Taylor GS Mini with ES-Go Review

Headed to Hilo Guitars the other day to check out a Taylor GS Mini. I tried both the mahogany and sitka spruce tops. The advertising proclaims you get a full-sized sound out of a travel sized guitar; the sound of these petite Taylor’s is surprisingly loud, but you won’t be fooled into thinking your picking on a dreadnought.

The first thing I noticed about all of the GS Minis is the astounding playability.  The shorter scale combined with Taylor’s meticulous attention to tolerances make for a super fast neck with a sleek feel.  The satin finish on the mahogany neck offers no resistance or stickiness and feels warm and inviting right away. The neck profile is a medium width with gently sloping shoulders that meet in a very subtle rounded V and all of the fretboard edges are smooth and glassy feeling. With no set-up and right off the sales floor the strings are nice and close to the medium frets, no buzzes or rattles….the GS Mini just about plays itself.  In fact, one of the cool benefits of the combination of excellent action and short scale is that the Mini plays more like an electric guitar; bends and quick passages are much easier than on a full-size acoustic.

Tone-wise, this little cannon is surprisingly loud. Both styles produce a pleasant tone especially from the treble strings. The upper-register of the mahogany is comfortable and toasty with a soulful singing voice that kept a mellow edge while still managing to project quite forcefully. The spruce is more frosty and delicate with a sparkly chime and immaculate articulation. In both Mini’s the shallower body seems to focus a bit more upper-mids than a standard size which brings a sharper focus to melody lines. Lack of deep bass, as you might expect, is the area where you will most notice you’re not keeping up with the big boys on the wall.

It was the difference in bass that tipped me toward the spruce top even though I slightly favored the warmer voice of the mahogany.  The A and particulary the Low E string were too diffuse and unfocused for my taste on the mahogany top and I felt that the spruce was more versatile with it’s clear tones and precise diction for fingerstyle. In the end I guess I’m still a sucker for a tight bottom.

Another feature that I dig is the padded gig-bag that comes with the GS Mini.  Its featherweight and thickly padded with two straps on the back that can be worn on just one shoulder comfortably for short distances or strapped-on like a backpack for long hauls. The guitar in the soft-case is so light and comfortable it makes you feel like bringing it along wherever you go.

There is one area where I was really let down by the GS Mini, and that is the ES-Go pickup system.  

The ES-Go is a slick little idea on paper. You install the pickup by removing the 3 screws that hold the bottom strap button and replace the button with an endpin-jack that has a length of cable terminating in a 1/4 inch jack that slides inside the body.  This jack plugs into the unobtrusive black pickup which clicks into the clip Taylor has already installed just inside the soundhole underneath the neck of every GS Mini. Installation was a snap.

Sound is a whole other story.  The output of the ES-Go is extremely weak and plagued by a nasty background buzz…not hum, buzz. After cranking your gain to get enough signal to make the thing audible you are greeted by the sound of a guitar being played by someone buried in a coffin 6 feet below you…very unpleasant.

All told this is a really fun guitar. It’s light, portable, incredibly easy to play and generates a passable tone that’s rich enough to keep you from wishing you had lugged your $3,000 Martin to the beach. Just don’t install the ES-Go pickup unless you are crazy about the taste of plain oatmeal…or maybe even the box that it comes in…meh.

Islas Vegas…

You could say it’s the hand I was dealt… born in Viva Las Vegas…married an enchanting hula girl…jetted off to live in nani Blue Hawaii…somehow it seems I was born to sing Elvis!

Today my Shure 55 microphone arrived with all of that satin chrome up in its grille, it feels just like a long lost friend.

Though I’ve never felt any real personal connection with ‘the king’ other than a passion for junk food, for some reason singing Elvis tunes feels almost as natural as curling my lip. It was the aforementioned hula girl who first convinced me as much…over the years whenever I’d break into the ‘hunka-hunka burnin’ love’ character that every young man with a guitar must have she would always comment, “I know it sounds funny but you sound really good singing Elvis”.

I’ve finally come to embrace this and give in to the lure of the king of rock n’ roll. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to perfect any of those ‘pelvis’ moves, but for a kid from Vegas transplanted to the islands, there are crueler fates than to be singing ‘Hound Dog’ for my supper.

TC Helicon G-XT - Self-prescribed performance enhancer.

TC Helicon G-XT - Self-prescribed performance enhancer.

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.
- A. A. Milne

Just ordered the Allen & Heath Zed10fx mixer.  Setting the stage.

Just ordered the Allen & Heath Zed10fx mixer.  Setting the stage.

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow…

I’m rehearsing for a spot on the worship team for our church, Waikoloa Baptist.  So far this consists of helping the musicians set up at 6am and break-down at noon for the past few weeks.  

I am a total newcomer to the material as I have never been a fan of contemporary Christian music. However, it is great to be given a chance to serve the Lord in this manner with an ensemble…it’s been a long time since I’ve played in a group setting. Playing any music in the Lord’s house is an honor and a privilege and I’ve already developed a greater appreciation for the genre by watching rehearsals and seeing how the church responds to the performances.

Today I was given a few CD’s full of worship music mp3’s and chord charts. So in addition to the slack key and vocal work I’ll have another hour or so a day devoted to worship.

This is a great educational opportunity to grow in my ministry and learn a body of music that is shared by a great many musicians the world over.

Most importantly it is a way to express my gratitude and praise my Holy Father from whom all blessings flow.

Never have an affair with a mermaid…your wife will know something’s fishy.
- Blue Ruins

Jim Marshall passed away today.  Marshall is the only guitar product I can think of that has never faded from fashion in the 25 years I’ve been playing.  This is his signature showing he assembled my ‘75 4x12 cab…I always thought that was the coolest.

