Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
Travel guitars were once labelled as secondary instruments, but with Ed Sheeran and his trusty Martin LX1E topping the charts, and Taylor enjoying acclaim for its GS Mini guitars, there's more to the latest crop of travel guitars than meets the eye.
While the original GS Mini sounded great with a spruce top, many acoustic aficionados prefer a mahogany top for its midrange qualities. Taylor knows it, too, and has responded with a new version that's sure to satisfy the pickiest of fingerpickers.
The GS Mini Mahogany follows the same outline as its predecessor, sitting snugly on your lap, feeling like a short-scale parlour guitar. The solid mahogany sits on a laminated sapele body, a wood tonally similar to mahogany, while a slightly curved back to the guitar is comfortable and negates the need for back bracing.
There's no binding between the different body sections, leaving the GS Mini a little more prone to dings, but an open-pore finish gives it an earthy, road-ready vibe, far away from the cheap-feeling satin finishes on other travel and budget guitars.
"For a junior-sized guitar, these are some very grown-up tones"
Strum out your first few chords on the GS Mini and it's hard not to be impressed. Notes ring out with a depth and texture that sounds more like a full-scale parlour than a pint-sized travel guitar. It might not have the low-end of a 'proper' acoustic, but the guitar's impressive volume and the sheer clarity of the lower strings make up for that. For a junior-sized guitar, these are some very grown-up sounds, and things only seem to improve when you move from strumming to fingerpicking.
With slimmer than average neck dimensions, complex chord changes can feel claustrophobic, but the strings are spaced at the full 53mm at the bridge, so your picking hand should feel more at home. The high strings have plenty of chime and sparkle, and the midrange oomph of the mahogany balances out the overall tone of the guitar, offering a nice contrast to the wealth of spruce-topped alternatives out there.
By default, the GS Mini is a purely acoustic instrument, but the optional ES-Go pickup makes plugging in for recording and live work simple. With a bit of EQ, the plugged-in tones will get the job done in most situations, with the mahogany character always shining through.
We've been charmed by this little Taylor, and it's difficult to pick out any areas for real criticism. It is expensive for a travel guitar, but the quality of the sounds soon silences that complaint. Throw in the excellent gigbag and you've got a winner.
Sounds superb for chords and fingerpicking. Open-pore finish looks great.
No binding between body sections. Expensive for a travel guitar.
For a travel-friendly songwriting companion that doesn't sacrifice tone or playability for the size reduction, the GS Mini has got to be your first port of call.
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