If you’re looking for an affordable travel acoustic guitar that looks stunning and still feels like a regular acoustic guitar, Taylor is one of the best brands.
The Taylor Big Baby and Taylor GS Mini are both portable and quality acoustic guitars, but they’re slightly different and cater to their own types of players. Read on to learn about the two most popular short scale Taylor models.
The Big Baby Taylor is an excellent option for a travel guitar. The Big Baby is available in two varieties: the BT1, a strictly acoustic, and the BT1e, an acoustic-electric version.
The electric version features a digital built-in chromatic tuner. The tuner tends to come in handy if you’re learning how to play guitar or you travel often.
Though its size is ¾, the Dreadnought is slightly larger than the GS Mini. However, it still retains comfort for smaller people or those with small hands.
That said, the small frets on the Big Baby guitar may be unsuitable for guitarists with large hands, more so if the guitar is capo fitted.
The mahogany version of the Taylor guitars Big Baby differs from Taylor's guitar's typical sparkly and loud tone, but it still retains a good sound.
The solid mahogany and its 3/4 dreadnought size enable the guitar to produce a warmer tone than the full-sized Taylor guitars. While playing chords, the guitar sounds rich.
Its slim neck is gentle on your hands and easy for beginners to play.
The Big Baby is a heavy acoustic guitar and should not be viewed as an inexpensive imitation of Taylors full size offerings like the standard Baby is. Additionally, it has many positive reviews and a smooth tone to match its high standing in the travelling musician’s community.
If you have small hands or are looking for a travel guitar, the compact size is the right fit for you. It can work well as a beginner's acoustic guitar for students and kids. It can also be suitable for intermediate musicians.
The Taylor GS Mini is a portable and travel-friendly acoustic guitar that doesn’t compromise tone clarity or quality and offers a rich, dynamic range.
With a 23.5-inch scale length, it’s smaller than a full-sized guitar,
There are three options available when purchasing a GS mini:
The most cost-effective version is without electronics. The GS Mini-E is costlier than the Mahogany version of the electric GS Mini by a hundred dollars due to more features like a better pickup.
The Mini offers a rich and full sound like a full-sized guitar with a warm tonal profile. Generally, it matches some 200 and 300 series of Taylor acoustic guitars.
It offers a credible sustain, lively treble, and a lush midrange. The notes produced by the Mini are crystal clear, crisp, and smooth during fingerpicking and solo playing.
High tempo strumming can cause the GS Mini’s tone to break. Therefore, it’s most suitable for singers/songwriters in small acoustic guitar player groups.
It’s ideal for different genres, including acoustic pop, fingerstyle blues, bluegrass, and indie music.
You’ll decide between the darker and mellow Mahogany or the light sparkly Sitka, as each version is more competent in different aspects.
All in all, the GS Mini is a superb choice for a travel guitar that you can use both for recordings in a studio and live performances. Additionally, the Mini can serve as a backup guitar or even a primary.
Below is a comparison of different attributes of both guitar models:
One of the significant differences between the Big Baby and GS Mini is the shape of the two guitars, which may affect the guitar's feel, fit, and tone.
While the Big baby has a 3/4 dreadnought body shape, the GS Mini has a 3/4 Grand Symphony (GS) body shape, similar to a modern parlor guitar.
The GS Mini is more comfortable for smaller people or those with petite hands, and it’s better as a first-class travel guitar. Meanwhile, the Big Baby comes at a cost-friendly price to compensate for fewer features.
Depending on the model, there are differences in the wood tone. The Big Baby has a mahogany or Sitka top and a layered Sapele or walnut body. Meanwhile, the Mini features a solid Sitka top, and its sides and back are made from Sapele laminate. Solid tops are important for creating the best tone, so don’t overlook this if you’re a working muso like me.
Both guitars use decent parts to ensure the price and weight remain low. They, therefore, have no frills. Also, they’re both non-cutaway guitar models and lack binding, armrests, and wedges.
Although both guitars feature die-cast tuners in chrome custom-made for Taylor, X bracing, and ebony fingerboards, the Mini has superior bracing.
