Price paid: £ 465
Purchased from: Sounds Great Music
Features — 8
The guitar is a brand new Taylor GS Mini Mahogany bought from Sounds Great Music in the UK just over a month ago as a present from my wife and various family members for my 30th Birthday. It is a scaled down (23 inch and smaller bodied) and stripped down version of Taylor's Grand Symphony model that is made in Mexico. It features a solid Mahogany top with the back and sides being a Sapele/Poplar laminate as opposed to solid which doesn't bother me but may but some people off. The neck is also Sapele. The bridge and fingerboard are both Ebony (really nice piece of ebony on my fret board) and the saddle and nut are both Tusq. Tuners are non-locking and unbranded but seem well made and solid. The finish is all natural satin adding to the stripped back vibe and there is no actual binding but some nice white edging to the body and sound hole. Internally the top features Taylors X bracing and the back is slightly bowled out which eliminates the need for bracing and has other benefits too (more on that later). While there are electro versions available, I went for this purely acoustic version. This does however feature a couple of hidden features such as a clip to attach Taylor's purpose built, retro fit ES Go pickup quickly and without making modifications to your instrument. The rear strap pin can also be easily removed to make way for a jack socket and there is a clip on the upper edge of the body to stop the pickup's cable flopping around inside the body.
There is also the option to purchase Taylor's V Cable which has an in built volume control to make up for the guitar's lack of built in controls. Ultimately, the guitar is perfect for my practice at home and jamming with friends and the after market options are easily available if I decide to gig it. Some may prefer in built electronics, in which case check out the electro version. The guitar came with a Taylor GS Mini branded padded gig bag. The bag seems sturdy enough that you won't need to panic about slight knocks and general travelling but I wouldn't like to test it against anything too violent. In a nice touch there are reinforced strips at either end of the bag to prevent the headstock and strap button wearing through the lining. I feel this could have been done on the top where the bridge touches the inside as there are already some indentations from the end pins. This can be easily rectified with a piece of cloth but it's a point for consideration in my view. Inside the front pocket of the case, Taylor provide a number of small booklets with information on the guitar, the strings used on each if the company's models, re stringing advice for those who maybe aren't familiar with acoustics, some instructions for care and maintenance and a form to register the instrument with them. A really nice touch in my view.
Sound — 10
Ok, having tried to stick to the facts in an unbiased fashion regarding the spec of the guitar, I'm afraid some serious gushing will now commence. I genuinely cannot say enough good things about this instrument in this regard. I admit to being a mainly electric player, typically using a Fender American Special Stratocaster and an Ibanez USA Custom model, with not a huge amount of experience of acoustic guitars but I fell in love with this straight away. I tend to play bluesy rock (ZZ Top, Rory Gallagher, Gov't Mule etc) along with more classic heavy metal such as early Black Sabbath. Since getting the guitar I have been experimenting with more traditional blues and folky styles and this guitar is perfect for that. I have even been adapting some rockier songs for acoustic and it sounds great. I tried it in a side by side comparison with the spruce top version and much preferred this. Despite my love of bright sounding electrics, I found the spruce topped model overly bright and twangy and was much happier with the fuller, more rounded sound produced by the mahogany top. As for the effect the laminate back and sides have on the tone? I genuinely don't believe it has any detrimental effect. Again my experience of acoustics is limited and maybe with more experience I would feel differently but, as it stands, I can't complain at all. The most surprising thing about the sound is the amount of volume a guitar this size produces. This relates somewhat to the slight arching of the back and reduced bracing which allows it to project much more with much more of a bottom end response. Obviously, it would be ludicrous to claim it sounds just like a full sized Grand Symphony or Dreadnought but, it is far closer than many similar sized guitars I have played. I haven't yet tried the guitar with a pickup but it records very well through a microphone.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Straight out of the box, the set up was perfect for me. The neck has an almost soft v profile which is very easy for me, as a mainly electric player, to get accustomed to. The action and intonation were great and the strings were perfect for the guitar. The frets are fairly shallow which took some getting used to after the jumbos on my electrics but this didn't take long. There are no sharp ends and the neck feels fantastic. As previously mentioned, the finish is natural satin which is actually very attractive and allows the wood grain to come through really well. The Mahogany top has a really nice reddish brown hue and the Sapele on the back and sides has a really nice almost flame effect where the colour ranges from a mahogany brown to almost gold colour. The satin finish on the neck feels great, giving the guitar a played in feel and doesn't get sticky with sweaty hands The finish is very thin and will likely wear away with play but that doesnt bother me too much as it will just give it some character. There is a very small rough patch in the finishing near the base side of the neck join which isn't an issue to me but it's there and is worth a mention. Overall it is very well put together.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The guitar is very light, thanks to it's size but feels solidly built. The tuners are non locking but chunky enough and it holds tune really well during my practice. They may need to be upgraded if I start to play it live but, at present, there are no issues. The strap buttons feel solid enough and should be fine. I would happily use it at gigs without another acoustic to back it up but again, I mainly play electric so it would likely only be used for a few songs. Once again the thin satin finish may be likely to wear fairly easily. Not a problem to me but I can see how it would be off putting to some.
Overall Impression — 10
Put simply, I love this guitar. If it were stolen I would definitely get another one but I would be gutted to lose this one. It suits my needs and style perfectly and sounds amazing. I seriously cannot praise the sound enough. As I previously stated, my experience of acoustics is limited, mainly to cheaper models and this is my first quality acoustic model. I am aware that Taylor advertise it as a beginner or ideal second guitar but, in my view, that sells it a little short. Again, if I had the budget to buy a hand made, all solid model produced in the UK or the USA, I may feel that this is the case and the more expensive model is the way to go as a main guitar. At this point though, my Mexican Mini is just amazing.