Fender Roscoe Beck or G&L L2500?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by alexssandro, Jun 28, 2001.

  1. Ok,

    I think I've got my choices narrowed down to these two. The problem is that none of the music stores in my area have these instruments. I've called, looked on the internet, checked the supposed dealers of the instruments, but found nothing. But in general, I do know what to expect of a Fender and in a very limited sense, a G&L.

    Here are some questions and concerns which come to mind.

    1) Feel

    How does the G&L feel compared to the jazz? I think Scott Curter mentioned that they feel very similar. I ask because I like to really dig in when I play. I like to play over where the neck pickup is located, and I like to snap the strings hard. I really need to feel the resistance of the strings. (Something which I can't find on my MM Sterling) I know that the jazzes can really do this (I'm assuming the RB can do this too). How about the L2500?

    2) G&L shielding and other problems

    My limited experience with G&L has been 2 L1000's I've played. Both of them had a clearly audible hiss, I believe when the pickups were selected to active. I've read many times that this is attributed to the poor shielding which could be fixed. I've also recently read about the bass picking up radio signals. These are issues which make me very wary of these basses, despite all the good stuff I've heard. How true has this been in your experience? And how easily (ie cheaply) can this be fixed?

    3) Tones and Versatilty

    I heard they are amongst some of the most versatile basses on the market. How do they differ? Does the RB have a great slap tone? How well can they mimic a deep P-bass tone? How close does the G&L come to the actual Jazz tone?

    4) Clarity of Notes and Sustain

    Do the notes ring out clearly with nice sustain? I play the entire fingerboard so notes on the upper register are very important.

    5) B String!!!

    Last but not least, how are the B strings. I heard they were both tight.

    If I get a G&L, I know I'll have to try out the ACTUAL instrument before I buy it due to the problems I've heard about. With the RB, on the other hand, I might actually feel comfortable ordering one, even though I've never even tried it. I've tried enough Fenders to know that there shouldn't be any major surprises.

    To everyone who endured my long post and my ever-changing dilemmas, I sincerely appreciate it!!! If money were no object, I'd buy both so I wouldn't have to write such a scrutinizing post. Hell, if money were no obect, I'd own a quality bass store of my own!!! :D

    Thanks all,

  2. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    I can't answer all of your questions, but I can comment on a few, since I own an RB5.
    I think the RB gives a very authentic J-bass slap tone. I really like it, and the full string spacing is great for getting your fingers into it. Like you, I was VERY concerned about the P-bass tone question. I have a ~'73 P-bass, which I love. The RB5, if you use the neck PU and put the coil switch in series, approximates it, but cannot quite mock that sound. It's not bad, but there still "ain't nuthin like a P!". Relative to Jazz tone, I've often read that if you want a Jazz sound, get a Jazz bass! The RB5 *is* a Jazz bass (IMO), but is an actual improvement on Leo's original design.
    I'm quite impressed with the sustain and the output in the upper end. I think the stiffness of the neck on the RB5 helps a lot in this regard, and the PU design may also be key.
    I use D'Addario XL-160-5 on mine, with .135" B, and it doesn't feel sloppy. I have to qualify this, since I've rarely played on any other 5-string basses. It seems fine to me, though.
    I had the same problem. I finally wound up ordering it from MF (y'know that big mail-order place) without the benefit of ever having played one. It was primarily my looking at the specs, the design philosophy, and comments from other owners on TB that convinced me to go ahead with it. I haven't regretted my decision. There are a few minor faults I have found with the instrument, but the "bennies" far outweigh them. Do a search for Roscoe Beck or RB5 here, and I'm sure you'll find a lot of other useful comments.
    - Mike
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The G&L2500, being active, has a wider range of tones than the RBV; not all of them are pleasant sounding, though, so if you're not keen on knob-twiddling, go for the RBV. The RBV has fewer tones, but they seem well chosen: namely, P, J and Stingray. The RBV is basically a souped-up J, so the traditional J growl is there in spades. I think the P simulation is perfectly adequate, though I don't have a 73 to compare it against. If you want the tubby thump, it's there. The parallel-coil rough-edged Stingray sound, IMO, is also pretty convincing, even though there's no active preamp.

