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MM Sterling v. G&L L2000 - how do they compare?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ahiddentableau, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Hi guys,

    I've finally got enough scratch together to buy my first nice bass. Since I'm only going to be using for recording (in the foreseeable future, at least), I want flexibility...to be able to dial in various, useable tones, different voices, and so on.

    After trying out all the basses I can, I think I've got it narrowed down to the Sterling and L2k. So I'm wondering how you guys think they compare, and which one you'd choose. Which is more flexible? What are the pros/cons of each? What kind of things should I expect or be looking for that, as a relative newbie, I might not think of or catch?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. I have no hands-on experience with either of the basses but I can point you to these videos:

    Both show the tonal varieties of both basses, except the G&L is a Tribute model.
  3. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    They are both really great basses. The L2k has more tonal character variation, but the sterling has more powerful and flexible EQ. The L2k is going to be a gruntier, slightly richer sound. The Sterling is going to sound a little more polite and "modern" or shiny.

    Can't go wrong either way.
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    The G&L will let you go between passive and active with the flick of a toggle. The MusicMan is active all the time. If that makes any difference to you.

    Also, for some people the combination of toggle switches and knobs on the G&L is too complicated and/or seems almost gimmicky as compared to the straightforward knobs-only configuration of the MusicMan. But that is totally a personal preference thing.

    Since you mentioned recording I will let you know that in my very limited experience with both models, I found the G&L to be "noisier". But also, more versatile.

    Either one would be a great player "out of the box" and should be a solid investment that will hold its value over time.
  5. bassman03


    May 19, 2008
    Sully, Iowa
    As far as flexibility goes, from what i've heard G&Ls are definitely one of the most versatile basses you can find.
  6. As others have stated, the L-2000 will be more flexible. Whether or not you think the tones are usable is personal preference. That said, I had a SR5 (supposedly very similar to the Sterling) and was really fond of the 3 band eq.

  7. pringlw


    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    I can't speak to the G&L.

    On the Musicman side I have a Sterling HS. It remains the best fretted bass I've ever played - period. My GAS keeps having me look at other basses in the pursuit of "something out there" - but its yet to be beaten. Just today in fact I played a Lakland USA Bob Glaub. Very nice bass - and entirely different than the Sterling but for me personally - I wouldn't trade them. I love my Sterling.
  8. The closer comparison with the Sterling would actually be the G&L 1500. As previously mentioned, the L-2000 will give you more tonal variation, although only you can decided if you dig the various tones. With that said having owned all 3, I use only the Sterling now, it just has the "it" factor for me on stage. Between the Sterling and my "P" bass, I,m covering the tones I need for the CD I'm currently doing with my band.
  9. Hugh Jass

    Hugh Jass

    Oct 10, 2008
    Canada eh
    One thing to keep in mind is the neck. Sterling's are quite thin necked and L2000's are huge for a four string, even bigger (wider at the nut) than a modern Precision.

    I own a L2000 but only have limited experience on MM's. One thing I have noticed is that MM's can have very different sounds depending on pickup configurations (i.e. H, HH, HS etc.) I have played the single H the most and have found it to have a very aggressive almost 'boxy' sound that I really like but it only really did small variations on that theme. I really liked the HS as it could do everything from that to kind of a fat jazz-ish sound. The theme with MM seems to be fairly modern and 'active' (funny considering they are from the 70's).

    The L2000 though I find to sound more 'organic' if that makes sense, particulairly in passive. It has loads of growl and grit and kind of a cool fret burble if you know what I mean. I really haven't taken it out of passive yet as I find active a little clanky with the strings I have on (XL's). It gets a kind of gritty, boxy allllmost P-ish sound with the neck pickup soloed but I find the bridge pickup a bit harsh and clanky unless you roll the treble down a fair bit.

    They are both very different but very good. Keep that neck in mind though as they are very different. Unless you get the #8 neck from G&L which is about the same as the Sterling. Both are great so you cant really go wrong.

    I love my G&L but there is a certain sunburst and maple Stingray at the local shop that has been calling to me. :D
  10. Martizmo


    Mar 26, 2009
    Metro Detroit
    I agree that If you are looking at The L2000 it must be contended with a Stingray. You want a Fat neck that helps deliver an ass kicking tone. Now with that said.

    I was dead set on purchasing the G&L L2000 when I seen it advertised online. And one day I went out and test play and/or purchase it, only to be bummed out by the poor quality and craftsmanship. I'm not talking about a little neck adjustment. A cheezy fretboard with flaws, two frets not completely inserted. Where is this bass built? Music Man is Made in the USA

    Good luck with whatever choice you make.
  11. G&L offers 4 neck choices. Two thinner, two thicker, with neck radii being the difference within the subsets. They are made in US (although they do have an import line - the Tribute series). It's a shame you found a bad one as most people who've picked one up will tell you they are very well built, even if it's not to their taste.

