This complete Jasmine Guitar review covers every aspect of all models of Jasmine guitars currently offered, including the distinctions between their 4 body styles, 4 different finish options, and the 2 possible pre-amps available in the cutaway acoustic electric versions.
Before we dive into all the differences and nuances of each guitar model, we'll cover a brief history of the Jasmine Guitar line, which currently offers 22 different model variations in 4 distinct body styles.
Although the Jasmine S35 Dreadnought is the top selling "Steel String Acoustic Guitar" on Amazon at the time of this review, there is another acoustic guitar which, according to other world guitar statistics is the other OR "former" best selling beginner acoustic guitar and you can read our complete review on that other guitar here.
A little background on the Jasmine brand and manufacturer:
Jasmine Guitars (the brand) are currently owned by KMC Music Company out of Bloomfield Connecticut (since about 2005). A lot of people believe they are owned by Takamine (a popular Japanese guitar manufacturer), and I contacted both companies to find out the history between these 2 guitar lines (how Takamine and Jasmine guitars are related), as I can find nothing on the Jasmine site about Takamine and can find nothing within Takamine's sites about Jasmine guitars, so it is difficult to verify the actual connection from online research.
When a service rep wrote back from Takamine Guitar company, there was a connection 10 years ago, but Takamine (Japan) sold the Jasmine brand to KMC as noted above.
Here is what the rep from Takamine wrote back,
"Thank you so much for your inquiry. Actually Jasmine has been sold by Takamine made by the factory in Korea and China. But all of the rights have been succeeded to KMC Music about 10 years ago. So currently we don't have any rights to handle this brand. Thank you very much. Best regards"
So there you have it. . . if you have a Jasmine guitar that states on the inside label that it was made by Takamine, chances are the guitar was made somewhere around 2005 or earlier, approximately, or perhaps he meant that the Japanese Takamine factory still makes a Jasmine line and labels them "by Takamine" (I do not know but will ask them for more detailed information to clarify).
There is, however, no evidence that the quality of this line has diminished in the last 10 years, in fact, the Jasmine S-35 Dreadnought Model has become the best seller for "steel string guitars" on Amazon within only the past few years, so they cannot be junk as you will discover.
At first, I was hesitant to review the Jasmine guitar line because their price points for entry level guitars are under $100, and by my own budgetary preconceptions, I thought they would have to be high priced junk.
I was wrong.
In fact, I steer away from most guitars that are under $300 unless they are for an absolute beginner guitar player, and they are not sure if they are going to stick with the guitar for more than a year or 2. However, many guitar manufacturing companies are finding ways to offer more stable and affordable guitars between $80 and $300 that are not all that bad, and can be quite good for a beginner or even an intermediate player, as long as the guitar is set up properly.
If you search Google or go to Amazon.com (the largest online retailer) and simply search "Jasmine Guitars" you will find hundreds and hundreds of reviews for their top 2 selling models: the Jasmine S34C NEX Acoustic Guitar and the Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar.
Both of these guitars average around 4.5 stars with literally hundreds of reviews, so I finally figured there must be something to them having such a high customer satisfaction, and all the reviews are not from beginners if you read some of them.
While the Yamaha FG700 S claims the be the best selling beginner acoustic guitar worldwide (for about $200 to $250), apparently the Jasmine S35 is the #1 best seller on Amazon for those searching for "steel string acoustic guitar", and apparently most purchases are for beginners (at the time of this post, which could obviously change in the future).
I personally believe this is almost strictly due to the significant pricing difference ($80 for the Jasmine vs $200 to $250 for the Yamaha), with not that much difference in provable value.
Think about this. . . how many people are buying one of these guitars as a gift for a first time player, or of those who are brand new players buying for themselves, how many of them are going to notice any difference between the 2 guitars when they have absolutely no experience nor do they know what to look for or notice?
It's difficult to justify the extra $120 to $170 difference for a beginner's purchase when there is no noticeable difference between all of the novice reviews.
That being said, I will first share the most common objections with these Jasmine starter guitars, and then I will go into thorough reviews on every model offered in the Jasmine Guitar line at the time of this review.
What's the #1 complaint about the Jasmine guitars when received in "the mail"?
(drum roll. . . . .)
The #1 complaint with low reviews is the string height or Setup. . . (which is a very easy adjustment)
The string height complaint is only in 1 out of ever 30 or 40 reviews, as the guitar line still has 4.5 stars. Setup or string "set" (how high the strings are from the fret board) upon shipping arrival is the #1 complaint from beginning player / purchasers of a Jasmine guitar, but this is not craftsmanship issue, because most guitars can be adjusted somewhat, and all should be adjusted for personal use when they are bought new from a factory, or used from a 3rd party seller or non-commercial re-seller.
The biggest issue that most people have with these very inexpensive guitars when they arrive is the string height from the fret board- also called the "set" of the strings - might be a little bit high. This is also called the "action". The action tends to be a little high on the lower priced Jasmine guitars when they arrive from the factory making it a bit more difficult to play.
The good news is that the string height is adjustable with a little bit of know-how. If the string height is too high, it is difficult to play. If it is too low, the strings will give "fret buzz" which can be an annoying and unwanted buzzing sound that comes when the strings are strummed or picked. Setting up any guitar when it is new is advisable, regardless of how much was paid for the guitar and regardless of your playing ability level.
