Only a few years ago, Korean import basses were widely considered inferior. However, improved quality control measures over the last decade have changed for the better and these imports from the Far East are becoming more and more difficult to ignore.
Today we are going to look at the Rogue LX405 Pro. This five string came in black with a mirror-like shine to it. After close inspection, I was not able to find any major flaws in the paint. The bass carries the moniker of “Pro” because of the “Pro” features usually found on those boutique basses costing hundreds to thousands more. One of these features is the string through body option. Many pros swear by this design and claim it gives the bass more sustain. The other “Pro” feature is the pickup style. The LX405 Pro features one MM style pickup in the bridge position and one Jazz pickup in the neck position. While MM pickups always feature large pole magnets, this little monster has the large pole magnets in the Jazz pickup too. This configuration was popularized by manufactures Warwick and Lakland. The controls for this bass are treble, bass, blend and volume. Another feature found on more expensive axes is the passive mode you can engage by pulling up the volume knob. The LX405 Pro comes with a basswood body and a 34” scale maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. Basswood is a light, tight grained wood and is commonly used for production line basses. That doesn’t mean it is an inferior choice of wood, rather, it is soft and easy to manufacture. Also, basswood is not the most attractive wood, so they usually come with a painted body. Due to the wood choice, this bass weighed in just less than eight pounds. I’m usually skeptical of lighter weighted budget basses because in my opinion, you have to give them a good dose of eq to get the low mids to fill out. All the frets seemed properly seated as was the nut. Playing the bass unplugged did not reveal any intonation problems usually afflicted by budget imports.
Before plugging into my Crate 80 watt combo with a 12” inch speaker, I made sure all the controls were set flat on both the amp and the bass. Plugged in, the bass came alive with a nice meaty finger style funk tone. I did keep the pickups balanced and played over the MM pickup. There was some bass roll-off on the lower fretted C and open B but that is to be expected on a combo amp. As expected, I did have to dial in a little low mid on the amp. Rolling off the neck pickup and cutting the treble while playing directly over the MM pickup revealed a “Jaco esque” tone that is great for soloing. By rolling off the MM pickup and playing over the jazz pickup, you can coax great vintage tones. Usually this position sounds weak to me on most Jazz style pickups, but with the larger pole pieces the sound is fuller.
Playing live in an eight piece praise band, I was able to achieve most sonic textures. I did notice some drop-off in volume and attack while fretting notes on the A and D strings, but was able to compensate. Like most budget basses, the treble boost can be a little brittle. I didn’t notice it too much, but did have to back it down a bit on some slap grooves. The neck has a nice “unfinished” feel to it and I had no problems playing up and down it. The body fit securely to my chest and had very little neck dive. I really liked the extended upper horn! The tuners were acceptable at best. They seemed a little weak and tuning was a little difficult. The bass did stay in tune throughout the set and that is the most important quality of the tuners/bridge relationship.
For just over $200.00 you get a great axe with some great features. You aren’t going to find a five string that is 35” scale with wide string spacing in this price range. That is not what this bass is about. It’s about a great meat and potatoes sound that is flexible enough to explore other sonic possibilities while still sounding good. All in all, you will have a difficult time finding a better sounding bass for this amount. In fact, you will have a difficult time finding one that sounds as good at twice the price. With that said, buy two.
- Brian Martin