Years after Taylor Guitars found great success with the introduction of their Baby Taylor and Big Baby Taylor guitar lines, Bob Taylor (head of the guitar-maker) decided to challenge his team to improve upon the idea with the development of an even better mini-sized guitar. Thus was born the Taylor GS Mini.
The problem with mini-sized guitars has always been sound. It’s difficult to get a booming tone out of a smaller body and most guitar manufacturers skimp on materials in order to bring the guitar within a pre-set price range, also having a detrimental affect on the overall tone.
What Taylor determine to do – and I believe succeeded in doing – was shrinking the body of their traditional Grand Symphony (GS) guitar which would produce a more full tone while updating the bracing and neck joints.
The end result is the Taylor GS Mini, a guitar that run circles around almost every other full-sized beginner guitar and sells for just around $500.
Review of the Taylor GS Mini
One of the first things I noticed when I first saw the Taylor GS Mini, other than being surprised by the quality case it came in, was the fact that it doesn’t quite look like a “mini” guitar nor does it deviate from the quality design that Taylor has become known for.
The solid Sitka Spruce top and Sapele back and sides – both with a satin finish – shine with the quality of all the other Taylor guitars that cost 3x-4x’s more. Unlike most guitars at this level, Taylor used real ebony wood for the fretboard and bridge. Since Taylor uses the same manufacturing methods, the construction of the GS mini is also near-perfect.
The GS Mini is a bit larger than the Big Baby Taylor without hitting the full-size specs. What this means is that even adults will feel comfortable playing this guitar, either standing or sitting. The body is a tad thinner than most full-sized guitars at 14 3/8 inches wide, which comfortably straddles the line between being mini in size without being mini in sound.
The GS Mini Sound
Taylor’s decision to utilize the GS-shape body is a huge reason why the Taylor GS Mini is not mini when it comes to sound.
The truth is that it sounds almost identical in volume to most full-size guitars and blows many other guitars away when it comes to tone. Whether lightly strummed or forcefully pounded, the GS Mini responds with equal volume.
The tone is both warm, a product of the GS body, and clear, a product of Taylor’s quality. The guitar produces a beautiful bass tone that is noticeably absent from most other smaller guitars and it compliments that bass with a strong mid-range and treble.
GS Mini Playability
The beauty of buying any Taylor guitar, whether you spend thousands of dollars or just a few hundred, is that they produce some of the most consistently playable guitars in the industry. The action of the GS mini is unbelievably low, such that if you happen to be an overly-aggressive player you might want to actually raise the action.
The action of a guitar refers to the distance between the strings from the frets. Having a low action means that experienced guitar players will be able to speed through scales with ease while beginner guitarists will produce clear sounds without the headache of string buzz.
One of the ways in which Taylor was able to achieve this unbelievable play-ability in a mini guitar was the use of the patented NT neck joint that is used on all of Taylor’s full-size guitars.
GS Mini Electronics
The GS Mini doesn’t come with on-board electronics, which is one of the only noticeable ways in which Taylor cut costs to keep the price reasonable.
That said, they have produced the ES-Go, a pickup system specifically designed for the Taylor GS Mini. It is sold separately, which means that you would have to install the system yourself, but Taylor provides simple, very clear instructions and the process doesn’t require anything more than a screwdriver.
The ES-Go system is a separate purchase of about $99, but the result is a sound that won’t leave you ashamed to play on stage. The ES-Go is unobtrusive and barely noticeable yet excellent-sounding.
Other GS Mini Options
Since the introduction of the Taylor GS Mini, the popularity has been such that Taylor has added other options the GS Mini series line.
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
With the addition of a solid Mahogany top to the GS Mini, Taylor was able to add an even richer tone with a more full bass and responsive mid-range. It also has a unique look that you can only find with Mahogany.
Taylor GS Mini-e RW
Once Taylor realized how many people wanted the ability to plug their Taylor GS Mini into a sound system, they decided to go ahead and produce a guitar with their built-in expression system. In addition the guitar also comes with a laminate Rosewood back and sides, an improvement both in sound and aesthetics.
Taylor GS Mini Left-Handed
It’s also worth noting for those who are left-handed that Taylor produces a left-handed version of each of these guitars in the Taylor GS Mini series.
Who Should Buy the GS Mini?
It’s clear that when producing the GS Mini, Taylor was focusing on being small, not cheap. In that regard, it’s unfair to call this guitar a “beginner guitar” because frankly, it’s not.
That said, if you’re a beginner guitarist who wants to invest in a guitar they can grow into, the GS Mini is one of the best options out there.
For those experienced guitarists, the GS Mini offers excellent portability without sacrificing much on the sound. It’s a great addition to your collection that travels well and with the ES-Go system can even be plugged in for a gig.
Overall, the Taylor GS Mini eliminates the line between “entry-level guitar” and “quality guitar” by producing one of the best valued guitars that feels, plays and sounds more like guitars twice the price.
Click here to see more reviews and pricing of the GS Mini