The other good news is that the Jasmine guitar line comes with an adjustable truss rod (see image) in the sound hole to be able to adjust the bowing of the neck until it is set appropriately for any playing preference. I would never buy a guitar without an adjustable truss rod, unless it was some cheap little travel guitar where it is not as ideal to be adjusted, and it is just used to hack around the campfire or throw in the back of the Volkswagen or in the travel compartment on a plane (just kidding- I would not throw any guitar).
The action on any guitar may not be ideal for your specific desires and playing style, and to be honest, I have adjusted every guitar I have ever owned, whether it was a $400 Seagull guitar or a $3500 Larrivee. I did not always do this during my first 2 years, but as I became a more advanced player, I realized, as most maturing players do, that all guitars will require some adjusting from time to time, especially if they are brand new and set up from the factory.
Most beginner guitars come with the strings set a little bit high (for a beginner anyway), and so they tend to be a little more difficult to press down to make decent' clean chords for the beginner. This can be frustrating for a small child or someone with weak hands, weak fingers, tender finger tips or a tender grip. However, over time, one will build hand strengths and some finger tip calluses with persistence and practice.
The intermediate or advanced player, however, will know this fix is almost as simple as tying your shoes or changing laces in your tennis shoes. Just loosen the strings and pop out the saddle, then sand the under-side of the saddle down a bit, adjust the truss rod if necessary, and use a lighter gauge string if necessary. No big deal. Chances are, however, that your Jasmine guitar will come playable right out of the box, as long as you tune it properly, which brings me to my next point.
Every guitar player at the beginner or intermediate level should own a digital guitar tuner. Some guitars come with built in pre-amp pickups and have LED tuners built into the pre-amps, but not so with most of the Jasmine guitars, unless they have the letter "E" at the end of the model name (which simply means Electric for an electronic pickup".
If you buy a Jasmine with an electronic pickup, there's no need to purchase an additional digital guitar tuner. If you buy a purely acoustic model from Jasmine guitar, you will definitely want to start with a tuner, which you can easily purchase for $10 to $25 at Amazon.
Upon doing thorough research, the Jasmine guitar line is a great starter line for people who do not have a large budget, but also want a guitar that sounds decent and is playable.
At the time of this review, Jasmine has 4 basic acoustic guitar bodies or model series listed officially on their website.
It is relatively easy to determine which model you are looking at from their model codes once you break it down:
There are 2 letters before the hyphen and then a few letters and / or numbers after the hyphen - for example - JD-37CE or JO-36
BEFORE THE HYPHEN:
The numbers are all models within the particular body style offering different options
Models include: JD-36 | JD-36CE | JD-37 | JD-37CE | JD-39 | JD-39CE | S-35
All come in natural finish and the JD-39 and JD-39 CE offers black and sunburst finish also
Models include: JO-36 | JO-36CE | JO-37 | JO-37CE | S-34C
Models include: JC-23 | JC-25 | JC-25CE | JC-27 | JC-27CE
Models include only the JM-10 and makes a great travel guitar for about $110
All Jasmine acoustic electric versions have an option between 2 different installed pre-amp pickups.
Those are the model number codes ending in "E" or "CE" because only their cutaway versions have preamps available.
Pickup Option #1 - The B-Band® M-450T w/Built-In Tuner
this pickup comes in the following models:
JD-36CE - JO-36CE - JD-39CE - JD-39CE black - JD-39CE sunburst - JC-25CE
Pickup Option #2 - The Fishman® Isys III (3) w/Built-In Tuner
this pickup comes standard in the following models:
JD-37CE - JO-37CE - JC-27CE
The biggest difference between these 2 pickups is that they are made by different companies and the B-Band pickup has an additional "presence" eq dial, which essentially gives more boost to the treble end without having a feedback issue. This allows the guitar sound to punch through or become a little more "crisp" when plugged in, which will help it stand out when playing in a group with other instruments. However, both will offer equal quality for amplified sound in my opiniton and the difference is not very significant. Any guitar player can learn to make both preamps give about equal output, so I would not make a decision based on the pickup, but on the other qualities of the guitar models after reviewing all of the options. Both makers, Fishman and B-Band make excellent products, and this is one of their entry to mid-level pickups which keeps the acoustic electric guitar very affordable for most people. The great thing about them is that they are both manufacturers of quality pickups so I would go with either in this price range.
Since the Dreadnought body style is the most popular and common body style, popularized back in the 1940's by Martin Guitar company, we'll review this one first.
The Jasmine Dreadnought series -11 models and options:
1) Jasmine JD-36 (about $99) and 2) JD-36CE (about $189)
3) Jasmine JD-37 (about $192) and 4) JD-37CE (about $237)
5) Jasmine JD-39 (about $206) 6) JD-39 Black (about $206) 7) JD-39 Sunburst (about $206)
8) Jasmine JD-39CE (about $249) 9) JD-39CE Black (about $249) 10) JD-39CE Sunburst (about $249)
11) Jasmine S35 the #1 seller on Amazon (about $80)
The Jasmine Orchestra series - 5 models and options:
Price range- $89 to $249 depending on the model and options you choose.
3- Some people like the more "bell-like" tonal qualities when finger-picking.
4- Some people like the distinction between the treble and mid range and the punchier sound offered by the shape.
So what accounts for the significant differences in the prices?