(I thought I was insane) NBD - SX (Essex) Andromeda in Natural Finish

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Audix99, Feb 7, 2014.


  1. Audix99

    Audix99

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Location:
    Kentucky
    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.

    I’ve always been a sucker for a natural finished Ash body, but haven’t 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.

    I’ve 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 wasn’t 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 – 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, here’s this beauty, (Yes picture = Yes Bass :D), followed by a detailed review.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  2. gregmon79

    gregmon79 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2012
    Media:
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    Albums:
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    Location:
    Chicagoland area
    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.
  3. SteveHeissner

    SteveHeissner

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Congrats! She's one e-sexy looking SX.
  4. Audix99

    Audix99

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Now, here’s the detailed review if you care to read (sorry it's rather long).

    The Good:

    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 bad:

    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.

    The Ugly:

    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 ½ from the top and about another ½” 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.

    Steve
  5. KyleSerlington

    KyleSerlington

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Location:
    Binghamton, NY
    that thing looks awesome. i really wish they'd make a p-bass version
  6. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
    Location:
    Willow Street, PA
    Disclosures:
    Beta tester for Positive Grid

    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.
  7. Bogster

    Bogster Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2002
    Location:
    Orange Park, FL
    I was thinking the same thing recently. After buying my Andromeda in November I can't help but think a p-bass version of this bass would be well worth the money.
  8. Audix99

    Audix99

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Location:
    Kentucky
    If there's about 3/4" of extra room above headstock after you put a Fender Jazz in the case, that case will probably accommodate SX Andromeda Jazz.
    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:

    [Edited]
    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. :bag:
    So a gig bag will be perfectly adequate for this bass. :D
  9. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
    Location:
    Willow Street, PA
    Disclosures:
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    True. Still wish they made a P-bass version.
  10. spz8

    spz8

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Location:
    Glen Cove, NY
    You might want to include in "The Ugly"...

    Neck must be removed for truss rod adjustment. :mad:
  11. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Location:
    The Great Midwest
    Gorgeous bass congrats and does the entire neck have to be removed or just the pickguard?
  12. spz8

    spz8

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Location:
    Glen Cove, NY
    I just checked the listing on the Rondo website, and the language regarding the removal of the neck for truss rod adjustment has been deleted. It clearly stated this when the Andromeda series was released. The guitar version still states this in the description...

    http://www.rondomusic.com/leona.html

    I would call to confirm.
  13. Audix99

    Audix99

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2009
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Yup, very true. I should've included that issue in "The Ugly."
    It was a pain when I tried to setup this bass. :scowl:

    Unfortunately, the entire neck needs to be removed.
    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.
    [​IMG]
    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... ;) )
  14. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    I don't know. Seems to me to be a worthwhile thing to consider. I mean taking the neck off to adjust the truss rod is BEYOND a major pain. Since you have to loosen all the strings, make a tiny adjustement, put the strings back on, let it stabilize, then see how much more you need, rinse, repeat. I've got patience but I doubt I have THAT much.

    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:

    http://www.mscdirect.com/product/93442036

    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.

    http://www1.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNSRIT2?PMPXNO=16473327&PMT4NO=94513240

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