"A well made small guitar can speak volumes...."
By James Wall
We all love our full-sized acoustic guitar for tone. However, there are situations that may have you on the lookout for a smaller guitar. Why should I get a mini acoustic guitar?
- Travelers need a guitar that is easy to travel with
- A smaller guitar body can be more comfortable to play
- Shorter scale length can be easier to play than full scale length
- Small practice spaces lend themselves to a smaller guitar
- A quality Mini Guitar can be less expensive than a full-sized model
Thankfully there are many feature-rich mini acoustic guitars, and you won’t have to sacrifice too much even though you’re getting a smaller guitar. Some manufacturers offer electronics allowing you plug into your favorite acoustic guitar amplifier.
Top Choices for MINI TRAVEL GUITARS
Taylor GS Mini
Best Mini Acoustic Guitars on the Market
There are many small bodied or mini acoustic guitars on the market making it difficult to choose.
This short list narrows the choices down to some of the more well-known brands that make top quality guitars.
Choosing a brand that is established ensures your guitar will keep its value and if you want to MOD the guitar, compatible components are easy to obtain.
- BEST: Taylor GS Mini
- BUDGET: Yamaha APXT2EW
- ECO-SMART: Martin LXK2
- CARBON: Lava Me 3
- BEGINNER: Luna Aurora Borealis
- Buying Guide
Small Bodied Acoustic Guitar Reviews
1. Taylor GS Mini
Best Small Bodied Acoustic Guitar
Top: Solid Mohagany
Back/Sides: Layers Sapele
Fretboard: West African Crelicam Ebony
Scale Length: 23.5 Inches
Features: Padded Gig Bag, Taylor Neck, Available in different woods
- Great Mid-Range Tone
- Adjustable Truss Rod
- Nu-bone Nut, Micarta Saddle
- Perfect for Travel and smaller players
- Electronics don’t come with the Standard Model
- No cutaway for access to upper frets
Taylor makes very good guitars that are consistent. For this reason alone, we would put the GS Mini on our list.
Despite the smaller body (albeit the largest of our top 3), its simple design of the small guitar still provides good volume. The GS mini is durable with the layered back and sides construction making it a great choice for camping and travel.
The GS mini comes any many wood patterns that will appeal to just about anyone's preferences. My favorites are the blackwood and maple patterns. But Koa, Rosewood, Mahogony patterns are also available.
The model we selected is the base model without electronics. This may be an area of concern by those who need to plug in. Taylor also offers a mini-e version of the GS model. If you want to add electronics after the fact, Tayor sells an ES Go Pickup for GS Mini that is built specifically for the GS Mini.
In addition to how it looks, feels, electronic options, and the gig bag. The GS Mini has Taylors patented adjustable neck which separates it from other brands.
2. Yamaha - Acoustic Electric APXT2EW
Best Budget Small Bodied Guitar
Top: Mango Veneer on Meranti
Back/Sides: Meranti woods (layered)
Scale Length: 22 3/16 "
Features: Cutaway, System 68 Electronics, padded gig bag
- Cutaway for access to the full fingerboard
- Electronics for plugging into your favorite AMP.
- soft gig bag
- Built in Tuner
- Short scale is easy to fret
- Scale may be too small for some it is the shortest of our recommended mini acoustics
- Gig bag not as sturdy as some of the others reviewed.
Yamaha in general builds quality guitars at a reasonable price. The APXT2EW model is fits nicely in this assessment.
The Yamaha APXT2EW offers a variety of color choices as well as a choice between a spruce top or an exotic wood top. The model we liked had the Mango veneer.
The scale of this guitar is the smallest of our top 3 small body guitar choices. This shorter scale makes it easier to fret and makes for an instrument that is fun to play.
The electronics on the Yamaha APXT2EW are average but adequate for practice and with pedals tone can be modified to be more than serviceable for recording and small venues.
Yamaha's solid build, variety of colors, built in electronics, and excellent price earned this guitar our number 2 spot on the list.
3. Martin LXK2
Top: KOA figured HPL
Back/Sides: KOA HPL
Fretboard: FSC certified Rich-lite
Scale Length: 23 Inches
Features: Padded Gig Bag, Eco Friendly HPL
- Great guitar for travel
- Perfect beginning guitar for Kids and Adults
- HPL is resistant to temperature and humidity changes
- Padded gig bag
- No real extra's like tuners or electronics in the base model.
