Camping season is upon us, at least it is here in the Northeast…
My family and I are avid campers, but we don’t backpack to remote locations in the mountains. We load up the family car and head off to a very nice, and somewhat secluded state park every year.
This means we have plenty of space for good food, beer and shelter. We don’t rough it, but we do sleep in tents and shield ourselves from the rain with a canopy tarp system.
We don’t have many rules when camping, but electronics are taboo. That means bringing any of the impressive amps that made my list of The 8 Best Portable Battery Powered Guitar Amps is out of the question, and it also means my beloved Pignose 7-100 Legendary Portable Amp stays at home on the shelf as well.
But that’s OK, because it lets me focus my playing on my acoustic guitar.
There’s just something organic and real about playing acoustic guitars in nature. I don’t know how else to explain it.
What makes a great camping guitar ?
Since you’re out in nature, there is a real chance of accidental damage due to sudden rain storm, or the occasional flaming hot coal springing out of the campfire, so you don’t want to be bringing your prized $1,000 acoustic guitar along.
That means the first criteria for a good camping guitar is a low price point. It turns out you don’t have to spend that much to get a good sounding, quality built acoustic guitar.
But low price point alone will likely get you a cheap piece of crap that doesn’t stay in tune or is uncomfortable and just no fun to play.
So that means that the second criteria is quality.
You want an acoustic guitar priced for beginners, with build quality that professionals and long time players expect from a guitar.
Some factors that go into build quality include: use of solid tonewood tops (no laminate!), an effective bracing pattern (bracing on an acoustic guitar strengthens the top against the tension of the strings and also serves to create the guitar’s tonal signature), and lightweight.
The weight is somewhat optional for me, since we pack all our stuff into the car. But if you’re concerned about weight, there are a few nice lightweight models on this list too.
6 of the best camping guitars under $300.
Epiphone DR-212 12-String Acoustic Guitar
The Epiphone DR-212 is a 12 string guitar and delivers great dreadnought sound and style.
This is an incredible buy for the price – the Epiphone DR-212 is not just a 6 string guitar with an extra 6 strings (as some cheaper made 12 string guitars out there), the Epiphone DR-212 is built to Epiphone standards and that means solid structural engineering.
The Epiphone DR-212 has the strength and body support to handle the additional tension of 12 strings, but it’s still fairly lightweight and delivers a balanced, yet crisp tone owing to the use of the all Spruce top.
The Epiphone DR-212 features a solid Spruce top and 25.5″ scale Mahogany SlimTaper neck with rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays.
The Epiphone DR-212 is one of the larger guitars on this list, but given its sound and quality and the fact that it’s a full fledged 12 string guitar, the size is still manageable for a camping guitar… just as long as you’re not backpacking.
Product Dimensions: 44 x 19 x 5.8 inches ; 8.5 pounds
The Epiphone DR-212 currently lists for over $300 but sells for only $199.
You probably won’t find a more versatile, better made 12 string at this price point.
Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar
The Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar is essentially the 6 string version of the DR-212. It’s a classic dreadnought body, which makes it well suited to just about everything from bluegrass, folk, rock, country and some blues.
The Epiphone DR-100 features a select spruce top, mahogany body, and neck with 25.5″ scale rosewood fingerboard.
It’s available in Ebony, Natural and Vintage Sunburst finish.
The Epiphone DR-100 sells for about $99 and at 8 pounds and 42 x 18.5 x 5.5 inches, it fits easily in the car or camper.
Epiphone AJ-220S Acoustic Guitar
The last camping entry from Epiphone is the AJ-220S Acoustic Guitar.
Its “bell-like” shape gives the AJ-220S a unique voice in the Epiphone family of Acoustic Jumbo guitars. The tone is strong, but balanced making it sound a whole lot more expensive than it is. The AJ-220S is built to stay in tune and be ready to play when you are.
The AJ-220S features solid Sitka Spruce top, mahogany body and 25.5″ scale rosewood fingerboard with dot fret markers.
The Epiphone AJ-220S Acoustic Guitar comes in Natural and Vintage Sunburst finish, is 43.2 x 18.8 x 5.8 inches , weighs about 7.7 pounds and sells for $199.
The Yamaha FG730s is at the top of the price range for this list of the best camping guitars under $300, coming in at $299, but it weighs a mere 4 and a half pounds. This makes it the lightest and most portable acoustic guitar on the list as well.
The Yamaha FG730s is built with a focus on bracing, which provides stability and precision and means it stays in tune better, so you can focus more on your playing and less on maintenance.
The Yamaha FG730s ultra-thin finish (only 0.25 mm thin) means more of the the natural resonance of the wood can shine through, and of course makes for a lighter guitar too!
The Yamaha FG730s features solid Sitka Spruce top, and Rosewood fingerboard, bridge, back and sides.
The result of all this great wood and lightweight technology is an acoustic guitar with a clear, balanced tone and incredible control, in a lightweight package.
Product Dimensions: 42.5 x 21 x 6 inches ; 4.5 pounds
Fender CD-140s Mahogany
Next up is the Fender CD-140s Mahogany. This is a dreadnought style acoustic guitar with a really sweet and mellow tone. It features all mahogany top and sides, multiple black/white body binding and is complemented by an elegant tortoiseshell pickguard and mother of pearl rosette design.
It’s much bigger than the Yamaha FG730s, but it’s a must for mahogany lovers, and is a steal at the price. It’s a Fender, so you know it’s made with quality and attention to tone.
If you’re looking for the full sound of a dreadnought at a good price, the Fender CD-140s Mahogany will not disappoint.
The Fender CD-140s Mahogany has a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard with small 3 mm dot inlays and sells for only $199.
Product Dimensions: 47 x 19.5 x 7.5 inches; 8.2 pounds
Ibanez AW400 Artwood
Lastly, we come to the Ibanez AW400 Artwood. This is another dreadnought style acoustic guitar that features a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany neck (satin finish), back and sides, a rosewood fretboard and tortoiseshell body binding.
It’s part of the Ibanez Artwood series, which means it is a modern construction guitar, built in a traditional style – a “best of both worlds” approach.
The Ibanez AW400 Artwood comes with an upgraded bone nut and saddle instead of Tusq, found in most acoustic guitars at this price point.
The Ibanez AW400 Artwood sells for around $299 and is comparable in size and weight to the Yamaha FG730s.
42 x 19 x 6 inches Weight: 4lbs 5oz