A brand-new, compact steel-string, made in Taylor’s California factory.
by Teja Gerken
October 01, 2020
Throughout Taylor’s 40-plus year history, the company’s guitars have always been famous for their easy playability. And while you’d be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable full-size steel-string than Taylor’s short-scale Grand Concert models, many players have even gone a step further and discovered that the company’s GS Mini, which was originally designed as an upgrade to the Baby Taylor travel guitar, sounded so good that it has become a favorite onstage or in the studio (check out Peghead Nation Beginning Guitar instructor Adrianne Serna demonstrating her GS Mini here). But many Taylor fans have long wished for a model that would bridge the gap between the GS Mini and Taylor’s full-size instruments, and that guitar has now arrived: the brand-new Taylor GT. I had some time to check out an early production model of the guitar prior to its official release.
Developed by Taylor’s Andy Powers, The GT (which stands for Grand Theater) uses a new body that shrinks Taylor’s Grand Orchestra shape down to a width of 15 inches at the lower bout. While this is the same width as Taylor’s Grand Concerts, the re-scaled Grand Orchestra shape is shorter, creating a stout overall appearance. The GT’s body is not the only part with dimensions that sit between the GS Mini and the Grand Concert. The guitar has a 24⅛-inch scale (compared to the GS Mini’s 23½ inches and the Grand Concert’s 24⅞ inches), and its neck-width of 1²³/₃₂ inches at the nut is midway between the GS Mini’s and the Grand Concert’s. On the inside, the GT includes a new top bracing style that Taylor calls “C-Class” bracing. A cantilevered asymmetrical design, it borrows from Taylor’s V-Class architecture in a way that allows more flexibility in order for the small body to develop greater low-end frequencies. Taylor is building the GT in its main El Cajon, California factory (GS Minis are made in the company’s Mexican facility),which means that it is built with all solid woods. For the guitar’s back and sides, Taylor chose Urban Ash™, a reclaimed wood from urban reforestation efforts that was introduced earlier this year on the Builder’s Edition 324ce. Taylor compares the wood’s tonal properties to those of mahogany, and with its “urban sienna” stain, the wood has a dark appearance not unlike some kinds of walnut. The guitar has a Sitka spruce top, and the fingerboard and bridge are made of eucalyptus, which Taylor is also using on its American Dream models. The GT has an ultra-thin matte finish, a three-ring koa rosette, black top purfling, “Pinnacle” fingerboard inlay, and Taylor-branded nickel mini tuners.
With its solid wood construction, slightly larger dimensions throughout, and updated features, the GT is poised to answer the calls of those who have been wishing for a more grownup GS Mini, but how does it play and sound? Naturally, the guitar is incredibly comfortable to hold. Even though it has a 14-fret neck, the stout body and short scale lead to a playing position that requires much less of a stretch to reach the first position, resulting in a more relaxed posture than with most full-size guitars. The short scale also results in low string tension, making the .012-gauge set the guitar ships with feel more like .011’s on a guitar with a longer scale. Tonally, the guitar has a dynamic and balanced voice that avoids the midrange-heavy “boxiness” that sometimes plagues small steel-strings. I especially liked playing fingerstyle on the GT. I found that tunes with challenging fretting-hand stretches were much easier to play, and I enjoyed the responsive sound with respectable volume reserves. Playing with a pick, I had to use some restraint, as the low factory setup and short scale resulted in some string rattling if I dug in too hard. If strumming or flatpicking were the main styles the guitar was to be used for, I’d probably raise the action a little. However, when played gently, the guitar offered a rich sound that belied its size.
Our demo guitar included the optional ES2 electronics package, the same system used in full-size models throughout Taylor’s line. Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini, the guitar demonstrated that it would be a capable stage instrument. For players who prefer to focus on their performance rather than struggle with their instrument, the GT could easily become a primary instrument!
Overall, the GT fits into a niche not previously filled in Taylor’s catalog. It’s an ideal “couch” guitar, an easy guitar to take along, and a perfect steel-string to learn on. And yet, the GT is no slouch when it comes to serious performance; I’m certain that it will become a main guitar for many!
SPECS: Grand Theater body. Solid Sitka spruce top with C-Class bracing. Solid Urban Ash™ back and sides. Eucalyptus fingerboard and bridge. 24⅛ -inch scale. 1²³/₃₂-inch nut width. Nickel mini Taylor tuning machines. ES2 electronics. Made in USA. $1,599 street ($1,399 without electronics). Taylorguitars.com
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