Taylor GS Mini-e Koa Review (2023) Is This the Ultimate Travel Acoustic?

The Taylor GS Mini is one of Taylor’s best selling models, and it’s not really hard to see why. It features their ever popular Grand Symphony body shape, albeit in a much smaller ¾ form factor.

Taylor has introduced several models of the GS Mini since it’s introduction in 2010, including a variety of tonewoods as well as multiple options for electronics.

In this KillerGuitarRigs Review, we’ll be taking a detailed look at the Taylor GS Mini-e Koa, the guitar we named as our Editor’s Choice in our roundup of the best acoustic guitars for small hands.

If you’re in the market for a reduced size guitar for players with smaller hands, you’ll definitely want to keep on reading.

Taylor GS Mini-e Koa: Who Is This For?

The Taylor GS Mini-e Koa might be a premium guitar, but we still think it’s well suited to a wide range of players. Its reduced size makes it a great choice for younger guitarists and those with smaller hands, and we think that more experienced players who might be looking for a high end travel guitar would get a lot from this Taylor.

It offers high end construction quality, and the tones are beautifully balanced. It’s a fantastically playable guitar, and we think it’s a model that will really appeal to players of all ability levels, from day 1 beginners through to advanced guitarists.


Appearance / Features / Controls

Taylor GS Mini-E Koa Travel Electro-Acoustic - Review & Demo

The GS Mini-e Koa is easily the best looking model in the GS Mini series. It has an all koa body, with layered back and sides, and a solid top. Koa is a wood prized for its beautiful aesthetics as well as its fantastic tones, and we think it works perfectly on the GS Mini.

The bridge and fretboard of the guitar were both made from West African ebony, which is one of our favorite fretboard woods. The dark finish of the ebony contrasted beautifully with the Koa top, and it didn’t just look good – it felt great under the fingers, too. 

The neck was made with sapele, and had a Standard Carve profile, which offered a typical Taylor playing experience – comfortable and fast. If you have smaller hands, you’ll definitely love this neck.

As an added bonus, it came with a fantastic Taylor hybrid gig bag. This case is a $70 value on its own, so getting it bundled in with the guitar is really a fantastic deal. 

The GS Mini also comes equipped with Taylor’s ES2 electronics. It features an undersaddle piezo pickup, and a preamp with on board EQ and even a tuner. 

As for hardware, it came with Taylor branded sealed gear tuning machines, which we’ve long been fans of, and it even had a Tusq nut and saddle. Continuing the theme of high end appointments, like most Taylors, it came pre strung with Elixir Nanoweb coated strings.


Performance/Sound

Taylor GS Mini-e Koa Review - How does it sound?

We really loved the Koa version of the GS Mini. We’ve been fans of the GS Mini series for a while now, and we really think that the Koa version is the best Taylor has made to date. 

Tonally speaking, we found that it had incredible clarity and the projection was huge considering the reduced body size. As a result, we found that it was easily able to cut through a mix, and definitely surpassed the mahogany and spruce versions we’ve tested previously in this respect.

We found that it was equally well suited to fingerstyle playing and loud strumming. The koa top delivered excellent resonance, and when strumming gave the guitar a really unique percussive quality.

It had plenty of presence in the lower mids  and again, for a small guitar, the bass registers were really full. At the top end it was detailed and nuanced, with a gorgeous shimmer that really complemented vocals.. 

When plugged in, the ES2 electronics allowed the organic acoustic tone to shine through. It didn’t lose any of the natural character of that amazing koa wood, which is a huge plus point.

As for playability, it was really outstanding. Players with small hands, and younger players in particular, will absolutely love how comfortable it is. The slim body made it easy to hold in both seated and standing positions, which will help a lot with playing with the proper form and technique

Even though it’s significantly smaller than a full size model, it’s still comfortable for larger players, too. The string spacing is great, and we never found that the fretboard felt cramped.

Reliability wise, the GS Mini was flawless. The tuning machines held well, and thanks to a combined effort between the Tusq nut, quality tuners, and Elixir strings, tuning stability was rock solid.


Other Guitars to Consider

It’s hard to recommend anything else after having played the GS Mini, but in the end we know it’s always a good idea to consider some alternative option, if for nothing else just to confirm that you’re making the right choice. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a couple of excellent alternatives to the Taylor.

Martin 000 Jr-10E Shawn Mendes Signature

The Martin 000 Jr-10E Shawn Mendes Signature, like the Taylor, is a reduced size model, but in this case, it’s a mini auditorium shape rather than grand symphony. It offers similar playability, but thanks to its solid sitka spruce and sapele back and sides, it’s a bit brighter, and has a more familiar tone. This is another beautifully made guitar, and features some fantastic embellishments, like the engraved swallows on the bridge wings – just like on Mendes own guitar.


Gibson G-00

The Gibson G-00 is a stripped back entry level model, but nevertheless, is still a US made Gibson for the same price as the Taylor. This Gibson is made with a Sitka spruce top and walnut back and sides, giving it even more brightness than the sapele backed Martin. Its small, comfortable body and slim taper neck makes it ideal for smaller handed players, and its high end construction and stage ready tones make it a genuine alternative to the GS Mini.


Final Thoughts on the Taylor GS Mini-e Koa

We thought that the Taylor GS Mini-e Koa was a fantastic all rounder. Not only did it look amazing and sound wonderful, it was also incredibly comfortable. The ergonomics were outstanding, and in all, we think it would make an excellent choice for players with small hands looking for a premium guitar.

Even though it was our Editor’s Choice for players with smaller hands, we  would still gladly recommend the GS Mini-e Koa to any guitarist, regardless of size, age, or experience.

Simon Morgan

Simon is an Orlando based musician, but originally hails from Newcastle, England. He started playing bass and guitar in 1998, and and played the local scene throughout his teen years before life got in the way. Favorite Genres: Blues, Classic Rock, and he’s not ashamed to admit - Emo

Simon Morgan has 286 posts and counting. See all posts by Simon Morgan