I recently got the chance to paw an Essex P Bass Clone. These are being sold on the web and ebay by Rondo Music out of New Jersey. They are entry level basses at ridiculously low prices. Rondo buys the parts overseas and assembles the instruments here. This bass was bought by a guitar player friend for use in his home studio. He got the bass on my recommendation and with the understanding that if there was something wrong in it's construction, I would fix it for him. I have done some business with Kurt at Rondo and trusted we wouldn't get a total dog. We weren't disappointed in the least. http://www.rondomusic.bigstep.com/item.jhtml;$sessionid$4DI1PRQAABFHYP5MFMOETIR53QVSNPX0?UCIDs=850849%7C940496&PRID=1162035 The bass arrived in perfect shape in double boxing. The kit contained only the bass and a truss rod wrench. This model is an SPB62QMG - a Fender Bass clone with a maple/rosewood neck, alder body, pearl pickguard, gold plated hardware and a photo flame red to black burst finish. The body was typical P bass with the exception of the the radius' from the faces to the sides being slightly smaller than it's Fender counterpart. The finish is fairly thin but nicely done. The body is quite light in weight with the entire bass weighing in a just less than 9 lbs. The balance is right at perfect - if there were even an ounce more on the neck it would be noticeable. Overall the bass looks great. Probably the best feature of this instrument is the neck. It's well made and pretty well finished. The headstock is notable for it's design - sort of like a Sadowsky - nice and large for a great vintage feel when hanging from the body. The shape of the neck is quite different from other P bass copies on the market. It's nearly a J neck being only 1 9/16" at the nut. This is an 1/8" smaller than a standard P and makes this neck very, very playable. The profile is, likewise, very nice. It reminds of my first P - a 1976 - certainly fatter than a J but not baseball bat. I really liked it in comparison to my Jazzes. The frets are quite large and well finished. No problems with any high spots at all. In the Fender style the trussrod is inserted from the back dictating a walnut skunk stripe. The rod adjusts from an uncovered opening under the fretboard on the headstock. The back of the neck and headstock was finished in a neat tinted poly simulating a neck of vintage origins. It had a medium golden color that didn't at all look yellow. Hardware was somewhat of a disappointment but only in finish. All of the hardware function quite properly and looked pretty good. The finish problems were poorly smoothed rivets on the tuning peg heads and some wavy plating on flat surfaces. The knobs are metal set-screw type that are simply another variation on the standard theme. Tuning keys are an inexpensive open gear type. The bridge is a standard Fender style "bent-tin" bridge with barrel saddles and black adjustment hardware. The bridge uses 5 screws across the back and 2 on the front corners of the chassis to hold itself in place. The bridgeplate is also sort of unusual since it bears the "SX" logo embossed under it's plating - a nice touch. The pickguard didn't look like a true 3 layer as advertised. It has a black bottom and white middle with a pearl top so it appears as a 2 color. All the screws were gold plated but they definitely had a "cheap" look to them. The electronics were typical off-shore no name type. Adequate for the studio but probably a little underpowered for most tastes. The pup sported slightly raised pole pieces which was unusual. They were well finished and polished instead of the usual sliced off magnet look. The pup was sprung underneath to keep it in good alignment with the strings. The pots were quiet and smooth. The only problem was that the tone control didn't have much contrast between bass and treble. It could probably be helped with a capacitor change. So, to sum up, here's my ratings: HARDWARE - 7.5 ELECTRONICS - 8 WOODWORK - 9 FIT & FINISH - 9 TONE - 9 PLAYABILITY - 10 VALUE - 10 Total Score - 8.92 This would be a good starter bass, intermediate bass, or backup. It would be a great platform for customizing and upgrading. It compares very favorably with the MIM Fender product of the same model at less than half the cost. You could even by a fretted and a fretless for the about the same as one MIM Fender.