There are many budget acoustic guitars on the market today, but they vary widely in value, tone, and playability. Without doing some research, you could easily drop a few hundred dollars on a dog of an instrument; on the other hand, some budget guitars are terrific values. The Jasmine S35 acoustic is one of the latter, delivering great sound and playability for a very reasonable price.
In the following Jasmine S35 review, we’ll look closely at this affordable dreadnought to find out why it consistently ranks among the most popular acoustic guitars.
Key Specifications At A Glance
|Body Shape:||Dreadnought||Number of Frets:||20|
|Top Wood:||Sitka Spruce||Scale Length:||25.5 inches|
|Back & Side Wood:||Agathis||Nut Width:||1.75 inches|
|Neck:||Nato||Nut & Saddle:||Synthetic Bone|
Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar Review
Construction And Design
Initially designed by the popular Japanese manufacturer Takamine, the Jasmine S35 is produced and sold by KMC Music Company. Similar in many ways to the popular Jasmine S34, the S35 has taken the design to the next level.
Few things affect an acoustic guitar’s tone as significantly as the tonewoods used to produce the instrument. The S35’s layered spruce top is a big part of why this budget acoustic sounds like a more expensive model.
The S35 is a two piece guitar, meaning the top isn’t one solid piece of wood. You can’t expect to find new solid wood guitars for a price like this. Its sides and back are crafted of handsome laminated Agathis wood, and the neck is beautiful Nato mahogany.
The Jasmine S35 features an x-styled bracing, a feature often reserved for more expensive guitars. Forming a rough “x” with its intersection point positioned close to the soundhole, the x-style bracing allows for greater vibration throughout the spruce top, enhancing note detail. The x-configuration is also lighter than other bracings, reducing the guitar’s overall weight.
Neck And Headstock
The neck and headstock of the Jasmine S35 are crafted of Nato mahogany, and the fretboard is rosewood. The neck of the S35 is slimmer than a standard dreadnought neck, allowing for greater ease of play and more ready access to the higher frets.
Saddle And Nut
Though you probably wouldn’t realize it unless you were looking for it, the Jasmine S35 features a synthetic saddle and nut. Some purists are doubtlessly frowning as they read this, but using synthetic saddles and nuts is one of the ways KMC keeps costs down without making any concessions to sound quality. For an affordable acoustic guitar, I daresay even most purists would agree this is a fair trade-off.
The Jasmine S35 is a natural acoustic, not an electro-acoustic, meaning no electronics are onboard. The sound produced by a natural acoustic is caused by the strings’ vibration resonating through the instrument’s body and out of the sound hole.
Sound And Tone
The S35 has a bright, open tone and a lot of volume for a budget acoustic guitar. The combination of the x-bracing and the spruce top produces clear tones and overtones with plenty of natural sustain.
To say the S35 sounds like a full-priced premium brand acoustic would be disingenuous at the least; there’s a reason we spend hundreds, if not thousands, on top-quality instruments. That said, the S35 sounds downright impressive for a budget acoustic and every bit as good as some mid-priced alternatives.
The playability of the Jasmine S35 is one of the reasons it makes such a great first acoustic guitar. The neck, slightly narrower than the standard dreadnought guitar, makes playing the S35 a delight for beginners and experienced guitarists.
Quality And Aesthetics
A great-looking dreadnought guitar crafted of quality tonewoods, the Jasmine S35 really is a thing of beauty; few acoustic guitars available in the S35’s price-range look quite as good. The slim neck and distinctive headstock give the S35 an elegant, refined aesthetic.
The hardware is chrome plated but not of the highest quality; like the synthetic saddle and nut, this is an area where Takamine was able to shave costs without compromising tone or playability.
Also, the strings on (and in the case of the bundle, with) the guitar aren’t exactly top-of-the-line. Beginner guitar manufacturers often compromise on strings, which will eventually need replacing anyway, as a means of keeping costs in line.
That said, I’d recommend changing the strings on your beginner acoustic guitar almost immediately after purchase; for one thing, you’ll have to learn how eventually, and why not dive right in? Also, a decent set of strings will make a marked difference in the guitar’s tone.
Cost And Value
To say the Jasmine S35 by Takamine is an exceptional value would be something of an understatement. A bundle pack is available on Amazon for well under $150 (including gigbag, tuner, strap, strings, and guitar picks), the S35 makes a great first acoustic guitar that delivers the tone and playability of a more expensive instrument.
Pros And Cons
No proper Jasmine S35 acoustic guitar review would be complete, though, without the requisite pros and cons list; here’s what we loved–and loved a bit less–about the Jasmine S35.