In comparison, Big Baby’s TUSQ nut and the saddle are inferior to GS Mini’s Micarta saddle and NuBone nut.
Both Taylor guitars have premium construction, and they go through the same quality analysis. There’s, therefore, no significant difference in the hardware and quality of the components.
Both guitar models have a quality Taylor bag. However, the GS Mini’s bag is of slightly better construction and quality. In fact many guitarists use the GS Mini case for their other parlor guitars as it’s kind of an industry standard for ¾ size gig bags.
The GS Mini comes with a tortoise pickguard, but the Big Baby lacks one.
Both guitars are smaller than the average full-size acoustic guitar. However, the GS Mini has a shorter scale than the Big Baby Taylor. Similarly, both Taylor guitars have 20 frets, but they’re crammed on the GS Mini’s 23.5 inches compared to 25.5 inches on the Big Baby.
Even though you might consider the difference insignificant, it’s important for those with large hands. Therefore GS Mini’s scale is more suitable for small to medium-sized hands and fingers.
Despite the GS Mini's compact size, it produces robust and full sound. The Mini’s sound is bright smooth, and its responsiveness is similar to that of bigger Taylor models. In addition, the Mini doesn’t give out any muddiness, and it can impressively sustain the tone.
The Big Baby Sitka spruce top helps it produce a wide dynamic range accommodating a broad range of playing styles. Also, despite its 15/16 scale, just slightly bigger than the Mini, it creates a bit more volume.
Both Taylor acoustic guitars have electronic and non-electronic acoustic models. The Big Baby acoustic-electric version uses an ES-B system, while Taylor's GS Mini acoustic-electric guitar features the ES-Go Taylor electronics.
The Big Baby has featured an inbuilt preamp with one tone and one master volume switch, and it has a battery replacement slot, and a built-in LED tuner. The GS Mini lacks the onboard preamp, but you can pair a Taylor V-Cable.
Big Baby is, therefore, better for plug-and-play functions due to the tuner and the additional options for tone shaping.
The Taylor Big Baby has a regular Dreadnought feel. Even though it has a slimmer shape, its scale length is still appropriate, making chord playing feel familiar.
The quality of the Big Baby is higher than most starter or entry-level acoustic guitars.
The Taylor GS Mini acoustic guitar is an ultra-portable instrument that feels comfortable when you strap it around the neck and play it standing or sitting. It might take a bit more effort for you to adjust to the Mini’s smaller scale length than to the Big Baby’s, but the neck still feels natural when playing.
The GS Mini also tends to be better than the Big Baby when playing single-note lines. Whether you use the electronic or natural version, your fingers will practically fly over the guitar’s strings.
On the other hand, the Big Baby is the better option when playing chords and, most importantly, when playing with singing accompaniment.
Even though the Mini is lighter and more portable, its tone is not as well rounded as the Big Baby. In addition, it’s easier to maintain the Big Baby’s tune in humid conditions or when traveling.
Both the Big Baby and the GS Mini are light and portable, so they’re suitable as travel instruments. Although the Mini is lighter and easier to carry around than the Big Baby, the disparity is negligible. It isn’t going to push you to choose one over the other unless it’s the main factor you’re worried about.
The GS Mini is more expensive than the Big Baby across all models. The most cost-effective variant is the Big Baby Taylor acoustic guitar without electronics, while the most costly option is the Taylor GS Mini-e Koa.
Generally, if you mind your pocket, Big Baby Taylor is the best option, but if you have a long-term vision, then the Taylor GS Mini has value features that can help you record in-studio or perform live.
The two acoustic guitars are premium models respected by both customers and critics. This brief overview and comparison should help you decide which one is best for you. Before you decide, however, you can visit a local store and experience the two models first-hand.
The GS Mini is an all-around slightly better guitar. But, the Big Baby is cheaper, and its electric/acoustic versions are more beginner-friendly with their onboard preamp. Either way, you won’t be disappointed picking a Taylor over most of the other comparable guitars on the market.