Yamaha CGS102A review: The best mini/travel acoustic guitar?

Last updated on November 11th, 2023

This post includes Amazon affiliate links to products I use and recommend. This means I earn a commission if you click the link and purchase the item, at no additional cost to you.

When I found myself having to travel more frequently, I decided to look for a mini travel guitar that I could conveniently take along with me. I ended up getting the Yamaha CGS102A, a half size nylon string acoustic guitar that has a clean, classic look with a great sound at a very reasonable price.

This mini guitar is made with high craftsmanship from a reputable instrument company, making it one of the most popular choices for a half sized guitar and ideal for travel. Whether you want a mini size guitar to travel lightly or simply want to get a guitar that is a more suitable size for a young musician, this guitar is a great choice.

This post covers a review of the Yamaha CGS102A including audio recordings of this guitar toward the end of this post. Let’s first look at some of the specs of this guitar.

Size

  • The overall length of this guitar is 33.75 inches or 85.72 cm.
  • The scale length (meaning where the string vibrates, the length of the bridge to the nut of the guitar) is 21.06 inches or 53.49 cm.
  • The body width is 12.18 inches or 30.93 cm.
  • The body depth is 3.12 to 3.31 inches or 7.92 to 8.4 cm.
  • The nut width is 1.87 inches or 4.7498 cm.

Yamaha CGS102A vs average full size guitar size

The overall length of a full size guitars ranges from about 36 to 40 inches and the average scale length is about 25.5 inch or ~65 cm.

This means that the overall length of the CGS102A is about 12% smaller compared to a full size guitar.

Also, the scale length is about 19% smaller compared to the average full size guitar. Take a look at a relative size comparison below.


Note that although it’s labeled as a “half size” guitar, it’s not necessarily half of a full size, but rather a smaller version than normal.

Guitar size recommendations by age

As a side note, this kind of half size guitar makes it ideal for a child or someone with small hands. On top of that, playing nylon strings is a lot easier on the hands, especially for beginners.

If you’re buying a small guitar for a child, here is a rough guide for size recommendations by age.

AgeGuitar size
Up to age 61/4 size

Ages 6 – 8
1/2 size
Ages 8 – 103/4 size
Ages 10+Full size


Check out the latest price here on Amazon.

Guitar weight

This guitar weighs 3.84 pounds or 1.74 kg according to Amazon.

CGS102a features

Here are some key features of the materials used in this Yamaha travel size guitar.

  • This guitar has a spruce top, meaning the kind of wood used for the top part of the guitar. Spruce top guitars are known for producing a well rounded tone.
  • The fretboard is made of rosewood, known for providing warm tones as well as its durability.

Overall review

What I like

What I liked about the guitar is the full, warm and clean sound. Smaller guitars can sound thin and not have much character but this mini nylon string guitar stands out, in that the sound quality can get close to a full size guitar. In terms of value, it felt like I was getting a high quality product for the price.

What to keep in mind

When I first got this guitar, I realized there were some issues with the intonation as I played higher on the fretboard. This means that some of the notes can sound slightly out of pitch as you go press on frets higher up on the fretboard. However, I noticed this was mainly coming from the strings that it came with! This wasn’t much of an issue after changing to new strings. Strings get worn out and lose their quality when many people try out a guitar before someone purchases it.

Although it wasn’t the case for this guitar, intonation can be a common issue for smaller guitars but it is a minor tradeoff for being able to comfortably take your guitar with you when traveling.

Either way, I still wouldn’t worry much about intonation when buying a mini size guitar for a child since most of the material they first learn is closer to the lower part of the fretboard.

CGS102A audio examples

I’m using a Focusrite Scarlett audio interface to record these examples.

Chords 1 audio example


Chords 2 audio example


Finger picking audio example


I ended using D’addario Pro Arte nylon core strings on this Yamaha guitar, which you can pick up on Amazon.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re an avid traveler or backpacker looking to carry a mini guitar with you or simply want to choose a nice starter guitar for a child, I think the Yamaha CGS102A offers great value at a very reasonable price. Despite its small size, this guitar is made with craftsmanship reflected in the fullness of its sound.

I’ve been using this guitar since 2021 and its been satisfying to have a light and great sounding guitar that I can play wherever I’m going.

You can also use the link below to explore other guitars.

Guitars on Amazon


If you’re looking for a great nylon acoustic guitar for performing and recording, check out my review of the Godin Multiac Nylon Encore.

Get the free guitar practice guide here!

All the best,

JG Music Lessons

This page includes some Amazon affiliate links to products I’ve used and recommend. This means I earn a commission if you click the link and purchase the item, at no additional cost to you!

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