Headless Travel Guitar Build

I needed a electric travel guitar so I can practice on the road. None of the commercial offerings had everything I needed and I was lamenting the fact to a friend of mine last month and he suggested I build my own travel guitar. I scoffed and told him I had never built a guitar before and he pointed out that with that excuse I never would. So that prompted me to design and build my own travel guitar.

The neck and arm rest are removable. The leg rest folds underneath the body for storage. There is both pick storage and a place for the Allen wrench used to remove the neck.

I purchased the neck and cut off the head, the body is my own design. Walnut body with quilted maple top with walnut accents.

I still need to add electronics which will include a built-in headphone amp with Bluetooth input, a metronome, and a tuner. I’m finalizing the PCB and working on the software to control it all.

My design requirements were

  • Electric so I can play with headphones with my wife around
    • Single pickup as this is strictly a practice guitar
  • Less than 18" in length when packed for travel
    • implies headless
    • neck can be detached from body
  • headphone amp built-in
    • powered by rechargeable battery
    • able to play bluetooth audio (so I can listen to Justin’s lessons through the headphones)
    • can drive headphones or bypass to 1/4" jack for external amp
    • metronome - either built-in or via Bluetooth
    • Built-in tuner
  • Fretboard
    • Standard 25.5" scale length
    • Has truss rod adjustment
  • Attached foldable leg rest
  • Storage for all tools needed for tuning/adjustments

Allen Key storage

Here is the pick storage.


Nice design, you’ve incorporated a lot of useful features into it. What bridge unit is that, it looks a bit like the Hipshot bridges but not seen one that can be used for tuning?
The finish looks really good, almost too good for a Travel guitar :laughing:, be interesting to hear what it sounds like!

It’s a clone of a Guyker bridge.

Wow, that’s really cool. The finish is beautiful and all those features seem super handy and just cool looking. Would love to hear a demo too.

That looks really cool!! Very impressive Craig :+1:

Wow Craig, that looks spectacular. I figure woodworking and DIY must be another interest to be able to build somethin of that quality.

Oh wow, Craig, that’s awesome :star_struck:. I admire your creativity and your ability to build an instrument according your plans. So many handy gadgets, too. Congratulations :clap::clap::clap:.

A brilliant design idea and execution. Just wow!

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You did it right! That looks better than most offerings I have seen online. When are you planning to start selling them?:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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First Build?
You should be proud of that - it looks really good.

Wow! Amazing construction Craig.
be proud!

Thanks. I consider myself an inventor of sorts. I love designing things that solve a problem.

I am currently the President of the board for a non-profit maker space and have strived to learn how to use every machine in the space. This project incorporated a lot more disciplines than most of my projects: woodworking, metal working, 3D printing, electronics/programming, and textiles.

The design took more time (3 weeks) than the actual building (5 days). It helped that I bought a prebuilt neck and just had to cut the headstock off.


That’s a pretty sweet looking guitar Craig. Well done on crafting such a beautiful instrument.

Great stuff, looks awesome

Hats off Craig looks like a great idea. Travelling with guitars can be a problem, depending on where you live.

What will the finished travelling weight be?

It is heavier than I anticipated at 6 lbs. I may build another with the goal of bringing the weight down. I designed this to be the same body length and thickness as a Stratocaster and in hindsight should have made it be half that thickness.

In the US, Congress passed a law in 2015 allowing you to take a guitar on a flight as carry-on without restrictions. But part of my design is that the neck can be removed and the entire guitar can fit into my suitcase and be checked if necessary.

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I’m impressed!

Love it. Great build quality and design. How to you tune it? And for the electronics, are they stock items you just needed to cable in or did you design the circuits from scratch?

Very impressive and best, looks like it doesn’t sacrifice function for form. How close is it to sounding like a Strat?

Tuning is at the bridge, there are thumbscrews attached to small worm gears and spools. Here is a link to a better photo of the bridge.

The electronics are a mixture of off-the-shelf and custom. I initially designed my own headphone amp, but realized that I had neglected the ability to do Bluetooth. While I’m sure I could add the Bluetooth capability given time, it is not something I’ve done in the past and anytime wireless technology is involved it’s a pain in the ass. So I instead decided to purchase an existing headphone amp that already had Bluetooth and just use the guts of it. I got this one because it was inexpensive and had all the features I needed (amp, Bluetooth, tuner).

In hindsight I should have gone with a more expensive amp that didn’t have so many freaking LEDs. I’m connecting and controlling the headphone amp using an Arduino microcontroller with a OLED display and interfacing the 27 LEDS to the Arduino added a lot of complexity. If I had thought it through I would have realized that those LEDS are multiplexed, meaning I need to demultiplex them before feeding them into the Arduino. Doable but a lot more circuitry than I originally anticipated.

It sounds good, I plan to do a video soon. As for whether it sounds like a Strat, I haven’t really done that comparison but I’m going to guess it is close. 98% of the sound on an electric guitar is determined by the pickups, the wood/shape/bridge/tuners/etc don’t contribute much. I’m not using the exact same pickup as a Strat but it is supposed to be a clone so I’m expecting it to sound close. I’ll do a comparison and report back.


Good plan. Outside the US, it’s not so easy. When I asked Emirates about it on a flight from Singapore to London, they said I would either need to check it or book another seat.

I have my Travelcaster, which I bought back from Singapore with me recently. Although it’s quite small and will fit into an airline locker, I had loads of luggage space, so I ended up taking the neck off and putting it into my suitcase.

I’ve done the same with a full-sized Telecaster before, but it takes up a lot more luggage space.



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