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SX - from decent to killer

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bardolph, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Ok, so I was well aware that SX was the brand that had the reputation at TB for the best bang for the buck basses. I thought that was nice, but was all set with my lakland and home-built jazz bass. Then Christopher's birthday came and he fell in love with the looks of the vintage white PJ, and had been itching for a PJ anyway.

    So I decided to go for it, with my parents going halvsies with me for my birthday. It comes in three days (not bad) and I blow kisses and whatnot to the FedEx man and open the box. First impressions- pretty good looking, no finish flaws or anything, nice neck color, feels solid, not too heavy. So I plug it into my amp to test it properly. I wasn't expecting to be floored, but it actually sounded pretty good. The tone pot all the way up made the sound a little harsh, noisy J pickup, but I forgive it cause it's not humcancelling.

    Next thing I do is get out the tools to give it a setup, the action came a tad high. I get it pretty comfortable, but there is buzzing on the higher frets. Nothing too bad.

    The next two days I have gigs with my bar band, so I figure I'll take the SX along to really see how it does in the context of a band playing rock music. And I gotta say, you can't judge the sound solely by playing by yourself in a bedroom. The bass cut through the mix pretty well and had some nice booty to it. Still a little harsh sounding though. So I figured I'd opt for a set of Dimarzios.

    When I had the time later on, I gave it a more thorough setup by doing a complete fret leveling job, which I've described in more detail in this thread. After the fret leveling and some filing down of the nut I was able to get really nice action without any buzzing. So I had myself a really nice playing bass with a pretty good sound. Then my pickups came today...:)

    So I take the bass to the work bench, fire up the soldering iron, and take of the pickguard. Wires of old pickups come out, wires of new pickups go in and get soldered. No problem. I noticed the old pickups were suspened with dinky little springs, rather than foam, so I cut out some pieces to put in there and threw the springs in the trash. Then I go to screw in the Dimarzios. Trubble my friend. The J fits all right (little extra space on the ends, but eh) but I found SX P pickups must be a little wider than other P pickups, cause the screw holes were too far apart for the Dimarzios. So I get out the drill and made one new hole for each pickup. I get the P in place, pickguard fits, and the pole pieces line up perfectly with the strings. Super.

    So as far as mods and adjustments, that's the complete SX story so far. I still intend to get new pots cause these ones don't feel very even, especially the tone. I like a volume/blend/tone config better anyway. As far as I can tell so far the tuners and bridge don't need to be touched. The bass made it through three one-hour sets and was still in tune at the end of the night.

    As for the sound of the Dimarzios... baby! Now I still have to test them with the band but I'm liking what I hear so far. More defined sounding, more agressive, and dead quiet. I made a little sound clip. I play a line first with the P pickup soloed, then the J, then both. I was still tinkering with pickup heights so the J is a little quieter than the P, which I've since fixed. I recorded it through my GK 700RB amp with a little boost in the low mids. I really like the recorded sound, but you really gotta hear it through the amp to get the experience, which is quite a kickass one I must say.

    So all in all, I think the best target crowd for the SX basses is people starting out and people who like to mod and don't mind having to put some work into an instrument. They're really fun project basses. If you want a bass that sounds great and plays great right away, you may be better off going into a store and playing basses until you find one you like. If somebody handed me my SX before mods and setup and had me play it I'd think "well this is a decent bass." If somebody handed me the bass I've turned it into I'd think "wow, this thing is nice." So for those of you contemplating getting an SX, be ready for a bass that might need some lovin', but there's nothing saying that it can't be turned into a great great bass.
  2. xJasonSmithx


    Jun 25, 2003
    Denver, CO
    Very nice, what kinda foam did you use? Im about to put together a SX that I was given the parts to and Im short a few things like foam and a few other odds and ends.

  3. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I think it was just some packing foam that was sitting around. Chopped it up with scissors
  4. Congrats, it sounds really good but what's more important is that you're happier with it now. Both pups together have a well-rounded sound. For the pricetag and the work that you did yourself, I think you have a winner.

