scale Travel Guitars

Making a full scale travel guitar is challenging because the choice here is to stick to a regular scale length which is quite a constraint for someone looking to reduce the size of an instrument. Yet, it is interesting because such an instrument does not require a complete change of habits. The player’s fingers will fit just as they do on a regular guitar. Once again the luthiers had not much choices to solve this issue:

  • Reduce the body size.
  • Decapitate the guitar.

Acoustic Full Scaled Travel Guitars

Parlor guitars could make it for such a purpose because their scale length is generally about the average, while the body size of the guitar is rather small. As they were affordable, and a lot easier to carry around these instruments were successful among the wandering musicians of the first half of 20th century. The most interesting model I owned was the Republic Miniolian, a parlor size resonator guitar, and it was very interesting because of the fact that it had a resonator. Loud sounding tiny guitar! It’s sad that I had to sell it but as soon as I can, I might look for a new one!!


But is it to be considered as a travel guitar sensu stricto? I don’t think so, or at least I think there are better examples.

The Washburn Rover is one of the most interesting attempts to achieve the goal of making a full scaled acoustic travel guitar. My friend Pentaminor made a video for the Muzicosphere blog (demo of the Washburn Rover),  and I tried such a guitar once. As far as I can tell, the playing on the neck has pretty much the same feel than on a regular acoustic guitar. As for the small body size, it obviously requires some adaptation before you get totally use to it. The general volume of this tiny body sized guitar is low but still enough to allow to hear what you play. Needless to say that you don’t buy such a guitar exclusively for its tone properties.


Full Scaled Electric Travel Guitars

As a matter of fact, reducing the general body size of an electric guitar while conserving the scale length is way easier. No wonder why there are so many models available out there. Yet it is challenging in a way. Indeed, you still need a minimum amount of matter to resonate or simply to attach strings and hardware. Joking aside, you still need the guitar to be ergonomic and comfortable.

Aesthetics is also a concern though most guitar players will tell you that it doesn’t matter. They’re just lying!! Ok… Tone property is the main reason why you should get an instrument! But aesthetics is the reason why you love an instrument, period.

Last but not the least, removing the headstock is a perfect technique to reduce the overall size of a full scaled guitar. Headless guitars are challenging because manufacturers had to find alternative ways to implement the tuning mechanisms. Incidentally it also impacts the ergonomics of the instrument.


We’ll overview this further in the next articles to come…


About Sem

I am the founder of Muzicosphere (that also exists in a French version). In 2011, I also created Guitar Fail, the Guitar LOL place to be. And before that I created GAS a GoGo, a gear giveaways blog in French.

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