Another Essex Bass Review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Machiavelli, Mar 15, 2014.


  1. Machiavelli

    Machiavelli

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2014
    Messages:
    159
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I know, I know...…another Essex bass review. Well, I read all of the reviews that were on this site (if that’s possible), so I might as well give back with my own. I recently bought the following.

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    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    (You can find this bass here:

    The Good
    -I had a lot of hype in my mind about this bass based on previous reviews. I expected it to be a pretty good value, etc. But even with that, I was not prepared for the quality of the bass body. It truly does look and have that feel of a $400-500 bass. Sure, when you remove the pickguard, you see some unusual cutting approaches and the there is some spillover glue on the nut, but top to bottom it is really nice. This just doesn’t feel like a mass-produced instrument. Pretty much every other bass within $400 of this bass feels very “standardized,” as if it were run through an assembly line. This bass has a personal feel to it. As people have mentioned, a lot of the components of the bass are not cutouts or standard even across the same line of basses…I don’t know how they make them, but whoever is doing so is being underpaid, =/. I really feel that a lot of work was put into the bass by someone who was concerned about quality, but maybe didn’t have the time, expertise, or resources to pull it off. Anyway…I like it.

    -$138 new bass with shipping….that is INSANE. I don’t get it.

    -Customer service is superb. Ordered Thursday morning, arrived the following Wednesday.

    -Frets are level and edges are cut well. Much less fret edge than I’ve seen on some of my $300-400 basses.

    -It wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be.

    -Pickups are sweet. I was trying to think of what to compare them to. There aren’t too many standard P-Basses in the sub-$500 range, but I will say: significantly better than a Squire or Ibanez starter bass (I’ve owned both), I haven’t played the CV Squier, but I have played the VM Precision squire and I think this one may have a slight edge, but it’s hard to tell as I’ve only ever played the VM at guitar shops. I think it’s on par with the pickups used on the MIM Fender P-Bass, but also, difficult to tell as I won’t buy those as I think they are horrible value, =/.

    -Looks better in person.


    The Bad
    -Setup was average. As always, the action was too high. Intonation was dead-on perfect except for the E string was just a tad sharp. Neck needed only a 1/8 turn at most to provide a bit more relief.

    -One word: “Clanky.” Bear in mind, this is something that only can be heard unplugged, but I play my bass a lot unplugged while watching tv, and the clank on this thing (particularly on 12-20 frets) is about the loudest I’ve heard. My understanding is that this is a product of cheap alloys for the frets. To be clear, this is not action/relief buzz, this is the sound of the string clapping against the fret during fretting. It can be heard noticeably even while not plucking. But once again, it is not picked up by the pickup. I’ll probably try some flatwounds to see if this can be reduced.

    -Tuners feel a bit weak. They will probably need replacement. I’ll wait and see how well it stays in tune.

    -Glossy neck that could be smoother. I prefer less finish.

    -Neck is a bit thick (in terms of depth, width is standard P).

    -Weird harmonic on the E string. I’ve come to realize that this was probably the string that I installed (Slinky). More on this can be seen in this post.

    -Slightly neck heavy.

    -Finish on neck/headstock just a little bit too “orangey.” It has an artificial “vintage” finish. Under certain lights, it looks REALLY nice, other times, it looks kind of cheap.

    The Ugly

    -The E/A pickup was detached from its case! (See image) Apparently the glue had not stuck, so the pickup was recessed in the cavity. It wasn’t much of a problem to fix (I put some foam under the pickup instead of gluing it as I like solid cases, so I might replace it at some point anyway and it worked fine.)
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    -I am not that picky about strings. 9/10 times I just use the stock strings until they get grimey. I kind of like the sound/feel of beat-up strings. But these strings….are by far the worst I’ve ever played…ever. They were just awful in all categories. Luckily I had a replacement ready, but come on. That’s effectively an extra $25 for the bass.


    Final Thoughts
    Overall, it’s an unusual product. It’s not a great bass for a complete beginner as it needs significant setup and I think I would have started crying if this were my first bass and the pickup was detached! If you are a beginner thinking of this bass, just make sure you have a friend that can take a look at it for you.

    For more advanced players, it’s not of high enough quality to be a main bass. It’s more of a backup bass that through some TLC you could slowly fall in love with. It’s great for messing around with if you like to do upgrades as it’s so cheap. The price is so low that probably everybody should give them a shot to see how they like them.

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    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014
  2. IPA

    IPA

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,149
    Nice review, and to build on this:

    I think having a professional setup done on your first bass regardless of how cheap it is is a worthwhile investment. It should be in all those beginner's books: Take your instrument in and get it set up! I remember when I started playing guitar I was discouraged, partly because looking back I realize now that the guitar was so poorly set up. It's hard enough making your fingers make chords, to add on inch-high action to that...
     
  3. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    6,229
    Well the SX factory strings "explain" the "insane" $138 new bass price, then doesn't it? ;)

    As for "clanky" I know what you mean. Some (but oddly not all) Squiers are like that. You can hear the major clank when you pull them off the wall. I"m not sure what the alloy in Squier or SX frets is but since they don't all do it, there may be other factors... I"m wondering if a Dremel tool buffing of the frets to make them smooth and shiny would help? I typically do that to all my basses.

    One thing I know about bass frets is that the hardness of the material does make a tone difference expecially with round wounds. Strings "bite" into softer frets giving a better witness point and tone. But the downside is the frets wear faster.

    People have complained about SX frets being "soft". I don't think so. The clankyness pretty much says that is wrong and I haven't noticed any excessive fret wear on them. Perhaps different strings would help?
     

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