Hello and welcome to my Taylor GS Mini Mahogany review.
As soon as I picked this guitar up I knew I was in for something special. The feel and look of this guitar is striking… but what about the most important aspects of a guitar – the sound and playability?
I’ll get to that in a moment.
This review will cover:
- The GS Mini’s sound (including videos)
- The playability of the GS Mini
- Who the GS Mini is most suitable for; and
- Whether or not the GS Mini is value-for-money
O.k let’s start off with the sound.
This guitar is a travel sized guitar so I wasn’t expecting too much in terms of the fullness of sound or the volume.
Despite those expectations, the tone was amazing! It had a nice warm, clear, full and balanced sound.
The volume and resonance, especially given the size, was impressive. It gives off such a full resonant sound for such a small guitar – it’s full and resonant but also balanced and even.
Warm or Bright?
The GS Mini Mahogany was definitely a warm sounding guitar. If you prefer a brighter sound then it does also come in a model with a Sitka Spruce top.
On a scale of 1-10, the Mahogany version is about a 4 – 4.5 out of 10, with 1 being so warm that it’s muddy sounding and 10 being so bright that’s it’s tinny and harsh. So the GS Mini is nice and warm but still crisp.
O.k. let’s take a quick look at what the GS Mini Mahogany is made of:
- Top (Soundboard): Solid Mahogany. This is the main reason for the warm tone.
- Back and Sides: Layered Sapele is used for the back and sides. Whilst not as good as solid wood back and sides would be, if it had solid back and sides this guitar would be considerably more expensive. And to be honest the tone was so nice it’s definitely not an issue.
- Headstock: The chrome tuners are nothing special but they felt fine to use and felt solid.
- Nut and saddle: The nut and saddle are made from Nubone – which is a synthetic material designed to emulate bone. Don’t mistake this for cheap plastic – Nubone is a great material for nuts and saddles.
- Bridge: The bridge is made from ebony. Not only does this look good, it’s also an awesome material for bridges – it’s hard and dense so it does a great job at transferring the sound from the strings into the soundboard with minimal loss of energy.
Sometimes I can find videos that do a pretty good job of representing the sound of a guitar. In this case I couldn’t find one that really did the GS Mini justice for what it sounds like in real life.
But these videos should give you some idea anyway.
This first video compares the sound of the GS Mini Spruce to the GS Mini Mahogany. (note that he says TUSQ for the nut and saddle but it’s actually Nubone – both similar materials though).
This next one if mostly the guy talking about the guitar but there is some playing – mostly towards the end.
There was nothing about this guitar that I didn’t like – o.k. there was one thing but it’s not a biggie (see final verdict below). But playability was certainly something I very much liked with this guitar. It just felt nice to play – I didn’t have to try and force anything, it was smooth and easy.
The action on a new guitar is always too high for my tastes – which is ok because it’s something that can be easily adjusted – but the action was actually really well set up on the GS Mini.
Personally I’d probably still lower it a tad but it wouldn’t be a big adjustment.
The Fretboard (fingerboard)
The fretboard is made from ebony (like the bridge). There’s something I love about ebony – not only does it look great but I find it has a really smooth feel to it and I think that really helped with how nice this guitar was to play.
With the scale size being smaller than normal (23.5″) I did have moments trying to play chords in the upper frets where I had to really focus to fit my fingers in.
But this is to be expected with a reduced scale size.
The nut width is 1 11/16 inch (43mm). Most nut widths these days are either 43mm or 44mm so this is pretty standard but on the narrow side of standard. Some full sized dreadnoughts have this nut width so it’s not super narrow or anything but it is nice for those with smaller hands.
Check out the links below for some user reviews. It’s always a good idea to get several opinions – mine, after all, is but the opinion of only one.
Who this Guitar is Most Suited to
This guitar is most suited to anyone who likes a great sounding, nice to play guitar!
But seriously, it is most suited to:
- Anyone looking for a travel guitar
- Anyone with smaller hands
- Anyone with a smaller body-size
- Beginners learning the guitar
- Kid’s, whether learning or already quite advanced
But definitely not restricted to the above. In fact I’m 6 foot with relatively big hands but I am going to buy this guitar – when I can justify spending more money on another guitar! – not to have as my only guitar, but certainly not just as a travel guitar.
In terms of styles, the Mahogany version is certainly more suited to acoustic blues and folk in my opinion but is definitely versatile enough to play any style.
But if you do prefer a brighter sound you could check out the Spruce model. The GS mini comes in three different models.
- GS Mini Spruce
- GS Mini Mahogany
- GS Mini Koa
The Koa version is a little more expensive but man does it look and sound amazing!
Hands down. 100%. Yes!
I honestly couldn’t believe that I was playing a guitar that only costs just over $500. Part of the reason it is so cheap is because of the size but if you don’t mind a smaller guitar then this bad boy is incredible for the price.
It was really nice to play and felt about as far away from cheap as you could get on a $500 guitar.
And I couldn’t believe I was playing a mini guitar. The sound was so full and resonant.
It’s well built and has quality materials throughout. O.k. the bridge pins are plastic but they are easily and cheaply replaced.
This is the best guitar for the price that I have played.
The one thing I don’t like about the Mahogany version is the red pick guard which I think looks kinda ugly. But otherwise it looks fantastic.
But more importantly it plays brilliantly and sounds awesome.
This guitar is far too good to just be a travel guitar – in fact if you buy this as your travel guitar you may find that you also end up playing it at home, at gigs and for recording – and you’re other guitars may start to feel a bit left out!
Now I have to confess that when it comes to guitars I usually prefer Martin’s over Taylors – just a personal preference because I prefer a warmer tone and Martin’s tend to have that. And I like the way Martin’s play slightly more.
But in this case I haven’t played a better guitar, Martin or otherwise, at this price. And compared to what I consider Martin’s equivalent (the Martin LX1E) this guitar wins by a long shot.
- Taylor GS Mini Mahogany at Amazon.ca (Canada)
I hope you found this review helpful. If you want to compare the GS Mini to other guitars in a similar price range check out the link below. Any questions or comments very welcome in the comments section below.