“Redefine what it means to take music on the road”: Harley Benton rolls out the TravelMate and TravelMate-E, affordable weather and climate resistant guitars for players on the go

Harley Benton TravelMate and TravelMate-E
(Image credit: Harley Benton)

Harley Benton has expanded its lineup of affordable travel guitars with the TravelMate and TravelMate-E, two smart single-cuts with carbon fibre builds that are designed to withstand whatever the weather and climate can throw at them. 

Not that we’d advise playing the TravelMate – or any guitar – outside in a rain storm, but the idea is that you can take these from a hot country to cold and it won’t throw them out of shape, a desirable quality in any travel guitar.

Also, and just as crucial for travel, these are super compact, with both guitars sharing a half-sized single-cut body – a sort of ‘Thinline’ Les Paul from the future vibe – with a flat top and an arched back and a body depth of just 88mm. 

There is a soundhole positioned on the upper shoulder of the guitar, and a trio of narrow openings where you would find a soundhole on a traditional acoustic guitar. That said, there is very little of the traditional about this pair of Harley Benton guitars.

Harley Benton TravelMate and TravelMate-E

(Image credit: Harley Benton)

This is a guitar party with no wood invited, and that might take some getting used to. On the TravelMate, everything bar the strings and the tuners appears to be carbon fibre; the fingerboard, the bridge, the nut… But lo, we’ve got a zero fret here, with the nut left to just hold the strings in position.

Both guitars have a 22.8” (580mm) scale length and measure 42mm across the nut, with both seating 20 frets on fingerboard that has an unspecified arched radius for comfort. Where things get really interesting is on the TravelMate-E, a guitar on which the “E” is going a lot of heavy lifting.

Ordinarily, we’d be expecting an under-saddle piezo system but Harley Benton has gone one step beyond and kitted this out with its SP1 Smart Speaker pickup system, which features reverb and modulation, and can be controlled via a player’s smartphone. 

Not that you would be on the phone while playing guitar – we’ve not gone that far gone as a species, at least not yet – but you can use it to manage your sounds. The controls for app integration, volume and effects can be found on the Smart Control, which is illuminated in green when the electronics are active. 

A USB port is located next to the 1/4” output jack, and the system uses Bluetooth 5.0 to connect with Harley Benton’s Enya app via your iOS or Android device.

Included in the price – £154 for the TravelMate, £214 for the TravelMate-E – is a gig-bag, polishing cloth, spare set of acoustic guitar strings, guitar strap, and for the acoustic-electric SP1-equipped model you’ve also got a USB-C cable and a cable. These are available now exclusively via Thomann, and you can find out more details over at Harley Benton.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.