Taylor originally debuted its “take anywhere” guitar with the Baby Taylor, a 3/4-sized instrument with a short-scale (22 3/4")neck that was optimized for alternate tunings. Following on its runaway success came a somewhat larger model called the Big Baby, which featured a full-sized 25.5"-scale neck. Taylor’s most recent entry into the travel guitar arena is the GS Mini, which runs between the Baby and Big Baby by sporting a 23.5"-scale neck that supports standard tuning, while still keeping the overall length at a compact 36 5/8". The intent of the Mini is to be a step avove the “travel” guitar in sound, performance, and functionality, and, as you’ll see, it quite nails these marks.
All of the GS Mini’s elements are in keeping with the quality of standard Taylor guitars. The satin-finished, slightly V-shaped neck feels great and the nicely trimmed frets and low action make it a delight to play. The nut is perfectly installed and the intonation solid and tuneful. Tasteful cosmetics consist of pearl fretboard dots, a multi-ring rosette with white fiber center, and black/white/ black binding around the perimeter of the top. A tortoise-colored pickguard and a black Lexan headstock facing round out the appearance group. Even the smooth turning tuners with their sculpted oval buttons class up the vibe of this guitar.
Suffice to say that Taylor has learned a lot about making small guitars that sound big, and the GS-Mini is its most impressive performer to date. The proportions and light weight of this guitar might fool you into thinking that the sonics will be HO scale, but all it takes is one strum to realize that this is no ordinary compact acoustic. In fact, the GS-Mini delivers amazing depth, fullness, and presence. The tones are crisp and detailed with a blossoming midrange and abundant low end, and whether you play with your fingers or use a pick, the dynamic responsiveness is startling. Even when lightly plucking the strings the sound has surprising body and dimension, yet you can play this guitar hard without feeling much compression.
If you need to amplify, the optional ES-Go plug-in pickup ($98 street) installs quickly and easily in a pre-mounted receptacle at the front of the soundhole. The system is based on the type of snap lock you find on backpacks and outdoor gear and it works beautifully. I didn’t even have to remove the strings to fit the pickup! The ES-Go comes with a wired endpin jack that is also easy to install. You simply remove three small screws that hold the original endpin in place, rout the ES-Go jack though the hole, resecure it with three screws, and connect the wire to the mini jack on the pickup. The only thing the ES-Go doesn’t provide is a volume control, so you may also want to consider Taylor’s optional V Cable ($36 street), a highgrade guitar cable that features a right-angle metal plug with a built-in volume control.
Although it senses only the strings, the ES-Go pickup translates the tone of the GS Mini in a satisfying manner, delivering a rich, clear sound though the Genz-Benz Shenandoah and ZT Lunchbox acoustic amps we used for this test. Very little adjustment was needed from either amp’s EQ to get a happening tone, and the GS Mini could be played quite loudly without incurring feedback. We didn’t have a V Cable, however, so all volume adjustments had to be made on the amp.
The utility of the GS Mini is quite amazing considering that it can be used for anything from entertaining your friends around a campfire to doing a gig on a concert stage. This is a fun, affordable, and great-sounding guitar, and it earns an Editors’ Pick Award.
CONTACT Taylor Guitars, (619) 258-1207; taylorguitars.com
PRICE $678 retail/$499 street (includes padded carry bag)
NECK Sapele, three piece
FRETBOARD Ebony, 231/2” scale
TUNERS Chrome die-cast
BODY Solid Sitka spruce top, laminated sapele back and sides
BRIDGE Ebony w/NuBone compensated saddle
ELECTRONICS None (Optional ES-Go soundhole pickup)
FACTORY STRINGS Elixir medium gauge, Nanoweb coated
WEIGHT 2.6 lbs
KUDOS Compact. Superb sounding. Optional ES-Go pickup installs easily and sounds great.
CONCERNS No onboard volume control.