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Everyone knows that Vox makes quality amps, but the company’s most mouthwatering new venture is its guitars. The Vox Virage is truly an axe to die for, but the $2,500 isn’t particularly appealing.
At $700, the Series 33 guitars are a particularly attractive option for the guitarist on a budget. Seeing as I fall squarely into that category myself, I decided to pick one up to see how it plays.
I’ve always been a sucker for aesthetics when it comes to guitars. Admittedly, looks are what drew me to my Series 33. I opted for an SSC-33, the single-cut version, but Vox also makes the SDC-33 for those who prefer a double-cut look. The SSC-33 has a sleek Les Paul styled mahogany body that’s contoured for maximum playing comfort (and, perhaps incidentally, maximum sexiness).
There are five finishes available, all of which are gorgeous, but I found that the teaburst finish best complements the wood grain of the SSC’s ash top.
In terms of playability, the SSC-33 is one of the most comfortable guitars I’ve ever used. The ergonomically contoured body really does make a difference, sitting or standing. The neck, while rounded, is narrow enough for players with smaller hands to navigate. The frets themselves are rather large, but not enough to affect playability. The instrument is also surprisingly narrow and light for a single-cut.
You’d expect great tone from guitar with such spectacular build quality, and the SSC-33 delivers there, too.
Like their higher-end counterparts in the Series 55, Series 33 guitars come equipped with Vox’s new CoAxe pickups. In addition to a three-way selector switch, the SSC-33 also has a two-way switch to put the pickups in “Clean” or “Lead” mode. “Clean” mode produces a single-coil sound with a Telecaster chime, while “Lead” imitates the warm, full tones of a Les Paul with humbuckers.
The tonal range of the pickups is impressive, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well they took effects. Reverb, delay, modulation, and distortion sound as warm and clear as they do with my Jazzmaster.
In both CoAxe modes, the SSC-33 yields bright, punchy, and harmonically rich tones. This is due to the MaxConnect bridge, another Vox invention that enables full string resonance without any fret buzz. Combined with the set neck, the bridge contributes to the guitar’s outstanding sustain, making it perfect for lead work. So far, I haven’t had any issues with intonation, nor do I expect to.
While the MaxConnect bridge gives the SSC-33 its distinctive sound, the extra jangle does limit the guitar’s tonal range a bit. It’s somewhat challenging to get darker, warmer tones, so “Lead” mode tends to lack the depth and richness of humbuckers. In this sense, it might be worth it to some to drop a few extra hundred for the Series 55 guitars, which have an extra CoAxe switch with an extra position (“Crunch,” which imitates a P-90).
[rating:5] – Build Quality: 5
[rating:5] – Comfort: 5
[rating:4] – Tone: 4
[rating:5] – Versatility: 5
[rating:5] – Value: 5
[rating:overall] – 4.8
Despite its potential tonal limitations, the Vox SSC-33 is an absolute steal for the price.
With superior build quality, a sleek design, and unique tonal options, the Series 33 guitars wholly succeed in Vox’s mission to deliver a quality instrument at a manageable price. Cover up the headstock, and you’d never know this Indonesian-made guitar was crafted outside of the States.