What is it?
Dave Ellefson's new signature basses (opens in new tab) are not just for the metal player. They'll handle all that musical rough and tumble, no problem, but the Megadeth bassist and Jackson have designed a bass that's got a classic look to it, modern electronics, and a wide range of musical potential.
The pointy four-in-line headstock is gone. The sharp edges have been rounded off. As with Adrian Smith's signature Jackson S-style, there's a restraint to the design and a Fender-esque quality that should play well to all kinds of players. We've got the retro maple Paddle Pointed headstock, matching the immaculate 21-fret maple fingerboard.
Both the four and five-string Ellefson basses feature a P+J pickup configuration with master volume, blend, and a 3-band EQ to control an active EMG P Split Single-coil in the middle position and an active J Single-coil at the bridge. Speaking of the bridge, both of these CBXM basses feature a super-solid HiMass unit.
Indeed, the four- and five-string models are all but identical. Both have graphite-reinforced, quartersawn maple necks bolted onto a solid poplar body. The big differences lie in the scale length and nut width, with the five-string an inch longer in scale at 35", and measuring 1.75" across the nut as opposed to 1.625" on the four-string.
The frets are nice and fat, the neck profiles comfortable. The balance is bang-on. The body contours feel right whether seated or standing. Indeed, everything points to the CBXM being a player-friendly instrument. There's even a heel-mounted spoke wheel for making quick adjustments to the truss rod, which is the sort of thing the gigging bassist will really appreciate.
Performance and Verdict
The P+J pickup combo packs a hefty one-two punch. The split-coil has genuine width to its low end while the J-style single-coil is sharp, articulate, and bruising in its midrange. If those are the default tones, then you've got plenty of scope for experimentation.
Seeing a 3-band EQ at this price is a bonus, and it makes an already versatile bass something of a Swiss Army tone knife. You can take this anywhere. On the five-string, the low B is super smooth and, well, just so rich and thick. Across both basses, you can dial in more aggressive mids for hard-rocking or peel them back for funk.
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For the price, we think you’ll struggle to find a better instrument, or one with as much tonal guts, sparkle and all-round playability as this one. It’s everything a great bass should be, and it’s an absolute steal. Buy with confidence!
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The addition of the Custom Wound single-coil expands the Saint's range, so you can dial in some upper-mid clarity. This versatility would make it a good option to have kicking around the studio, or for the gigging bassist who's looking to cover a variety of styles.
There are so many musical voicings you can take, so many sweet spots to be found across the sweep of the blend control. Blues, jazz, whatever... Roll it towards the split-coil for a bit more warmth; take it to the bridge for a sharper and more aggressive attack.
There is no shortage of output; a little growl from an overdrive suits the CBXM basses well. But we'd be hard-pressed to say whether it is better as a thrasher's bass or as a blues cat's. It can do both, and it is just such fun to play.
The 12"-16" compound radius necks give the CBXM a contemporary feel, ideal for busy, note-heavy basslines, and for noodling up the top end of the fretboard. We also like that the signature flourishes are on the subtle side, with Ellefson's signature and radiation logo on the rear of the headstock.
As to which we prefer? Well, they are so similar; there's no separating them. If you need the five-string setup you will be rewarded with a well-priced and immaculately finished bass with a low B string you can hang the jam on. But both are exceptional, highlights of Jackson's Indonesian-built X Series, which is typified by instruments like this, with excellent specs and solid builds. Megadeth? Megabass.
MusicRadar verdict: Jackson might always be considered a metal brand but the new Ellefson signature basses are proof positive that it can make high-quality basses for players of all styles. These are exceptional.
- Price: £719 / $699.99 / €639 (IV), £769 / $749.99 / €754 (V)
- Made in: Indonesia
- Body: Poplar
- Neck: Quartersawn maple, 34” scale (35” scale for five-string)
- Fingerboard: Maple, 21 frets
- Pickups: EMG Split Single-coil, EMG Single-coil
- Controls: Master volume, pickup blend, 3-band active EQ
- Weight: 5.8kg/12.8lbs, 6kg/13.2lbs
- Case/gig bag included: No
- Left-handed option: No
- Contact: Jackson Guitars (opens in new tab)