The Taylor GS Mini and Baby Taylor are highly regarded options in the travel guitar or parlor guitar segment. Which one of these is a better guitar for you?
If you are looking for a portable and small-size guitar, Taylor’s GS Mini and Baby Taylor are equally formidable choices. It is common for most people to be caught up in the dilemma so we’ve decided to lay out the similarities and contrasts in an easy to understand manner to help you make the right choice.
In some ways, you can call these premium travel guitars because they are very portable instruments with top shelf construction and high quality components. Both of these models carry the brand recognition of Taylor Guitars and are excellent instruments, but which of these will serve you better and why? Let us look an at an individual overview of each model and compare how they fare in a head to head battle:
Table of Contents
Taylor GS-Mini Overview:
The GS Mini is an ultra-portable travel-friendly mini guitar with a rich dynamic range, good sustain and tonal clarity at an affordable price. It falls between the Baby Taylor and Big Baby in terms of size. Despite the compact dimensions, Taylor has not skimped on the quality or tone in any manner.
The GS Mini is significantly smaller than any full-sized guitar with a difference of 51mm in scale length and 86mm overall. The neck depth is 5mm smaller and the width is almost 50mm less than the full-sized Taylor acoustic guitars. You have three options when you want to buy the GS mini:
- The Acoustic GS Mini Rosewood without electronics
- The GS Mini Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Guitar
- The GS Mini-E Acoustic-Electric with Rosewood w/ ES-T electronics
The version without electronics is the cheapest. The GS Mini-E costs roughly a hundred dollars more than the GS Mini Mahogany acoustic electric version but it offers a lot more value as well.
The GS mini has a nice rich tonal profile that can compare to some of the 200 or 300 series Taylor acoustic guitars. It is often described as ‘the big sound in a smaller package’ because it sounds full and rich like a regular sized guitar. It has good sustain with bright treble and rich midrange. During fingerpicking and solo playing, the notes sound crisp, clear and smooth. The tone breaks up with a high attack strumming so it is better suited for singer/songwriters or acoustic guitar players in small to medium setups. It works well in acoustic pop, bluegrass, fingerstyle blues and indie singer/songwriter music.
In the end, your decision will boil down to your preference of Mahogany or Sitka because both versions are equally good in all other aspects. The darker mahogany tone wood is more warm and mellow and the sitka has less focus in the lows but more sparkle in the highs.
Overall, the GS Mini is a great choice if you need a parlor or travel sized guitar. It can be used in live performances and studio recordings, and can be a high quality primary or backup instrument for a guitarist.
Baby Taylor Overview:
The Baby Taylor is another exciting option in the travel guitar category with a smaller body and lower weight than a full sized acoustic guitar. It is available as a strictly acoustic BT1 (no electronics) and BT1e (acoustic-electric version).
The acoustic-electric version has a built-in digital chromatic tuner that will be very useful while travelling or learning the guitar. The 3/4 dreadnought size is bigger than the GS Mini but still very comfortable for people with small hands and stature. In fact, this guitar may not suit people with large hands especially after you add a capo.
The Baby Taylor Mahogany versions offer a deviation from the sparkly, jangly and bright mold of Taylor guitar tones while still staying close enough to sound like the real deal. The 3/4 dreadnought body size and solid Mahogany top give it a more isolated and mellow tone compared to the regular-sized Taylor guitars. The guitar sounds lush while playing chords and the narrow neck is very easy and gentle on the hands.
This is not a cheap imitation or economic offering – it is a serious guitar with a solid response and smooth overall tone. It can work well as a travel guitar, an acoustic guitar for a beginner to intermediate musicians, or a starter guitar for students and young kids. The compact size also makes it a common choice among people with small hands.
Overall, the Baby Taylor is a very capable guitar for couch and campfire gatherings. It is more affordable and can be a straightforward choice if you are looking for a no-frills travel companion without electronics.
Taylor GS Mini vs. Baby Taylor: Side by Side Comparison
|Specs||Taylor GS Mini||Taylor Big Baby|
|Top||Solid Sitka||Solid Sitka|
|Body||Laminate Sapele||Laminate Walnut or Sapele|
|Type||3/4 Grand Symphony||3/4 Dreadnought|
|Scale Length||23 ½ inches||22 ¾ inches|
|Body Width||14 3/8 inches||12 ½ inches|
|Nut & Saddle||Nubone Nut/Micarta Saddle||Tusq|
|Strings||Elixir Phosphor Bronze (Med)||Elixir Phosphor Bronze (Light)|
|Factory||Made in Tecate, Mexico||Made in Tecate, Mexico|
Size & shape: The body shape is one of the key differentiating factors between the two models and it has an impact on the fit, feel and tone of the guitars. The GS Mini has a scaled-down Grand Symphony (3/4 sized GS) body shape which is similar to a modern-day parlor guitar. On the other hand, the BT has a scaled down dreadnought (3/4 sized) body shape. The GS Mini is better for people with small hands and stature, it feels like a more viable choice for a premium travel guitar. The BT is an equally good option with relatively fewer features at a more affordable price.