    For me, the big difference between the G&L and the RBV is the neck profile. The G&L has the characteristic "baseball bat" Fender profile. The RBV is a departure from other Fenders; it has a more modern shallow/wide profile. I also like the fretwork on the RBV better than on the G&L.

    As far as Bs go, the two are about the same, ie. above average for a 34".
  4. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    MikeyD and Christopher seemed to have nailed it. I've played the RB 5 while sitting in for another guy, and have tried 2 different G&L's. I'm a 'Baseball Bat' kinda guy, and the G&L does that extremely well. The RB neck was a little thin front to back for my taste, but it sounded great. I liked the sound of the B better on the RB, but the feel of it more on the G&L's... Fickle, I know... The RB had pretty low action, but that would be easily remedied. If I had to choose a factory made bass between these two, based on the limited exposure I'd go with the Fender.

  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well the "thin from front to back" neck profile and low action , were exactly the reasons why I liked the RB5 and found it much more playable than any other Fender I've tried. Definitely the best Fender by a long way and I don't like actives on Fenders - the sadowsky outboard can give you better sounds and you can choose whether to use it or not in any situation - onboard on Fenders always sounds too scratchy to me!
  6. Y'know what this boils down to?

    Playability vs. Sound

    You need to balance. Do you want more tones but baseball neck? Go G&L. Do you want very close, specific tones, better playability? Go RB5.

    I'd go with the G&L, I like baseball bats.
  7. I'll put in another vote for the G&L. People keep mentioning all these 'problems' with G&L's and I've just not experienced much of that, and I own 3 of them. The L-2500 has such a huge range of tones available it seems adaptable to just about any musical situation. The workmanship is excellent and I personally have not noticed anything peculiar about the feel.

    I've owned a lot of basses over the years with frequent turn over rate, but ever since I've had my G&L's, I haven't wanted to play anything else.
  8. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    hmm...L1000? active? I'm afraid the L1000 is a passive instrument. the switches you are talking about are probably Series/Parllel selectors.

    and the G&Ls I've played (the whole two [I owned one]) had some hiss when the active circuit was turned on and the treble knob turned past half way.
    I belive nearlly every active bass would hiss with those settings without heavy EQ, compression or a noise gate.
  9. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    My RB5 is my primary gig bass ( 4 out of 5 gigs) and it is absolutely outstanding. It is a classic Jazz sound with a 5th string and lots of tonal options thrown in. I have only tried the G&L in stores and while I think it's a great bass but I prefer the RB5. The neck is not for everyone but I happen to love it.

    In very low volume gigs I use it with the bridge in single coil and the neck in series. However, 95% of the time it is in full single coil - the classic Jazz tone.

    I don't try to use it as a P. I have a '75 P that I use for the other 1 out of 5 gigs.The RB5 on Neck pickup in series "approximates" the P tone but to be honest doesn't come close enough for me. When I want P tone out comes the real P. I'm a bit of a J and P purist when it comes to tone but if "approximate" is good enough then the RB5 gets you into P territory.

    The B string is very tight for a 34 scale bass....not at all floppy.However floppy strings like TI Jazz Flats make it more floppy.

    I have a Aguilar DB924 preamp so I can get the active tone as well.

    All in all I have long considered going high end for 5 string but the RB5 does enough things well that I really don't see a lot of value in high end basses.

    You won't regret getting a RB5.
  10. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    I've never played the RB5 so I cannot comment there. My next bass will be the L-2500, I have a pair of L-2000's right now.


    I think that G&L's feel similar to Fender necks, perhaps slightly rounder if anything. I wouldn't call them bats only because I have a Czech Spector, and that truly is a 'bat' neck. I think the G&L is slightly chunky, but not such that is affects playing style. I think they are comfortable. Another cool thing is the unique method they use for installing the truss rod, I bet it really helps long term stability.

