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G&L LB-100 Empress vs Alder.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by n1as, May 2, 2015.

  1. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Technically this is a NBD post but I don't have pics yet so I can't really claim NBD!

    I now have 2 G&L LB-100's that essentially the same except for the body wood:

    Bass 1:
    • Alder Body (white / tort)
    • 1/4 sawn w/rosewood board
    • 1 5/8" nut
    • Gloss neck finish
    Bass 2:
    • Empress body (copper / tort)
    • 1/4 sawn w/rosewood board
    • 1 1/2" nut
    • Satin neck finish
    When Bass 2 shipped from the vendor I put brand new strings on Bass 1 and didn't touch it for a week. I used the same strings G&L uses. My plan was to let the new strings age under tension without playing just like the string on the bass being shipped.

    Yesterday, Bass 2 arrived. I switch back and forth between them both solo and playing with tracks to see if I could hear any difference between them. And I could.

    Bass 2 gave slightly deeper lows and a bit more upper mids than bass 1. With finger style playing the bass 2 tended to be a bit more barky or snarly or growly. It had a "braaaap" presence to the tone that I really liked and it supported the note well. I tried some slap even though I'm terrible at it. Popped notes on bass 2 were brighter and more biting than bass 1. Slap notes had more definition and character. I noticed bass 2 didn't give smooth consistent volume. Hard to explain but it sounded like it needed compression more than bass 1. It might be a setup issue (pickup height?).

    Bass 1 gave a focused midrange sound. It was clean on the top but the real meat of the sound was the mids. Finger style the tone was more "brooom" rather than "braaaap". With slap playing this bass really came into its own. Thumb slap notes were consistent and clear. Popped notes were bright with a hint of darkness draped over the top. I found it easier to get consistent volume and cleaner playing out of this bass for some reason.

    Summary: So what do I think of empress? In a word - impressed. You saw that coming didn't you :). The sound and playability are on par with alder but with a bit more clarity and bite. Nice. Oh and I love having a 7.44 pound bass!

    I'll post pics in another thread.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
    ProfFrink, SJan3, Maiden Bass and 5 others like this.
  2. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Actually this bass might be a tad too light. Balance is good with no neck dive but it does feel neck heavy.

    I may put hipshot tuners on it.
  3. NightCat


    Apr 4, 2013
    I assume hipshot tuners are lighter than the stock G&L's?
    Nice review! If they ever do an LB-100 in Empress AND Rustic I just might freak out and sell something.
  4. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Yea, I weighted the G&L tuner and I think it was about 90 grams. Fender tuners tuners are like 120. Hipshots are something around 60. I hate to spend another $100 on the bass but reducing the weight even more and achieving better balance would be ... great!
  5. JI99

    JI99 Guest

    Jan 24, 2007
    My empress JB-2 came in at 7.15 pounds. I also am aware of slight neck heaviness, though not enough to be a problem for me. I suspect this by default may be one of the lightest if not the lightest G&L bass since it doesn't have the extra electronics, wiring, battery, pick guard, etc. of all the other models. And the empress body subtracts even more weight from the standard ash or alder body. I believe the Hipshot Ultralight would require drilling a hole, but i'm not positive about that.

    That said, i am really liking it a lot. It sounds great, plays great, and my old bod appreciates the light weight and i can easily compensate for the very slight neck heaviness.
  6. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    Thanks for posting, I just learned about empress over the weekend and was wondering how it compared sonically to ash or alder.
  7. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Yea, the hipshot tuners would require a hole for the wood screw and the original screw holes from the G&L tuners would show but all that would be covered when I put the original tuners back on before I sell it (if I ever sell it that is).

    One of the questions I had was whether or not empress would have any sustain. Boy it sure does. This bass rings long. Love it.

    My first gig with it will be this Sunday a.m.
  8. jnumme

    jnumme Low End To No End Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Muskegon, Michigan
    Lets see pix !!!!!
  9. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    Yea, I owe everyone a proper NBD post. Have been crazy busy the last 6 weeks. That finally is letting up so I have some hopes of getting the camera out and doing some photos in the near future.
    jnumme likes this.
  10. jnumme

    jnumme Low End To No End Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Muskegon, Michigan
    Your forgiven. I just ordered a LB100 empress rw board today and your review and the weight issues sold it for me. I'm excited to give G&L a chance.
    n1as likes this.
  11. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
  12. fender68


    Jun 7, 2011
    What the heck is empress? Is a cousin to agathis?LOL
  13. justbass57

    justbass57 Supporting Member

    Empress is also called Paulownia.

    Apparently, the fastest growing tree on the planet.

    If I understand correctly some of these trees are not instrument worthy, so the right trees have to be sought out, and the Chinese have been making high quality instruments out of it for centuries.
  14. fender68


    Jun 7, 2011
    Oh,ok. Thanks for that. Until recently, i had never new about it's existence.
  15. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Very interesting post. Thanks for writing down your impressions.

    How heavy is bass number one?

    You list bass two as 7.44 lbs. I would assume it's in the 8.8 to 9.5 lbs range.

    It's often overlooked but the weight of an instrument has a lot to do with tone. I admire guys like Mike Lull because, in my experience it can be difficult to have both a light weight and a tonally balanced instrument on a bass. Often, again in my experience, super light basses lack bass and can have kind of a shrill tone. Again, it's hard to generalize but I have observed this a few time.
    Meanwhile, heavy basses in the 10lbs+ range often have that big authoritative bassy tone.
  16. n1as


    Mar 29, 2013
    It has been over 1.5 years, but IIRC the alder body bass weighted 9.1 lbs.
  17. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i just bought a G&L M2000 new with empress-7.8 lbs.
    its hitting on all cylinders.
  18. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    My experience has been pretty much the opposite. Heavy basses tend to have dull lifeless tone, while lightweight instruments have a bouncy mid-forward tone that I love. I currently own 3 basses that are very light and have superb resonance and definition: Fender Roadworn Jazz (8 lbs, alder), and two Lakland 44-01's both of which are 7 pounds 12 ounces. and made of Swamp Ash.

    AND, I just ordered a G&L USA M2000 made of Empress. Can't wait to get my hands on that bad boy!
  19. GentProvocateur

    GentProvocateur Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    Reviving this. How'd it work out for you?
  20. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    The M2000 did not work for me. While the wood and weight were wonderful, I absolutely hated the electronics. I've owned an L2000...love the bite and punch of that bass but I found the controls to be too fiddly as I use a variety of tones on stage...the sounds are in there...but getting to them was always trial and error. I couldn't find an M2000 to try out so I ordered one hoping I could get into L2000 sonic territory with much more user-friendly controls. They couldn't be more different. The M2000 is positively meek by comparison. Purely my opinion of course.

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