SX SJB-62MG LPB Review / Fender Jazz Bass Clone (With Pics!)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by troyus, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    Hello again! You may remember me from my last review of an SX:

    The SX Jaguar was a sleek machine at a good price but a few nasty problems (neck heavy, misaligned pickguard/pickups) meant that it had to move onto that great bass heaven in the sky (or in this case, the studio bass for a great sound engineer friend of mine.)

    Since then a few things have happened, one, I now have a 'boutique' Jazz, two, the little SX Jaguar is back in my possession for a series/parallel upgrade, and three... I just received a lake placid blue SX Jazz bass from Rondomusic.

    And that's what we are going to talk about here...

    So let's get started:

    SX SJB-62MG LPB: That's Chinese for "Good Bass Guitar"

    When this rather beat up (and wet) box came to my rainy doorstep today I was slightly apprehensive as I took out the box cutter. But once in plain view it was obvious to me that SX had stepped up their game. Paint quality nothing short of excellent and easily on par or surpassing that of your typical MIM Jazz bass.

    Neck wood selection was excellent. Nice grain, no knots. Excellent tint. Again, I have seen worse wood on Standard Jazz basses. But the big surprise, 8.6 lbs. That's right, well under the advertised 9 pounder. Nevermind that your average MIM Jazz weighs a hefty 10 lbs. I have to admit, at this point I just kind of set it down and marveled at it. Here was a bass I paid 120.00 (Plus shipping), with a spectacular metallic paintjob, matching headstock, and well under 9 lbs in weight. It's got to be too good to be true...

    Not having the balance problem of the SX Jaguar is a big plus. Ever SO slightly neck heavy... by just the slightest touch. I am among the pickiest in neck dive, and this is not a problem, even for a long gig or practice with lots of technical playing involved. The neck itself is similar to the SX Jaguar a nice compromise between Jazz shapes. Not quite thin like like a modern Jazz, not quite thick like an Allparts replacement. Action is decent, but custom shop low is not possible with the factory fretwork.
    New for 2009! SX Quality Control!

    Little, little niggles...

    For those among us (myself included) who have spent 10, 20, or 30 times as much money on a Jazz bass, rejoice! All is not perfect in the land of SX. My meticulous analysis of this bass discovered the following flaws:

    The worst stock strings ever put on a bass guitar ever in the history of bassdom. These strings are so bad, I would prefer Rondo shipped without strings and passed on the 4 cents savings to us.
    Slight raise in neck finish. My hand noticed pretty quickly what the neck finished in China did not. A slight raise in the finish. Fortunately, I planned to give this neck a matte finish for playability anyway, so a few minutes of steel wool application took care of that.

    Dirty workers and their dirty deeds.
    This is a problem I have seen several times on SX instruments - marks under the finish, from the hands of a laborer, never cleaned off. Just a smidge, at the top of the neck.

    A little to quick with the controls.
    Under the hood, it's obvious that the solderer didn't have much time to crank these puppies out - plastic packaging material is knotted up into the control plate and pot area underneath... I took apart the control plate anyways to change the shape to Fender spec, and removed the plastic as well.

    Fast fretwork.
    Boy is this going to surprise anybody? It doesn't have the low, low action of a 1,000.00+ bass. But this is correctable. As it stands, the action is decidedly "average".

    Easy with the router, Chairman Mao!
    They got a little aggressive with pickup routs as well as the back of the neck pocket. Nothing too serious but if you saw it on your Sadowsky, you'd call him. Immediately.

    Hot rod me, baby...

    If you own one of these instruments, you know they are begging for modification. The combination of a solid platform, cheap price, and modular, Fender based design is hard to resist. That being said, I performed several modifications over the day to improve on this instrument.

    The mandatory improvements:

    Change in the capacitor to an orange drop or similar. (.99 cents online at Wymore guitars), to round out the sound.
    A replacement string tree. New tree (4.99) OR a washer insert (10 cents at a hardware store), so that the strings don't catch and snap on the poorly designed stock unit.
    Strings. These are the worst bass strings ever devised. I am not new to this. I have played a lot of different strings. These manage to take on the worst properties of all strings combined. Like the Voltron of crap bass strings. For their gauge, too taut. Amazingly harsh yet dull sounding at the same time. A couple glissandros on these rings and your hands will be screaming bloody murder. I didn't even plug it in until after I replaced the strings with some nice 7250s.
    Replacement of the bridge. Some people disagree with replacing the bridge. I assume these are players who don't do a lot of adjustment in that area. The main problem here is the metal quality of the allen adjustment screws. They strip so easily it's just better to upgrade to a standard Fender or Wilkinson bridge (10-15 dollars), then deal with that nightmare hours before a gig in a different town.

    So you are looking at a total investment in necessary "tour the world" upgrades of less than 40 dollars. Not bad. About what most people end up spending on a pickguard.