    The standard G&L is like a Precis neck, very comfortable IMO. They also offer a #6 Jazz style neck, though I'm unsure if it's available for the L-2500. They play real nice, and the finish and fretwork are of very high quality for a production bass. I think ktjmusic.com orders G&L's in any configuration that you want, try giving them a look just to see a list of available options. I would recommend the standard neck finish though, it's nice and silky.


    I've never experienced any of the problems mentioned in G&L threads with either of my basses. I've never had any hiss or radio signals, so I'm not sure why so many are having this experience. I've not made any modifications, nor have I added shielding to the control cavity. I've not recorded with them though, so I cannot comment on how quiet they are in that situation. In any other setting, they sound great to me.

    Tone and Versatility:

    I'll put my L-2000's up against any bass when it comes to versatility. Not only do the switching options yield lots of useful tones, but slight adjustments to the EQ are easily heard and truly affect the tone. As a matter of fact, when backing off the Lo/Hi EQ knobs, you will notice that the mids will slowly become more pronounced in their respective frequency ranges while the Hi/Lo signal is being reduced.

    To sum it up, you can dial in different sounds to your heart's content, there's a lot going on there. The only thing they could have done to make it more versatile is to make the pickup selector a blend knob rather than a 3 position switch. Even still, I've never found it lacking in that respect, and quite honestly, I like the switches. Another really cool thing is the EQ works in passive mode as well, so if the battery dies, you still have onboard EQ.

    As far as a Jazz bass tone, definitely! Oh man, just kick all the switches toward the bridge. That would be Bridge pup/parallel/passive mode. Boost the mids on your amp to your desire in the 300-400 range, and this thing growls like a Jazz and then some.
    I take my SABDDI out of the signal when I play in this mode as it really lets the vintage tone shine.

    The great thing about these basses is they can very quickly go from vintage growl to bad a$$ slap, or even over the top rock tone with balls and edge to it. It does a great job of emulating a Precis, Jazz, or Stingray. I don't doubt that Leo had these things in mind given that G&L was his last creation. This is the coolest thing about these basses IMO, they can fit into a lot of situations.

    Just for a point of reference, I string these up with stainless Lo Riders. I only mention this because I imagine that results may vary depending on what strings you use.

    Clarity and Sustain:

    The pickups provide excellent clarity and the bridge is great for sutain. The only complaint I have is that I have to cut the E string pretty long so that the fattest outer wrap does not end up on the tuning peg. It took me a couple times to learn the right length for the E because I ended up with the outer wrap reaching the tuning peg a couple times and I think it deadened the tone of that string. The others can be cut 4 inches beyond the peg and that should work fine.

    The tuners are good, but I don't like the taper on the pegs. I prefer a straight up and down column and these get thinner approaching the headstock.

    The pickups are quite sensitive and they pick up everything, so clarity is well served. The bridge is a hefty chunk of metal and there's a screw that locks all the saddles together once all adjustments have been finalized. This no doubt contributes to the sustain of this bass.

    B string:

    Don't know. If it's anything like the 34" scale Stingray 5's, it should be fine. Still, I cannot vouch for the L-2500. Personally, I would like to see G&L offer this bass in a 35" scale. It's not that I believe 35" is automatically tighter (Stingray 5 is tight as can be), but I prefer 35" for a five.

    Needless to say I'm a fan of G&L. :D

    It's curious to note however that my main bass is a Fender Jazz. This is mostly due to the fact that my first bass was a Jazz, and I am forever attached to their sound and feel. Good luck with the decision, I'm sure you'll not be disappointed regardless of which bass you choose. They both have excellent reputations.
  11. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Funny. I found myself in the same place when I bought my L-2500. L-2500 or the RB? Iwas in a store that had both and the price was within $50. First, let me say that they are both great basses. You can't go wrong with either.

    I chose the G&L because it was active and I prefered the sound. I haven't noticed the bass being any noisier than anything else. It did pick up some audio one day when I was playing at home.

    As far as variety, the G&L wins hands down. It has an amazing tone circuit.

    I would suggest playing both. The group has done a good job of relaying the differences, but you know what they say about opinions. Try them both. Buy the one you like best. It's your money and you are the one who is going to use it.