- Excellent value for its meager price
- Great tone and playability
- Pleasing aesthetic
- X-styled bracing enhances volume and note clarity
- Comes with cheap strings
- Some report the S35 doesn’t respond well to being slightly out of tune
- Dreadnought style isn’t ideal for beginners, as higher fret access is limited
All in all, the S35 guitar is all you could hope to expect from a budget acoustic guitar and more.
Who Should Consider The Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar?
Despite its low cost, this easy-playing guitar strikes me as more than a beginner guitar; the aesthetic, tone, and playability of the S35 make this a guitar even intermediate players will enjoy playing. Beginners, students, and guitarists looking for a better-than-average budget guitar should definitely consider this one.
Other Notable Variants From Jasmine
If you’re as impressed as we were with the Jasmine S35, you owe it to yourself to check out the S34C NEX before you decide on a beginner acoustic guitar. Both guitars offer the quality craftsmanship and tones of more expensive instruments, though they vary some.
The most apparent difference between the S35 and the S34C is the latter has a cutaway body style (Grand Orchestra), while the former has the typical dreadnought shape. The dreadnought is designed for big sound, and though you may lose some small degree of volume and tonality with the Venetian-style cutaway body, the trade-off is more ready access to the higher frets.
Like the S35, the Jasmine S34C has a laminate spruce top and x-style bracings, giving this beginner guitar a big, bright tone that hits on all frequency wavelengths.
Alternatives To The Jasmine Acoustic Guitar
There are quite a few quality beginner acoustic guitars available today, some of which are comparable in price, quality, and sound, to the Jasmine S35. When considering a beginner acoustic guitar, the Fender Squire Dreadnought and the Donner DAJ-110C are two viable alternatives to the S35.
Fender Squire Dreadnought
Given the company’s reputation for quality, it should be no surprise that Fender offers one of the best affordable acoustic guitars available. Like the S35, the Squire Dreadnought utilizes an x-style bracing which allows its Lindenwood top to vibrate with a greater degree of freedom while keeping the overall weight of the instrument low.
Also, like the S35 acoustic, the Fender Squire Dreadnought has a synthetic bone saddle and nut, which helps keep the guitar’s cost low without affecting tone or aesthetics.
For over a decade, Donner has been building a reputation as a quality instrument maker. One needs to look no further than Donner’s beginner acoustic guitar offering, the DAJ-110C, to understand why this is so.
A guitar that looks and sounds every bit as good as many guitars with far older and more distinguished pedigrees, the DAJ-110C has a spruce top and its back and sides are fashioned of beautiful mahogany. Like the Squire Dreadnought and the S35, the Donner has an x-styled bracing for enhanced note clarity and resonance.
Unlike the Squire and S35, the Donner DAJ-110C has a slightly curved back, causing greater sound reflection directed toward the guitar’s soundhole. Also, unlike the Squire Dreadnought and the S35, the Donner 110C has a cutaway body shape, allowing easier access to the higher frets.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Big Is The Jasmine S35?
The Jasmine S35 is a full-sized dreadnought acoustic guitar. The only size difference between the S35 and a standard dreadnought is the S35s slightly narrower neck; the length of the neck and frets is full-scale.
What Makes A Guitar A Dreadnought?
Acoustic guitars come in various body styles, the most popular of which is the dreadnought. Designed to produce deep, robust tones, the dreadnought was introduced by Martin guitars and was, at the time, the largest of the acoustic guitar bodies.
Not to be outdone, Gibson later introduced the Jumbo body, which is larger but not as popular as the dreadnought.
Can A Small Person Play A Dreadnought Guitar?
Despite their large body size, dreadnought guitars aren’t so big as to discourage small people or even children from playing on one. Some dreadnought guitars, like the Jasmine S35, have narrower than standard necks to improve playability and accommodate smaller hands.
Very small people and younger children may wish to opt for a guitar with an auditorium or parlor sized-body; those who want that distinctive dreadnought sound can always get a 3/4 scale dreadnought acoustic.
Are Jasmine Guitars Made By Takamine?
No, Jasmine guitars are not made or manufactured by Takamine but by KMC Music Company. They are, however, designed by Japanese guitar giant Takamine, which helps explain their superior quality and sound. Think Squier, by Fender, or Epiphone, by Gibson, and you’re thinking along the right track.
Check out the sound demo of this Jasmine Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar:
Having owned a Takamine acoustic guitar for years, I’m not at all surprised by the volume tone and playability of the S35; what does surprise me is the price.
Beginner acoustic guitars have come a long way in the last ten years or so, and some of them, like the S35, sound and play like much more expensive instruments.