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More praise for the humble SX (Essex)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dougjwray, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    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.
  2. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    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.
  3. great post.
  4. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    Gee, I have nothing to add. bassbenj said it all!

    No, wait... there IS one more thing. If in addition to liking good "value" basses, with good wood, serviceable hardware, andreally decent pups, you ALSO like chunky necks then SX is your kind of bass company!
  5. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Yes, and I strongly maintain that a neck with more mass adds "heft" to the tone. For whatever reason SX went with those chunky necks, there is a real reason to covet them, as a player.
  6. I bought an SX P 3 or 4 years ago and either the bridge or the pickup was routed about 1/4" off and they didn't take it back. I'll never buy from them again.
  7. Batmensch


    Jul 4, 2010
    Media, PA.
    That was the first thing I noticed about my Ursa 1 right out of the box, the big-ass chunky neck felt the most comfortable out of any of my basses, and that includes an
    '08 MIA Jazz. (now waiting for some wag to tell me that's impossible, an SX can't possibly be more comfortable to play than an MIA Fender)
  8. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Yes, I DID forget to mention that I love chunky necks. I'm not big on whining about neck profiles or string spacing, I just play them, but still given a preference chunky is for me. And that is why my SX (and also my G&Ls) are my favorite necks. My Fender Jazz neck is my all-time least favorite profile...though oddly I really love the profile of a Precision neck.
  9. loopee

    loopee Supporting Member

    May 12, 2009
    Surrey, B.C. Canada
    are the necks slim or wide?
  10. Depends on the model as SX has changed over and over and over... My SX -- compared with a MIA Precision -- is somewhat more chunky, less refined. Works fine. It is true that if you ad more mass to the bass, more organic vibrations is the outcome. To a point where the neck is close to unplayable, of course. But my SX is manageable.

    I think the electronics, pickups, are sub-par, though.
  11. loopee

    loopee Supporting Member

    May 12, 2009
    Surrey, B.C. Canada
    I'm looking for a shortscale 5 string fretless......not too many of those around

    not only that but....it needs to be light and have a slim/narrow neck like the Ibby but sound better than the Ibby.,...

    Am I asking for too much....????? LOL
  12. I've been wondering about the Ursa 3 neck. I've got an MIA P, a Dillion P, and an SX P. I like chunky necks and have been wanting to add a J pickup inthe bridge position.
    Guess it's time to buy another SX!!
  13. Lorbass


    Oct 16, 2011
    Cologne, Germany
    Because of the good reviews I bought an SX P-Bass last year.
    It looked good and had an alder body but it was one of the worsest basses I ever had!
    There was always some buzzing from the E-string on the 5th and 6th fret. I tried a lot of setups but I was not able to solve the problem.
    I think the neck was unadjustable.
    I'll never buy SX again!
    Every Squier I have/had is/was better.
  14. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Sorry you had this bad experience. The standard answer in the United States would be to contact Rondo Music (the exclusive American distributor of SX instruments) and exchange it for another one. Rondo offers exceptional customer service. But since you're in Germany, I don't know...
  15. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Still loving my SX 5ers after 8 years! :hyper:
  16. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    Yes, some of them require a fret level. I'm glad you never had to get a fret level on any of your other basses. But on sub-$150 basses, it's not unusual, every now and then. On my 14 or so SX basses, I think I had to do 2.
  17. grrg63


    Dec 14, 2005
    I feel bad for the guy who started a thread today about his bass going out of tune or the action changing at the drop of a hat. He didnt say what kind it was but a few days ago I was marveling over my stock 2006 ss PB-57 staying in tune after walking with it about 10 blocks in a gig bag on my back in sub-freezing temps. I have 2 ss PB-57s & a couple Squiers, all stock, and it seems like they usually stay in tune for about a couple weeks.
  18. Jo6Pak


    May 2, 2007
    i'm down to just three basses now: an american fender, an american carvin and a chinese SX. i don't play much these days and i certainly don't play out, but when i do get the urge to noodle around on something, i almost always choose the SX (P)...
  19. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    I really don't get this myth that basses, especially cheap basses, "go out of tune" all the time. Now yes, I did have a bass (as I recall was an Aria) where the saddles would lower themselves during a gig, but locktite fixed that.

    And I've had basses where the neck truss rod setting was rather responsive to weather and temperature. Oddly, that is NONE of my SX basses nor my Squier nor my Fender nor my G&L basses. The all-time worst one is my Conklin 7 string. Not that this is any big deal. That's why there is an allen wrench in the case!

    And while one of my SX 6ers needed some fret leveling, so did my Squier and talking about cheapo basses being crap, let me point out that a bit of filing on the Squier or SX brought them right in. My Conklin with the three high frets took a $200 Plek job to make it fantastic.

    So I'm guessing the problem is that life isn't perfect. Why can't a $99 SX be perfect out of the box when you can get a $2000 bass that is...oh wait.
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