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Bass Space Column from Vintage Guitar on G&L L-5000

Discussion in 'G&L Bass Forum' started by AcousticBassMan, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. From the November, 2007 issue of Vintage Guitar, the Bass Space column by Willie G. Moseley reports on the ongoing recognition of the G&L L-5000 Bass.

    "Five String basses with a low-B string first appeared in the mid 1970s, mostly bearing names like Alembic, Tobias, and Ken Smith. G&L, the company founded by Leo Fender after his departure from the iconic Fender Musical Instruments Company, climbed aboard the five-string bandwagon in the late '80's.

    "The Fender company marketed its first five-string electric bass -- the bass V (VG, August '07) -- some 40 years earlier. For Leo's second time around, he was prodded by G&L co-founder Dale Hyatt, who'd been a successful sales rep for the Fender company and paid close attention to the musical-instrument market -- and things he thought had potential for G&L. In fact, in his book G&L -- Leo's Legacy, author Paul Bechtoldt called the L-5000 'a Dale Hyatt concept'.

    "As illustrated by the example shown here (see photo of 1990 G&L L-5000, serial number B021868), some earlier L-5000s had a contradictory silhouette, with a sickle-shaped headstock (with four tuning machines on one side, one on the other) mated to a traditional double cutaway body. Later, the headstock would affect the more traditional G&L style (but still four-plus-one), Fender-ish, with a sculptured point on the underside.

    "The neck was made from hard rock maple and had a 7 1/2" radius on a maple or rosewood fingerboard, which had 21 frets. Scale of the L-5000 was 34". The width of the nut on this example is 1 3/4". Bodies were made of maple, ash, or poplar, and were contoured for comfort.

    "The solitary pickup was a powerful G&L Magnetic Field Design unit with adjustable polepieces. History buffs note that the split pickup is offset in an opposite configuration under the five strings (three left, two right) compared to the Fender Bass V (two left, three right). Controls consist of Volume and Tone knobs with the jack on the top, and are mounted on a plastic pickguard. The bridge is a five-string variant of G&L's massive unit, with individual and intonatable string saddles. The bridge on this instrument has a black powdered/"crinkled" finish, which was the third type of hardware finish used by G&L -- earlier variants had chrome, followed briefly by smooth black. Following the crinkled style, bridge plating reverted to chrome.

    "Other than having a low B string with corresponding parts, the L-5000 bass was a simple and uncomplicated instrument. It didn't have as many innovations as other instruments associated with Leo Fender, and that may have contributed to disinterest among musicians. Another may have been the lack of active electronics; as a passive, single-pickup bass, the L-5000 wasn't a broad departure in terms of tone and features.

    "After BBE purchased G&L in December, 1991 (Leo Fender passed away in March of that year), interest in the L-5000 waned even as some latter-day examples received premium finishes, and the model discontinued by mid '93. The quantity built is unknown, though it's commonly believed the number is about 500. Bechtoldt's book describes production totals as 'extremely low', citing the lack of interest by the company once it had been sold following Leo's death. But, he adds that a lot of leftover parts could have been used in the transition of ownership to BBE. 'Some 'parts guitars' were assembled and found their way out the back door', he noted. So, some L-5000s -- and other G&L models, for that matter -- may have slightly different body shapes, different body contouring, and different neck widths and/or neck profiles, among other incongruities.

    "The L-5000 is a relatively rare bird, serves as a fine example of a 'Leo era' G&L Instrument, and as a five-string is historically associated with Leo. At the very least, with it, Leo's second company went in the right direction in terms of design and innovation. VG VintageGuitar.com

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