Portable, playable, and with a sound big enough to fill a concert hall, the Taylor GS Mini is the top contender for best acoustic guitar under $500. Combining over 45 years of experience, state of the art craftsmanship, and select tonewoods, the Taylor GS Mini has become the industry standard for travel-sized guitars. The Taylor GS Mini acoustic guitar is perfect for kids, teenagers, adult learners, and seasoned guitarists.
As a professional musician, I know how hard it is to find a small travel-sized acoustic guitar that sounds and plays well. This Taylor GS Mini review will take an in-depth look at where this travel-sized guitar surpasses the competition and areas where it does not.
Taylor GS Mini
- "Body Body type: Taylor Grand Symphony Mini Cutaway: No Top wood: Solid Mahogany Back & sides: Layered Sapele Bracing pattern: GS Mini With Relief Rout Body finish: Matte 2.0 Orientation: Right-handed Neck Neck shape: Taylor GS Mini Profile Nut width: 1-11/16"" (42.8mm) Fingerboard: Genuine African Ebony Neck wood: Sapele Scale length: 23-1/2"" Number of frets: 20 Neck finish: Matte 2.0 Electronics"
- "There's something undeniably inviting about the Taylor GS Mini's scaled-down size, yet a single strum reveals the impressive voice of a full-size guitar
- That mix of portability and musicality has proven to be a winning combination that fits into so many scenarios in life, from the couch to the campfire to the concert hall
- It's not too big, it's not too precious, and it's not too expensive
- That broad-based accessibility has given it a resounding universal appeal, not to mention a built-in fun factor
Since 1974, Taylor Guitars has been revolutionizing the acoustic guitar industry. Using experimental body shapes, bracing patterns, and exotic tonewoods, amateurs and professionals around the world have fallen in love with the Taylor sound. First introduced in 2010, the Taylor GS Mini has bridged the gap between entry-level and elite acoustic guitars.
GS, short for Grand Symphony, is Taylor Guitar’s signature body shape, and there’s good reason legends like Leo Kottke, Dave Matthews, and Taylor Swift have chosen the Grand Symphony body style to fuel their passion. The GS body style is comfortable, produces a rich and warm tone, and is capable of putting out a lot of volume without sounding harsh.
What We Liked
- Small and portable
- Big sound with clear projection
- Easy to play
- Several different versions available
What We Didn’t Like
- More expensive than similar guitars
- Potential for high action
- Sensitive to humidity changes
A Starter Guitar Built for a Pro
Whether you’re new to playing guitar or have a few decades of experience, the Taylor GS Mini has features to satisfy any level of musician. The GS Mini’s are made of the same tonewoods as their more expensive counterparts and are built exclusively with exotic woods like ebony, spruce, and Sapele. Why spend thousands of dollars on a guitar made of virtually the same woods?
The 23-1/2” scale length is significantly shorter than a full-size guitar, meaning that your fingers will have to do less stretching to play chords and notes. This not only makes learning guitar easier but also allows you to play longer without finger fatigue.
If you’re worried about whether the GS Mini will “grow” with the player or is good enough for the gig – don’t be. Thousands of players have used the Taylor GS Mini as their main guitar, with many swearing they could never go back to a full-size guitar.
Small Guitar – Big Sound
Searching for the right acoustic guitar is a demanding effort. Dreadnaughts can be too big but produce a lush, warm tone. Parlor guitars are light and portable, but their sound can be small and uninspiring. Taking the best of both worlds, the Taylor GS Mini is about 3/4 the size of a full-size acoustic, but capable of producing a warm, full tone, with just as much volume as its bigger brothers. The GS Mini’s overall length is 36-5/8″, while a full-size Taylor acoustic is typically 41”.
A Variety of Flavors
If the natural look of the Taylor GS Mini isn’t for you, rest assured that there are several different kinds of wood and styles to choose from, including Koa, Mahogany, and Rosewood. An acoustic-electric version is also available, as well as a four-string bass version.
|Tone Woods: Solid sitka spruce top, layered sapele back and sides|
|Fingerboard Material: Ebony and Maple|
|Scale Length: 23-1/2”|
|Number of Frets: 20|
|Overall Length: 36-5/8″|
|Accessories: Taylor GS Mini Gig Bag|
What Customers are Saying
In reading other customers’ opinions and reviews, Taylor GS Mini’s portability and small size shines as its most important feature. Many parents have bought their young children this guitar to help them learn, while several backpackers consider the GS Mini the perfect travel companion. Additionally, customers who are singer/songwriters have used this travel guitar to record entire albums.
After analyzing the top musical instrument retails sites, it is clear that buyers of the Taylor GS Mini love its sound and tone. Several customers commented that the Taylor GS Mini can go head to head with their more expensive guitars, praising the big, powerful, and “sweet” sound this travel guitar produces. The volume and tone are more than enough to play a gig or concert, as evident by the musicians who take the GS Mini on stage with them every night.
A few owners of the Taylor GS Mini have found that the action needs to be lowered right out of the box. However, this issue only seems to plague a small percentage of buyers. Lowering the action is typically done by sanding down the saddle or changing out the nut.
In addition to high action, a small number of customers have reported that their GS Mini has a hard time staying in tune and that the finish became “dull” looking over time. Being an instrument designed for travel, the GS Mini is susceptible to humidity and temperature changes. To keep your Taylor GS Mini optimal condition, it is recommended to store the guitar in its case when not being played, and to use a case humidifier.
For an in-depth Taylor GS Mini review, check out this video:
A Lot to Love in a Small Package
As an owner of several Taylor GS Minis, these small guitars continue to surprise me. Throw one in the trunk and take it along for a weekend road trip, or sit down and record some fresh ideas – there is truly no wrong place for these workhorse acoustic guitars.
Like many other players, I have found that the action can vary drastically from one GS Mini to the next. Sanding a tiny bit off the bottom of the saddle seems to do the trick. Just remember – like a haircut, you can always take more off, but you can’t add more on. The rule is to go slow or have a trained luthier do it for you.
As with any guitar, humidity and temperature can slowly change the fit, finish, and feel. You may find that without proper storage, your guitar has developed a buzz or a hairline crack. The GS Mini seems to be prone to these fluctuations, so care and planning should go into your decision to buy.