52. SX “Fecker Jizz Bass“
THIS blog started with basses, so it seems apt that my current tally of all the guitars I’ve owed over the past 40-odd years should end with a bass, too – albeit one I’ve never actually played in anger.
I’ve lost count of the number of recordings sessions I’ve worked on where the band has come in and laid down the basic rhythm tracks and the bass player and drummer have gone home. The rest of them are busily tracking or mixing, and they decide the original bassline doesn’t quite fit. So they’re stuck, right?
That’s why we decided we needed a “house” bass to hang on the wall. It looks pretty and also gets pulled down and used a lot more than you might think. In fact, I don’t think we’re had a session in there in the past year where somebody hasn’t been temtped to pull it off the wall and play it. It’s pretty – and it plays and sounds as good as it looks.
The plan was to track down a good, serviceable Squier we could upgrade with better pickups and hardware, or failing that, find something reputable but inexpensive, like one of the highly-regarded Far Eastern SX Fender copies I kept reading about on the forums. (My pal Claire Black has a beautiful SX Precision which she often plays in preference to her 70s USA P-Bass.)
I found a red SX Jazz on eBay in Braintree, did the deal and arranged to collect it. The seller lived in a flat above a scruffy-looking parade of shops on a council estate. To get there, you were faced by a back yard patrolled by an utterly terrifying rottweiler or doberman. (I’m not sure of the exact breed, but it was one of those ridiculously ferocious beasts people buy to boost their macho credentials because they’re not allowed to have guns. I’ve never been keen on dogs – the big ones terrify me; the smaller ones are just plain annoying!) Keeping my distance from the slavering jaws of Tyson, Killer, Rambo or whatever it was called, I briskly handed the required tenners over the gate with one hand, accepting the bass (in a bin bag!) with the other and beating a hasty retreat!
It cost me £70 and it was a total waste of money! The body and the electrics were OK, but the truss rod refused to tighten, leaving the action the best part of half an inch off the board at the 12th fret. Amazingly, I managed to sell the neck for pennies as a fixer-upper and then tried get a bit of the value back on the body. I sold it on eBay for £45, which I thought was a reasonable result. I posted it off via Hermes, but it never arrived and I had to refund the guy’s money. Hermes managed to track the package to a depot in Birmingham, where it promptly “disappeared”.
I paid for insurance on it, so come on, guys, pay up! This is the point at which Hermes pointed to a clause in the small print where it says musical instruments aren’t covered. I still wonder if I’d described it as a lump of wood with a few bits of metal screwed to it, rather than a “bass guitar body” whether Hermes would have paid up… Sometimes you learn the hard way – Hermes are cheap, but I’ll NEVER, ever send anything with them again!
But I digress…I’ve mentioned before that when my pal Dave Werewolf emigrated to Thailand a few years ago, he appointed me custodian of the Aladdin’s cave of a secret lockup where he still has an unfeasible number of nice guitars, amps and sundry musical gear. (He sells the odd one now and again, so stay tuned!)
I remembered that he’d treated himself a few years ago to a really nice, unbranded Jazz bass. He bought one and Chris Barrow, his bass playing musical partner-in-crime over about six fine bands and four decades, had bought one, too. It was one of the very first SX guitars to be imported to the UK. It was Lake Placid Blue, gorgeous, it played well and recorded even better.
( Dave tells me he bought it from the legendary guitar finisher Clive Brown, who with a friend was having them built in China along with some nice Strat copies. Brown had a lot of input in the spec and paid particular attention to the colours. Dave saw the bass up in Redcar when Brown was refinishing one his 1967 Tele and decided he had to have one, as they were a steal for the money. While he was at it, he also walked away with a nice gold Strat, though I’ve no idea what happened to that!)
Originally unbranded, it now sports a spare “Fecker Jizz Bass” decal I’d had made by my mate Glen, when I revamped a Squier Jazz for Howard Bills a few years back.
Werewolf was more than happy to sell it to me for a very reasonable sum…so ladies and gentlemen, here it is in all its glory…like the 12-string, it’s already seen sterling service on more than one session.