Fender Australia | RRP $1,749
Jackson is a company known for their forward-thinking and modern designs, having helped push rock and metal into more extreme, diverse, and refined directions since their inception around the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Born from a custom shop in California, Jackson developed modern body shapes for modern players, earning themselves a place in the history books for their Rhoads and Concord designs, the King V, and more extreme Warrior, Kelly, and Star shapes. While Jackson are one to push boundaries forward, they’re also a company that honour the history of both their own brand and their peers, more recently in the super vintage-styled X Series Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV.
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Somewhat resembling a famous bass whose name begins with ‘R’ and ends with ‘ickenbacker’ (but I would never mention their name in a review for a different brand), the Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV is Jackson’s Concert Bass body shape, a fairly standard asymmetrical design with some augmentations. As denoted by the ‘IV’, this is a four-string bass, but the series is also available with a fifth string.
Vintage styling includes a chrome pickup cover over the bridge pickup and the Jackson Bass Bacher IV Hardtail bridge with individual chrome saddles before the strings are secured in the top-loaded style. Five knobs control the Precision-style pickup in the middle position and the Jazz style in the bridge, while a nicely contrasted 1-ply parchment pickguard offsets the poplar body, which is finished in either a nice green Absynthe Frost, Gloss Black, or Rocket Red. The Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV is about as diverse in sounds as it is in looks, offering a lot more under the hood than the predecessors that the vintage aesthetics pay homage to.
From the top, the Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV is a four-string bass with the classic four-in-line pointed Jackson headstock. At the other end there’s a poplar body that’s a classic Jackson shape and styling, finished in gloss in a few different colours. There’s a plastic nut before a Laurel fingerboard, an increasingly popular wood for its similarity to Rosewood and Pau Ferro. 24 jumbo frets separate the tones and semitones, and your playing is amplified by a Jackson P-Style pickup and a Jackson J-Style pickup in the middle and bridge positions respectively, making up the ‘PJ’ configuration. It’s a hardtail bass, featuring the Jackson Bass Bacher IV bridge and five knobs to control the active electronics.
The electronics is where the CBXNT really takes off. PJ is one of the more superior pickup configurations, in some reviewers’ opinions, but the active controls really help them shine. The P and J style pickups really honour their predecessors, offering both rocky mid punch and smooth sub lows, but the CBXNT features a master volume for the entire bass, a blend knob, and then a three band EQ, separated into low, middle, and high for further tone shaping. This was especially helpful for cutting frequencies rather than boosting, as you’re able to get a nice blend and sculpt it just a little.
While having a pretty vintage aesthetic, the Jackson Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV is a very modern bass in the hands. It features a 12″-16″ compound radius fretboard and a super slim (and kind of flat, perfect for the thumb!) neck shape. For reference, more traditional Jazz and Precision fretboards usually range from 7.25”-9.5” radius, so the Concert bass is super flat and modern in comparison. It’ll have you rocking away and noodling with the best of them, without a baseball bat feel to the back of the neck. What’s more, the neck is a neck-through construction that offers more sustain and resonance than a bolt-on neck where the vibrations of your playing become lost in the screws and space between the neck and body.
It’s hard to wrap up on such an awesome bass. Aesthetically, Jackson has made a super vintage looking bass feel very Jackson, albeit maybe solely thanks to the four in-line pointy headstock shape that is pretty universal across all Jackson guitars and basses. The rest of the body looks super vintage, what with a brand new bridge-style designed by Jackson, the parchment pickguard and the chrome bridge pickup cover, but under the hood it’s as modern and forward thinking as Jackson have ever been.
The PJ style pickup configuration is super versatile, and the addition of a three band EQ makes it even more customisable, with the master volume and pickup blend knob already available. The poplar body and neck-through maple neck construction make the instrument as a whole really resonate nicely, while the slim neck shape and modern, flat fretboard radius make for a fast neck designed for rock and metal playing. The white binding ties the whole look together, making for a super cohesive and pleasantly surprising bass for an even more reasonable price.
If the Jackson Concert Bass CBXNT DX IV is anything to go by, the future of Jackson (even when they’re honouring the past) is optimistic and about as bright as the metallic Absynthe Frost gloss finish itself.