Taylor GS Mini Koa VS Mahogany (Comparison)
Our Verdict and Opinion
Depending on how you feel about going without a preamp (there is no preamp or pickup system in the Mahogany model unless you buy a more expensive version), we'd argue the Mahogany version of the Taylor GS Mini sounds better and is dramatically cheaper than the Koa version.
This comparison is tricky because it's not just a difference of tonewood. Yes, the Mahogany version has a solid Mahogany top while the Koa version has a solid Hawaiian Koa top, and layered Koa for the back and sides.
However, we should also note that the Mahogany version uses laminate Sapele for the back and sides, giving it a Mahogany/Sapele combo that we often see in more expensive Taylor acoustics.
Another important consideration is that the Mahogany version does not have any kind of electronics built into it.
The Koa version has the ES-B preamp system and a built-in tuner.
There is a different version of the GS Mini Mahogany that includes the ES-B preamp and built-in tuner, which retails around $100 more than the regular GS Mini Mahogany.
These are the main considerations if you're trying to decide between the two popular acoustic guitars.
Read more: Best acoustic guitars
Taylor GS Mini Mahogany VS Koa (simple comparison tool)
In table below we've built a quick comparison tool that gives you pricing and some basic specs. Note that the Mahogany version is significantly cheaper than the Koa, knocking a full $300 off the retail cost. This alone makes the Mahogany a far better value, especially when you consider the cost of the ES-B system in the Koa version shouldn't run the price up that high.
In the Mini-e Mahogany version (the one with the ES-B system), it only costs $100 more.
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Taylor GS Mini Mahogany
Taylor GS Mini-e Koa
Taylor GS Mini-e Mahogany
Article Summary Video
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Demo Comparison (no talking)
We found two demos, both filmed at the same time using the same microphone. You can hear the tone of the Koa is actually a good deal brighter than the Mahogany, which makes us like the Mahogany as the more balanced of the two acoustics.
Neither guitar sounds bad, but the higher frequencies are already going to be promoted by the smaller, concert-style body size, so we'd prefer to balance that out with the Mahogany and Sapele tonewood combination.
Listen to the demos and make your own judgements.
Detailed Comparison Table
We see again that the preamp exclusion is a big part of the distinctions between these two guitars. Though we should note that you can still get an "E" version of the GS Mini Mahogany with the same ES-B preamp and built in tuner.
Grand Symphony (no cutaway)
Grand Symphony (no cutaway)
Solid Tropical Mahogany
Solid Hawaiian Koa
Back and Sides Wood
Layered (laminate) Sapele
Layered (laminate) Koa Koa veneer)
X-Bracing with Relief Rout
X-Bracing with Relief Rout
ES-B preamp with built-in tuner
Elixir NANOWEB Medium Gauge (.013-.056)
Which one is better?
Given that you can get a Mahogany version with or without the electronics (the preamp and pickup system), the most important issue here is what tone you prefer between the Mahogany and Koa versions of the GS Mini.
To our ears, the Koa version was just too brisk and bright. It didn't sound bad, but it was less satisfying when we wanted deeper strumming patterns.
The Mahogany gave us that added warmth, and found a better balance between the two tonal extremes.
It's also a cheaper guitar, whether you get the electronics version or not.
Here's how the pricing breaks down:
- GS Mini Mahogany: $600
- GS Mini-e Mahogany: $700
- GS Mini Koa: $900
So even if you need the electronics, go with the Mini-e version of the Mahogany model and save $200.
We think you'll get a better-sounding guitar and better value.
If you have questions about our comparison, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.
We'll jump in and help out as best we can.
Written by Bobby on Acoustic Guitars and Roundups
Donny Papendry says
I have waited three years to own this guitar and today SHOULD BE the end of my waiting. Though I LOVE the Sweetwater site, I had to order from a different site this time. With my limited funds and dropping credit rating, I found a site that offered me a 12 months plan on the acoustic/electric, which was only $50 more when (compared to Sweetwater’s site.
I came across the Mini sampling guitars that I could restart my performance up with. I must have demo’d their considerable inventory high to low end and when I’d come towards the end of the process. I picked up the mini for the first time and BOY did she shine. I thought she sounded as good as any high end piece that Martin. Gibson, and all the others in Taylors library and even BETTER than many of them. But the size, oh the size was “just right” for my little girl hands. I found myself reaching four frets easily and she sang so sweetly and bright. I was hooked. I’m impressed and in love with the mahogany electronic version and once I receive it and have played it a couple weeks. I’ll come back for follow up. I THOUGHT I wanted the Academy 10 series but alas, these little girl hands are too small for it, and she”s shipping BACK today. Then I settled into Epiphone’s Hummingbird and she has been grand. But, I SAT in her and broke her neck clean off then, after I’d finished crying the rest of the day. I sought to have it rejoined. Not one luthier would consider taking it in, so I did it myself. The neck slid right into place and I left it clamped for two days and you wouldn’t know to hear it just what kind of trauma she saw. But you could see some little chip here and there and in closer examination, you can see just how extensive the damage was. I have been rehearsing off and on through a LOT of personal trials and tribulation, but since Christ healed me if inoperable Liver Cancer last July, I’ve found a renewed sense of purpose and a willingness to start all over, one more time by Him, for Him, and with Him, perhaps we can get the world to notice it’s self again, and start loving again without the “What’s in it for me,” attitude.