In this review I will cover the different models of the GS mini. Taylor makes one with Spruce and walnut, one with mahogany, and lastly Koa. In the past they have made other models like the GS Mini Rosewood, but it no longer in production.
Let's get into what makes this guitar so great.
GS Mini Design
The design of this guitar is that of the grand symphony body shape. This body shape designed by Bob Taylor in 2006 has lots of volume and a big range. Taylor describes this body shape as having rich bass, strong mids, and thick trebles. A do it all type guitar body that is loud when strummed and articulate when picked. The GS Mini line is this same body shape made a bit smaller. You can expect the same tonal qualities.
Taylor prides itself on having guitars with great playability. What does this mean? It means that the guitar feels good when you pick it up to play it. The neck is slim and the action is low. It doesn't fight back when you try to play it. This is great for beginners and experts alike. Beginners lack the strength in their hands to man handle a guitar. Though experts find that they can play more expressively.
The sound of the GS mini will vary depending on which model you get. It comes down to personal preference. I will do my best to help you make the right choice. In the end it comes down to the sound that you like to hear when you play. It could be that spruce has too bright of a sound for your taste. Or you prefer the more mellow mahogany sound. I have highlighted each model below to show the differences. But first, lets go over the specs that will be the same on all models.
- Scale Length: 23-1/2"
- Neck Width: 1-11/16"
- Body Length: 17 5/8"
- Body Width: 14-3/8"
- Body Depth: 4-7/16"
- Fretboard: West African Ebony
- Strings: Elixir Phosphor Bronze Medium Gauge
The "e" in the model name stands for electronics. These models will have Taylor's ES-B pickup/preamp that uses their Expression System 2. It also features a built in tuner so you can get in tune and not have to worry about using an app or clip on tuner. During my research, I found the ES-B to provide a great sound when plugged into an amplifier. Adding effects like reverb can inspire so much creativity in your playing. I highly recommend getting an acoustic electric for this reason.
GS Mini-e Walnut
This model comes with a solid spruce top and laminated walnut back and sides. Spruce is a common wood used for acoustic guitar tops. A well-rounded tonewood, sitka spruce suits a wide variety of playing styles. The grain is tight and the wood is stiff and light. The walnut back and sides will give a similar tone to maple. Walnut's tonal qualities are warm and dark. The richness of walnut and the brightness of sitka spruce all in one guitar. This is a great choice for any style of guitar playing, and is my top choice of the available models. I am a sucker for sitka spruce. I love the brightness of it. You will need to play or listen to the different models to determine what sound you like best.
GS Mini-e Mahogany
This model features a tropical mahogany top with layered sapele back and sides. The mahogany wood will give the guitar a woody and dry tone. Mahogany is more dense than spruce and has a more direct sound with less overtones. The layered (laminate) sapele back and sides will add to the resonance and projection. More dense than mahogany, sapele produces a brighter tone. I think Taylor paired this wood with the mahogany top to balance out the darker sound of the mahogany. It's a great choice if you are looking for a Taylor guitar under $500. Owners of this guitar are raving about how much they love the sound. Is it the best one? That is sort of like trying to determine the best painting that Picasso did. What sounds best to you may not sound best to me. So fire up the youtube machine or head down to your local shop and try this one out for yourself.
GS Mini-e Koa
This model has a solid Koa top with layered koa back and sides. The sound of a koa guitar starts off as bright. Over the years as the guitar plays in, the koa will develop a warm, sweet sound with great overtones. I personally love the look of this guitar. It's almost like koa looks how it will sound. This model comes with an acoustic pickup modeled after Taylor's expression system. Due to the break in of the Koa, it is tough to tell what it will sound like once played in. Fingerstyle players are fond of Koa since it allows them to play softer due to it's bright sound.
Here are some youtube videos where the reviewer plays the models side by side. You can hear the difference between the different models. Hopefully it makes your decision easier! For more info on acoustic guitars, check out my page on the best acoustic guitars. I break it down by each price point, detailing the best models and what you are getting for your money.