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SX SJB-75 Review (w/soundclips)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stingray69, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Long story (kind of) short - 5 years ago I ordered an Essex SX SJB-75 and had several hardware/playability issues with it. It kind of soured me to any more SX basses. Fast-forward 5 years & reading tons of glowing reviews made me think that perhaps I should give it another go - perhaps QC had improved over this time period, maybe I just had a lemon (it happens). The first SX (same model as this one) from 5 years ago had a several (4 or 5) highs frets across the fingerboard & I went through at least 3 sets of tuning gears, shipping them back & forth with Kurt (amazing customer support, BTW) before landing a functioning set.

    The hardware: Although they appear to be the same style & make from 5 years ago, the tuning gears on this one are very nice by comparison - the G tuning gear has some minor stiffness at one point in its turn radius & none are completely "buttah smooth" or will ever be mistaken for a high-priced set of Hipshot or Schallers, etc., but they do their job & hold tune very well & after all, that is all I would ask/require of them anyway - they do not need to be replaced (IMO) except for sake of "nice-ity", but certainly not out of "necessity". I won't be replacing them - I see no need. The bridge is standard Fender-style, bent-plate variety. Serves it's purpose & depending on where you stand on the issue, changing it out for something else is a matter of personal choice & aesthetics.

    The string spacing is not as claustrophobic-tight as memory serves, even though I know the spacing has remained the same all this time. It may give dyed-in-the-wool 19mm (or higher) guys a tough time, but I find it relatively easy (and quick) to adjust to, and I'm an 18-19mm preference guy myself. Center of string to center of string measured 17mm at the bridge saddles by my reading. As you can see from the pics, the strings appear to have ample room across the fretboard to allow dropping in a different bridge to gain 2 or 3 mm more string-to-string spacing without worry of slipping off the edge of the fretboard. This I may take advantage of down the road, but I am surprisingly comfortable for the moment. Edit: There was a half millimeter of space between the saddles I was taking measurement from - after butting them fully up against each other, my reading is 16.5mm at the bridge -still feels comfortable to me but wanted to mention it to be accurate.

    The tone is exceptionally nice - blew me away the most, because this is the aspect I could recall the least about the old SX I had (perhaps because I dropped in DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickups almost immediately with the first one). Never gave the stock pickups a chance or made A/B recordings against the Ultra Jazz pickups. The ceramic stock pickups are very growly & with superb punch - although the pickup spacing may have a lot to do with the overall tone. The clarity was really shocking as well - did not expect such a nice clear & percussive top end from the stock pickups. Don't know what I was expecting, maybe "blurry" or dull sounding top end - hardly. Harmonics jump right out, aggressive growl, nice. I'm able to coax a nice aggressive Geddy-like rock tone as well as a very decent Marc-ish Miller jazz bass tone (curiously enough, both have 70's pickup spacing) from the SX. I think the stock pups will stay for quite some time, if not permanently. At first, I wasn't sure if the pickups had "era-correct" 70's spacing. While I'm still not entirely sure what true Fender 70's spacing is, the bridge pickup is definitely 1/2" closer to the bridge than my MIA or Squier basses. On my '08 American Standard Jazz, there is 2 15/16th inches of spacing between the pickups. On the SJB-75, the pickups are exactly 3 1/4" apart. I am also dropping in a Bayou Cables jazz wiring harness (CTS Pots, Orange Cap, SwitchCraft Jack) for sheer sake of replacing the Chinese-made stock pots/ tone capacitor & output jack. Note: None of the stock pots/jack failed in the year I owned the first one, replacing these is just an inexpensive "piece of mind upgrade" much like adding straplocks to any new bass I buy, regardless of price (including this one). The typical single-coil hum is present if both pickups are not at the same volume (as with ANY single-coil jazz bass). I will be shielding this bass this weekend as I do any single-coil bass I purchase that is not shielded. The stock strings are not as bad as I've heard people complain about, not overwhelmingly great either, but I'll be putting on my preffered D'Addario XL nickelwounds soon.

    The cons: I have identified 2 high frets (the 17th & 19th frets). Although they did not pass the "straight-edge rocker" test, they are not causing fret buzz unless I try to get the action uber-boutique low. Right now action is very comfortable and very much on the "low" side of medium low with no issues. I plan on having a local tech fret-level those 2 frets so I can squeeze every bit of performance & low action as possible from this bass. Update: Had an excellent fret job performed by a luthier/fellow bass player and also (ex)-longtime employee of St Louis Music (Ampeg), who started his own local shop staffed by all-musicians - he does amazing work. Plays even nicer than my MIA Fender - WOW! Price: $75.00

    The value (IMO) is unbelievable. Ash body, classy & beautiful gloss-finish maple fretboard (reminds me of my '08 American Standard Jazz V). And if anyone is wondering, yes I would just as soon grab this bass out the door to a gig as my MIA Jazz V. The tone is great on this thing - the MIA may sound a bit more "polished" or "polite", but this SX has a different kind of aggressive 70's jazz bass growl to it that I can't get from my MIA. I would honestly recommend this bass to anyone - especially those who enjoy doing very minimal & basic-setup/shielding, etc. and having the personal gratification of making an already great bass into a fantastic bass! SX has won enough of my confidence back with this 2nd chance attempt to make me want to order another. Which I'm sure will be much, much sooner than later.

