SDC-33 review by Vox

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 5.6 (7 votes)
Vox: SDC-33

Price paid: $ 256

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Features — 9
It's a double cutaway solid body, ash top on mahogany body. Please check wood if you're buying one, all the colors use different woods. Specs from Vox website: Scale Length: 638mm (25.125"), No. of Frets: 22, Nut Width: 43mm (1.7"). It has two "coaxe" pickups, which are aimed at eliminating hum by wrapping the hot coil inside another instead of side by side like a HB. Cherry red finish with beautiful grain showing through. Highly sculpted body and neck joint; very light, I'd say 6.5 pounds max. Custom Vox hardware, tuners and bridge; the bridge is something else, take a look at one online, it's like a TOM with no tailpiece. Has a pickup selector, 1V 1T and a coil tap switch, 6 different combinations. Came with a well-made padded gigbag. 9 because nothing's perfect, but this is pretty original and well-realised gear, and at the price I paid it's an incredible feature set. In fact, it's almost the same feature set as the Virage, a $1500 Vox guitar.

Sound — 9
Bear with me: Though the guitar is very versatile stock, and the 500k volume and tone pots have good range, I think it sounds too bright and thin in any setting. It sounds that way to me on the online demos I've seen, too. It won't matter if you play very loud, but I play at low to moderate volumes in small rooms. I considered swapping out the coaxe pups for some high-end P90s - they're the same size - but then decided to try a trick I learned from Joe Naylor, tone and design guru at Reverend Guitars (my favorite axes). Joe suggests putting a.038 pica farad capacitator across the poles of the output jack to take the edge off the high frequencies. It worked very well on this guitar. It still has good highs, but not as brittle to my ear. Someone using lots of distortion would no doubt leave the axe alone to have that high end bite through the drive. But what I play is R&B, soul, blues and Delta, usually with a slide, and I need more warmth and grease. With this simple, 20-minute, 25 cent mod, the guitar sounds great to my ears, and retains all its versatility. I'd say 6 before the mod, but I'd rate higher if I played metal. After the mod, it's a 9, because I would not hesitate to use it all night on a gig. The double- and single-coil sounds are clear and ringing. The only thing missing is the in-between sound on a Strat, so one point off.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I wanted this guitar after playing one in a store; then it was just waiting for the right price. It's a little neck heavy, and a wide leather strap fixes that right away. It seems to wrap around your body, and it's so light you hardly know it's there. The high fret access is typical of double cuts, but the neck joint is something else - there's nothing to stop your hand. The finish is gorgeous; great looking guitar, and it doesn't look like your average SG clone at all. There was a slight discoloration beside one fret on the top side of the neck, which is surely why MF sold it so cheap. You have to be playing the guitar and looking for it to notice it. 8, because it's a $1000 list guitar that looks like it.

Reliability & Durability — 9
It's still pretty new. I played it out twice, it worked. Buttons are nice and big, the strap won't slip off. Stays in tune well. Frankly, once you've said that the guitar is well made, what's there to say? If you lean it against an amp and it falls over, the neck will break. Duh. I opened it up to see if I might want to swap the pots and saw that a) Whoever wired this didn't waste one mm of metal, b) there are atypical switches behind the switches. I thought I might rewire but that scared me off, looked mighty complex. Bottom line, it's not luxury goods, but it's top quality. I usually play solo, with an amp I can carry in one hand, and one guitar. This could certainly be that guitar.

