We all know the name and reputation. A reputation for quality and excellence of design and build. Taylor is also recognized as being one of the most expensive acoustic guitars you can buy. You rarely find real quality in cheap packages and usually, you only get what you pay for.
Such is the case with Taylor; you get what you pay for. Quality.
Founded in 1974, they have developed to be recognized as one of the very best instrument producers. They have grown to be one of the largest manufacturers of acoustic and semi-hollow guitars in the US. And, are now sold worldwide.
Their guitars are widely considered to be some of the finest sounding and easiest to play on the market today. These days the guitars are manufactured in Southern California and Mexico.
Only tells part of the story…
Visually their guitars have a traditional feel about them, but that only tells part of the story. They are not afraid to take their crafting skills in guitar building and add a little innovation where they can.
They patented the ‘Taylor neck’ one of the few major innovations in guitar building in recent times and the ES2 pickup a different approach to amplifying an acoustic guitar. One of their most radical creations, though was their T5 guitar.
This broke new ground being a hollow body acoustic that bridges the gap between acoustic and electric guitars like no one else had achieved.
This literal cross, a hybrid if you like, between the two genres can produce gentle and warm acoustic tones, the full crunch of a serious electric and take on everything in between them all at the touch of a five-way switch.
When the big boys, Fender and Gibson look at their competition, they take a step back when they see Taylor guitars.
It’s only really Martin that can compete with them…
When they created the ‘Baby Taylor’ in 1996, they proved that a smaller size guitar could sound good, play well, and be an attractive instrument. Initially designed for traveling or for learners it grew into a popular guitar in its own right. The GS Mini has followed on that tradition.
They make their guitars for every occasion and every requirement, and we will be looking at the Taylor GS Mini. A guitar designed to be smaller, that would neatly fit into a few requirement levels.
So, let’s have a look at the…
Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
This is a smaller version of their well known Grand symphony shape instrument. When you first see this guitar, you take a step back in pure admiration of its quality. It just looks great, and you don’t even notice at first that it is maybe three-quarter size. Classic design, no cutaway it just looks ready to play.
There is just something about it, and when you sit down with it on your knee considering its size and play your first strum, maybe not expecting too much even from a Taylor, it just goes wow.
If you close your eyes, you would never believe this is not a full-scale guitar.
Intrigued? Thought you would be, so let’s have a look at what’s in it to make it so good.
The back and sides are made from Sapele wood. This is a hardwood derivative of mahogany and is known for its quality and resonance, which is why it is a popular choice for instrument building. The wood is layered in the construction process.
The top is made purely from solid Mahogany. As you may know, the top of a guitar is where the majority of the sound you hear is finished. The body creates the sound, but it’s the top that vibrates it and distributes it and gives it its final touch.
Many guitar manufacturers prefer Spruce for the top, which creates a very clear, sharp tone. Mahogany for the top, however, produces a much warmer sound and that is what Taylor was looking for with this guitar. The top is always important in the manufacture, and the best woods should be used.
By layering the wood in all areas of construction of the body, you reduce the risk of the guitar being affected by changes in temperature or climatic conditions.
The top is finished off with a nice scratchplate that compliments the natural colors of the mahogany top. And, internally the body is braced with the Taylor Relief Rout system.
As with the sides and back of the body, the neck is constructed from Sapele wood and has a Taylor GS mini-profile neck.
The fingerboard is African ebony, a rare wood these days, and has 20 frets with a scale length of 23 and a half inches.
The playability of the neck is as you might expect. It has a smooth, comfortable action and no fret buzz. The action by design is quite low, which will suit experienced players, but there is a bit of room for adjustment if you wish, but generally speaking, it is well set.
The headstock is Sapele wood but covered with Lexan, which is a tough thermoplastic. And, the headstock is fitted with Chrome GS Mini tuners with chrome buttons.
The bridge, like the fretboard, is made of African ebony and the saddle from Micarta, a composite plastic.
It is made and assembled in Mexico at the Taylor factory.
We can see from the description that this is a quality made guitar…
Taylor doesn’t cut corners when it comes to the quality of the materials used. And use what they consider is the best for any given instrument.
With this guitar, the materials had to be good. Because making a smaller size guitar still have that magical sound is not easy and will not be achieved with lower standard woods. Neither can it be achieved by those on the factory floor, who are actually making the guitar, not knowing what they are doing.
If they don’t that will show up in the build quality straight away…
Of course, not everyone is an artisan and so there will, we are sure, be those that do not measure up in standards and might have some minor problems. But, that applies without exception to manufacturers in every country in the world.
The guitar we tested is a well-made instrument.
How Does The Taylor GS Mini Play?
When you are manufacturing a guitar that has not got a well-defined market, but might cross over two or three potential markets. The design becomes difficult because what will suit an experienced player, a novice or a learner will be different.
Usually, it’s the playability of the guitar that suffers.
A guitar that is tough to play, too big in size, action too high or too stiff, sounds awful, or just looks like someone found it in the attic, will do nothing to enthuse a new player. To encourage students, they will want something they can play, not something they have a fight with every time they pick it up.
This does the job in every way…
We shall talk about the sound in the next section, but it is just so easy to play. With a standard patented Taylor neck, it is smooth and the action easy. The slightly lower action means little or no fret buzz for a beginner but also means an experienced player can whip around the notes quickly and cleanly.
Taylor has a reputation for producing guitars that are comfortable and easy to play, and this keeps the tradition rolling. You just cannot fault it.
How Does The Taylor GS Mini Sound?
Small sized guitars are expected to sound a bit inferior to there big brothers. This is the norm.
Taylor has revised the norm by building a guitar that sounds big, warm and resonant with a nice bottom end.
How have they achieved this?
Using quality materials and an awful lot of know-how. As we mentioned before, they used the design of the Grand Symphony as a starting point and based the design of the GS Mini on that. Not a bad place to start is it.[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLxJsFrohdY[/embed]
In fact, this guitar sounds a lot better than a lot of its big brothers. More resonant and certainly with bass tones that are surprising, to say the least, it has a top end that rings out beautifully.
Don’t even consider comparing it to other learner guitars…
This surpasses just about everything you will find. If you want to sit around the campfire at night, perfect. Just maybe playing at home, ideal.
Taylor has produced in the GS Mini a quality guitar.
Would We Recommend The Taylor GS Mini?
Well, there are some discussion points about the purchase of a guitar like this, and one of them is the cost. Taylor guitars are not cheap. And, as we discussed in our opening to this review if you want quality, most of the time, you have to pay for it.
We suppose, to a certain extent, it depends on the individual circumstances of each potential purchaser. We can envisage a situation where some might look at the price tag and wince. While others will just say wrap it up, we’ll take it.
For what you are getting sound wise and for ease of playing, it is without a doubt, a great guitar. And one Taylor Guitars should be proud to have in their catalog.
Our view is that we think it unlikely you will find a better sounding and playing guitar at this price whether full-size or not. And so, therefore, it represents a good buy, and we would therefore without question recommend it.