    My next bass (already saving) will definately be an RB.
  12. I was sort of in the same boat as well. I tried out the RB5 at Sam Ash several months ago and totally loved the feel of it, but i didn't go so far as to plug it in. I ended up getting a great price on a G&L L2500 off the internet, and i don't regret it one bit. Awesome bass. It can be a bit noisy at times, i see why people get shielding jobs done on them, and i may end up doing that too. I don't think of the G&L as a "baseball bat". To me it's really quite comfortable and easy to play, and is a tone monster. Like everyone else says, it has a ton of different tone options, but i only use a few on a gig, and mostly use jut one. Active, Series(i think anyhow, the one towoards the neck), and the combo pickup setting. Trent
  13. Scott Cutrer

    Scott Cutrer Guest

    Aug 21, 2000
    Richmond, VA
    Alex, I really think what matters most is what kind of music do you play?

    I needed a very versatile bass, and am a Fender freak. With that being said, I worked in a shop last summer and owned many different Fender Basses and played several RB5's. I love Jazz Basses, I love Fender and I lover Roscoe's playing, but I absolutely hated the RB5. I played no less than 6 different RB5'sa and would not own one if you gave it to me. I did not like the feel and found most of the sounds just tried to copy a Stingray with out much luck. I could get no Jazz bass tones out of it what so ever. The B string was as floppy as could be on every single RB5 I played. I tried 6 of them man, I was really trying to give it a chance. I kept going back to the Jazz bass for the feel and sound that I love.

    The G&L on the other hand (to me) has many "useable" tones and I can with out a doubt, absolutely nail the J tone on my Fretless L2000, as well as a real nice P sound too. I find the L2000 neck to be very comfy for someone who has been playing a Jazz bass for 15 years.

    I will be able to tell you more about the L2500 in a week or so because I just traded my Stingray 5 for one.

    I dont think the RB5 is for me but as you can see, many players do really dig this bass. So it really comes down to opinion and preference. I think if you are playing blues or rock, the RB5 is a great bass. But if you want some versatility and need more tonal options it would have to be the G&L. This is the main reason I am letting go of my Stingray. I love the tone, but play many different styles and gigs and cant get by with the 1 or 2 great sounds the MM offers.

    Good luck and try to check em out if you can, even if you need to drive a bit to find the right store.

  14. I had the opportunity to play both the L2500 and the RB5 under gig conditions. That's the way I really like to check out an instrument when I can.

    The L2500 was a wonderful bass. The neck was a little to thick for my preferences. The tonal variations were quite numerous, although I'd have to add that a lot of what I was able to get was either unusable (for me) or barely discernable from what I just had. It was a well made bass. A little heavier than I like, but quality was there.

    The RB5 is also a wonderful bass. The neck was of a lot slimmer profile, even if on the wide side. The string spacing was "P" all the way at the bridge which made my right hand real happy. The tonal variations are also quite numerous, not as many as the G&L, but far more than you can get from any normal passive P, J, or clone. I also found some tones not to usable, others not much different, but it had everything I needed. It balanced better in the strap and on the lap. The weight is such that I can play a four-hour gig with no problem.

    I can't knock the G&L. I bought the RB-5. To this old bass player it was all I wanted, needed, and was a joy to play.

    I primarily play C&W (40s to present), 50s/60s Rock, Rock-a-billy, Blues, and Western Swing. And anything else I can get into short of metal, rap, and elevator. The RB-5 works. It's a bass that I'll probably keep for many a year.

    However, with all that's been said, YOU, and YOU alone are the only one that can determine which is right for you. You have to play them both, and under performing conditions if possible. Then and only then will you know which one is right for you.

    Good Luck!
  15. Thanks all for your thorough answers. I really need to try them out, preferably side by side, even if that means driving to Austin. I play funky soul-jazz kind of stuff. I like to play Jaco/Oteil kind of finger-style as well as lots of slap. If you read my influences in my profile, you can get an idea of what types of music I like.

