Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
At age 64, after 49 years of playing, acoustic guitar has become a bit of a problem lately (left hand, right shoulder – growing older is not for sissies!). Electrics are no problem at all, but on the acoustic side I thought maybe the GS Mini might provide a solution.
I selected a mahogany-top at Sweetwater and my guy Ryan Murphy made sure everything went perfectly (customer service at Sweetwater is off the charts, if you don’t already know). Right out of the box, I was immediately impressed. The ergonomics of its size didn’t stress my shoulder at all, and I realized that with its truly surprising (and satisfying) tone, volume, and playability (objectively speaking, and also for my left hand), this might be all the acoustic I’d need on a day-to-day basis. I’d give it a full 5 stars, except I did feel the need to upgrade it a bit. If you’re interested, here’s what I did:
1) Changed to uncoated Phosphor Bronze strings. An amazing increase in volume and tone. Elixirs have always been tone killers to my ear, but everyone has different tastes.
2) Changed the black plastic bridge pins to white bone with abalone dots. I got a perfect-fitting set from a guy on ebay for just $14. Subtle improvement in tone, big improvement in looks.
3) Removed the plastic tortoise shell pickguard via the hairdryer method. Worked perfectly, but you do need to go slowly and be patient. There was not a trace of tan line because the guitar is so new -- your mileage may vary. I have no objection to pickguards, I just hated the tortoise look on the mahogany – frankly I would have left it on if Tayor had used a black one instead, which would have gone great with the bridge, fretboard and headstock – a no-brainer aesthetically (I have several other Taylors, so it’s a head-scratcher to me why they blew this – normally they nail every design detail and a black plastic pickguard is no more expensive). Now that it’s off, it looks so much better and I highly doubt I will replace it with a black one – which was my original idea.
4) I rubbed up the incomparable Virtuoso Guitar Polish on the matte finish varnish and it now sports a beautiful satin glow.
5) Installed a mahogany trussrod cover ($16 on ebay). A great unit with a perfect fit and very nice semi-gloss finish; it really dresses up the plain headstock.
6) Swapped out the tuners for Taylor Chrome Minis. $50. This was unexpected and does contribute a lot to my 4.5 rating. I had some tuning stability problems with the original 14:1 tuners and the new 18:1 tuners solved that. They drop right in with no modifications.
7) Installed a K&K Pure Mini pickup. Wow. Love this thing.
8) FYI, you have to fill in the recessed spot for the original endpin plate when installing a non-ES-Go endpin. I found a polished chrome washer that fits beautifully. The washer was a buck, but the shipping was $10.
9) Finally, I sent in the Tusq saddle to Bob Colosi and had him make a genuine bone saddle. This $26 was TOTALLY worth every penny. Not only is Bob a great guy and a meticulous craftsman, but the tone upgrade is truly eye-opening.
So there you have it. I don’t count the K&K because I would have bought the ES-Go anyway, and the K&K actually was $7 cheaper. So crediting myself that $7, I put in $110 on the GS Mini. You may question whether all that investment was worth it on a $500 guitar and I wouldn’t argue with you. The bottom line for me, though, is that it looks and sounds gorgeous, plays like butter, and my acoustic time has at least doubled because I pick it up constantly. Which is the test for any guitar, isn’t it?