Price paid: $ 80
Purchased from: Local Pawn Shop
Features: I found this guitar used, but in almost new condition, at a pawn shop in a suburb of Fort Worth, TX. I pointed it out to my wife, who then convinced my mother-in-law to buy it as an early birthday present.
Being that it was used, I can't tell when it was made, but it was made in Indonesia. It's got the Takamine-designed NEX body shape and size, which is supposed to be a scaled-down jumbo shape with a cutaway, with a laminated spruce top, laminated nato back and sides, and an ultra-thin satin finish, which almost feels like bare wood. I've played several higher-end Takamine models with the same NEX body style, but for some reason the body on this Jasmine (which is made by Takamine, mind you) looks and feels larger in size than the other NEX cutaways I've played. When I found this guitar, I was worried that the guitar would feel too small for my 6'5", 230-pound frame, but this acoustic is really no smaller than a dreadnought, except for the thinner waist. It's even about as deep as one.
This guitar has a mahogany neck, with a dark-stained 21-fret rosewood fretboard and a 25 3/8" scale. The headstock is cut in the famous Takamine shape, and the tuners outfitted are the same economical tuners that one would expect from a guitar in this price range. The bridge is also rosewood. There is a pickguard that I have heard is removable, but I really don't want to take it off. Overall, features are what I'd expect from this price range. // 7
Sound: I'm more of an electric guitarist (I have two PRS SEs, a Strat and a Tele), but I do like to write songs and play around on acoustic. This is hardly my first acoustic. My last one was an Epiphone EJ-200 Artist, which sounded great, but was too bulky to be practical for me.
I was a bit surprised by the tone of this guitar. It was very loud, clear, and rich, with almost as much bass as a true jumbo sized acoustic. The thin satin finish allows the body to resonate a lot more, and it really shows, you can hear the difference. It seems to lend itself well to strumming chords, fingerpicking, and melodic pick playing. The tone alone can hang with a guitar as much as 3-4 times its price, easily. I wanted an acoustic to use as a beater, instead, I actually might record with it. // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: The action was a hair high when I got it, but after tightening the truss rod I noticed an improvement in playability, including intonation. The guitar is solidly built, and the quality of the wood seems decent, but one can tell there wasn't enough attention to detail in some areas: for example, frets have a few rough edges on the sides of the fretboard; and even though the tuners do stay in tune, the post on the D string's tuner is bent slightly, and the gears seem a little stiff; and lastly, I think filing the saddle down would've helped the action on mine even more than the truss rod adjustment. Fortunately, these three small gripes are something that can easily be remedied. // 7
Reliability & Durability: This guitar feels tough. I feel it can withstand live playing well (even though I won't be doing much in the way of that since I rarely ever play acoustic live anyway). The finish is super thin but feels durable. There's no worries about it falling apart on me. // 9
Overall Impression: You know the saying: You get what you pay for. I've found that this is mostly a load of BS when it comes to guitars. Some of the better guitars I've played have been lower-budget models, and there have been some big-name guitars with prices in 4 figures that just didn't do it for me. This guitar packs a bit of a punch for its price (I've seen these guitars usually sell for a hair over $100 new). I've owned numerous acoustics in the past, and I must say, this might be one of the better ones I've owned, if not the best. It sounds and feels great.
My only complaint, a minor one at that, is that there would've been more attention to detail, especially in the fretwork and the hardware, and maybe some better tuners. Other than that, I absolutely love this guitar, and would recommend it to anyone seeking a decent acoustic on the cheap. // 8