  12. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I've played both, but own an L2k and a 2500. In general, the tones are very similar (i.e. assuming the 2 pickup version of the sterling) but the G&L gives more of it.

    The G&L pickups are Leo Fenders masterpiece, there's nothing better he ever made and there isn't much else on the market with more kaboom (tho they can be a little noisey in series mode). The MM pickups are indeed really aggressive and powerful but they're simply no match for the MFD's. More highs, more lows and generally a little more of everything.

    The music man does have a quieter and little better sounding preamp than the G&L, but in passive mode the G&L pWns by a bit.

    In terms of construction and build quality they're about the same. The G&L bridge is a little better than the music man, that's about it. Otherwise, they're both very well built instruments.

    I prefer the G&L because I play fretless and like to use flats to keep from tearing up the board. So I need as much kapow out of the pickups as I can get and the G&L MFD's are as good as you can get in that regard.

    I agree the MM is a little quieter tho.

  13. willsellout

    willsellout Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    Fort Wayne, IN
    The G&L's are noisy because if you open up the pickup cavity it looks like a robot threw up in there. My biggest beef with them, and the reason the bass is so incredibly noisy is because of their crappy electronics work. I'm still amazed they haven't managed to clean that cavity up.

    That said, the L2K is more versatile and generally more aggressive. I like it, its a great bass.

    I own a Sterling because I love the necks and I love the sound which tends to be nice and balanced between aggressive and smooth. They are also quieter.
  14. pringlw


    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    +1 on the quiet. Again I'm not comparing to the G&L because I don't have experience with them. However (as I was sharing in a different post) I was GASing for a J-Bass recently and picked up a Fender American Deluxe. I got it home and it was so darn noisy compared to my Musicman Sterling that I just couldn't stand it. Back to the store it went. I also found the neck couldn't compare to my Sterling (mostly because of the unfinished back on the Sterling).

    Experiences like that really help you appreciate what you have.
  15. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    The neck has a finish, it's just not a gloss finish.
  16. Martizmo


    Mar 26, 2009
    Metro Detroit
    The tribute series was the bass I had problems with.
  17. Hugh Jass

    Hugh Jass

    Oct 10, 2008
    Canada eh
    For several years now all of the US G&L's have been plek'd before leaving the factory. The neck on mine is perfect, low action, can't find a dead spot, and no buzz even when really digging in. :D

    Just remember that Tributes travel a long way before they hit your local store through all kinds of temp. and humidity changes which could cause those funky frets.
  18. I might be wrong, but if he's comparing a Sterling to an L-2000, he's probably not looking at the Tributes.

  19. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    On looks alone I like the G&L. That tobacco sunburst L-2000 with matching headstock is calling me .... :D
  20. First off, thanks for all the help!

    Above poster is basically right, but there's a tribby at the shop three blocks from my apartment that I can buy for a song. Actually it's the same model the last poster was gassing over -- sunburst (Even with taxes it'll work out to a shade over $500USD -- tough to beat!). Nice guitar. And it doesn't show any of the build flaws mentioned. I was really impressed -- it was probably the best import I've ever played (well, you know what I mean. Not from a rich country).

    Problem for me is the beefy neck. My hands are definitely on the small side, so with 1-3/4" at the nut and all, width is a problem. It's pretty beefy in general, too. The flat radius makes it a bit easier for me, but not quite enough. Still, for the price, I'm sorely tempted just to grab it, play it for a while and really see what I think. I shouldn't have too much trouble getting my money back (although G&L doesn't seem to get much love in Canada...). Then I could spend grand+ with a little more confidence.

    The Sterling has a neck that I just love. Just felt great on the hands. Some of it is an EBMM thing, though. Kind of surprised me, but I found the Stingrays at the store surprisingly playable, too. I expected to find them too big. I did not. Fast necks. And I like satin on the hands, so I liked the finishing.

    Anyway, point is that I couldn't A/B the L2k and the Sterling, so it's hard for me to figure out if it'll meet my needs tonally. What I should have mentioned is that the bass will be used primarily for recording. So flexibility and how it sits in a mix are probably the two most important considerations for me. I got to play the L2000 through most of my recording equipment, so I got a good sense of that instrument. (A lot of useful range there. I really liked it.) But I haven't been able to do the same with the MM. That scares me a bit because I've often read people complaining about recording with their MMs, or active basses in general.

    Sorry for writing the great american novel. Too much GAS my tank I guess.

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