Jim Marshall passed away today.  Marshall is the only guitar product I can think of that has never faded from fashion in the 25 years I’ve been playing.  This is his signature showing he assembled my ‘75 4x12 cab…I always thought that was the coolest.

Don’t Stay Pinned Down My Butterfly Friends…

The hardest part of leaving my job is no longer sharing the day with the great friends I’ve made over the last 6 years in one location.  My friends are so genuinely kind-hearted, they have made almost every day of those years good times and laughs.  It is tough to leave them in the miserable conditions that we all had suddenly thrown at us.

My first instinct was to stay and fight alongside them till we were all either victorious or let go.  A large part of me feels like I’m walking away when they need me most.

However,  I think I’ve been shown something by my Lord that’s making me see our plight in an entirely new light.  It’s something that’s just beginning to make sense to me and has the potential to be the biggest change in my life.

My Lord never asked me to stay and fight…He just told me to play guitar and showed me the way out.

Each and every person I’ve worked with at that place has so much more to offer than they may be able to see themselves.  God has given each of them talents that are just waiting to be picked up and used for the Lord’s benefit and the betterment of those around them.

When I think of the talents I see in my friends it makes me want to laugh out loud at these powers of darkness in our lives.  All of my friends are such amazing people I can’t wait to watch while their own power begins to dawn on them and they strike out on their paths away from this situation.

It’s one of those things that doesn’t really make sense until you really are ready to accept the guidance of our Lord and begin the course of action He has always had planted in your hearts, just waiting for the first few drops of Faith to grow.

Thank you for the great years my friends and here’s to even greater ones to come.  The time has come to break out of that old cocoon and fly toward the gardens that God has planted for us.     

Fender Deluxe Reverb - There’s a ‘68 for sale locally…must resist….

Fender Deluxe Reverb - There’s a ‘68 for sale locally…must resist….

They are wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their own shame. They are wandering stars for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever
- Jude 1:13

The Man with the Silver Face…

So yeah…I turned in my resignation letter today.  

I have to say that it was a lot harder to quit than I thought it would be, could have something to do with no guaranteed income and a pregnant wife? The younger me would just be stoked to have a year off in Hawaii to focus entirely on music and the beach, but there is this newer voice in my subconscious these days…the “Daddy Voice”…That’s the voice that occasionally worries about somebody other than myself, and that voice is also constantly drafting my eulogy.

Then there’s that still, small voice that calms me and asks me to trust Him. 

That’s the Voice that assures me that He has a plan for me and it’s a better life than anything I could eke out with my own lame efforts.  

That Voice coupled with the reassuring confidence of my wife are telling me I’ve got an exciting new path ahead of me and that the future is only limited by my Faith in my Lord.

So watch and see what the Lord has in store… 

This is gonna be good!!!

1960 Chrysler Paint Colors 

1960 Chrysler Paint Colors 

Gil Yaron - Blonde Stratocaster Handmade in the Holy Land!

Gil Yaron - Blonde Stratocaster Handmade in the Holy Land!

Inspiring Interview with Tommy Emmanuel…

What’s the most important thing for you as a guitarist? The most important thing is that people have a great time and they’re uplifted by the whole experience. That’s the only reason I’m there! I don’t really care to impress. I don’t care about fame and fortune. I don’t need to be rich and driving a Bentley – that’ll be nice, but it won’t fulfil me. What fulfills me is doing a good job. I’m the vessel for the music. Whatever flows through me is very powerful. I don’t know what it is, but it works.

What’s your pre-show ritual? Eat something good, change strings and I spend a lot of time tuning. I’m really meticulous about it. Like many guitarists I’m always searching for the best sound. Just the other day in Seoul, the sound in the hall was so good it was giving me goose bumps all night. But there are other nights where you can’t get the sound no matter what you do.

Have you ever had a bum gig? Thousands of them! You just carry on and do a better job the next day. I don’t believe in looking at the rearview mirror. I break it everyday.

 tommy 18

Don’t you ever get bored? I get bored with myself. But I get inspired by the audience. You have to live in the moment. That’s what does it for me. I live in the today. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow, my business is today. And what you think of me is none of my business either, so there’s no point in my worrying about it. I just go for it in everyway and try to do my best.

You’re known as an acoustic player, but you actually began with the electric guitar. I was mostly electric player, and only did a bit of acoustic stuff. It’s kind of evolved and a lot of it was because in my early days, during a show, I’d do a solo acoustic segment and people kept saying to me that was the most incredible part of the show. And I thought, “There’s something in there”. So I ended up writing a lot of solo songs and it worked so well. I spend 320 days a year touring now.

Will you ever whip out your electric guitar again? I’m going to play all that music again. Late next year, I’m going to celebrate 50 years of playing so my brother and I are going to form a band, and I’m going to play all my electric stuff as well. Looking forward to that!

No part of the guitar too sacred to make music fromNo part of the guitar too sacred to make music from

What advice do you have for budding guitarist? You’d better get to work! What else can I say? There are no shortcuts, you have to work your butt off to get anywhere in this business. Get some good songs to play, and play something that inspires you. Don’t just listen to guitar players – listen to singers, songwriters, listen to people whose music moves the world.

Look at Les Paul. I played with him twice this year before he passed away. And he was better than last year! He practiced all the time – and he was riddled with arthritis! He said, “If there’s a heaven on earth, it must be standing up here playing this guitar. What an inspiring statement!”

If you’re good, we’ll want to hear you. There’s nothing surer than that. It doesn’t matter where you are on the planet, if you genuinely are good; the world’s going to know about you.