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Shorty SX (Essex) Fretless impressions and facelift

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Koeda, May 3, 2010.

  1. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    Shoulder been bothering me so decided to get a short scale for the house when I am just sittin around. Picked up my first SX - a SJB-62 3/4 Fretless for $99. Quite a diff scale instrument than my MIA Fretless Jazz (in more ways than one), but for $99 quite a score and not a bad sounding J bass. Could use a makeover though! Will prob take a couple weeks to get some parts in I don't have in the drawer. Hardware not a sturdy as my liking so will be selling all the hardware and some other parts drawer spring cleaning items (only thing not sold is an extra tort pg. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=653855 )

    First impressions - amazed at what a c note can get. As I took it apart, you can tell the parts are all put together with hand tools with inexpesive hardware. Pickups do sound good though - so even if you only just did a setup, you'd have a playable instrument to get started with. I tend to heavily favor the bridge on the fretless so will be ordering some Area J's to cut down on the noise of a solo'd sc. Anyway, I have a parts drawer and the tools so decided to dig in.

    Week One:
    Started working on it over the weekend. First up - the looks. Not a fan of the white pickguard so gotta go tortoise. Gonna go for the '62 RI theme. Already looks better.


    Also behind the scenes, started this over the weekend with the stuff I had laying around (will post pics as tasks are finished):
    Gold mother of pearl dot fretboard markers
    Plugged all the holes in the body and relocated/redrilled with a press
    MIA Fender bridge
    Fender string retainer
    Fender strap buttons
    Drilled and added ferrules for string through bridge
    MIA Fender controls/knobs from the drawer
    Bone nut

    more to follow....
  2. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Very nice. Very nice. :)
  3. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    Thanks -
    Your shorty soundclips shootout were a part of the motivation!
  4. did a standard pickguard fit the SX?
  5. Michael Vee

    Michael Vee Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    No. Refer to the infinite megathreads. This was a custom.
  6. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Ooh, just read your OP more carefully. I have a set of Area J's that I'm no longer using. Interested?
  7. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    OOOOOH indeed,
    would have but already have a set on the way and should be here for the weekend....

    btw - what did you replace them with out of curosity? Never have used them but though would be worth a try. Have the Model J's in another fretless.
  8. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    Standard not even close on a shorty. I have a drawing in the classsifieds for this custom job if you'd like the size with a standard pickup route.
  9. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    The Area J's are very very vintage. Classic tone, but IMHO pretty low output. But I like a little more punch. I like the Model J's, but I right now I have Lindy Fralins. The Nordstrand NJ4's are great, too.
  10. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Yes! That means you're a believer?!?! That short scales don't necessarily sound like poo poo and are only meant for children? LOL. :)
  11. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    Oh yeah, have had a Kramer Duke for a long time and it rocks. Looking forward to finishing this one up. Here is the progress so far this week....

    Have the gold mother of pearl dot markers in, leveled the neck and rolled the edges. Still working on the bone nut.



  12. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    K -
    Well had a couple of weekends to finish. Delay on a redo - the Fender String ferrules ended up being too short for the thick body of the sx (wrapping on the chromes would not clear the nut). Had to remove and order some longer ones. Only bummer (besides waiting for some new ones) was the Fenders are 1/2" diameter and the longer ones are 3/8" diameter... So had to plug, redrilll, finish and polish.
    Here is a completed list of items on the face lift:

    Custom Tortoise Pickguard
    Gold Mother of Pearl dot markers on the fretboard
    Rolled the edge of the fretboard, leveled and finished with tung oil
    MIM Fender Tuners and Bushings
    Fender String Tree
    MIA Fender Bridge
    Long 7/8" String Ferrules
    Fender Strap Buttons
    Fender Thumb Rest
    MIA Fender pots/knobs from the drawer
    .022 uF Orange Drop
    CTS Jack
    Natural Bone Nut
    Area J pups

    Looks, plays and sounds much better after the facelift. Am very happy with the result. Good mwah off the neck now. Area J's, as Gassie mentioned vintage sounding - but dead silent. No sheilding of any kind on this bass, but these babies sound good and are silent. Shoulder is much happier now when I sit in front of the computer or just noodling on the couch. Will take it out for first jam tomorrow to see if the pals will notice if it isn't my Fender....

    Anyway, all done and here are some pics:

    A side by side with the older brother-



    Body shot of the SX -


    Bridge - American Standard Fender string through and Area J's -



    Neck with the Gold MOP dots strung up with Chromes -


    Tung Oil finsih reflecting a beautiful day in Honolulu -


    Natural bone nut -



    Mexican Fender Tuners -



    Had to reshape the round end of the tuners for a more vintage look and fit -

  13. Nice job!

    So what was the process with retrofitting the dot markers? How did you remove and what did you use to affix them?
  14. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    Thanks! On the SJB-62 3/4 Fretless (or the Fender MIA Fretless for that matter) there are no dot markers - reference first pic in first post. Used a 1/4" Brad point bit with a short point in the drill press. Had some rosewood dust from leveling the fretboard that I mixed with some epoxy then added brown and black surfboard resin pigments to match the fretboard color. Put the epoxy in the holes with a toothpick and pressed in the dots. Leveled them to the fretboard the next day. I use the 2 ton Devcon because it has a longer 30 minute set time.
  15. GassieBall


    Oct 15, 2006
    Excellent job. Love the markers. How do you like the pups?
  16. Koeda


    Aug 21, 2007
    I like the pup's a lot. On the fretless favor the bridge and it is great for them to have that classic sound with nothing but silence. Like the Model J's as well. These seem more airy and have more presence on top over the J's. Like the classic look to them as well - hard to tell they aren't sc's, but the silence gives it away. Was gonna give your sale a bump, but saw it was already sold pending payment.

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