    Nice writeup, esp. about the fret levelling. I learned a couple of things from it.
  5. Bardolph


    Jul 28, 2002
    Grand Rapids, MI
    A little more I'd like to add. Some people say why buy a cheap bass and mod it when you can buy an MIM Fender or some other mid level bass and have it already sounding good. And I say to that, my modded SX plays and sounds better than any MIM I've ever tried, or any other bass I've played with a price close to how much has gone into this. I'm not trying to sound cocky about it, but if the question is why mod a cheap bass then that's my answer right there. To me it's not a cheap bass with mods, it's an entirely new bass.
  6. Beav

    Beav Graphics Whore

    Jul 17, 2003
    Middle Tennessee
    Designer: Beav's Graphics
    Sweet write up. I love modding inexpensive basses. For me, buying a nice bass takes some of the fun out of a new instrument. I love seeing what kind of differences new pickups/bridge/wiring/shielding make on a bass
  7. Do you guys know if an body will fit a Fender MIJ P bass neck?
  8. The Penguin

    The Penguin duplicate account violation Inactive

    Jun 21, 2006
    I'm not pelagic
    Very nice, I love hearing cheap stuff sound this good. The P sound is especially nice on this bass for my ears. If this was a Fender I'd say you got one of the good ones.
  9. Great sound clip as well, that beats the crap out of my Ibanez SR305FM.

    How sad.

    But anyway, congrats man, I might try to mod my Squier now after seeing your results with the Sx.

  10. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    Search this site and you'll find some pretty good discussion from people who've retrofitted Fender spec necks to SX bodies. Didn't sound like anything your local luthier couldn't make work (if it doesn't come right together when you first try). The only consistent problem I recall was that the pocket is a little wider than Fender, so you may not get the tightest fit (which, if the bolts and holes are solid, shouldn't matter too much in the short run). My only concern with that would be with a couple years of banging around, the boltholes for the neck would get sloppy and allow the neck to shift.
  11. I dont agree or disagree with this... im just curious...

    imagine you take an SX bass and a MIM... and do the exact same mods on them both...

    which would sound better, do you think?
  12. I think it would depend on the individual pieces of wood - their fit - and a little bit of luck!
  13. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    I think they would sound very similar. Please see this link for a lengthy and ridiculous discussion on this topic. The end.


    Back to the SX: Hey Bardolph, nice work on the SX. You confirm the opinion of many other TalkBassers: SX is good right out of the box but even better when hot rodded.
  14. Stan_da_man


    Aug 29, 2006
    Does anyone have experience of the SX SB301? PJ pickups and 2 band EQ. And/or the SX FJB62 '62 jazz copy?
  15. Actually, and trust me, I've done several - the SX pockets are wider to accomodate the thicker finish on their necks. This only is a concern with the sides of the pocket and every SX I've seen has had the finish ground off the sides of the pocket at the factory - probably with a die grinder. The Fenders have a thinner finish and their pockets are engineered to have a paint layer intact and still fit the neck when it's bolted in.

    And Bardolph, you are a sweet player. That was very tasty!
  16. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006

    I'd imagine they'd sound pretty similar, given that they both used the same body, neck, fingerboard wood.

    I prefer the woods that the SX basses use vs. what the MIM Fenders use. Both my SX basses have nice resonant 3 piece Alder bodies with nicely figured Maple necks. That, and I prefer a laquer finish on the back of the neck to the MIM's satin finish. That laquer finish makes it feel more like my vintage Fender than the satin. Just a personal preferance though.

    My mildly modded LPB SX is one of my all time favorite basses. I wouldn't trade that bass for a brand new MIA or just about any other bass either for that matter! :D
  17. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL

    That is the bass I currently play. I installed a Gotoh bridge first thing (good use of $30). I have Fralins that I got on ebay for $130, but I am waiting to be able to sit back and rewire the whole thing. My tone pot is noisy and I am installing a balance vs. 2 volumes. Stock pickups on an SX rival (or exceed) the quality of the pickups in MIM Fenders that I have owned/played. If you are modding a bass, great platform to start with. No resale value, but who cares.

  18. rickm


    Sep 12, 2006
    Now I'm confused. I was going to buy A MIM Fender next week (my first Bass) but after reading this thread I might get an SX. Tough to make a good decision when you are a beginner!
  19. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    As a beginner, I'd sugest taking which ever bass you buy to a qualified tech, and have them put a good set up on it.

    Personaly, I'd go with the SX. Minimal investment, and with a couple of tweaks can run with stuff that cost 10 times as much or more.

    I wouldn't trade mine for most of the basses you see in this forum.

    I'll be out gigging with it tonight.
  20. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL

    1st bass?

    If you want to start on a 4 string bass, I would HIGHLY recommend an SX PJ or Jazz bass. Excellent basses for the money.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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