I’m a big fan of little, light, and easy, but I’m also a fan of tone-osity, and it’s rare in the acoustic guitar world that the twain meet. When they do, it’s cause for celebration, so friends, break out the champagne for Taylor’s new GS Mini. The only thing little about this guitar is the size.
The GS Mini is a scaled-down version of the classic GS (Grand Symphony) body, a striking, attractive, slightly voluptuous shape built for comfort as well as tone. The narrow waist allows the body to sit further down on the leg (when sitting) so the right arm is extended at a less severe angle than with a dreadnaught body, and it’s also slightly shallower, decreasing shoulder extension further. The Mini itself has a total length of 36 5/8" and a 23 1/2" scale, which takes comfort and portability as far as it’s possible to take them, but don’t think for a minute it’s anything less than a real red-blooded American guitar. The body depth is a big factor here, and at 4 7/16" deep, it’s got some air to move. The goal is for the Mini to be sort of a modern-day Parlor guitar, a smaller, more portable instrument that offers tone and playability comparable to a full size guitar.
Most acoustic guitar players are well aware of the Baby Taylor, born 15 years ago, the older and smaller brother to the GS Mini. The Mini is far more guitar than the Baby, however. While the Baby pioneered the “travel guitar” field, the Mini refines it. The Baby is a petite 3 3/8" deep, the Mini is over an inch deeper, with an extra 3/4" in the scale length (23 ½”). This may not seem like much, but it allows the Mini to tune to standard instead of being “high-strung.” The Mini is truly a different beast—less “travel,” more “guitar.”
The Apple and the Tree
Taylor is famous for their action. Every Taylor plays like buttah. You know how great they’re going to feel before you even pick them up, and the GS Mini plays exactly like a Taylor. In Taylor’s publication, Wood and Steel
(Spring 2010), Bob Taylor said he was adamant about the Mini having the feel of a “real” guitar, so he gave it the patented Taylor NT neck with the same action and feel as a full size Taylor.
The back and sides are laminated sapele, which is shimmering, gold-tinted, honey-colored mahogany. The grain looks almost three dimensional, and it gleams like, well, gold. The top is solid Sitka, and, bless them, Taylor gave us a real ebony fretboard and bridge. Ebony is often one of the first casualties in the drive to make a guitar smaller and less expensive. Fortunately, Taylor was focused on small
and not cheap
. To my fingers, ebony is just the real deal, and here, it’s icing on the petit fours
. The GS Mini has the same tuners, nut and saddle material used on full-size Taylor guitars, and the rough-and-tumble, attractive hardshell gig bag is a nice touch.