SX SJMB Review (with pics!)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by troyus, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    OK so I'm going to try my hand at reviewing this bad boy. Here we go... Pretend this is a magazine article. ;)


    SX SJMB - Vintage on the Cheap

    The SX SJMB is SX's answer to the growing Jaguar body bass market. Having owned a Fender Jaguar in the past and a custom Jaguar one off bass now, I was interested to see what you could get from the new SX model. After 5 minutes on the site and 149.00 + shipping, I only had to wait a few days to find out.

    The answer, it turns out, is quite a lot, but also not quite enough, which is a shame because the SX comes so close to being the giant killer we all want it to be.

    Armed with 2 Jazz pickups in a 70's configuration with a full size Alder body and 20 frets, it's basically a stripped down Fender Jaguar with Jazz electronics. To put it another way; if the Fender Jaguar were an F-15, with it's myriad of controls and capabilities; think of the SX SJMB as a Mig-21. Simple, limited in some ways, but effective. And real cheap.

    Sticking your neck out:

    This SX features a well appointed neck that clearly exceeds the asking price of the instrument.

    SX went with a nice, slim (but not too slim) modern profile jazz neck, with a heavy vintage tint finish, that, while glossy, isn't particularly sticky. The faux pearl inlays aren't likely to fool anyone, but they are consistent in their construction, and look better than some other attempts out there. I personally find them less offensive to the eyes than the Fender version, which has so many swirls and twists in it, you know it's not real. A few very thin gaps exist between the block inlay cuts and the rosewood, but I imagine that in a few weeks those would fill up with 'mojo'. At any rate, it doesn't affect playability at all.


    Neck hardware holds its own, SX deciding to go with decent tuners, very similar to that of Mexican Fenders. Not good enough to love, but not bad enough to replace, either. Fretwork is excellent, with no sharp edged frets biting into the hand. Was it the care of a human worker, or new CNC machines that deserve thanks? I'll never know, but I can say the frets are as good or better than any mid-range bass offering I've played with in the past.

    Despite the high overall marks, you'll find that in communist China, you don't play strings, stings play you! And they play you pretty ruthlessly due to their biting windings, so it's best to replace them immediately, unless you want to develop glissando calluses.

    NoBody's perfect:

    The SX silhouetted against an ideal Jaguar body shape shows significant differences which you will feel when playing.

    In many ways, the SX body is a story of what 'could have been'. Think of it like Elvis in his later years. Except green. But let's start with the positives. A nice pickguard, a kind of trippy interpretation of red-brown,tortoise, playing off the paint nicely. The finish is well laid, with only a few pinhole sized fisheyes in the paint. The body is a three piece, unmatched, alder block. This isn't much different than many mid range basses. At first glance, you might convince yourself you've bought a 500.00 bass for 149.00, but after taking a moment to adjust to the smarmy green paint job, a few inexcusable problems rear their head.


    The obvious one is the pickguard cut, which is off center with the body and control plate. That causes a few problems, the first one being a skewed neck pickup, and the second one being a pickguard that doesn't quite line up with the neck pocket either. Considering a custom pickguard will cost you around 50 bucks and is a big headache to construct, this is a problem that SX needs to address at the factory. And this isn't a fluke, I've head from many SJMB owners having the same problem. I notified Rondo music and they are now aware of the problem. Hopefully they will fix it, and if they are feeling charitable, offer a replacement to current owners.

    Another area of concern is the hardware quality. We all know it's low-cost, high volume Chinese manufacturing so there's a certain degree of leeway, but if the pickguard screw you are screwing doesn't have any threads, how about throwing it away and using a new one instead of shoving it into the body and shipping it out the door? The bridge is cheap as well, made of low quality metal along with a few of the string height adjustment screws which did not want to play nice with the allen key during setup. All in all pretty typical problems to expect from SX in my experience.

    The body design is the last point of contention, and it's something you won't notice until you put a strap on and rock out. Neck dive is a big problem, not as bad as, say, an aluminum neck Kramer, but certainly worse than any Jazz or P bass I've ever used. The culprit? SX decided to shorter the upper horn of the body by approx. 2 inches, and as any piece of worthy internet spam will tell you, two inches makes a big difference. With the forward strap button that much closer to the body, the neck will always have a natural tendency to go for the floor. And though the body is full size, it doesn't help that SX went with a slightly thinner body profile than Fender. You might be able to correct it with a heavy bridge and some ultralight tuners, but those two upgrades alone cost more than the bass itself.


    Interestingly, under the hood SX saw fit to rout out a *massive* area for the neck pickup, which leaves you with just about limitless options in the modification department. Perhaps there are plans for a P/J SJMB in the SX product line? Or maybe SX has no plans like that at all, and are just keeping their options open in case there's a worldwide shortage of jazz pickups...

