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G&L: snore...

Discussion in 'G&L Bass Forum' started by Chef, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I have a bunch of G&L's...so, don't take this as an overall G&L bash and flamefest.
    O have 8, currently, and use them all, lots.

    But, my newest one is a 2001, it was an impulse buy...newer JB2...really nice bass in terms of build quality and playability, but the pickups bite it...IMO.

    After that, all my G&L's run back dang near 30 years.
    L1000's: 1980, and 2x1981
    L2000E: 1981
    Original SB2JJ: 2x1983
    Original SB1 J: 1983
    El Toro: 1984
    2001 JB2: decent enough bass, once it had Nordstrand pickups installed. But I could sure live without it. There's not really anything special or innovative about it.

    The SB1 J is a great snarly spinoff of Leo's first bass, the single coil Precision; only with a better pickup, better hardware, and better playability.

    The SB2 JJ-despite it's slab body and strat pickup switching-remains my favorite passive Jazz of all time. Those big pickups are a great combination of warm/fat, and snarl and growl.

    The L1000: this has been covered ad naseum...maybe the best passive 4 banger ever made. Unbelievable sonic flex for a passive single pickup bass. Ground-breaking pickup, uber cool pickup and coil tapping, and both *bass and treble* passive tone controls...man, that floored me when that came out.

    L2000E: take the L1000, add a nother pickup and a cool preamp that builds on the passvie tone controls instead of eliminating them. Never cared for the newer, post E series 2000's: they just don't sound the same. Thanks for trying tho. This includes the L2500 5 string with it's "narrow but fat" neck profile.

    El Toro: last innovative thing G&L ever did. IMO, passive mode bites, but active mode gives you a super mean, uber modern J killer.

    G&L...where'd you go? This first four years were nuttin' but ground breaking innovation!!! From 1984 to present, the best you could do was add kill your best JJ, add a PJ, and do a couple special runs for BABP? And add a *Fender* Jazz reissue...

    Dang it guys...give me something to draw me back in!
  2. I'm sure you read my rant over at the other place, where I touched on this. The innovator, and the innovation, died in 1991. That's 18 years ago this month, and his laurels have been rested upon ever since and not well served. I have hoped, indeed begged, for someone to take up the tinkering. I continue to hope, but it's getting harder all the time.

  3. Madcity Fats

    Madcity Fats Supporting Member

    May 28, 2008
    Madison, Wisconsin
    I won't necessarily argue with your basic premise, Chef, but I've gotta throw in some props for the 2nd gen SB-1/SB-2. I know opinion is split on the SB-2's V/V controls, but it's hard to argue that it isn't innovative (to my knowledge there's nothing else out there like it). Personally, I think it's elegant in its simplicity and I've never missed the tone knob (the SB-2 actually has a surprising tonal range when you dial back the massive output a little and play with "blending in" the bridge pup).

    Plus, the split MFD that's the real guts of both these models merits a special footnote in Leo's legacy book, for my money. Again, it may not be everybody's thing (what is?), but nothing else out there sounds like it.

    I also have to say, while it's not a classic, I love my LB-100. I'm sure Leo would have rolled his eyes at the notion of rehashing the old design, but I for one love having a P bass that plays and sounds like a classic, but that has all the G&L "upgrades" (bridge, tuners, micro-tilt, etc.).

    The new JB model is sort of the same deal: classic J style with all the G&L touches. Nothing innovative, but a fine idea as far as I'm concerned, at least from a marketing perspective. I mean, if the JB-2 sold well enough to produce a Tribute version, after all. And with the number of Fenders you see with aftermarket bridges installed, it seems like a natural fit for the company. Yeah, maybe Leo would have balked at the idea (we'll never know). But let's remember that Leo was an engineer/craftsman first and a sales/marketing guy ... well, not so much.
  4. jmattis

    jmattis Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2007
    Washington DC
    This is kooky talk. The L-2500 is one of the baddest 5ers out there, and its probably the best deal, hands down. I can understand the narrow spacing not being your thing, but I personally love it. Beyond that, look at some of the other most respected companies out there. Sadowsky, Lull, and Alleva-Coppolo. How are any of their products any more innovative than G&L? They all make awesome basses, but they're all essentially Fender knock-offs. Sure, Lull just started doing T-Birds, but thats not really any different than G&L coming out with the JB1.

    I'm not bashing any of these companies by any means, I'm just saying none of them have anything on G&L. I'm with you, Chef, in that I'd love to see them bring that SB2 JJ back (especially in a 5er), but in the meanwhile, I'm surely not going to be snoozing on the current line-up, which I think ranks among the top out there.
  5. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Yeah have to agree. Hard to mess with something that's pretty much exactly right to begin with.

    Sure, lousy marketing that'll probably always limit sales, but at the same time, it is kind of nice to be able to go to a music store and get a Fender with supe-ups come up with by Leo Fender himself. What more could you ask for?

