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Best RV Guitar / Back-Packing Guitar / Camping Guitar / Travel Guitar
for ME...UNDER $1000...WAY under $1000


As everyone's situation is likely different, you should do independent research on your own prior to utilizing this information in any way. Try out lots of different guitars from different dealers, then go with the best (preferably, 'local to you') guitar dealer / music store. I, personally, would not purchase one over the web as every piece of wood is different, every final product will have minor degrees of variation (which contributes to overall tone), and if you purchase from a 'local store / dealer', it will probably go though a more 'personalized set-up' by their 'in-house' guitar tech. Again, just my opinion....and you know what they say about opinions...



I will be adding MANY notes / info as I continue the 'Travels for the perfect Travel Guitar...for me...
So what’s the best travel guitar / RV guitar / best camping guitar / back packing guitar?        Let me first explain the primary objectives I was looking to accomplish on my quest for a guitar that fit the above ‘discriptors’ and my reason for writing this.

Everyone will have different objectives / needs when looking for a guitar to purchase and there are a myriad of factors that will go into the process of shopping and hopefully, ultimate selection / purchase of a ‘travel guitar/ camping guitar / pack guitar / RV guitar'.

Let me first give a bit of my background, and why I felt the need to write this, as I’m sure there are plenty of other ‘reviews / opinions’ out there on the topic.

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 16 and I’m 51, so lets see, that’s 35 years. What do I mean by playing; Mostly self taught with a few lessons here and there, including a couple of summers back in the 1980’s of private lessons once a week by Ty Tabor of ‘Kings-X’. I like most kinds of music from ‘Hard Edged Rock’, to Blue-Grass (one of the hardest to be good at in my opinion) to ‘Old School Country’. I worked in a ‘full line’ music store through the 1990’s doing tasks that included ‘being the guitar guy’ for  much of it (as well as the lighting and sound guy), was the ‘buyer’ on the NAMM show trips, decided what guitars / lines to pickup, bought, sold and traded guitars on the floor and at ‘vintage guitar shows’, and did much of the guitar tech / repair work (as well as work on violins (fiddles), banjos, mandos, Ukes, and most electric and acoustic stringed instruments.  While at the store I sold most of the mainstream lines such as
 Fender, Martin, Ibanez, Gibson, Ken Smith, Blue-Ridge, Seagull, Peavey, Yamaha, and probably many I’ve forgotten. Over those years I have played a few thousand guitars. While I may not have personally liked MANY of those guitars, I’ve always had an open mind of what a manufacturer / maker was trying to achieve at a given price point (ok, probably one of the worst playing guitar I played was the second ‘prototype’ ( circa 1948 or 1949) of Leo Fender’s electric guitar, which mostly resembled what would become the ‘Telecaster’). The best two ‘acoustic’ guitars I played I still remember. The were both ‘Dreadnaught’s’ / Flat-tops. One, and the best I remember to this point was a 1941 Martin D-28 that was in for repair. The other was a close second and it was a ‘Collins’ version of a Martin D28, back in the 1990’s.
Now I’m a ‘casual player’, do a bit of ‘horse trading vintage and used’ guitars on the side, and as you can see from the rest of the web site, am immersed in audio and audio gear constantly.

While I’ve owned MANY guitars in the past, I’m pretty satisfied with my current ‘corral’. Yeah, there’s a few I would still like to add, but from a ‘player’ standpoint, I’m good. However we do a lot of traveling / camping with an RV, and I’m getting tired of lugging my ‘good’ guitar in it’s full size case. Besides it’s weight and size, there’s the risks involved with taking it out in the elements. So that’s why I’ve embarked on this quest. I thought I may as well make a record for others of the details.

So what am I looking for in a travel guitar / RV guitar / best camping guitar / back packing guitar? That’s the first question you have to ask yourself, again, as players will vary in what they are looking for (or start off thinking they are looking for). Here’s what I wanted. I would be playing a lot of ‘open chords’ and strumming, so wanted ‘steel strings’. Since there would likely be no amplification ‘out in the woods’ (thank goodness), I wanted something that would offer good volume (if I end up in a ‘campfire sing-a-long’). Since I was playing a lot of variety (and simply  my personal tastes) I wanted the guitar to sound ‘like a big guitar’ (that’s the hard part). I wanted a small body and a shorter neck, and knew that along with those would come lighter weight.

