SX Bass Review: An Outstanding Cheap Bass Guitar for Beginners

SX Bass: Doesn't look like a cheap bass guitar!

What's the best bass for beginners?

"What's the best bass for beginners?"

That's the question I've probably heard most often in my 20+ years of playing the bass guitar. Since I discovered SX bass guitars, I don’t often recommend anything else in the under $200 price range.

I stopped buying cheap basses once I could afford better. After playing high-end Fenders, or boutique basses like Pedulla and Sadowsky, not too many cheap basses get your attention…

…but my attitude changed a little while back when I played my first SX bass.

A good place to see different SX basses, along with user reviews, is at amazon.com. Here’s a link to their selection of SX basses:

SX Bass Guitars at Amazon.com

The story: my surprising first SX experience

I was at get-together with about 15 other bassists. Everyone brought basses so we could try out each other's stuff. (LOTS of fun!) There were probably about 25 basses there. I myself brought a high-end USA Fender bass (A Fender USA ’62 Reissue Jazz Bass). There were also other G&L, Pedulla, Schecter, Ibanez, Ernie Ball MusicMan, Hamer, Modulus, other Fenders and more really nice basses.

A younger guy, who had been playing for less than a year, asked if I'd check out his bass. He was going to try out for his first band, and said that since his bass was "really, REALLY cheap." He was worried that it might not be good enough for using with a band.

The headstock said "SX" which was a brand hadn't heard of before. It looked nice enough—almost identical to a Fender Jazz bass. But looks don't mean anything! There are TONS of cheap Fender copies, and many are not very good.

Putting it to the test

I examined it carefully, tested the knobs and tuning keys, and checked the construction. The build quality was good—pretty close to the Fender Standard Series basses, which sell for over $500. It didn’t seem as cheap as the kid hinted it was.

I plugged in and let a couple of notes ring out. Surprisingly, it sounded good—much better than I expected. Certainly not as good as the $1000+ Fender I'd brought, but pretty darned good. In a live band setting, most people would never tell the difference between that bass and a real Fender. Impressive!

I was pleased with the sound. But cheap basses often have bad fretwork that causes buzzing and makes them hard to play. So I ripped through some of my "music store" licks (you know, the stuff people play in music stores to show off :-) ). Again, I was surprised and impressed. It wasn't a speed machine like my $3500 Pedulla, but it played really well—a good, solid player’s bass. Again, a lot like a real Fender.

I started having fun, switching from rapid-fire slapping, to greasy finger funk, to muted thumb plucking, to two handed tapping. A "REALLY cheap" bass had no business being this good...

...and that's when I decided the kid must be messing with me. He’d probably paid about $400 or $450 for the bass and just wanted to see if I could tell.

Cheap bass guitar...really????

I told the kid that yeah—the bass was DEFINITELY good enough to play in a real band. Then I asked him how much he’d paid for it.

He said "About $150."

Yeah, right.

I told him flat out I didn't believe him. But then another player—someone I actually knew—chimed in and told me it was true. The SX basses cost next to nothing because they’re built in Asia. But the factory apparently has very modern equipment and good quality control. He also told me he had just bought one for himself (a Precision-style rather than a Jazz-style) for a little over $100.

Needless to say, I was floored. I mean, all the basses I’d ever seen for around $100 - $150 brand new were complete junk. But this SX was a real bass. I’d be willing to take it on a paying gig!

Bottom line: Yeah, I'd take it on a paying gig!

Hands down, I can’t think of a better bass for a beginner. It would also make a great backup bass, or a bass to take to those...“not so nice” gigs where things get drenched with beer or stolen out of your van.

Heck, I’d even take it on a “nice” gig as my main bass, just for the fun of it!

So now whenever someone asks me what beginner bass they should get, I tell them without hesitation: "The best bang for your buck is an SX!"


SX Bass Guitar Demo (not me playing!)

Comments 10 comments

Eric 6 years ago

Well, I would say the SX bass is not only good enough for beginners, but also good enough for pro players.


Bassman60 5 years ago

Have been playing bass for 38 yrs. I think i will trying a Sx 5 string.,./


FenderBassist 5 years ago

I've been playing in various types of cover bands in the northeast and southwest for 24 years.

Had to sell off all of my 80s Asian Fenders and Fender copies as the very heavy weight of the ash bodies was becoming too much for my shoulder.

