Price paid: £ 430
Purchased from: eBay
Features — 7
The GS Mini is a relatively cheap Taylor Guitar made in Mexico. It is made with a solid top and laminate back and sides. Mine is the Es-Go version which has a very nice pre-amp fitted but weirdly no tuner. It has a smaller than a full size fretboard but is okay to play for a full size player requiring not much adjustment between this and a Les Paul. Its very comfortable when seated and fits nicely under the arm for extended noodling on the settee etc and yet has quite a loud voice. The GS Mini was introduced in Sitka but subsequently several other woods are available including the Koa Top, Mahogany... It's my belief that the Mahogany has a slightly less bright tone whilst the Koa is mainly bought because of the unique grain pattern on each one. Each Taylor is sold with a Gig bag that fits nicely. When sold new it includes a free setup which is worth it as the setup out of the factory is pretty bad (12th fret height is typically 6mm or so). When buying second hand expect to need a setup. Setup of Taylor guitars sometimes needs a specialist because the neck requires shimming. Expect £80...
Sound — 10
The sound of the GS Mini is gorgeous. I don't really like that boomy dreadnaught tone and there is none of that here. It's light and sparkly and rewards any playing skill. With a capo its even better and seems to play extra harmonics just to keep you entertained. If you play it after a short period away it captivates... The volume is very good. Surprisingly loud. In fact sometimes too loud to strum at night etc. The ES Go system is very good at reproducing what you hear to a PA and is worth the extra although as said later there is an issue when fitting a strap...
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The action of the 3 guitars I have seen were awful out of the factory. I spent £80 on getting a full setup with neck reset (I do not have the shims to even attempt this myself) and it made it so much better - where as before it was almost unplayable beyond the 7th fret because of the separation of the strings from the fretboard it became much better. The rest of the finish is very good if you like a traditional looking wooden guitar. The ebony chosen for my fretboard has a bit more grain etc than I would like but its okay. Otherwise its all fine and feels like a quality instrument. The ES Go System is fitted at the rear strap lock and is a bit strange. There are three controls on the top bout which are easy to access. However the battery box is very difficult to swap batteries (it just sticks) and I am not able to use strap locks or strap locking guitar straps. The Gig bag is nicely made and gives a quality feel to the guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 7
The guitar is a good little guitar that will be chosen to be used to play at open Mics etc by me not least because it sounds so good. It has two flaws which reduce its application for this - the missing guitar tuner (come on Taylor!) and the rear strap button that prevents any strap locks and doesn't feel as solid as the rest of the guitar. The rest of the guitar seems fine but I would take care with it as they are fairly expensive. I am not aware of any issues with delimitation etc which could effect a guitar with such a design. The Gig bag is good quality and will protect the guitar from surface scratches etc. No gig bag will protect a guitar from big drops etc.
Overall Impression — 9
The guitar is a great sounding guitar with an articulate high voice well suited to performance use with a singer etc. Its also small enough to be really comfortable for players who are more used to playing electrics or are smaller bodied. The Electrics are very good quality although I am infuriated by the lack of a tuner. If not buying new budget for a proper Taylor setup. Its worth the money and will ensure you love new guitar like you should. If it was broken or stolen I would consider buying a new one but I would also consider buying the newly introduced Taylor 12e. These are a similar shape but a little bigger and have a built in Tuner.