new Mike Lull M4V alder/rosewood replacing ash/maple: comparison

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by NeckPickup, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. NeckPickup

    NeckPickup Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2011
    Boca Raton, FL
    A while back I started a thread expressing my disappointment with the lack of output and oomph from my ash/maple Lull M4V: So I sold it and recently received this alder rosewood M4V:

    Mike Lull M4V CAR - a set on Flickr

    I went with Candy Apple Red, and it is well, um, really, RED, maybe even too much so for my taste, but it is toned down somewhat by the lack of white neck binding and dot markers. CAR was supposedly Leo Fender's favorite color, so this is my personal tribute to him. The finish is immaculately done, however, basically a translucent Dakota Red over metallic silver.

    Like all Lull's I've seen, the workmanship is superb, better than some basses I've played costing 2K more. Lull has the best feeling satin finish neck IMO. The only things that aren't perfect are a slight gap between the bass and treble stacked tone knobs, plus I don't love the slotted "X" based truss rod adjustment requiring a screw driver. Allen wrench-based adjustments seem better to me. Also, the rosewood is beautiful, dark and uniform, and this is not the upgraded rosewood. Both basses have the Bartolini 2-band preamp.

    The bass weighs 7.5 lbs., just a few ounces more than the ash one. Mike told me he does chambered bodies on alder to reduce the weight, as finding lightweight alder is harder to do these days.

    Some call Lull's glorified kit-basses, but all that matters to me is how it works.

    On to the comparison:

    Tone: The alder/rosewood is decidedly darker and deeper than the ash/maple I had. The ash had a much better slap tone, but the alder sounds more like my 60's vintage Jazz (sort of, see below).

    Tone: (cont.): I ordered the split coil Fralin hum cancellers on this bass, unlike the previous one, which had the single coils. The splits definitely do not have the clarity and bite of the singles. However, after reading some talkbass posts and experimenting, I was able to mostly get the Jazz bite I was looking for. Someone mentioned that the Fralin splits have a peak at 1K, so I lowered the low mids a bit on my amp. I also upped the upper mids and treble slightly, plus slightly turn the treble up on the stacked tone knobs. Now it's sounding pretty good, maybe even better sounding is bypassing the on-board pre-amp and very slightly overdriving the tube preamp section of my amp.

    Output level: This new bass did not solve the low output level issue. The problem, I think, is that Mike sets the trim pot to be at unity gain with passive mode. My new amp, a Genz Benz Shuttle Max 9.2, has a high-gain input setting intended for passive basses, but which also works well with the amp engaged on the Lull, so that's how I solved that issue. Maybe a hotter volume pot would help too.

    Overall, I prefer the feel of a rosewood board, and with a good amp, I can get enough high end and still get the fuller tone I wanted. I also like being able to pan the pickup selector to experiment with tones without worrying about hum.

    If you are a slap player, I say stay with the ash/maple, and if you want a Jaco sound, stay with the single coils. For me and how and what I play, however, I am very pleased I made the switch.
  2. bassjam

    bassjam Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Lakland Basses, G&L Basses
    Fun review-and pretty much what Id expect.Id never heard of the low output from the Lull's-in fact I had a Lull jazz years ago and that didnt stand out.I like Mike's work-very underrated builder IMO.Enjoy the bass!