Sound — 7
I play finger style guitar and for me Taylor Grand Auditorium and Grand Symphony Guitar's have always been excellent for this type of playing and the GS Mini doesn't disappoint either. The treble however often over powers the bass so some small changes to playing must be made to balance out the sound. Strumming on the guitar seems to fair more fairly as it provides a rich powerful sound due to its large sound hole (surprising for the guitar's size). I often use the guitar for percussion playing and the guitar is brilliant for drumming around without denting or damaging the wood. Tapping however I found sounds unpleasant at times further down the neck, Andy McKee's drifting for example often sounds very tinny because of this. The guitar is also capable of holding open tunings (so long as they do not go down more than a 3 semitones from standard tuning otherwise buzzing often occurs) with only minor tweaking needed before each playing session to ensure it is still in tune.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I'm impressed with Taylor's GS Mini and believe it fits right into the family of baby guitars they produce. When setting out to purchase a travel guitar I originally had my eyes fixated upon the Martin LX1 but on a return trip home to Birmingham I visited guitarguitar to potentially purchase the Martin but they had none in stock so I tried a few of the other travel guitars they offered but none had the playability or the sheer presence as the Taylor did when I started playing, not even the LX1. If my Taylor ever encountered problems I would definitely pay to have it repaired or replaced despite the fact it is slightly more expensive than other travel guitars on the market at around 400. I do dislike about this guitar is how slippery the guitar's satin finish is, but I have ordered Kling-on stabilizer's recently so I shall see how the guitar fairs when they are attached. One final thing to ask, would a cutaway model of the GS Mini be to much to ask for Taylor?
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar I would consider my work horse as it is constantly being moved around with me, taking minor bumps here and there and still appears to be in mint condition. The satin finish so far has held up well considering my constant use of the instrument. In terms of gigging, I would take this guitar with me to gigs but as use as a backup incase one of my higher end guitars encountered a problem.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Set-up wise, the guitar to me seems ideal and appears to be very neatly constructed. I did notice a small dent by the sound hole of the guitar when first playing it in store, whether this is guitarguitar's fault or Taylor's I am unsure but the dent is barely noticeable. Another minor problem I found was on the neck where the Ebony fretboard and the Sapele neck meet, the Sapele's brown colour has gone over the black Ebony slightly. One final problem I encountered was the depth of the headstock which makes it impossible for me to attach my G7th Nashville Capo to when not in use, although it does fit perfectly on the fretboard when playing.
Features — 9
The Taylor GS Mini is a relatively new product from the people at Taylor and will fit right in with their ever growing family of baby/travel size guitars. The GS Mini is essential a Grand Symphony guitar shrunken down to 3/4 scale. In comparison to other Taylor models, it's size is somewhere in-between the Baby Taylor and the Big Baby Taylor. The GS Mini incredibly light is made up of solid and laminate wood with a stain finish which makes it the perfect companion for travel playing which is exactly what I have been using it for lately. The top is Sitka Spruce and the neck and sides laminate Sapele. This combination leads to deep crisp bass notes and a bright high end, if not slightly over powering the bass at times. The Spruce top I have found to begin opening up slightly in the short time I have had it so I imagine the sound shall only get better. The laminated sides, although not solid wood, probably suit this guitar better for travel playing as the laminate is stronger, won't run as high a risk of cracks from prolonged use and besides it's not as if it cost you 1000+ like other Taylor models. The price I deem very fair considering the guitar for me came with a mini hard bag (which is very light, brilliant for traveling with) and a set of Martin Light strings and will probably go down a lot in price over the next year as it is still considered a "new" product. The guitar uses chrome tuning pegs and comes with a truss rod (this I saw as an essential feature in case the guitar ever warped due to constant changes in temperature due to it's life as a travel guitar). The GS Mini's unique selling point is the fact that the owner can very easily install a pickup and take it back within 5 minutes due to the GS Mini's (optional) pickup which retails at about 70. The guitar has screws at the end pin which allow the end pin to be removed and the pickup installed in its place. If purchased for the use of traveling like I have done, I rate this guitar very highly.