Tone: The Mini offers greater tonal depth and projection because of the wide depth of the body and scale length. The Baby Taylor has a darker and earthier tone due to the mahogany and/or walnut body and it produces a much nicer midrange that is better for strumming. The Mini seems to have better clarity for jazz comping, flatpicking and fingerstyle blues. It articulates complex chords better and licks have just the right amount of cutting tone.
Both guitars can do a good job at most of the play styles and genres that you may attempt. In the objective tone test, the GS Mini is more recording studio friendly and sounds better for fingerstyle music and playing solos. The BT1 sounds warm and rich and feels like a better choice for campfire strumming.
Both guitars have a mellow bass response because of their size but the Baby Taylor manages to do a better job with its tight bass response. The Mini has more sparkle to offer and the BT has more warmth and clarity.
Construction: The GS Mini has a solid Sitka spruce top and laminate Sapele back and sides. The BT has a Sitka or Mahogany top with a layered Walnut or Sapele body. Variations are available in tone woods based on the model.
Both guitars are no-frills instruments with very simple features to keep weight and costs low. They both lack binding and are non-cutaway models without wedges or armrests. They both have basic Taylor die-cast chrome tuners, ebony fingerboards and X bracing. The quality of ebony and bracing is slightly better in the GS Mini models.
They have different scale lengths, depth, and body sizes. The GS has more body width and depth and a bigger scale length and body length too. The GS Mini’s Nubone nut and Micarata saddle edges out the BT’s Tusq nut and saddle. The GS Mini also has 20 frets with dot inlays compared to the 19 frets on the Baby Taylor, but the implications of that are marginal at best.
Neither of these guitars is handcrafted but they both offer the quintessential construction quality that you can expect from a premium brand like Taylor. Since they are manufactured by the same brand and undergo the same QA, there is no substantial difference in construction and component quality.
The GS Mini has a tortoise pickguard and the BT does not have any pickguard at all. They both have a premium Taylor gig bag but the GS Mini ships with a hard bag that is slightly better in quality and construction.
Electronics: Both guitars are available as completely acoustic instruments without any electronics.The acoustic-electric GS Mini has stock Taylor ES-Go electronics and the BT1e acoustic-electric version has an ES-B system with an onboard preamp and a built-in tuner.
The BT1e has an onboard preamp including a tone + master volume knob with a built-in LED tuner and battery replacement slot. The GS Mini does not have an onboard preamp or tuner but it can be paired with a Taylor V-Cable™, which will add another hundred dollars to the price.
If plug-and-play is important to you, the BT1e is a clear winner in this segment because of the additional tone shaping options and the tuner.
Mobility: Both guitars are light & portable and can be regarded as an excellent travel instrument. The GS Mini is more portable than the Baby Taylor but the difference is marginal and won’t be a factor unless this is the primary reason you want a guitar. Since both can be good travel companions, other factors will be crucial in making your choice.
Price & Value: Both guitars fall in the same price bracket with the GS Mini being relatively more expensive across all variants. The all-acoustic Baby Taylor is the cheapest of all models and the GS Mini Koa is the most expensive option. Other brands offer similar guitars for the travel segment that are cheaper. They both offer good value to cost ratio. The Baby Taylor is the best option if you do not want to spend too much money. The GS Mini offers more value if you are thinking long-term and plan to record the guitar in a studio.
Both these guitars are high-selling models that are well received by critics and customers. They have great testimonials on e-commerce platforms that highlight the craftsmanship and playability of each model. They are very different in tone because of the body shape. We have provided a brief review and an in-depth side-by-side comparison to help you with the key differences and to make a clear distinction between the two models. If you feel uncertain, you can check out your local store and play each model and rely on your gut instinct.
If you are a left-handed guitarist, you can get the BT1 or the GS Mini-L. You could, however, restring any non-cutaway model (without electronics) and play it the other way around if the inconvenience doesn’t bother you. If you seek exotic tone woods, the GS Mini offers a Solid Koa Top with a layered Koa body. You can also buy the Baby Taylor BT1E with a layered Walnut body or the Taylor Swift Signature model.
The combination of tone woods involving Sapele, Spruce, Mahogany, and Walnut can also be the key deciding factor for tone among the available choices. If you are on a shoestring budget, the BT1 is the cheapest option and it is a great guitar for the price if you don’t need electronics. The decision becomes convoluted once you add the variants and electronics into the picture.
We conclude that the GS Mini is better for players with small hands and stature because it feels more comfortable. It looks and sounds richer and can be used for recording music. The Baby Taylor is decidedly cheaper and a better option for students, beginners, or musicians on a tighter budget.