Travel guitar and/or flying with a guitar

drmordo

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I started a new job where I will be flying on commercial airlines one to two weeks per month. I have realized that I need a guitar with me. I'm actually kind of frustrated because I had a minor technique breakthru today before I flew out and want to practice and make it real.

What are y'all's experiences with:

A. Travel guitars. I have a Strat Mini I'm thinking about dragging along, but I've also been considering buying a Steinberger.

B. Flying with a guitar. Airlines have become so predatory I don't know that to expect - do I have to check it? Do I want to check it?
 

Sparky472

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If it were me, I’d remove the neck of my tele and put the whole thing in a carry on with my clothes. I’d put on some pin lock tuners to keep the strings in place and if I was traveling twice a month I’d probably put some threaded inserts in the neck.
 

tele12

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I started a new job where I will be flying on commercial airlines one to two weeks per month. I have realized that I need a guitar with me. I'm actually kind of frustrated because I had a minor technique breakthru today before I flew out and want to practice and make it real.

What are y'all's experiences with:

A. Travel guitars. I have a Strat Mini I'm thinking about dragging along, but I've also been considering buying a Steinberger.

B. Flying with a guitar. Airlines have become so predatory I don't know that to expect - do I have to check it? Do I want to check it?
Just get the Steinberger, a much better guitar than the Strat Mini.
The pickups on the Steinberger aren't a strong point, but in overall quality it as good or better than anything in it's price range.
 

Midgetje94

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I can’t speak for all airlines. Hell it’s been YEARS. My dad used to work for Southwest Airlines. Spent many years flying standby. They were good about carrying guitars on. Ask the flight attendants to check it as you board. Like people with strollers, walkers, and what not. Usually they were pretty cool. Apparently flight attendants have extra space. Like I said. He hasn’t work for them in close to 5 years. I haven’t flown with them personally in close to 10.
 

Modman68

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I have beater Carlos robelli parlor size guitar that I take with me. I use it because it was cheap and disposable. If I had to leave it behind or it got damaged, I wouldn’t care at all.

So far, none of the airlines have even looked twice at it going in the overhead and it’s made it ok through trip.

Now I just got a Taylor mini… I’m not so eager to gamble on it, even with the reinforced bag.
 

quadtele

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For carriers operating in the US, airlines are required to let you carry on your instrument ... if space is available. If space is not available, they can make you check it .. but that has never happened to me.

Helps to:
- Board as early as possible (more space)
- Be nice (in the end you may need someone's help/extra effort/consideration ... and usually they want to help), but also let them know there are required to *try* to bring it onboard if there's space. Hate to say it, but it also helps to "look the part" of someone who they want to help and perhaps respect.
- Don't be too obvious (Small guitar in gig bag slung over my shoulder avoids the scrutiny of people who can only give you a hard time ... usually those outside the plane are the worst ... but if they don't know what it is or cannot see it ....).
- Once you're on the plane with the guitar, you're likely to find a spot. If all the bins are full, ask if it can be stowed in the coat closet (something I never knew existed until they offered that spot to me).

Go with a Steiny. Used to travel quite a bit years back with a Steinberger licensed copy (and sort of glad it wasn't the real, expensive deal if it was ever damaged or stolen). It's small which means it can fit in a lot of (almost full) overhead bins that larger guitar/case would not fit. It's also a bit more discreet and they are built solid. And if you're lucky, you'll have an empty seat and can jam with headphones (since it's much shorter than a guitar with headstock and larger body). Also highly recommend a Mustang Micro or similar small battery powered device.

Nothing like a guitar to play when you are stuck in the airport due to a delay!

SAFE TRAVELS!!!
 

StoneH

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In a failed attempt to start playing guitar again, I bought a Backpacker. I found that I could easily carry everything I needed for an international flight in the soft-side case, so it barely increased my carry-on footprint. It actually fit in the overhead when a normal carry-on wouldn't. I figure you don't want an acoustic, but the carry-on aspect for an electric might be similar. <Edit> The Mustang Micro of the day was called a "Headjammer". Kind of like comparing a clean Pignose with a Marshall Stack and loaded pedal board.
 
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bgmacaw

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I don't fly but I do (did?) travel by car for business often. I built a Muslady Steinberger style kit in 2019 to take along on these trips. Other than the awful and disappointing trem system it's been a pretty decent guitar once I made some mods to it. While business travel has been on hold since March 2020, I still play it often and I take it with me to the office on the days I go there.

