The “travel guitar” moniker often just means an instrument is smaller, cheaper, and/or kind of toy-like. Not so with Traveler Guitar. They’ve been in the portable-guitar biz for 25 years and have built a reputation on quality construction and full-scale playability, so guitarists don’t feel like they’re giving something up by going stealth.
The all-mahogany, ESP-humbucker-loaded LTD EC-1 speaks to the aforementioned construction. I didn’t find a single blemish or component connection off-kilter, the fretwork was clean and buttery smooth, and the setup excellent. One of the coolest features of a Traveler is the ability to simply plug in a set of headphones and rip wherever and however loud you like. Opting for headphones to start, I effortlessly shifted through the four available settings—clean, boost, overdrive, and distortion—which are accessed through the push-activated tone pot. Strong, distinct, unwanted-noise-free tones were delivered thanks to the EC-1’s preamp and active pickup, and each setting inspired sound-appropriate riffing. (I spent most of my time in overdrive land thanks to its creamy growl.)
The EC-1 is a light and tight guitar that’s fun to play, but spending $600 on what will likely be an auxiliary axe might sting a bit. However, for those who simply must have a guitar in close range always, and one that actually plays/sounds like a real instrument you’d be fine gigging with, the EC-1 will fit that role nicely.
Test gear: Monster Inspiration headphones, Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface, C.M.I. Electronics SG-212 combo