    Here are a couple of very rough clips thrown together with the stock strings:

    Note: I don't really "know" these songs - just a ballpark butchering of them to give the idea of some tones available with this particular SX.

    In The Mood: http://www.zshare.net/audio/58925727b8e4e7f0/
    Power: http://www.zshare.net/audio/589268692fee3a59/
    Slap: http://www.zshare.net/audio/58937839d648f353/

    And of course, what good is a review without a little Elvis:
    Fingerstyle: http://www.zshare.net/audio/5894106194d479fb/

    P.S. - Can you tell I'm having way too much fun with this SX? Sorry...I'll stop with the goofy clips now.

    Some Pics:

  2. Linkert

    Linkert Guest

    Oct 24, 2006
    Sounds great! Thanks for the review.

    Did the pole pieces stick up like that when you got it?
  3. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    Nice reivew. I have two SX Jazz fivers dated 2006 and 2008 and am of the opinion the newer indeed has improved quality control in terms of assembly even if the same parts are being used.
  4. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Thanks, yes - the pole pieces are like that from Rondo. I don't believe they are adjustable, but I haven't tried either. :cool:
  5. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    The first thing I did was to check the tuners & frets to see what had changed from the first SX I owned. I could tell right away that this one was much better out of the box. One thing I can say is that I wish I had the body from the first SX I had. Only because there was a lot more figuring in the wood grain, but overall I am very happy with my new SX!
  6. It sounds like....a Jazz bass to me. Very clear with that grind sound. You did very well.
  7. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    That's a very nice sounding bass. It really does sound like a good jazz bass should with that sweet growl.

    I had both Squier and SX fretless jazzes. I sold the SX and kept the Squier VM. In hindsight, the SX was a better bass in many ways. Oh well, live and learn.
  8. It sounds and looks really nice. This is the model I have been looking at. I'd like to string it E-C.
  9. How does the B string feel?
  10. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    A quick A/B (unplugged w/stock strings) tells me that the SX B string is almost as tight as the B on my American Standard V. Close, but not quite - darn good though, IMO. YMMV.
  11. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Nice sounding clips. I have the 4-string version of that bass, and the stock strings sounded like rubber bands, so they must be putting better ones on these days. Thanks for the review.
  12. rezin


    Sep 26, 2006
    Madison, WI
    i was on the fence about that exact bass but i was worried about how bad the holes from the pickup cover would look. doesn't seem too bad at all. i think i'll order one
  13. Great review. Thanks.

    Also, Promised Land is a GREAT song!
  14. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Thanks - gotta be honest here though, the last two clips were done with new D'Addario XL's (forgot to mention that). But still, the stock strings were not horribly bad either, perhaps you are right. It's been way too long since I've owned an SX for me to recall from memory, but they do seem pretty decent.
  15. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Me too, I still wince a little but then I can't help but imagine how many 70's jazz basses there are floating around with the ashtrays removed and the tell-tale holes showing - I consider it an "era-correct" character (LOL). :cool:

    Thank You! That song is always great fun to do & does very well when played out on a gig.
  16. mrtn400


    Dec 6, 2008
    Carmichael, CA
    That sounds awesome!

    I've been looking into getting a cheap 5-banger, and I think I'll probably get one of these.
  17. LCW

    LCW Banned

    Mar 2, 2009
    I dont play 5 strings but still i know a great looking bass when i see one!

    I like that its neck is not tinted orangelike other sx basses and it looks alot more glossier which i perfer than the squier VM 70's bass.
  18. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Hard to imagine a better value-to-money ratio at this price range.

    I'm just glad I finally own a block/maple 5-string. Five stringers like me have it tough trying to find that combination without spending much bigger $$$. I've always loved the look of the Squier VM Series, but I knew they'd never come out with a 5-string version. In that aspect, I suppose SX offers a really affordable niche that you will not find with other brands - at least no where near this price.
  19. Also, do G string pickup poles align with the string? They seem to be off on all photos.
  20. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    They are off a tad - although I did shield the bass last night & reseated the pickups to align a bit better with the centers of each string. However, it's been my experience that perfect pole alignment, although aesthetically pleasing, is not absolutely necessary to maintain good string-to-string volume & balance unless they are way off base. The clips were recorded pre-shielding & FWIW, I have not noticed any improvement after the slight alignment adjustment I made. :cool:

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