Taylor Guitars has developed a well-deserved reputation for making some of the best acoustic guitars on the market today. In our eyes, every model that they produce – even their lower range offerings – tends to be a step above most of their competition.
That point of view certainly carries over to the Taylor GS Mini series of guitars and basses. Sometimes short scale or ‘travel’ guitars tend to be viewed as more utility items than anything else. Their compact size is geared towards younger players with smaller body proportions or just having a smaller guitar to carry around. With the GS Mini series, nothing could be farther from the truth. The entire range of instruments is well crafted (and high quality) models that are certainly worthy of the Taylor name.
For the most part, each model’s overall construction (seven six-string guitars and four 4-string basses) in the GS Mini series is the same. The design is based on a scaled down version of the Grand Symphony body design, which features a smaller 23.5″ scale length.
All of the GS Mini models are non-cutaway and come in a wide range of available tonewoods. Most notable in this regard are Koa, mahogany, and Sitka spruce for the tops while having a choice of Sapele, rosewood, Koa, or maple (all layered construction) sides and back.
Necks on the GS Mini series are also made from several excellent tonewood selections such as Sapele, hard rock maple, or mahogany. Overall, the tonewood options are based on the particular model you are considering (for example, the GS Mini-e Koa features Hawaiian Koa for the top, layered Koa for the back and sides, and a Sapele neck). All of the models (both guitars and basses) have 20 frets mounted on West African ebony fretboards, which do not feature any binding.
While many hardware items are similar between all of the GS Mini model choices, some available options (based on the chosen model) help to differentiate the individual product line offerings from each other, a Nubone nut with a Micarta saddle (both human-made materials) along with Taylor-branded die-cast tuning machines are found on every model. Each offers – at a minimum – a Taylor GS Mini hard bag. Taylor hard bags are very good in our experience and, while they are not as wholly robust as a hardshell case, they are certainly steps above a simple soft gig bag.
The electronics on the GS Mini series guitars span a variety of options. The ‘GS Mini’ models have the option for an aftermarket soundhole pickup called the ES-Go (we say ‘aftermarket,’ but it’s Taylor-branded). The ‘GS Mini-e’ models are moving up the scale, where the electronics configurations are more advanced. Here you will find either the ES-B, which is a piezo-based under-saddle pickup with an onboard preamp (complete with volume and tone controls along with a chromatic tuner – a somewhat rare feature on Taylor guitars) all the way up to the high-end Expression System 2 that comes standard on the ‘top end’ GS Mini-e Koa Plus.
Just as with the full-size guitars in the Taylor product line, there is no shortage of fantastic performance with any of the GS Mini models. Going from the standard GS Mini (least expensive) to the top-tier GS Mini-e Koa Plus, you’ll experience a guitar that has an incredible tonal range, with a low end that isn’t too boomy while also having a crisp and defined higher frequencies. The overall sound is well balanced and full, just about to the point where – if you did a blind sound test – you would think that you were playing a full-sized Grand Symphony.
Tonal excellence is evident right off the bat when playing a GS Mini, that’s unplugged. If you take advantage of one of the multiple Taylor electronics options available, obtaining an excellent and rich amplified tone can be done with relative ease, making the GS Mini series great options for live performance environments.
Playability is also a hallmark characteristic of Taylor acoustic guitars, and the GS Mini series is no exception. While it’s true that only having a smaller scale length can result in a guitar that’s easy to play, you can’t discount the effect of Taylor’s build quality on how smooth it is. Full chords are effortless to finger all the way up the neck, and single-note lines benefit from the smooth string action as well.