    It's Jaguar Jazz, man:

    The SX was compared to a variety of Jazz based designs.

    Sonically, played against several different competitors, the SX holds its own. Though it's popular to trash asian guitar electronics [interesting since that's where most of the computer electronics we use daily come from there but I digress], they do the job, and if you are after the Jazz sound, there's really no reason to change them. Although I found the bridge pickup a little toothless, it really depends on your style. I rarely solo on the bridge alone, but I'm sure Jaco would have some unkind things to say. Overall the setup is identical to a 70's jazz bass, so no surprise that is pretty much the sound you are going to get. If you were hoping for the muddier, (or with active electronics) punchier sound of a Jaguar bass, think again: This is a Jazz bass that looks like a Jaguar.

    The Jaguar body with the Jazz setup is a little tight though, playability wise. If you have big hands it may get on your nerves, depending on how you play. With the Fender Jaguar, there's just more space separating the control from the pickups, where fingers sometimes tend to rest.

    In conclusion, the SX SJMB is a decent instrument all around. There's a few 'fatal' flaws (upper bout 2 inches too short, pickguard cut incorrectly), but when you factor in the price, it's hard to argue against it as a rehearsal space beater or seedy bar companion. I'm not going to use it to play that important gig next week, but there's definitely a few back alley joints it will get to know.


    doctorwholittle likes this.
  2. David Cardoza

    David Cardoza

    Apr 16, 2004
    Very nice review, well done with good information.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this right, it'll certainly help a lot of people.

  3. dakpluto


    Oct 14, 2006
    Orlando, FL
    Hmm, thanks for the review :)

    I've really been gassing for those Jags lately (and the green one you picked up.) But I'll have to admit that I'm really thinking gonna have to wait on that pickguard problem to be fixed.
  4. Great review! I'd been thinking about getting one of these as my next SX but had pretty much decided I'd rather get a regular Jazz. This review confirmed it for me. The Jag is a cool idea, however, and I'm glad SX is having fun turning out different basses than the standard fare.
  5. oldrookie


    May 15, 2007
    Avon, IN
    I have the short scale version and I'd echo the neck dive part of the fact, this is an accurate review on on points (except mine does not have the issue with a poorly cut pickguard.)

    I've been tempted to take the pickguard off to see if I could fit some weights under it to help with neckdive issue. Looks like I'll follow up on that idea based on your pictures. I did replace the tuners with Hipshot Ultralights and the bridge with a Gotoh 201, but only in an attempt to deal with the neckdive. I also moved the rear strap button up even with the E-string.

    Much better now, but still not totally resolved.

    Excellent review. Nice job, Troyus.
  6. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Great writeup man! Really really nice :p
  7. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
    nice review.. I like it.. good writing, good to the point attitude, no hiding things that are wrong, and not going to wild with things that were right. The way a review should be.

    I have been eyeballing one of these for a while, shell pink with matching headstock and a new guard would make it super sexy..
  8. Good job. Thanks for all the work.
  9. Yvarg

    Yvarg Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Lake Forest, CA
    Very nice review, not only did it address some of the questions I had about the SX jag-knock offs but it did so in an entertaining matter with what seemed to be as unbiased an opinion as you could find anywhere. Thanks!
  10. If everyone would use this format for reviews, it would make all of our decisions easier. Cheers!
  11. Nice review. Quick question though: is this the full scale neck, or the short scale neck?
  12. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    Thanks for the feedback guys. If I have time I'll post up a review of the new Mex. 70's Fender Jazz reissue bass (seen in some of these pictures) I have on loan as well.

    Regarding the scale length, this is the big boy model (34" scale).

  13. Awesome review. Thanks. :)
  14. BassBob185


    Oct 25, 2007
    Rocking Chair
    Now thats the way to post a review, great job!
  15. coxeymcqueen


    Oct 31, 2007
    I'd buy one of those in a heart beat!

    Thanks to the OP for a good review : )
    Love GK likes this.
  16. jmain

    jmain Oo, Uhn't uh, Yes! Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    Great review man! Thanks for pointing me this way in the other thread. I echo the sentiments. Pretty much answered all my questions.

    The neck dive issue really bites, though. (Pickguard too if it affects the pickup alignment.)

    I still may have to do it, but it will be later than sooner if I do. I’m digging on the blue one. Got some other irons in the fire that will get tended first.
  17. I have that EXACT bass as I love it. Neck dive does suck, but you cannot expect a Modulus for $149? I replaced my pickups and this bass sounds great. My only problem with it is C on the G string does not sustain for very long for some reason.
  18. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    Very nice review, it was an awesome read.
  19. Swerve


    Nov 22, 2002
    Portland, OR
    Did you ever review that Jazz? I'd like to know more about them.
  20. Swerve


    Nov 22, 2002
    Portland, OR
    What pups and knobs are those? They look really good!