- For An entry-level guitar, this model is still a little pricey
No list of top guitar choices would be complete without a Martin and the LXK2 has earned the 3rd spot on our list.
Focused on sustainability, this guitar is about its build quality rather than the use of solid woods like we usually discuss when talking about Martin acoustic guitars.
The LXK2 manages to have the Martin feel when you play it but is built from materials that are intended to help preserve our forests will still producing a great tone.
If you're looking for a well-built guitar that is unphased by changes in temperature and moisture all while doing its part to contribute to sustainability, this is the guitar for you.
4. LavaMe 3 Carbon Fiber
Parlor Guitar - Home Use
Top: Honeycomb Carbon Fiber
Back/Sides: Air Sonic 2 Carbon Fiber
Scale Length: 23.94 Inches
Features: Protective soft case, Onboard electronics, effects
- Durable Carbon Fiber
- On-board electronics
- Versatile as an acoustic or electric
- Tone is a little thin compared to its peers
- Can be a little awkward to hold given the unique shape
LavaMe has come out with several editions to their carbon fiber guitars. This latest edition expands on the capabilities of the LavaMe 2 guitar by adding more options in electronic and upgrading the carbon fiber to the Air Sonic 2 construction.
While not a traditional guitar I found that this guitar does work well for something that is fun to play with all the added electronics.
The tone on the guitar is a little thin and lacks some of the warmth you will get with a more traditional guitar. That being said this is a practice/travel guitar.
As a practice guitar this is a nice option that is really durable given its carbon fiber build components. For me the standout feature of the guitar is all the different effects that you can mix and play with. It can be really inspiring and trigger new ideas in your playing.
If there is a negative for this guitar, it is that you will find yourself playing with all the gadgets that are a part of the HILava system vs working on the fundamentals of playing guitar. That being said, music is supposed to be fun and the LavaMe 3 and it HILava system are a step in the right direction when it comes to making music fun.
5. AURORA BOREALIS 3/4 ACOUSTIC
Fretboard: Black walnut
Scale Length: 22.5 Inches
Features: moon phase markers on neck, sparkle finish
- Price Point
- Stylish Design
- Fun to play
- Ideal for travel and for young beginner guitarist
- Thin tone
- No case
Luna's Aurora Borealis model made our list because of its low price point and simple but stylish look.
This guitar won't win any awards for a big sound or full tone but for this category of a small-bodied guitar it does well enough that it is worth considering as a travel or student guitar.
It comes in Black, White, Pink and Teal colors all with a pearl/sparkle finish. This appeals to both boys and girls starting out on a guitar and for the adult that wants a simple practice or travel guitar the black or white finish should be subdued enough.
The neck feels good to play and is small enough for small hands to fret. The body feels comfortable to hold when playing which was the selling point for us on a practice guitar. There are no electronics, so this is pretty much a basic guitar for playing.
The only thing missing for this guitar is the case to protect it so you will likely want to order a 3rd party softshell case to protect the guitar.
Taylor GS Mini
After playing all the mini guitars on our list as well as a few others the Taylor GS Mini consistently played well and seemed like the best value when you take tone and playability into account.
The LavaMe 3 provided some interesting options if you are looking for something that is fun and different. But in the end, it felt more like a toy than a guitar.
Everyone's got their list of what they must have in their practice/travel guitar. We feel that when looking for a smaller guitar for travel or learning you can't go wrong with any of the 5 guitars we've listed.
What should you look for in a Small-Bodied Guitar?
What shape should my Small Body guitar have?
When looking at a small-bodied or mini guitar you should look for one that feels comfortable to hold and a neck that is matched to your hand size.
Should I get a solid wood small-bodied (mini) guitar?
Typically, when getting a small-bodied guitar you are looking for something that is durable for travel or used by younger players vs the tone that an all-wood guitar provides. While all solid wood construction is preferred material by collectors and enthusiasts'; laminates, carbon fiber or layered materials work well for small-bodied guitars that are going to be on the road and other precarious places.
Are small body guitars better?
Better is a relative term when it comes to a guitar for people with a smaller body frame a small bodied guitar maybe better but typically the tone has less bass in a smaller guitar in addition to not having as much depth in the sound produced.
Are mini guitars good for beginners
Mini guitars like the Taylor Mini GS are an excellent choice for beginners as they are easier to hold while playing but still produce a nice tone.
Are small body guitars better for travel?
Typically, small body guitars are better for travel because they take up less space and are lighter weight.
Summary of our favorite Small-Bodied Guitars