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Lullified my Steinberger Synapse!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lia_G, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    Mike Lull is the man. I knew that already: although I've never owned a true 'Lull' bass, I did own a fretless Jazz Bass that he had put a 1/4" thick ebony slab fingerboard on, with Bartolini pickups and electronics,a upgraded bridge, etc. That thing was magic ...

    Anyway, a while back I bought a b-stock Steinberger Synapse fretless 5 as a backup and travel bass. Here's a pic of it in a hotel room soon after I bought it:


    I love the form factor, and I was excited by the fact that with their new allen-set-screw headpiece you can use standard strings, but I've never been happy with the sound with the EMG and piezo pickup. It's just too trebly, sterile and 'hi-fi' for me. And piezos usually don't do anything for me anyway ... I also play upright, so if I want that acoustic sound, well, I'll play upright. Also, the channel on the headpiece for the low b was too small to fit the monster .136 b string on my favorite string, Thomastik flatwounds. I tried about 6 other sets of strings, but never found anything I was really happy with.

    I went back and forth about just selling it, but I really do love the size and ergonomics. So I decided to spend more money than I'll ever get out of it if I tried to sell it, and let Mike Lull work some magic. Which he did ...

    1) Bartolini pickup
    2) Bartolini 3-band 18 volt EQ; push-pull mid pot to select 250 / 800 hz; push-pull volume pot to defeat the active eq in case of battery failure on stage;
    3) Widen the b-string channel to fit the Thomastiks, and set it up with those strings;
    4) General setup, and fingerboard leveling (there were some valleys).

    #4 I had done when I first got the bass. I just dropped it off with him on Friday for the first three. He finished it in 4 days. I picked it up today, and tried it out in his shop through a Super Redhead. It's amazing. *Really* amazing. I'll try to take some pics, closeups of the new work, but the appearance is nothing special. The goods are in the sound and feel ... the thing really is magic now.

    So now I'm way more into a Korean Steinberger than I'd ever get out of it, but that's okay ... I won't be selling this one anyway ... ;)

    Mike did amazing work, and did it very quickly. Plus, he's a great, friendly guy to boot. I have a Stingray 5 in with him now being converted to fretless, and can't wait to see what he does with that! There will be a new thread, "Lullified my Stingray 5!" once I get that one back ... ;)

    I have no idea if Mike hangs out here at all, but if so ... "Thanks, Mike!!!!!"

  2. Lo end PUNCH

    Lo end PUNCH

    Jan 28, 2005
    That's pretty cool, will he *pimp-out* the Music Yo one's If asked too? I love the bass by the way, headless fanatic here.
  3. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    I'm sure he would. He's not cheap, but he's by far the best I've ever had work done by.

  4. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned SUSPENDED

    Sounds like a bunch of good upgrades.

    After reading the Bass Player Mag review of the Synapse, I have to wonder about the intonation problems. On a fretless, I'm sure it's not much of an issue except on harmonics, but on a fretted I could see there being huge problems with the one piece saddle.

    Any comment on intonation? Would anyone know of ways to fix it. I'm considering a B-stock 5er as well, fretted, and I doubt I'd use the piezo's much, if that would help.
  5. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    My first Synapse, a fretless 5, had problems both on intonation and weak, unusable low 'E' and 'B' strings. My new one, a B stock, fretted 5, is wonderful. Intonation is spot on, sounds great, fabulous low end and it's hard to see what is 'B' about it. I wonder if a lot of basses were returned for bad setups and the factory had an expert redoing the returns and sending them back to market as 'fixed B's...
  6. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    My b-stock fretless 5 had some problems, the most major of which was the valleys in the fingerboard, which gave Mike fits to level (phenolic resin is an absolute b!#$h to sand). The strings that came on it were some poor quality round wounds, and had some problems with evenness across the strings. However, it had growl and sustain unplugged, which told me that it was a good platform for work. That acoustic growl and sustain in a fretless is just a necessity, or at least I've never been able to get a good electrified fretless sound if the bass sounded like crap unplugged.

    So even though I thought the instrument was overpriced for the level of quality, I knew it had "the sound" somewhere inside it waiting to be found. So I gave it to Mike and said "find it, please." ;)

    As far as intonation, I haven't noticed problems, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. Things feel a little different, but I've thought that was due to my other main fretless having a 35" scale. I'll get a tuner out and check things out.

    I've had good luck with one piece bridges, though: my upright, acoustic guitars, and Paul Reed Smith electric guitar all have one piece bridges and pplay very well in tune ... we'll see ...

  7. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Interesting...I think that if I gave that fretless more time, changed the strings, found the right balance of action and maybe went the luthier route, I would be doing as good as you did. I was too impatient and expected better out of the box. But I will say that the 3 uppper strings did really sound good...
  8. Congrats on the tweaks!! Sounds like a good investment and win-win situation! That little bass will certainly help to keep you away from the chiropractor! ;)


  9. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    Okay, I've had the bass back for a while now, and have gigged with it a few times in situations ranging from a small bar to a medium sized concert hall. The thing just rocks. I've been loving carting it to rehearsals, since it's so compact and lightweight (not as light as the 'real' graphite Steinies, of course). As when it was in its original state, the form factor is great. Now, though, the sound is there as well. When I used it on gigs before Mike worked on it, I always felt I was sacrificing something. So I didn't use it much. Not anymore ... there's no sacrifice involved in playing this bass now.

  10. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I've also finally taken my stock Synapse 5 fretted out on back to back gigs including last night. It worked great - especially in a 'live' room that had a crisp sound. The bass exceeded my expectations. A great buy for those seeking a modern sound.
  11. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    And that's exactly why I didn't like it in its stock configuration ... ;)

    But I knew what I was buying when I bought it, and I knew that I wanted something strange: warm, vintage sounds from an ultra-modern bass.

    Out of curiosity: now that you've gigged with it some, how do you find the intonation on your fretted Synapse? Does it still seem as good as your last post? It seems fine on my fretless, although I haven't gotten the tuner out. However, with fretless I'm always just playing with my ears and making adjustments anyway, since playing 'exactly' where the frets would be is never 'exactly' in tune, due to the tempered scale. I'm just curious about your fretted one, since who knows, maybe I'll grab one to match the fretless some day??

  12. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Martin Keith Guitars
    I wouldn't be sure about that...I used to own an original Q and it was pretty darn heavy.

    Nice bass!

  13. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    Have played this thing a lot now, and am currently using it along with an upright and my Stingray5 fretless in a studio project. When I brought this thing out, the producer said, "Oh, cool, a Steinberger." After I recorded a couple of tracks with it, he came into the booth and said "What the hell is that thing?? That's the most amazing sound I've ever heard!!"

    I let him know that it's not exactly stock. ;)

    Funny ... even though the pickup is in the MM position, this couldn't sond more different from my MM fretless. They complement each other very well in the studio. The Steinberger just has this pure, warm, thundering bass, while the Stingray, well, sounds like a good Stingray should. ;)

  14. avid

    avid born lefty

    Jun 22, 2005
    Ashland, Oregon USA

    A couple of questions for you. What did Mike charge for putting a new ebony fingerboard on your bass. I realize that MMMV but just trying to get some kind of idea.

    You stated you dropped of the your bass and picked it up four days later. Can one make arrangements with Mike to schedule work and then expect it to be done in "X" days? This is important to me since I live in Oregon. I might schedule a trip to Washington, stop by Mike's and drop off a bass and then pick it up on my way home. Thanks

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