(I thought I was insane) NBD - SX (Essex) Andromeda in Natural Finish
So I was looking for an inexpensive Jazz bass that I can knock around for some time and I thought of getting Squier VM Jazz. Then this SX Andromeda in Natural finish caught my eyes.
Iíve always been a sucker for a natural finished Ash body, but havenít found one with good matching grains among lower priced ones.
But this Andromeda was supposed to have a 1-piece body. Besides, the hardware such as bridge and tuners seemed to be sturdy and good quality.
Iíve had several basses/guitars from Rondo before and they were all good, but they were all around $120 ranged in price. Never paid more than $120 for a bass/guitar from Ronso.
So I wasnít sure if I should pay round $260 for a SX when I could get a Squier VM Jazz for the same amount.
And I thought I was probably insane for spending $260 for a SX.
But I decided to take a risk, for 1-piece Ash body and hardware, and my previous experience with Kurt and his SX/Agile bass/guitar, and placed an order.
With $20 discount Kurt offered, I paid $257 with shipping and the bass came delivered on Tuesday.
And let me tell you this. This is one gorgeous looking bass. Looks and plays MUCH more expensive than any bass in this price range.
The bass came with a desperate need of a setup. But once I finished the setup and put a set of aged Chromes (45 Ė 100), it turned out to be one heck of a bass.
I have a MIA Fender Standard P-Bass with amazing action and playability, and this $257 bass really does plays almost as nice as that. No issue what-so-ever.
So in brief summary, this is one heck of a bass that looks and plays much much better than its price tag. In my personal opinion, it truly rivals typical MIM Standard Fender. Yes I really believe that.
Now, hereís this beauty, (Yes picture = Yes Bass :D), followed by a detailed review.
Beautiful bass!!! I've been thinking about pulling the trigger on an Essex bass for some time now. After seeing this, I may just go with this one. Very very nice. Good looking high mass bridge and that body is so sweet looking. Nice score.
Congrats! She's one e-sexy looking SX.
Now, here’s the detailed review if you care to read (sorry it's rather long).
It just looks stunning (to me). Very nice grain patterns.
There are several fit & finish flaws, but they are very minor that I can ignore.
You wouldn’t notice them unless you are really anal about fit/finish perfection.
The only more obvious flaw is that the PUPs were mounted slightly off-center.
The picture above was taken at an angle, so the off-centered PUPs looks really bad.
But in reality, it is not that bad and it doesn’t bother me at all. Also, that is a common issue in many basses including typical MIN Standard Fender Jazz.
So I would not consider that as a sign of a bad QC, especially when considering the price.
The fret work is excellent. The fret ends were finished well with no noticeable sharp ends.
The frets were dressed very nicely.
The excellent fret dressing combined with so straight neck, I was able to set up a low action of my liking (5/64” straight heights at 17th fret) without fret buzz with very minimum neck relief.
For inexpensive bass, I expected to see sloppy pearloid block inlays.
But that was NOT the case. The inlays were done cleanly without noticeable gap with fillers.
The tuners, which have thinner peg posts than typical Fender tuning peg posts, work buttery smooth and accurate. A
nd they hold tune well, as far as I can tell from last 3 days of experience.
The bridge is sturdy and looks massive. Basically it works as intended.
No issue adjusting intonation and string heights.
Maybe due to the massive bridge, or heavy body (see below), or both, this bass has amazing sustain even with flatwounds.
So it is a good thing if you are concerned over the sustain issue on a bass.
The electronics. It, as expected, has mini-pots, and they work smoothly with no noise.
Volume drops gradually and I can blend neck and bridge PUPs without any issue.
(BUT I still ordered full-size CTS pots so I won’t have to worry about them for a long time and because I was ordering some parts anyway – see below. Just extra $24 to give me a peace of mind. BUT again, there was nothing wrong with the mini-pots in there.)
The A-string nut slot was cut little too deep and it has that dreaded open A-string buzz.
Ordered Hipshot 3-string retainer and that problem will be resolved.
There is no shielding what-so-ever.
I also ordered copper shielding tape so it will be shielded properly.
D-string sounds little weaker than others. It might be a string issue, or it might be a PUP issue. But it’s not that bad. Just a slight imbalance.
It is heavy.
On my not-so-precise bathroom scale, it is around 10.5 – 11 lbs heavy.
It is funny because there is a sticker on pickguard that says, “American Swamp Ash – Ultra Lightweight.”
But there is nothing “Ultra-Lightweight” about this bass. This girl is HEAVY.
One issue here. It is longer than a Fender Jazz.
The headstock is almost 1” longer than a Fender.
Because of this reason, it could not be used with a hardcase I used to use for a Fender 51 Reissue P-bass.
To make it work, I had to remove some padding materials inside the hardcase (about Ĺ from the top and about another Ĺ” from the bottom).
A Personal Note:
You must have noticed that I did not mention anything about the tone.
That is because tone is a very subjective matter.
In my personal opinion, the stock PUPS are more than usable, and I don’t see any reason for upgrading despite the aforementioned weak D-string, which is not that obvious.
Hope you find this review useful and interesting.
that thing looks awesome. i really wish they'd make a p-bass version
If they did, they would already have my money. Still, I'm considering selling off one of the herd for one of these. Only drawback is the issue with fitting in my usual Fender cases.
But if it is a tight-fitting case for a Fender Jazz, then you will need to take a knife to the inside padding like I had to.
Just wish the headstock was shorter, but then it would become too --- Sadowsky??? :eyebrow:
Or, just buy this bass because it is well-worth the money and put it in a cheap gig bag.
It's not like we are talking about $2500 bass here. :hiding:
So a gig bag will be perfectly adequate for this bass. :D
True. Still wish they made a P-bass version.
You might want to include in "The Ugly"...
Neck must be removed for truss rod adjustment. :mad:
Gorgeous bass congrats and does the entire neck have to be removed or just the pickguard?
I would call to confirm.
It was a pain when I tried to setup this bass. :scowl:
Maybe it's just my bass, or all Andromeda basses are like that, but the truss rod nut is recessed fairly deep into the neck heel unlike, say my MIA Fender P that has the truss rod nut right on the heel surface so action can be adjusted without taking the neck off.
But since the nut is recessed deep into the heel, you really have to stick the wrench into the hole to get to the nut.
And to do that, you have to remove the neck entirely.
The only way to remedy that is to route out a channel on the body and pickguard where they meets the neck so you can place an allen wrench straight down and into the hole like you see in some basses like Yamaha here.
And no, I am NOT planning on doing that. :spit:
But good thing is that the neck is very solid and stable from what I've seen so far.
So once you go through the pain and adjust the neck relief, you will be set for a while.
(I really hope I don't need to adjust the relief often... ;) )
Better would be a rout at the bass of the neck under the pickguard which would cover it. Since I put 4-40 threaded inserts on all my SX pickguards pulling a pickguard with the strings still on is no biggie. You do the truss rod and then put it back.
By the way I use THESE treaded inserts:
I just drill out screw holes. use a toothpick to smear a tiny bit of epoxy on the knurling. put a long 4-40 screw into the insert and tap into the hole with a small hammer. They are not super strong bonding with wood but good enough for pickguards, cavity covers and control plates. I use 4-40 flat head allen socket cap screws to hold pickguard etc. on.
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