    Improvements you don't really need to do:

    Shield the body. Do you like shiny things? All SX instruments beg for a copper taping job to help reduce unwanted interference, though they don't really NEED it. The stock pickups are quiet enough as is.
    Upgrade the pots. SX basses come with 500K pots. Though 250k is more popular for Jazz basses, 500K doesn't hurt anything. The problem with SX pots is that sometimes they are scratchy. Not a problem this time, but there are definitely higher quality pots out there to be had.WHen upgrading tone pot I recommend 250K, with the DPDT switch for series-parallel capability.
    Upgrade the pickups. The SX pickups are actually pretty nice, though I think I find them a bit too high output for my tastes, for some these are going to be just what the doctor ordered. In my case, I replaced them with some mystery pickups I had in a box, that had a more 'mellow' tone.
    Tuners can be upgraded. But they hold tune well enough as is. I have let them be for now.
    Knob change. I had an extra set of these Fender knobs sitting around doing nothing, so I put them to work.
    The Pickguard. The stock pickguard on the Lake Placid Blue model is so white it is hard to look at. Not a vintage tint or pearly gleam to be found. Unfortunately, SX doesn't use stock Fender drill points for their Jazz bass, so you'll need to do some filing to fit the neck pocket and drill new holes into the body as well. This also goes for the control plate - which you can replace with a Fender unit, or you can simply whittle away at it with a cutting wheel as I have done here - now it is 'Fender spec.'
    Serial-Parallel! All Jazz basses should have this mod done. If you don't know, better ask somebody! DETAILED SCHEMATICS:

    A competent bass at an incredible price. I've owned and played several SX's over the years, and this is the best I've seen yet. It could be luck, it could be improvements in quality. Wih SX there is a quality control wiggle factor you have to be prepared to deal with. Either way, for the price it's worth a shot. From the hardcore pro to the beginner - everyone who calls themselves a bassist should pick one up, if for nothing else than just in case they hit paydirt. Heck you may want to pick up a couple and keep the one you like best and sell the others. At 120.00 a pop that's not an unreasonable strategy. For less than a tenth of the price of a boutique bass, this little Chinese upstart will get you 80% of the way there. The SX SJB-62 is better than it has any right to be. Leo Fender would be impressed (and more than slightly annoyed). :bassist:

  2. Bevo


    Jan 22, 2009
    Well documented upgrade, have to ship one up to T.O. and do the same.
  3. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    Forgot to add this, the "all in" cost (assuming I didn't have this stuff sitting around, which I fortunately did) for making this bass tasty is as follows:

    bass 119.95
    shipping 21.02
    Orange drop cap 0.99
    DTDP Series parallel switch/250K tone pot combo 6.99
    Copper tape 4.99
    Bridge 12.99
    Fender knobs 4.99
    7250 M Fender Strings 16.99
    String Tree 4.99
    Pickguard 29.99

    $ 223.89
  4. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    The new wiring, keeping the old 500K Volume pots but changed to a push pull 250k Dimarzio tone pot for series-parallel toggle, and an orange drop .47 cap.

  5. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    Another great review. Nice work!
  6. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Thanks for the link to the series/parallel diagram. I might could maybe use that some day. :)

    Good review, too. I had similar observations about my SX '75 Jazz. I shielded that sucker, set it up, and it really plays and sounds nice.

    BTW, are they still delivered with the worst strings on the planet? :eyebrow:
  7. That means it's probably out of stock. They only list what's in stock on the inventory pages.

    This was an excellent review. Went into details without nitpicking to death.
  8. perfektspace6


    May 9, 2006
    I'm continually amazed at how cheap these can be and still deliver a decent product. Nice review.
  9. Bravo!
  10. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    Sorry to say but I literally ordered the last one in stock! Any of the other full scale, Alder bodied Jazzes they have should behave about the same however.
  11. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    Thx for the compliments... and YES the strings are still best suited to mafia assassination jobs! I will update the review accordingly.

  12. I'm still playing my SPJ-62 3TS with the original strings...mostly because I can't get my EB set's E string through the bridge hole. They don't sound bad, though...just really, really bright and not very loud. I need to get around to filing/drilling that hole, though.
  13. OK. Thanks for the detailed review.
  14. Your Solder does not look like it was hot enough...I went to my local electronics shop and picked up a 40 watt instead of my 15 watt and what a huge difference...even a 30 would be ok also. Nice review, I still wouldn't buy one :)
  15. And still nobody cares.
  16. mkrtu9


    Mar 2, 2006
    nice review. Thanks for taking the time.
  17. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    If Lee Sklar, Marcus Miller, and the ghost of John Entwistle appeared on your doorstep, singing the praises of SX basses, in 3 part harmony, you still wouldn't buy one.
    We get it. :)
  18. That is absolutely not true. The first bass I was going to buy was a Steinberger copy (huge fan of Geddy)...thanks to my friend talked me out of it and I bought the Ibanez because it was as close to the shape of a Rickenbacker that I could afford at the time. I wasn't going to comment at all and only did because I had problems soldering with my small 15 watt.
  19. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    Hehe, you're actually seeing so-so solders from the factory on those pots. I removed all the ground wiring from the volume pots and centralized it to the side of the tone pot when I went with the series parallel mod.

    As for not buying an SX to each his own. I play out quite often and sometimes I just want to set the thing down and mingle. Since I'm not endorsed or independently wealthy I find that hard to do with an expensive custom I waited 4-6 months for.
    Ray H. likes this.

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