From the moment that I first encountered the L-2500, it captured my curiosity and demanded my attention. One of the first things that I noticed about the L-2500 is how graceful its lines are. The body and neck flow beautifully and comfortably both visually and functionally. The large number of controls really had me thinking that the three knobs and switches would end up being either too much of a good thing at best or a useless gimmick at worst. Once I started to experiment and see what each control did, three things became very quickly apparent. 1. This is no gimmick. 2. This bass is more than capable of producing a wider range of tones than anything I'd heretofore encountered and 3. This bass is more than capable of playing any style or genre that the player can throw at it.
First, I'll talk about the control knobs. The 3 knobs (from top to bottom - starting towards the neck and moving towards the bridge) control Volume, Treble and Bass. In passive mode they only cut frequencies. In active mode they can both boost and cut frequencies.
Next, I'll adress the 3 toggle switches. The 3 switches (from top to bottom - starting towards the neck and moving towards the bridge) control Pickup selection, Series/ Parallel mode and Active/ Passive/ Active with Treble Boost modes.
The top toggle is three-way pickup selector switch that allows you to toggle between Neck pickup only, both Neck and Bridge pickups and Bridge pickup only.
The middle toggle allows you to toggle between Series or Parallel mode. Parallel produces a thin, almost ethereal tone. Series mode really rounds the tone out with thick mids and really lets the bottom end come through. To my ears and to put it in simple terms, Series Mode = precision bass and Parallel Mode = jazz bass
The bottom toggle allows you to switch between Passive, Active or Active with Treble Boost modes. Passive mode is very much what you would expect, with the pots all turned to full, you have exactly what you hear and you can color your tone with the Bass and Treble cuts. Active mode allows for more responsive control over your tone using the Bass and Treble pots as well as a stronger signal output. Active with Treble Boost is just what it sounds like.
I had played only one bass with MFD pickups previous to this bass and was this bass' immediate predecssor, my G&L L-1505. It was the single MFD pickup on that 1505 that showed me that G&L had the magic pickup that was capable of giving me that tone I'd been hunting for. I could get it sounding like a low rumbling earthquake or I could get it to sound like a chainsaw powered fighter plane doing a vertical takeoff. The twin MFD's of the L-2500 allowed me to add nuances to that range that can either mellow the sound out or make it so agressive, that I need to turn down the gain to keep my signal together. The range of tones and voices of these seemingly simple gargantuan pickups is deceivingly broad and deep.
The L-2500 utilizes the G&L Saddle Lock Bridge system and rather than try to explain it in lay terms, I'll let G&L tell you in their words:
"This design was revolutionary for a number of reasons. The most significant feature is a small Allen screw on the side of the bridge, which presses all the saddles together so they resonate as though they were one single mass. This eliminates the loss of string vibration energy caused by side-to-side saddle movement inherent in other designs. Further, the strings no longer needed to be routed though the rear of the body for optimum sustain as well as allowing the strings to enter directly through the rear of the bridge. For G&L 5-string basses, the Saddle-Lock bridge employs a string-through-body configuration. Testing revealed that the increased break angle on the low B string yielded a more focused sound when routed through the rear of the body.
The bottom side of the bridge has a large protrusion which fits into a route in the body. The protrusion fits snugly against the end grain of the body wood, allowing the highly resonant bridge to transfer much more of the string vibration energy directly to the core of the body, yielding much greater sustain than his earlier fixed bridge design. Again, Leo’s innovative saddle design was used to minimize string breakage."
I have had several different types of bridges across nearly a dozen basses that I've owned and played for extended periods. My experience has been that the string-through-body configuration provides a thicker more resonant, warm and natural sound than the string-through-bridge configuration, which to me, sounds thinner, more metallic (tinny if you will) and hollow, by comparison. I concur with G&L's assertion about the low B string and how the through-body configuration has a postive effect on the sound.
The body on this particular bass is made from Empress wood. My previous intruments were made from Ash, Swamp Ash, Basswood or Mahogany, so I was very skeptical about such a light wood being able to give any sort of tone that I would like. When the salesman first handed me this bass, I thought it was a joke. It was so light, it couldn't be a real instrument! This bass weighs in at only 8.1 pounds (3.67 kilograms). I expected it to be dull and lifeless due to my assumptions about the softness and lack of density of the wood. I was very wrong and happy to be so! The low end boomed through. The attack had punch and was crisp and powerful. The resonance was surprisingly perceptible, almost tactile. The sustain seemed to go on forever. All of these things were huge surprises to me with such a 'soft' body.
The finish on the body is exquisite, eye catching and durable. The instinctive desire to protect the finish because of the 'soft' Empress body is quickly assuaged once you realize that this is a solid platform that is well protected by the amazing finish.
The neck is Hard-Rock Maple and although it's not quartersawn, is very stable and holds tuning. The neck and body have shown themselves to be able to easily handle the wild humidity fluctuations of southern New Englnd. There is rarely a need for me to correct tuning for any reason other than my very agressive playing style.
The Rosewood fret board and Medium Jumbo frets come PLEK'd from the factory and are smooth, and easily playable for all ability levels and playing styles.
The nut is bone and provides a nice solid base for the strings to resonate through to the neck. The head stock is compact but does its job of keeping everythign lined up and the lightweight tuners serve the dual purpose of function and aesthetics and, in my opinion, deftly nail both. They keep tune as one would expect but also keep the weight down while avoiding the dreaded neck dive and they look beautiful while doing so.
The fit and finish of this instrument is world class and is virutally flawless. G&L produciton process and quality standards clearly shine through in the overall appearance, funtionality and playability of this instrument.
Overall, the L-2500 is the kind of all-in-one utility tool that every professional bassist should have in their bag of tricks. That one instrument that can handle damn near anything you throw at it. G&L's price points on their USA line of instruments, built and setup in Fullerton, California puts custom, quality, American made instruments within the reach of the average musician. If you are more budget minded, there is the G&L Tribute series, however, that lie is outside of the scope of this review.
The only recommendation that I have that would improve the L-2500 would be either a Blend knob instead of the pickup selector switch or remove the selector altogether and provide separate Volume controls for each pickup (akin to the standard P/J configuration)
In closing, I'll say this about the L-2500:
Want the sound of a P bass ? Get a P bass. Want the sound of a Jazz bass? Get a Jazz bass. Want an active bass? Get an active bass. Want a passive bass? Get a passive bass.
Want the ability to sound like any of these and be able to switch on the fly utilizing only one instrument? Get an L-2500!
I'll steal a bit from the site of the dealer that I bought this bass from because I think that they really nailed it with this description:
"With all this tone shaping capability, the G&L L-2500 is capable of anything from bright steely treble tones, to fat growling low end. In addition to saving your shoulder some pain, the Empress body adds a nice airy "pop" to the top end, and clear fundamental tones all the way down to the lowest open note. With good dynamic range and excellent overall sustain, it's really just a matter of a little experimentation to dial in the guitar for a particular sound or style of music."
G&l L-2500 Usa Model
If you need a bass that can do almost anything, look no further than the G&L L-2500.