First guitar I had in mind was a Yamaha FG-75 from the 1970’s if I’m correct. Maybe early ‘80’s. I had about a dozen come thru the shop over the years, and they’ve always been decent, small body, 7/8 scale guitars, with an overall good tone, in that they were reasonably balanced throughout their range, with fairly adequate volume, relative to a larger body guitar.

The FG-Junior, Yamaha_FG-Junior_three-quarters_length_beginners-travel-camping_acousti_guitar.jpg which is a newer, current model (at least as of this writing), overall, has that typical ‘small guitar’ / '1930’s metallic’ sound. I did find a bit of variance in a few different versions of them. I played one a 'Pro Sound' in Colorado Springs, that sounded better then the other 4 or 5 I tried at other stores. One fabulous perk with the FJ-Junior is the surprisingly well constructed 'gig bag' that Pro-Sound was including (may come with all of them, I don't know). The gig bag alone would likely cost $70-90 if you had to go out and get one. The guitar is currently being made (as of this writing) in Indonesia.

Another contender for the 'small body' / entry level guitars was one by US Music, branded Jay Turser. Jay_Turser_JJ43_small-body_acoustic_guitar_parlor_guitar.jpg It was the model JJ43NA, 3/4 Acoustic Guitar, which had a retail around $170-180. Decent build quality, played well, 'took a tuning' well and quickly and had decently balanced tone and volume output, more so than some of the other 'entry level' guitars. Again, this was at Pro Sound of Colorado Springs, and they had done great job of setting it up.

I came across a pre-owned


 Safari ‘Starry Night’ at a pawn shop, that had that ‘small guitar’ tone. Built very solidly. Maybe too solidly which I think held it back from a volume standpoint. ‘Real’ ‘Die-cast’ tuners. Nice fretwork. Great guitar for someone starting out. I love some of their cosmetics. Had previously checked out their web-site. Definitely making their own way from a design standpoint, and they’re very classy.

Taylor's ‘Baby’ is built well, light weight and a small size, but still has the ‘small guitar’ sound. I had tried one out about 15 years ago, and remember liking it better than the 'BackPacker' from Martin, I sold at my store (more on that later). Again, it’s simple physics. All things being equal, a ‘small box’ will usually equal a ‘smaller sound / volume’. You can start getting ‘nit picky’ about the subtle differences in the tone of most of  the ‘small bodies’, but again, I was looking for the ‘biggest’ sound in the ‘smallest’ practical package (for me). I also wanted to stay under $1000 (way under a $1000.)

A 'pre-owned / used' Martin 'Back Packer'.  Used_Martin_Back-Packer_Travel-Guitar_collage.jpg  I started selling this guitar back in the mid 1990's. Definitely 'unorthodox' in it's design and shape. It's got a great 'thin' sound, almost like a 'UKE guitar' or that South American guitar made from an armadillo (can't remember what they're called). It's going after a market that needs a great playing finger board (and it is), with real tuners (and they are), with a SOLID SPRUCE top, that wants a guitar that stays in tune (and it does) and will really fit in or on a back pack (and it does) without taking up the rest of the space in the pack. Speaking of 'space' there's the now famous story about the NASA astronaut that took one on a shuttle mission, back in the '90's. I don't remember the details, but I'm sure you can find all kinds of info out there on that 'world wide interweb' thing.

My personal favorite so far is the Taylor GS 7/8 Mahogany.





The information contained here is simply my personal findings and is not intended for anyone / or any entity to use to make any decisions to repair, disassemble, modify, or do anything. It is strictly for entertainment value. Please do not email any responses or call with any information related to it. It is also likely to change as new / additional information comes to light, or I change my mind or opinion. So There!



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