    Even Michael Tobias has started making "traditional" basses that are clearly modeled after the jazz and precision, a kind of retrograde innovation....

  6. i for one won't care if they never make another bass besides the L-2000.... but i would love to see a little more tinkering going on under the hood.

    the MFD is perfect. no need to mess with it.
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    OK, I'll give some small quarter for the MFD-P...I like that pup so much I built a bass around it. Nothing really all that fuzzy and tingly about another P pup tho. Nord, Fralin and many other make fine iterations of that as well.

    The new JB model: whatev...seriously. It's more or less a 62 re-issue with crappier pickups, and a better bridge. No points for that. It's just G&L trying to snarf of thier little section of an already well captured market niche. "meh"

  8. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    The 2500 is nothing more than a design from 1981 with one more string added, on my least favorite 5 string neck ever. Clearly my own bias on the neck dimensions, so take that for what it's worth.

    An SB2-JJ-5 *would* have my attention. Those pickups-again, my own personal bias here-top the Jazz pile; and I've tried dang near all of what's out there.

  9. millahh

    millahh Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    I think I see what Chef is getting at... that while Leo was around, G&L was kind of like BMW...always tinkering, improving, and looking to revolutionize. And they did thet very well. But since shortly after his death, they've basically stayed frozen in time, while other companies (EBMM, for example) continue to innovate and push the envelope.

    Luckily (?) for me, I'm still quite new to G&L, and have alot of exploring to do...I don't really "see" the stagnation that the G&L veterans like Ken & Chef do.

    I don't think that there is such a thing as "perfect" when it comes to engineering an instrument. There's far to much subjectivity in terms of sound, feel and configuration preferences. If everyone went with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy, there'd only ever have been a P-bass...probably only available in one finish. Just because a satisfactory option exists, it's no reason to stop imaginating what else might be possible.
  10. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Yessir; no yer feelin' me;)
    G&L are asleep at the wheel. They make some fine stuff. Most of which is going on 27 years old now.

    Nuttin' wrong with a 51 Precision. Nuttin' wrong with some of the current lineup.
    But, I already have one-or several-of all of the G&L product line that has ever worked for me.

    I bet the majority of long term G&L users are more similar to me than dis-similar.
  11. Exactly. EBMM, Lakland, Yamaha, and a lot of the smaller builders have simply gone around G&L. Ceramic pickups? Basslines or a Sterling. High mass bridge? Hipshot, Schaller, et al. Lightweight tuners? Everybody. Advanced onboard preamps? Everybody else.

    You're right in a very global sense - there is no "perfect" as it applies to everyone. There is perfect on an individual basis, but that doesn't keep the crowd interested.

  12. You might like mine. Its neck is a bit of an aberration.

    We've got a few Skyline modders out here on the left coast, and I'm one of 'em. My 55-01 with Nord Big Splits and an OBP3 is a 5 string force to be to reckoned with. Only thing I have here that comes close is the now-SC-modded L-2500.

  13. Try gettin' 'em to admit it. :rollno:

  14. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Put me in the same room with them, a desk lamp, and a lead filled Louisville Slugger souvenir bat;)

    (least that's how we did it in the CIA)
  15. lmfreeman9


    Sep 1, 2007
    I agree with Chef. I've got an '81 L2KE, '82L1K, '83SB-2 and '84 El Toro. They all play great and sound great. On those rare occasions I get a chance to play the newer G & L's I am disappointed. The necks feel crude and the sound is too trebley for my tastes.
  16. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I disagree about the new necks, a little. I had a late model 07 L2K for a bit that had a 1 3/4 width, shallow, plek'd neck. It played great, but, it offered nothing new or better than my '81.
  17. I know! We'll have Mongo handle it!

  18. Yabbut... That ain't the point in this discussion. We're talking about forward thinking, not living in the past. Let Fender (and all the now-legal copycats) keep on keepin' on. Give us something truly new!

  19. Jaysus......Talk about a tempest in a teapot. Sounds to me like you whiners ought to just contract a custom luthier to build something your way.

    You love G&L...but they suck. They make fine products...but they need to do better. Which is it?

    Face it, you can badger G&L for new ideas 'til the cows come home and they won't budge. Stoic as Mt. Rushmore, they are.

    "Breaking new ground" is just not what they do, and would be in direct conflict with their mission statement of preserving Leo's Legacy.

    That legacy embodies what Leo accomplished during his years at G&L, not what he might have done, were he still alive....
  20. vroc38


    Jan 5, 2006
    If G&L never made a single new "improvement" it wouldn't change my love for the L1K/L2K/L2.5K/L5K/ASAT. They are my musical voice, and IMO perfect just as they are. I personally could not imagine anything G&L could do that would produce a more desirable bass or change my opinion of these fine classic instruments.


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