Jasmine ES33C

The ES33C is a fairly pedestrian instrument. It wins no points for design, its stick-on rosette and painted logo are far from classy, and even the semi-cool tortoiseshell binding isn’t sufficient to win it any awards for stylishness. But who cares? The instrument is reasonably well constructed outside and inside, it has decent frets with only slight roughness on the outer edges, its medium-low action makes it easy and enjoyable to play, and its intonation is nearly perfect, with only a few slight inconsistencies on the low strings well above the 12th fret. Most important, however, it streets for just $199, including a hardshell case! That you can purchase an acoustic-electric instrument of this quality for an amount that used to only get you a poorly constructed, difficult to play, crappy-sounding piece of junk surely represents some sort of milestone in the musical instrument industry.

Additionally, despite its modest price, the ES33C comes equipped with a Shadow LC 4 preamplifier/EQ, which provides boost/cut sliders for Volume, Bass, Low-Mid, High-Mid, and Treble—having control over two bands of mid frequencies is a nice touch—along with a phase switch to aid in suppressing feedback. And, all of the low-profile controls are intelligently recessed below the edges of the preamp enclosure, reducing the possibility of changing settings by inadvertently brushing against them. An onboard tuner would have made a nice addition, but at this price, you have to cut corners somewhere.

The ES33C has a good, if unexciting, acoustic sound, and the lows, mids, and highs are well balanced, as are the volumes of the individual strings. When amplified, however, the level of the high E is lower than that of the other strings, the overall output is relatively low, and the sound is slightly boxy. The instrument fared a little bit better when played through a tube studio
preamplifier, yielding a richer and better-balanced response—though the more sensitive preamp also accentuated the piezo quack and general high-end brittleness.

The ES33C is certainly not a great guitar. But make no mistake—it is a good guitar and a great value.