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View Full Version : Martin Jr Dread, Guild Jumbo Mini, Taylor G-S Mini, Etc...



BigD
09-19-2016, 08:03 PM
I know there has been tons of threads on small bodied guitars, given the nature of our lovely little ukes dimunitive size, but id like to hear everyones personal favorite small bodied/whats considered travel, guitar. Ive always wanted a gs mini but im seeing a lot more options now it seems. I bought a tenor guitar to kind of satiate that want for steel strings but its not quite hittin the spot!! I see guild has a new one out, as well as the martin jr. Any others you guys prefer?

Patrick Madsen
09-19-2016, 08:18 PM
Pono came out with a SS 6 the size of a baritone. It's like a UL4 except with 5 strings like a guitar.

Dan Gleibitz
09-19-2016, 09:53 PM
I love the GS Mini... but don't own it. I have a Taylor Baby mahogany, and like it, but it's no GS mini. I also own a Cort Earth Mini, which I prefer over the Taylor (mahogany or spruce), and it's around half the price here.

But yeah, if your budget allows it and you can handle the extra size, I think the GS Mini is the pick of the bunch.

Alytw
09-20-2016, 02:55 AM
The gs mini is my favourite in that price range. I once played a collings baby that was incredible, and would be my favourite travel size guitar, but I wouldn't spend $4k on a travel guitar.

Not impressed with the Martins at all.

Sharpshin
09-20-2016, 03:34 AM
Price is right on all of them. I personally liked the Dread Jr. a LOT, when I played it. Felt great and sounded satisfying. Much better than the GS Mini to my ears. However I have concerns about the lack of finish on the Dread Jr. and no case. I think the solid top will get dirty and crack in this dry dusty climate.
Holding out to try the Guild Jumbo mini now, which might be even better than the above. I am not in a area where I could ever play a Pono, so that is not a option for me. I will never buy a guitar that I didn't hold in my hands again. Excited about this thread and where it might go!

bunnyf
09-20-2016, 06:51 AM
I can only speak about the gs mini. I loved it but was never good with those bass strings, so I sold it for a vintage tenor. I miss it! It liked the sound better than my tenor guitar and am trying to sell my Harmony locally, so I can afford to rebuy one. Even players who have expensive bigger guitar who have tried it, like the gs mini. They like theirs better of course, but were surprised that the sound was so good.

Mivo
09-20-2016, 07:37 AM
The Pono terz guitar would be my choice for a small bodied steel string guitar. Looked at it hard, a few times, but already spreading myself so thin learning-wise.

BigD
09-20-2016, 10:11 AM
Out of all of them im most curious about the guild. I love the shape and its priced right for what i need at the moment! The martin ive heard great things about but its alllllmost to expensive for me. I could find a used gs mini for probably 430 450 right now and thatd be perfect. Someones gotta buy my blueridge first though!! :D some of the smaller seagulls are great as well. The guild is new out this summer correct? Keep'em coming guys i love hearing peoples opinions!

Steedy
09-20-2016, 04:29 PM
I own a Taylor GS Mini-e Koa model and also a Martin Dreadnought Junior E, so I can offer a brief comparison based on my particular guitars.

The GS Mini is a jewel of a small guitar. It has a solid Koa top with laminated Koa back and sides, and it's pretty gorgeous in appearance. It has a bright, resonant sound, with lots of Koa chime which I really like. The scale length is only 23.5 inches (two inches shorter than a full-sized acoustic), which makes it very easy to play, and relatively easy for switching between ukulele and guitar. However, its tone sounds rather thin when compared to a full-size guitar and even compared to the Martin D-Jr. The GS Mini also has a Taylor Expressions pickup that sounds pretty darn good through an acoustic amp, and sounds much better than the Fishman pickup in the D-Jr.

The Martin D-Jr looks a little less (okay, maybe a lot less) jewel-like than the GS Mini. The D-Jr has a natural finish that's so minimal it looks almost like no finish at all. It has a solid Sitka Spruce top with solid Sapele back and sides, and looks like a scaled down D-18, sans the gloss finish. It has a synthetic Richlite fingerboard and bridge that looks and feels like Ebony to me, so that's not a drawback. The D-Jr isn't as pretty as the GS Mini, but believe me it has a lot bigger sound, with more volume and tone than the Taylor. And it's an authentic Martin tone too, although it doesn't sound as good as a full-size Dreadnought of course. It has a 24-inch scale length which is just noticeably longer than the GS Mini, but still makes it easy to play. As mentioned above the GS Mini sounds better amplified, because the Martin's Fishman Sonitone pickup sounds muddy to me.