Now I'm using 3 SX basses for everything, stock, just with new strings and straplocks, and they are fantastic. Great sound, great action, 8 lbs. (instead of 14-18 lbs.), sound great with both nickel round wound strings and flat wound strings. I get all the classic bass tones I grew up hearing in the 70s and 80s.


Dave Hughes 5 years ago

A while back, I bought one of the SX 'Jaguar-ish' basses, and was completely taken aback when it arrived.

After I got it, I showed it around to other bass & guitar friends, and all of THEM were taken aback, especially so after hearing what it cost!

When it arrived, it needed a good setup, and that was it. No real fret problems that I could find, though it probably could use a really good fret-leveling to get the action just a tad lower. Still, I could get it so low that you really couldn't hammer too hard on it without some rattle anyway. The pickups could be a little hotter, but they're quite adequate, and sound just fine.

The absolutely only thing I don't like about this particular model bass is that it's a neck-diver; doesn't hang well on a strap. The upper 'horn' is simply too short for good strap balance and left/right positioning. I have to hold the neck up while playing, which sucks, and the short horn pushes the body over to the left while on a strap, making a somewhat uncomfy playing position. But my next SX will be a P-Bass type, and those hang just right.

You can read some reviews I've written on SX products at

www.ultimateguitartone.com and www.diyguitartone.com.

I own that bass and its close six-string cousin, and will definitely own more SX's before all is said & done!


Eltorro 5 years ago

I am predominantly a guitar player but I occasionally play bass in my band. I use an SX VJB75.

The quality is unbelievable for the money. Only change from stock is Fender 9120 flat wound strings. Gives a very nice jazzy sound.


Dave 5 years ago

I love my SX jazz bass, it's my main axe for gigging/rehearsal, and I'm about to buy another as a backup. Shell out a few extra bucks for the "pro" model: the ash body, high mass bridge, and teflon-sealed tuners are well worth it. Sounds awesome, stays in tune, plays great, fit and finish are excellent. Some of the longest, fattest, loudest sustain I've ever heard on any bass. Out of the box it will need a good setup, new strings, possibly a new nut, and most likely a fret dressing. But once you do that, put it up against a Fender and you'll be pleasantly surprised by these "cheap" basses. I paid about $200 for my upgraded SX, and with another $150 in tech work and parts, it is just as good as a $1500 Fender (I actually like it better than the "real" deal).


Jay Johnson 4 years ago

A friend of mine was going on a gig to Atlanta GA and asked me if I wanted to borrow his new bass for the weekend.. "Sure.. I'll check it out" He told me about the website and I had gone online to look at the basses but I had no idea that this bass would feel so good and play so nicely! I ended up carrying his bass to a jazz gig I had with Wendell Holmes Jr. I brought my Warwick Corvette to the gig but it sat on the stand all night.. I could'nt put the SX down. The bass was great. I bought it from him the next night and told him to buy his own!! If you are looking for a good bass for great price try it out.. you won't be disappointed especially if you like fix up projects. I changed the pre amp and pickups... I LOVE my 6 string SX Jazz Bass !


Rick Offermann 4 years ago

Several years ago I bought a blue Sx sjb 4+1 5 string Jazz bass. I am happy to report it is still an awesome bass that stood the test of time. I have done a few things to it such as shield the control cavity with aluminum tape, and replaced the controls with one volume that when pulled up puts the 2 pickups in series (this gives it high output and a tome more akin to a precision bass), the middle control which used to be the bridge pickup volume, is now a pickup blend pot. I next pan to put a Badass 2 bridge on it, or go all out and actually get a tremolo bridge for it. Recently I handled a squire precision...not near the quality of my SX. Only thing I hope for is that the Chinese workers that built this are getting some sort of decent wage. They deserve it...


Joseph Salvador 4 years ago

I went on vacation in Asia and gigged with my friends. I couldn't bring my trusty 71 Fender Jazz with me and I said it settle for whatever the drummer said he would bring. I took the bass out of its soft case and it looked just like my Fender. Then I played it - every note sounded so balanced all throughout the fingerboard - I loved the sound and couldn't believe the price at all. On the spot I offered to buy it - of course he wouldn't let go of it. A very inexpensive bass with such a stunning sound.


Johnny Maddocks 3 years ago

i have considered buying the Ursa2 and this information has helped a lot. Thanks! :)

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