    As far as the L1000 being a passive instrument, the hissing occurred when the switch was set to one or the other, and I heard that on two different ones. I'm not sure what caused it. One of the salesmen suggested it was the neon lights in the store???

    Once again thanks for your responses. :)
  16. Scott Cutrer

    Scott Cutrer Guest

    Aug 21, 2000
    Richmond, VA
    Alex, I totally agree with Sammy, he is a gigging player who has lots of experience i am sure but has a completely different assesment of the two basses than I do and I am sure that it is because we are 2 different people.

    But from what you said about the Jaco/Otiel vibe, I think that the G&L will serve you better tone wise. I used a Modulus Q6 for three years and although the G&L is not in the same dollar range, I am very happy with it's tonal offerings and construction given the $ difference from the Modulus. BTW/ throw in a little Marcus Miller with that Jaco/Oteil and you have my influences nailed to a T.

    With that being said, I really think you have to give the G&L time so that you can figure out the electronics. I sold my first 2 G&L's becaus I could not get good sounds out of them. I now realize that I needed to be a little more patient and spend some more time with the instrument.

    Good Luck
  17. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Scott's post is right on the money.

    I totally agree on giving the G&L's a little time to find your tones. When you first pick one up, the tendency is to flip a switch here or there and roll the EQ knobs willy nilly. This was my first mistake when I bought my first L-2000. I was a little perplexed by the controls for the first week or so.

    I slowed down and gave the electronics more consideration, I then began to experiment. I found myself wanting to use modes I thought were useless, like parallel instead of the more bass heavy series mode. I also took more notice of the tonal variations the two tone knobs are capable of, it's really a great circuit for a stock bass. With only minor tweaks to my signal chain, I can dial in things where you would swear it's not even the same bass, it's that versatile.

    Once you get more familiar with this unique circuit, switching between sounds becomes a breeze. One other very important thing is this - you may want to play the L series basses with the volume around 3/4 or so. Though the pickups are passive, their output is pretty hot.

    Some favorites are:

    Bridge pup/parallel/passive - Jazz
    Both pups/series/active with boost - Ray
    Neck pup/series/active - Precis

    This does not even account for the variations the knobs have in each situation. Now, I'm not going to suggest that one bass does it ALL, but this has as broad a range as any I've heard. Bear in mind that the G&L has its own character as well, so it lends some of that to each tone you dial in. It's best when playing rock IMO, and I think it nails the Jazz and Ray with convincing authority.

    Note: I play my ash bodied L-2000 when going for the Ray and Jazz tones. I also have an alder body G&L, but I prefer the tone of the ash. Just something to consider.
  18. Actually, Marcus Miller is a big influence of mine too! Maybe you and I sound similar?:) I've been really taking a lot from George Benson recently too, but then again that's been happeing indirectly through Oteil.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I actually came across an L-2500 at GC today. The only problem was that it was left-handed.:( I couldn't test it out sufficiently AT ALL. Also the strings were so old and dull so that it just doesn't do justice to it. It was a used one, pretty beat up and was going for $999.

    BTW, and this is a big question I forgot to ask. How much should I expect to pay for a new L-2500?

    I still have some time till I make a decision. I'm in the process of trying to sell my Sterling, so that needs to be done first. At this point, I think the most crucial factor for me is feel. Over the years, I've really become comfortable with a Fender feel. (never owned a Fender though) I played a TRB5 which allowed me to dig in like I can on a Fender, but not quite like a Fender. I've come to the conclusion that the comfort of my hands has the biggest influence on the quality and musicicianship of my playing. I need to really sit down with the L-2500 and spend some time with it and to see if I'll really feel comfortable in the long run (and not just in the store). The switches and the knobs are very confusing to me, and I wouldn't want to carelessly overlook some vital tone possibilities.
  19. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Probably $850-950 new from retailers. If they try to get more than $950, they are ripping you. The lowest price I ever saw on them was at ktjmusic.com. Maybe you could use their price to leverage something good from other retailers.

    Don't forget to check ebay if you're cool with that sort of thing. I once scored new L-2000 on there that this guy bought on impulse then put it up for auction. I got it for a mere $500, pristine mint cond.