I tend to play the GS Mini more at home, and use the D-Jr for Bluegrass jamming, but they are both excellent little guitars for the money. :)

gobes
09-21-2016, 09:45 AM
I prefer the martin dreadnought junior over the taylor gs-mini. I especially prefer the 1 3/4 nut on the martin over the taylor's 1 11/16 nut. Having said that, I suck at playing both of them.
I have not seen the guild.

Contrary to what is stated above, the martin dreadnought junior is an all solid wood guitar (back and sides too).

Steedy
09-21-2016, 10:33 AM
Contrary to what is stated above, the martin dreadnought junior is an all solid wood guitar (back and sides too).

It's odd, because when I bought my D-Jr a year ago, I thought that the specs said it was all solid wood, but then when I researched the D-Jr online yesterday, I didn't see where it said solid Sapele back and sides, so I assumed they must be a laminate. It may well be an all solid wood guitar. I'll go back and check again. I agree the 1 3/4 inch nut on the D-Jr makes the string spacing very comfortable (for me).

EDIT: At www.musiciansfriend.com (http://www.musiciansfriend.com) and www.guitarcenter.com (http://www.guitarcenter.com), they both specify solid Sapele back and sides on the Martin D-Jr. But at www.martinguitar.com (http://www.martinguitar.com), they say the back and sides are "bookmatched from sapele" which maybe implies solid wood, so I guess that was the source of my confusion earlier. I think it's safe to say the D-Jr has a solid Sitka Spruce top and solid Sapele back and sides. Thanks for the correction.

Both the GS Mini and the D-Jr are obviously built to a price point, and made in Mexico to keep the cost down, but they're both well-built, high quality guitars. I think it's a matter of personal preference as to which one is "better". :)

gyosh
09-21-2016, 10:42 AM
I have a GS mini that I love but I kind of want to get the Islander short scale guitar I saw at NAMM last year.

UkeInTW
09-22-2016, 02:21 AM
Depends how small one wants to go and what one wants in a "small" guitar. If one likes it only a little bit smaller, then some of the ones mentioned fit that bill. If someone is looking for an even smaller, small guitar, then you may want to consider one like the Pono or guileles.

Pono makes the UL-40SP guitar, which is a nice high quality small guitar. Scale is only 21.4", so much smaller than most other "small" guitars. Body size is also smaller with a parlor style body, only inch or two bigger than a baritone uke size. Lower bout width just a little over 11" and a total length of just over 33". so really a travel size. Of course, due to the size you wont get as big or deep a sound as bigger sized guitars, but I think it sounds pretty nice and deep for its size with a nice tone and good reverb/sustain. And it is really is a nicely made guitar, all solid wood, so higher end, but of course, more expensive.

Also, one should also look at nut width. Some of the guilele's have a wider nut width, more toward classical guitar width, so if that is your fancy, those may fit the bill. The Pono is about 1.81 (1 and 13/16) in nut width, which is just slightly wider than a std 1.7 width on most folk guitars, but narrower than classical guitar width.

And I think most guilele's are either baritone scale length 19-20" and size, or tenor scale, so even smaller than the Pono. So, that may also factor in, depending on what you want.

Also, the Pono is a steel string, while I think most guilele's are nylon string, so that also depends on preference.

If anyone is looking for a high quality smaller small steel string guitar with the dimensions of the Pono, then I think the Pono UL-40SP should fit the bill nicely.

1/2
09-25-2016, 11:20 PM
I have a Martin LX1E that I some times travel with.
It has great sound and is easy to play. Since mine is a limited edition, I wanted a more common travel guitar.
I picked up a Yamaha SLG 130 NW that I now use for travel. I use a Bose soundlink as a travel amp for that one.
I spent some 170 days abroad last year, and will have spent about the same this year.

Teek
10-06-2016, 11:25 AM
Are you specifically looking for steel strings? I have an older Larrivee parlor, 24" scale, 1 3/4 nut, can't go wrong with any of the wood selections and they are all solid. You can check Craigslist or the Larrivee forum (they like donuts BTW) for better pricing used, usually $6-700. They have a super feel. For way smaller there is a little steel string by Ibanez called the Piccolo with a 17" scale.

I love my 19" scale Tacoma Papoose, they crop up on eBay and have a lovely radiused fretboard and a nice sparkle, it's a cedar top over mahogany and all solid. Body is a tad bigger than the usual bari but it will fit in a larger bari case. For in the middle the CA Cargo is a 22.5 scale with a great fretboard and a small body, all carbon fiber so you can't hurt it with humidity changes. A little quiet but spot on intonation. If you get the raw with a pickup it's usually cheaper, especially if you can find one used, and sounds great plugged in. I also like the 20" scale guitaleles, I have a Mele and just bought a Cordoba Mini R, don't have it yet but it has an even wider nut which I expect to like.

