Though often the butt of band jokes, bass guitarists are unsung heroes. Scientific studies show the enjoyment a listener experiences during a song is disproportionately tied to the bass sounds of the track. Take that, lead guitarists.
Knowing how important the bass guitar is, bassists must keep their skills sharp. It can be difficult to practice for players that live on the go lifestyles, as bass guitars are big. With certain bass guitars measuring four feet in length, it’s like toting around an extra person.
Fortunately, some companies have fine-tuned the art of building travel bass guitars.
These basses generally lack a solid body or headstock and are not the best option for gigging. However, a traveling bass guitar is a necessity for those interested in honing their skills no matter where life takes them.
Best Travel Bass Guitars I Recommend
Considerations for Traveling Bass Guitars
Though not as big a purchase as a bass for recording or gigging, a traveling bass is still an important tool.
Because of these basses’ limitations, players must consider the types of traveling they plan on doing with their bass. Doing so ensures the bass fits their needs. This is the best way to avoid those frets collecting dust due to an impulse buy.
Consider all factors when evaluating traveling bass guitars. Some are specific to the types of traveling involved—flying, driving, or backpacking as examples. Others rely on preference. Some players might prefer a headphone jack or full-scale models.
Below are factors to consider before purchasing a bass for travel. Prioritizing these will help make the best purchasing decision.
This bass needs to be small enough to stow away under a seat or the trunk of a car. Some might try to pass off a short-scale model for traveling, but those models’ size is still too great for maximum portability.
There is still size variation within the compact world of traveling bass guitars. Some of these can be considered a preference and relate to how the bass feels to play. However, this is ultimately a question of how you are traveling and the size limitations that entails.
Simply put, the scale of a bass guitar is the length of its neck. The most common scales are short and standard. Short scales measure 30 inches and are easier to play with fatter bottom tones. Standard scales are 34 inches long and provide a more present high-end tonality.
Ironically, sound might not be the first consideration when looking at these basses. However, traveling basses will vary in sound, keeping tone a principal consideration.
For pickier players, their traveling model will have a definite sound expectation. Here, the combination of scale, body, and pickups will come into play.
Of all these considerations, this is the most important. An instrument is a tool. It has to serve the purpose for which it is assigned. Some traveling bass guitars don’t have headphone jacks. These wouldn’t be acceptable in situations without amplifiers.
5 Best Travel Bass Guitars
Regardless of your skillset, practice will always make perfect. That’s why we’ve narrowed the field and chosen the five best travel bass guitars. Take any of these on the road to find your groove.
The Ministar Basstar is as close to a traditional bass experience as a body-less model can get. This bass features a standard scale and traditional headstock, making the transition from your model at home to using this model on the road seamless.
The Basstar features a headphone jack with a boost function for those that need to play in quieter settings. Having the option of a full rock sound is a must for hotel or back of the bus practice.
- 24 frets and standard 34” scale
- The headphone amplifier features a boost function
- Extremely light-weight at five pounds
- The length prohibits carrying on a plane
- Traditional headstock adds to the length
Anygig Travel Guitar Bass AGB
Taking the full-size approach to a traveling bass but making it compact is the Anygig Travel Guitar Bass AGB. The primary size difference between this model and the Ministar is the lack of a headstock.
By placing the tuners at the bottom of the bass, the AGB makes a more compact full-size experience.
The design of the armrest is a nice touch, as well. Many traveling bass models have several different arms that jut out from the neck that help simulate touchpoints of a traditional bass body. Often, these look tacky and don’t aid in playability. The AGB’s armrest stands out as an elegant solution.
- No headstock
- 24 frets and standard 34” scale
- Nicely designed armrest
- Awkward placement of tuning pegs
- No headphone jack
Traveler Guitar Ultra-Light Bass
As a brand, Traveler specifically designs instruments to function on the go. Their Ultra-Light Bass is as light as advertised. This compact traveling bass is the lightest on our list.
It features a genius design of standard tuners within its body to help forgo the headstock while keeping standard functionality.
The Traveler’s removable lap rest design emulates a traditional bass guitar body. This design makes the Ultra-Light Bass highly playable and balanced despite its lack of weight.
- Standard tuners inside the body
- Lap rest design emulates traditional bass guitar body
- No headstock and 30” scale make it very compact
- No headphone jack
- Too light at less than four pounds
Traveler Guitar TB-4P
The TB-4P is for those that like the Traveler brand and want an upgrade. It doesn’t get much better than this, with the TB-4P looking, sounding, and feeling like a full-sized bass. The 32” scale accommodates its jumbo frets, and the beautiful sunburst body houses two classic Duncan pickups.
Not only does the TB-4P have a headphone jack, but it also features an auxiliary input. This feature allows accompaniment from a phone or tablet – making practice fun again.
- Great sound from Duncan pickups
- It looks like a bass
- Headphone amp and additional auxiliary input for accompaniment
- Tips the scale at over eight pounds in its gig bag
- Jumbo size frets add to the length of what should be a short scale bass
Snap Dragon e-Bass
This is where our options take an exciting turn. The Snap Dragon e-Bass can pack a headstock, body, and 29” scale into a portable package for one very unique reason: the neck folds. For players that are frequent flyers, it won’t get any more portable than this.
Another great feature of the e-Bass is the single-coil pickup. Though it makes me a bit of a purist, I prefer vintage tones. The Snap Dragon e-Bass has a classic sound that modern pickups tend to overlook.
- Folds for ultimate portability – will easily fit in a plane’s overhead compartment
- The body allows for comfort and playability
- Single coil pickup replicates a vintage bass tone
- No headphone jack
- Slight buzzing comes from the spot where the neck meets the body
Final Word on Travel Bass Guitars
Though bass players might get pushed to the back of the stage by showy guitarists, scientists agree that the bass is a fundamental and easily recognized element of popular music.
Bassists need to keep their skills sharp to bring the best bottom end to jazz, rock, rap, r&b, or country.
For musicians that find themselves on the run, lugging around a full-size bass can be a nightmare. Fortunately, the right travel bass guitar will manage to play that funky music no matter where it takes you.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.