Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NAMM 2017: Taylor GS Mini Bass New Product Preview

At the 2017 Winter NAMM show I had the opportunity to check out the new GS Mini Bass from Taylor Guitars, and it is a neat piece of work! This was a surprising bit of news for me, because I had not heard that they were developing this product.

Taylor guitars are fantastic instruments, and they have untold numbers of devotees that will are huge fans of their products. Most Taylor guitars are built in their San Diego, California factory, but some of their lower-priced instruments are built just across the border in Tecate, Mexico. These include the 100 and 200 series instruments, as well as the Baby Taylor and the GS Mini models. So, this bass was built in Mexico.

One way to look at the GS Mini Bass is as a travel bass, and I think it will work well in this respect. It has a 23.5-inch scale (like the GS Mini guitars), so it is possible to make the instrument a lot shorter. Of course the bridge is placed more towards the center of the body when compared to an electric bass, but it is still a tidy package. Plus, it comes with a surprisingly sturdy padded soft case (Taylor calls it a “hard bag”).

Another way to look at the bass is as an instrument that would be comfortable for guitar players to transition to. I think it will work well for this too, thanks to its scale length and its very comfy Taylor-esque ergonomics. It is not such a stretch on those lower frets for those with smaller hands (bonus!). This would be a fine instrument for songwriting, studio work, or hacking around with friends.

So, let’s take a look at how this thing is put together!

The GS Mini Bass has a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany top with . X braces to keep everything together while still allowing it to vibrate well. The back and sides are made with a sapele laminate, which ends up looking like mahogany to me. The body has a tasteful purfling, a simple rosette and a tortoise shell pickguard. The whole this has an even coating of matte-finish varnish.

The neck and heel are also made of sapele, and the fretboard is hewn from ebony, which is surprising on a guitar at this price point. The nut is also has the same 1 11/16 inches width as the GS guitar. There are 20 frets standard-sized Taylor frets, and you will find 14 of them free from the body. The headstock has a simple overlay with a screen printed logo, and sealed-back chrome tuners. They are unbranded, but seem to be good quality, and they hold tune well.

The craftsmanship is up to Taylor’s high standards, with an even finish and a truly terrific job with the fretwork. The Tusq nut and bridge are perfect, and the GS Mini Bass has a very comfortable action with the OEM strings. By the way these strings are a story all on their own, as they are custom light gauge strings that have a nylon core with a phosphor bronze wrap wire. Taylor says these strings were developed just for this bass, and no other strings should be used on it.

Unplugged, the sound is about what you would expect from a small-bodied acoustic bass. It sounds warm and pretty, and it is nicely balanced from string-to-string, but there is just not a ton of volume. Fortunately the GS Mini Bass comes with a good electronics package: the Taylor ES-B system. This is an under-saddle piezo transducer system, that uses an onboard preamp is powered by two CR 2032 batteries. Controls are basic, with volume and tone knobs, as well as a built-in tuner. It has a very clean and natural sound, and I really like the way it sounds when it is plugged in.

Pretty much, this bass does everything it is supposed to, and I think both guitar and bass players will find a lot to like about it, and not much of anything to gripe about.

The Taylor GS Mini Bass is supposed to go on sale in March, and it will have a list price of $918. That should put the street price around $700, and I think this will be a real winner for the company. When you see one, be sure to try it out as I think you will like it!


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