Here's a Papoose on the 'bay. (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tacoma-Papoose-P1-Acoustic-Guitar-With-Bag/252570223676?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1% 26asc%3D38530%26meid%3Dc68839c37c524c9ca18c8a75f1f 2ff13%26pid%3D100033%26rk%3D5%26rkt%3D8%26sd%3D252 568745637)

I had a harder time finding short scale nylon guitars and ended up with several vintage parlors, they can have issues but if you get a good one they usually sound awesome with their ladder bracing, it seems to suit the small box.

Booli
10-06-2016, 06:05 PM
Are you specifically looking for steel strings? I have an older Larrivee parlor, 24" scale, 1 3/4 nut, can't go wrong with any of the wood selections and they are all solid. You can check Craigslist or the Larrivee forum (they like donuts BTW) for better pricing used, usually $6-700. They have a super feel. For way smaller there is a little steel string by Ibanez called the Piccolo with a 17" scale.

I love my 19" scale Tacoma Papoose, they crop up on eBay and have a lovely radiused fretboard and a nice sparkle, it's a cedar top over mahogany and all solid. Body is a tad bigger than the usual bari but it will fit in a larger bari case. For in the middle the CA Cargo is a 22.5 scale with a great fretboard and a small body, all carbon fiber so you can't hurt it with humidity changes. A little quiet but spot on intonation. If you get the raw with a pickup it's usually cheaper, especially if you can find one used, and sounds great plugged in. I also like the 20" scale guitaleles, I have a Mele and just bought a Cordoba Mini R, don't have it yet but it has an even wider nut which I expect to like.

Here's a Papoose on the 'bay. (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tacoma-Papoose-P1-Acoustic-Guitar-With-Bag/252570223676?_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042&_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1% 26asc%3D38530%26meid%3Dc68839c37c524c9ca18c8a75f1f 2ff13%26pid%3D100033%26rk%3D5%26rkt%3D8%26sd%3D252 568745637)

I had a harder time finding short scale nylon guitars and ended up with several vintage parlors, they can have issues but if you get a good one they usually sound awesome with their ladder bracing, it seems to suit the small box.

TK- those papoose geetars sure look purdy, and sound demos on utube make me really want one, but the nut width less than 2" for me coming from classical and other nylon guitars puts it out of the running for me...I wonder if anybody makes a short-scale, steel stringer with a 2" nut width?

Also, there are a few parlor-sized Seagull and Art & Lutherie brand, nylon and steel string guitars on Elderly in the used and also in the AS-IS section for a decent price, and one needs the headstock glued back on, but is only $125, for someone up to the task, these are nice.

I have an AMI nylon parlor guitar with a cedar top and cherry back and sides with a 2" nut width and it is simply a DREAM to play, but sometimes the 25.5" scale feels just HUGE compared to any of my ukes, even the 19" baritones....

ANOTHER THOUGHT - Yamaha has a short-scale, steel stringer that has a small body like a parlor guitar, it is the APTX2 that might be worth considering:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Yamaha/APXT2-3-4-Thinline-Acoustic-Electric-Cutaway-Guitar-Black-1361202708723.gc

as well as their other 3/4 size called the JR2, as seen here:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/search?Ns=r&Ntt=Yamaha+JR2

both around $200, and all of these show up used on the 'used' section of the GC site quite often for even less (yes, sadly, I admit to checking the GC used section every few days...as well as the Elderly 'new arrivals' section)

Teek
10-07-2016, 09:06 AM
I had the JR2, it was a fun little patio guitar. It used to be $149 so they went up. However the string spacing was a little tight for me and the sound didn't have much articulation, but it was still fine at that price point since it's all laminate. They say solid top but I think it's a mediocre spruce and the top can only do so much. 1 3/4 inches is pretty standard for steel strings, the JR2 is less. I have to stretch to get across the 2" classical fretboards, they are a real challenge but the more I do it the more I can. Just not for very long because of arthritis.

Funster
05-04-2018, 12:25 PM
Just to add to the opinions. I thought I would like the Taylor GS mini. I bought one of the newer ones made from walnut with a spruce top. I thought the sound was rather small. I was used to a 1 3/4" nut space so that felt a little cramped. The electronics seemed extraordinarily bright. I was hoping for something more balanced. And the action was a bit high so that was in my future if I kept it. I didn't. I sent it back and took a chance on the Martin Jr E. Immediate satisfaction. A bigger sound and the 1 3/4" nut was comfortable. I've had it for over a year and I play it daily.

I took a trip to the Martin Company in Nazareth about a month ago. They have a community play there with modest priced Martins (not to be confused with the soundproof room with big buck Martins. I played those too). But of the modest priced ones, I though the Martin Jr sounded best.