Overall Impression — 10
This is a $1000 list guitar, I paid $256 for it new, with a very small stain no one but me will ever see. It's one of the best deals I ever got on a guitar. I was hungering for a SG, because I'm a slide player, and a lot of great slide players like 'em. They're light, with great access. You cannot get a SG of this quality for what I paid for the Vox, period. If you had $500, which is the current street price new, you could buy a new low-end Gibson SG. That would be a tough call. The SG is a classic axe with good resale value. It sounds fine, even if you don't swap pickups. The SG finish wouldn't be in the Vox's league unless you paid about $1000, though. For $500, I'd take the Vox. For around $300, you can find the Vox used, and it is a flat steal. With one small mod, this guitar suits me perfectly. I wish it had the electronics of the 555 and Virage series, which give the coaxe pups three settings each. But really, who cares? I've been playing nearly 50 years, and I have owned good, great and crap gear. My amps are mainly Peaveys, combined with Tech 21 Character pedals; great combination for what I do. My main guitars are Reverends, likewise great value, versatile sound and original design - that's what I care about. If it were lost I might not buy another, just because I don't need another guitar. But if it were the only guitar I had, I would feel confident relying on it. That's my test for a keeper. No, it's not the ultimate awesomest coolest greatest axe in the universe. But for what it is, and what it costs if you look around, you won't find better.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I feel like the G-400 series from Epiphone sounds better then this at the same price level
    I know it's your opinion, but I think this sounds way better. The Vox is more versatile and has more mid, so it sits better in the band mix. It's a beast!
    You can get a better guitar for the money. Look at the Vintage Range.
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    I did. Vintage is not better, and the VS6 is a Gibson copy. Same for the Epi G400. Both would require new pups to sound as good as the Vox, even stock, and both cost more than I paid for the Vox. I did not want a copy of anything, I wanted an original design, as said above. Other replies below refer to the Vox sounding thin. I agree, if you mean the stock guitar, which is designed for heavy overdrive. But a 20-minute mod opens up the sound for blues and classic rock, as stated in my review. Soldering a capacitator onto the output jack is not rocket science, and a soldering iron costs $20.
    Wondering about the wood of yours. You said it sounded a bit thin. On the vox website they state the double cut away red is a solid ash (not ash top on mahogany). On the web the samples I have seen for the red do sound a bit thin to me but samples of the black (mahogany) sound a bit thicker in tone. Do you think this is the difference in tone, mahogany vs ash?
    You're right about the wood, and that was my goof. Other reviewers elsewhere have said the mahogany has more roundness. But I repeat, you can make this guitar sound much rounder and sweeter by soldering a .038 pica farad resister, a 25-cent part, on the two poles of the output jack. It took me 20 minutes. Everyone who hears the guitar now tells me how great it sounds -- a singing sound. Also still crunches very nicely, thanks. Personally I think everyone who owns an electric can gain a lot by learning to solder. It's a very cheap investment (same as two sets of strings) and a short learning curve, and it enables you to shape a guitar to your own tastes.
    I been looking for a .038 pf capacitor or resistor. The only capacitors I can find are uf and 33,22 or 47 kind of values. Or is it a resistor I should be looking for? Do you have more details of the component I can use to solder between the output jack poles.Have you got more numbers of the resistor or capacitor? colour, type or make or anything or a link. Sorry to hassle but I really want to have a go at fattening up my sound a little I think that is all that is missing from this lovely guitar at the moment. I got the black one by the way, mahogany, so the wood does not make a great difference to the sound, lovely finish though.
    The G-400 is a good piece and good value, but the electronics and hardware are not the same level as the Vox. Nor is the body design as ergonomic. The finish on the lower end G400s does not come close; the higher end models don't look as high end to me as the Vox.
    The Vintage guitars are good value too, but the Vox is better value if you like original design. The VS-6 is pretty much as Epi unless you get into signature models, and then the price rises.
    Dave English
    I have played the VOX ssc-33 Gold top at my work. (I sell guitars and amps). It is a good guitar for the money. Very Tele like when clean but the guitar shines when run through an overdriven amp. Sounds great tone dirty. Not for everyone but really worth checking out.
    Oh man, sorry guys. It's a 330 pf capacitor like mart thorpe says. My bad. Two factual mistakes in one review, not a great day. But a VERY good mod for any guitar you would like to sound a tad warmer and rounder.