In use with an amplifier, the ‘Raw Vintage USA JB-5’ pickups onboard the bass have an open tone to them with a distinctively vintage character. I’ve read that they are wound for a voicing specific to these model basses.
‘PLEK’d' as standard
The cost benefits of combining far east manufacture and in-house finishing
Controls inset into the body is a big plus.
Had to tweak the EQ of the review amp to get the best from the passive setting.
Maple Neck and Fingerboard
Medium Jumbo Frets
Raw Vintage JB-5N Pickups
Xotic XJPRO-1 5-String ProVintage
MSRP £1299 (UK) $1390 (US)
LA-based Xotic brings us a modern take on an old favourite, but how does it measure up in a world of Jazz clones. Here is Dan Veall to find out!
The XJ ProVintage is just what the name suggests. A bass with leanings towards vintage tone and stylings yet with modern tooling and design aspects to bring the A-game for the professional player. Yet, given this focus, still makes it a great choice for anyone, even if they are a weekend warrior or home noodler alike by keeping the cost of manufacture down.
First up, we are rocking five strings here, so a low B added to the modern/vintage equation sets this bass off to a great start. That is, access to those low pitches when we need to reach down deep. The instrument outline looks balanced still and up at the headstock end of the all maple neck, 5 hipshot tuning keys are neatly laid out.
The ProVintage comes with either a Maple fretboard or Rosewood to suit all tastes. I think the burst finish here looks great, but do check out the other colour scheme offerings over on the Xotic website.
The neck on the XJPro is modern/slim and modern with a satin-smooth finished feel to it. The fretwork as expected at this price point is tidy and free from buzzing notes across all 22 medium/jumbo types. We have a 34” scale here that feels familiar with zero time required to get used to.
In use with an amplifier, the ‘Raw Vintage USA JB-5’ pickups onboard the bass have an open tone to them with a distinctively vintage character. I’ve read that they are wound for a voicing specific to these model basses. The pickups are hand wound in L.A and seem to feature a medium output level in passive mode which although articulate wouldn’t necessarily be a choice for those wanting to blow windows out with aggressive tones. It’s a sweet sounding bass. Yes, we have an active circuit on board, however, there’s a pull-up switch on the master volume that acts as a bypass for the three band EQ. Incidentally an 18v system for added headroom.
I have to say I really liked the EQ engaged where I was able to bump the lows and mids a little, which seemed to suit the Genzler MG350 combo we had miked up for the review. There is also a nice level boost and sheen to the bass tone when the EQ is activated too. Usually, that would be it for my description of pickups on a bass as in general, they are pretty uninspiring to look at! But wait! Xotic have stepped up and cased the coils in wooden shells. I really like this - and furthermore, the shells are shaped allowing a nice place to land your thumb if you like to ‘anchor’ down on to the instrument whilst playing. With these dark wood shells, the rosewood fretboard model just looks superb! I’ve always had a niggle about pickup design, but I urge you to have a look at the ‘JXPRO-2 5 string’. Very pleasing to the eye.
Hardware on board comes courtesy of Hipshot. Licensed tuning keys and a Hipshot B-Style bridge that I do like because it has a bit of style, rather than being a big angular block on a curvy bass!
Like another brand that comes to mind, the instruments are manufactured over in the east - in this case, Indonesia. Where we already know factories are turning out some great instruments (Ibanez for example), but afterwards the basses are sent back to Los Angeles, California to be finished and set up where the fretwork gets the ‘Plek’ treatment. This is a system, or rather a machine that is able to scan the neck and fretwork then dress to achieve the best balance of playability with minimum string height.
If a super jazz is “your thing” then you’d do well to add the XJPro to your list of instruments to try out. There’s enough on this familiar outline instrument to entice you but not too much to push the budget to silly numbers.