I don't particularly recommend the kit unless you're into doing guitar tech/building work but a regular Steinberger should work quite well for you. It's pretty small but has a regular 25.5" scale neck. If you take it apart you can easily fit it in a regular suitcase.
 

Peegoo

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I was traveling around the world a lot from the 80s to the early 2000s. In 1991 I got a Steinberger and paired it with a Rockman X100 headphone amp, and it was the perfect travel guitar. The padded gig bag held everything and fit easily in the overhead.

The stock HSH EMG Select pickups were pretty anemic, so I installed Duncans and I've been happy with it for 30 years.

Steinberger-Spirit-Oddvark.jpg
 

jvin248

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Verify the airline rules ahead of time. For a while they clamped down on extra bags by charging $100 both ways so it was cheaper to buy a Pawn shop guitar at the destination and then sell it back or give it away before leaving.

If you are really using a travel guitar for practice, it should be close to your normal guitar, so be hesitant about the Steinberger.

I've seen those 'pickguard' guitars that are Strats and Teles with bodies cut down to the same outline as the pickguards. So they are quite small.

Kiesel makes a few headless models that could work. As well as Harley Benton. Harley Benton sells guitar kits you can cut down, convert to headless too.

.
 

Andymoon

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I would also recommend the Steinberger. I also replaced the pickups. You could get by with the originals, but the 5 way switch will most likely have to be replaced.

I would stay away from the Traveler brand guitars with the regular style tuners in the body. The way the strings wrap around the tail is terrible for tuning stability.
 
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Boxla

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I've done my homework on this one. I have 3 travel guitars;
1- Codoba Guilele 6 string nylon uke type of guitar. I love it and it was my go to for several years. Fits in a backpack 27 1/2" long
2- Traveler EG- replaced my guilele as my go to. It's a very nice electric. Not only fits in a backpack but if I'm not bringing it on a trip, it rides shotgun in my car and gets played at most red lights and when I'm needing to kill time. With no headstock tuners it fits perfect in a car with the driver's side window. 28 1/2 " long
3- Pignose Travel electric. It has a built in speaker which comes in handy. 33" long

The pignose is the longest but still fits in my backpack. The Cordoba is the shortest by about 1" over the Traveler. But all 3 easily fit in my backpack and the over head compartment. I've even kept all three under my plane seat before.

The Traveler is the most quality of them all but they are all quality and all of mine have been through the wringer and come out just fine. The Traveler and Pignose also both have built in pickups if you ever needed to plug in. I started with a Baby Taylor in 1997 and have since moved to these. The full scale on the Traveler is nice.
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Boxla

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I would also recommend the Steinberger. I also replaced the pickups. You could get by with the originals, but the 5 way switch will most likely have to be replaced.

I would stay away from the Traveler brand guitars with the regular style tuners in the body. The way the strings wrap around the tail is terrible for tuning stability.
I've never had an issue with my Traveler and it stays in my car during the winter, summer and all other seasons. It stays in tune just fine. It's been in negative 5 and 105 and all good. It's a very quality guitar.
 

SRHmusic

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A pro I know did a few weeks of shows overseas recently, and he did what @Sparky472 suggested. Bolt-on guitar, remove the neck, wrap the body and neck in some bubble wrap and put them in the luggage. He checked a bag for a long trip, but I suppose a carry-on might work.
 

radiocaster

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I got a squier tele. When I was traveling, I took the neck off and put it in my suitcase. As long as you're cool on tightening, there shouldn't be a problem with stripping. I put inserts in one before that, but it was more trouble than it was worth.
I wouldn't say I haven't unscrewed the neck when buying a guitar in another country or moving, but it's too annoying to do several times a month.
 

Troubleandahalf

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I started a new job where I will be flying on commercial airlines one to two weeks per month. I have realized that I need a guitar with me. I'm actually kind of frustrated because I had a minor technique breakthru today before I flew out and want to practice and make it real.

What are y'all's experiences with:

A. Travel guitars. I have a Strat Mini I'm thinking about dragging along, but I've also been considering buying a Steinberger.

B. Flying with a guitar. Airlines have become so predatory I don't know that to expect - do I have to check it? Do I want to check it?
I work in baggage handling at AUS. Send it down the Oversized Line at your airport. It's a wide,gentle slow and straight shot to the apron level. Once there it will be taken off the belt by hand (and most guys really try to take care of guitars) and brought to the plane. Under no circumstances do you want to put it in the regular baggage check in. It will get whacked, shoved around tight corners. They're just not meant to go through that.
 




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