The GS Mini is like the big brother of the legendary Baby Taylor. While the Baby Taylor won a lot of hearts due to its portability, easy playability and jack-of-all-trades tone, the GS Mini is not quite a small travel guitar in the same way as the Baby Taylor – but it’s not a full-bodied strummer either. It’s a portable-but-not-too-small instrument that gives the feel of a much bigger guitar. Taylor sums it up perfectly on the box: “Real. Small. Taylor.” Taylor describe it as a modern-day parlour guitar for playing around the house, but it’s also the kind of axe you could easily take to a jam, camping or to the beach. And it’s also stage or studio-friendly thanks to a few special extras. This year a mahogany version joins the original version.
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The GS Mini is built in Mexico, in a factory which is a mere hop, skip and a jump away from the company’s US factory in sunny El Cajon in Southern California (and incidentally, if you ever find yourself in San Diego, take the quick drive to El Cajon to visit the Taylor folks and check out the factory and visitor centre. It’s really fun and you might just get to meet Bob).
The back and sides of the GS Mini Mahogany are made of Sapele laminate, and the top is Tropical Mahogany. The original GS Mini has a solid Sitka Spruce top. There’s a simple three-ring rosette around the sound hole and a Tortoise pickguard which follows undeniably Taylor contours. The neck is also Sapele with a Lexan headstock overlay (featuring a painted rather than inlayed Taylor logo), and the fretboard is Ebony with 20 frets. The scale length is 23.5″ – not quite full-sized, but long enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a toy either.
Several clever little add-ons are available for the GS Mini, including the ES-Go magnetic soundhole pickup and the Taylor V-Cable, an ingenious device which includes a hardwired volume pot as part of the jack assembly on one end, so you can hook it up to the volume-less ES-Go pickup and have easy volume control at your fingertips.
The GS Mini has a warm and rich one with a very musical midrange. It sounds fuller than the original GS Mini, with a more direct attack – a punch, if you will – and a definite high-end clarity. Mahogany is a harder wood than the Sitka Spruce of the original GS Mini, so it might take a little while longer to break this top in, but even right out of the box there’s a great crispness and impact to the note. This makes it an especially great acoustic for slide or soloing techniques, and it’s an entertainingly aggressive strummer too.
Playability is great: I didn’t have any problem reaching complex chords on anywhere the neck, so the scale length doesn’t really seem to interfere with playability at all – if anything it makes some of the more difficult reaches a little bit easier. As a result you’ll probably find yourself taking more chances musically, which is always a good thing. Depending on how complex your fingerpicking is (or rather, your fretting while fingerpicking) you might need to adjust your technique a little.
Also, word has it that because of its size the GS Mini also makes for a great lap steel. Just swap the nut out for a higher one and off you go!
The GS Mini is a revolutionary little axe, and all the moreso because it’s so unassuming. Don’t let its size fool you: It records well, it plays well and it sounds great. And also …it’s kinda cute!