Originally Posted by dougjwray
My main Precision-style bass for the last 3 1/2 years has been an SX copy, and I just picked up a new "Ursa" (for tuned-down songs). $99 each.
On Thursday night, I was in Guitar Center and I tried out a Fender American Standard Precision, for fun. Because I'm used to the SX's chunky neck, slightly bigger body, hot pickups and old-fashioned (low-mass) bridge, the Fender just felt flimsy and sounded kind of weak in comparison. Obviously, the Fender was very well made. But so is the SX (my new Ursa came with a straight neck, perfectly good fretwork, a well-cut nut, and filed fret ends).
No, I'm not crazy or trying to be cute. You might argue that I've simply grown accustomed to an inferior instrument, and can't recognize a good one when I play it. But, I've been playing pro or semi-pro for 42 years and own a '71 Fender Precision, an early Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray 5 and several other "nice" instruments, too.
$99 <--- pretty good.
I'm sure we don't need yet another thread gushing over SX basses, but truth is there is something to gush about. Sure there are always those tied up in knots laughing at anybody who dares hint that an SX can beat out an MIA Fender. But I tell you, I played a LOT of MIA Fenders and I can assure everyone that the MIA sticker was NOT magic. Some of those basses were really (and I mean REALLY) seriously bad. And of course some weren't.
In the end I picked out a nice MIA Jazz and I was about to lay 'em down for it, when I discovered the MIM Jazz I now own at GC. Played every bit as nice as the MIA but tone not quite as nice until I put SCN pickups in it.
So since I own seven SX basses, what's it all about. In my opinion it comes down to wood. So a nice MIA Fender jazz is made from some really nice alder, while my MIM is made from a bunch of sticks glued together with a really nice looking alder veneer over the top. So it looks and feels superb. And the tone is pretty darn good with the new pickups (we all know tonewood doesn't matter that much) But it's still a bunch of sticks and I think if you listen very carefully to it you can tell. BUT, that minor difference that is barely perceptible costs you hundreds of dollars to get rid of.
Same thing with my Squier P/J. It's got new pickups (Dimarzio J + real MIA Fender NOS P), neck is superb after fretwork and since I shielded it tone is killer. BUT the bottom line is that the body is still just agathis (pine). we all know tone wood doesn't matter much, but no matter what I do, it's still not nice alder.
Enter SX. I bought the first one just to be a cheap bar bass I didn't have to worry about. And what do I find? It's made from three pieces of really nice ash and if you get lucky the grain actually matches and the thing has wood like you paid thousands for it.
Sure there is no shielding (note the recent thread on a MIA Fender that came with no shielding) and the bent bridge has no grooves and is sort of hokey (but then the standard Fender bridge is like that too) and sometimes the tuners are stiff or loose but they don't lose tuning and work. Pickups are single coil and like all SC pickups can hum, but then all SC pickups have that problem. Tone is killer. But all that stuff is easily fixed. A sheet of copper foil and some time, a $20 bridge, maybe some tuners, a bit of fret filing and you've really got something. And you got it for a fraction of what other "real wood" basses cost.
And THAT is why I love my SX. Real tonewood, slap on a custom pickguard, tweak out the hardware a bit and Play! So my MIM Fender Jazz is very nice, but it's still always going to be glued alder sticks. And my Squier P/J 5er which is proveably better than any MIA (Fender doesn't even make a P/J 5er) still is just agathis. But my best SX basses with custom pickguards, and hardware, electronics and neck tweaks are simply top of the line. Sure, they could be made more boutique with a coffee table top or something, but for a PLAYING Fender clone bass, I don't know what more I'd ask for regardless of price.
And as everybody knows, the price is RIGHT!
For example I bought my first fretless SX Back when all I had was a Fretless Alembic 6 (which was usually too much bass for most gigs) and my Carvin AC50 semihollow body (which was nice, but too specialized for most gigs). So I picked up a $99 Alder SX fretless Jazz 5er. Until I got my G&L fretless L2500 it was my main fretless axe and I STILL love that bass! Say what you will, but you can spend four times as much and still end up with a bass that sounds/plays half as good. That's why I love SX.