In 2006, Taylor unveiled their Grand Symphony body shape, which was a slightly larger version of their already wildly popular Grand Auditorium shape. Bob Taylor himself came up with the design for the GS, and it became a runaway success. Fast forward to 2010, and Taylor went the opposite direction, shrinking the Grand Symphony to create the Taylor GS Mini.
The Taylor GS Mini is by far one of the El Cajon brand’s most popular acoustic models, offering a more high end fit and finish than their other reduced size offering, the Baby Taylor, but remaining at a highly accessible price point.
In this KillerGuitarRigs Review we spent some time with the Taylor GS Mini Mahogany – keep on reading as we learn more about this guitar, and whether or not it could be considered the ultimate travel guitar.
Who Is This For?
The Taylor GS Mini Mahogany suits a huge range of guitarists thanks to its excellent build quality, fair pricing, and great sound. Starting with the obvious, the ¾ size makes it an ideal choice for younger players looking for a high quality acoustic.
Beginners of all ages will find it to be an extremely forgiving guitar as it’s comfortable to hold, and has a particularly slim neck. Intermediate and experienced players in particular will love the fantastic tones, and the convenience of having a smaller guitar for travelling with.
Appearance / Features / Controls
We’ve previously tested the GS Mini Koa, but this was the first time we’d gotten our hands on the mahogany version. First impressions were great – it didn’t have as much “wow factor” as the Koa version, but it’s still a very pretty guitar nonetheless.
We absolutely loved the gig bag that comes bundled with the GS Mini – to buy a bag of this quality on its own would cost well over $100, so it’s superb value that it comes included with the guitar. It offers similar protection to a hard case, while still being comfortable and easy to carry.
Like every GS Mini variant, it was built with a solid top, in this case solid mahogany. The back and sides were layered sapele, which really help to increase the durability, further making the case for the GS mini to be considered as the ultimate travel guitar.
The bridge and fretboard were both made from solid ebony, which is one of our favorite woods for these purposes. They had a stunning, dark finish, with a deep luster that really popped against the mahogany top. The fretboard not only looked good, but felt fantastic, too.
It had a sapele neck in a Standard Carve profile, which is somewhere between a soft V and a slim D shape. It played beautifully, encouraging good form while still remaining fast. We were easily able to reach around the fretboard in all playing positions.
On the subject of the fretboard, the frets themselves were beautifully finished, and in our opinion, as well finished as we’ve seen from any Taylor including American made models.
The tuners were Taylor branded sealed units, they did a great job when it came to holding tune, with rock solid performance from the first strum. Also, we must point out that the Tusq nut and saddle, as well as the standard Elixir Nanoweb strings went a long way in assisting the solid tuning stability,
The GS Mini really performed well during the test. It had the classic Taylor tone, so fans of the brand won’t be disappointed.
We spent a long time playing the GS Mini and learned a lot about is highlights and some of its limitations.
Surprisingly, we found it to be best suited to strumming. It really works with the player, and the solid mahogany top is incredibly responsive. Hard strumming brings out the natural percussiveness in the body, particularly when playing open chords.
Another area of its tone that we really enjoyed was the seemingly endless sustain. It’s rare for short scale guitars like this to have that full size guitar type sustain, and it’s even more noticeable when you compare it with the likes of a Baby Taylor or Little Martin, 2 of the most popular reduced size acoustic lineups on the market.
The top end was rounded and full, and we never got the feeling that it was boxy or tinny. Finger style players will love the sweetness and warmth, even in the upper registers.
In the mids it was fat, a truly rich sounding guitar with huge punch and superb clarity, which was most noticeable when playing arpeggiated sections. The mid range focus was also extremely obvious during single note lead runs.
The bottom end was where it lacked most, unfortunately, but that is par for the course with ¾ and smaller size guitars. That isn’t to say it had none, to the contrary, the overall tone was nicely balanced, so the bass end that it does have really complimented the mids and top end well.
So, while it didn’t have the volume or presence of a full size GS, if you purchase this guitar understanding that it was never intended to, you won’t be disappointed.
As far as the playability was concerned, we really loved the GS mini. For an adult, it’s the perfect size for a couch or travel guitar, which really encouraged us to keep it close by. This inevitably resulted in us playing it more, and ultimately, having more time to enjoy it.
Other Guitars to Consider
The Taylor GS Mini Mahogany really is the class leader, but objective comparison is always a good thing. If you’d like to check out some other great options before coming to a decision on your purchase, check out these excellent alternatives.
The Martin 000 Jr-10 is a reduced size mini auditorium style guitar, that feels a lot like the Taylor playability wise. It’s a good option if you’re looking for something a bit brighter than the GS Mini, as its solid Sitka spruce top brings an abundance of shimmer. It’s compact and comfortable, extremely well made, and comes from one of the world’s oldest guitar manufacturers, who pour every ounce of their experience into every guitar they make.
The Breedlove ECO Discovery S Companion CE is something of an underdog in this category, but don’t count it out. This guitar was designed with sustainability in mind, as evidenced by the ECO in the model name, but that doesn’t mean that tone has been sacrificed. It has a beautifully unique sound provided by the solid red cedar top that falls somewhere between mahogany and spruce as far as warmth goes. This model is also electric acoustic, so it’s ready to plug and take to bigger audiences if that’s what you’re looking for in a guitar.
Final Thoughts on the Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
The Taylor GS Mini Mahogany, despite its smaller size, really does give you a lot of guitar for the money. It offers a lot more in terms of responsiveness and fullness of tone than Taylor’s entry level Baby Taylor series, which really adds to the appeal for intermediate and pro level players. For beginners, this is a guitar that works with you – the playability is extremely forgiving, and you’ll progress quickly learning on a guitar like this.
Is it 100% perfect? No, but rarely does a guitar earn that distinction. If you understand its limitations, though, the GS Mini will be a faithful companion that you’ll want to take everywhere you go.
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