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steinberger synapse fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BillytheBassist, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. BillytheBassist


    Aug 18, 2005
    I was wondering if any of you cat's have any experience with these. I did a search and read the few post concerning them.... I would really like to hear some decent sound clips of one with a "bass" player playing one... not Vinnie Zummo..er whatver his name is... Thanks alot
  2. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I posted my notes on one on another thread. Last month, I ordered a 5 string Synapse fretless and returned it a couple of days later. The low 'B' and low 'E' strings were pure mud. The upper 3 strings sounded great. I tried adjusting it, but no luck. Just not enough tension to make any kind of acceptable sound. Could it be that the bass was defective? Or the strings dead? Maybe. But the quality of the workmanship led me to believe it's very hit and miss with Synapse. Of course, musiciansfriend.com did refund me quickly so no loss.

    I then ordered a musicyo.com XQ25A, the five string fretless Steinberger that's made in the USA. They are actually in stock these days. It's about $400 more and it's fretted. The difference was astounding. The XQ is a great instrument, beautifully finished and wonderful to play. It sounds amazing. I'd stack it up to instruments costing many times more, while the Synapse belongs with instruments costing much less. Note: I am a die-hard Steinberger fan...having owned XL's and NS basses for a couple of decades.
  3. psi


    Mar 11, 2005
    New Jersey
    Can you comment on the tonal differences between the XQ series and the XLs?
  4. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Sorry for the long answer but...I had an XL 4 fretted from 1984 to 2000 and an XL 4 fretless from 1986-2002. Both bought new. I sold the fretted as it was a bit worn (I'm too much of a perfectionist) and the fretless was in good shape so I kept it figuring I could add frets if needed. I was moving from a house to an apt so I was ridding myself of everything I didn't truly use and the late 90's saw my playing fall way off. I actually sent the fretless to Ed Roman to add frets, then traded it to him for one of his bolt-on neck LSR 'paddle' style XL imitations. His LSR was a dog. I sold it. The last few years I've been playing a lot, but only playing double bass. I just got back into bass guitars again due to new bands I joined. Naturally, I went looking for what Steinberger was up to.

    The XQ is really fantastic. I was dubious about a bolt on as well as about a Steinberger from Gibson. However, it's a gem. The finish is beautiful, and the workmanship belies its price. The neck seems a little thinner than the XL and it plays better (of course, I'm going on memory here.) I don't like really thin necks - it's not like that - it's still kind of half-round, but flatter. It has at least as good a feel as the XL. The body balance is fine, the controls similar, and the construction is at least as good.

    The sound is hard to compare as I don't have an XL here, and this is a 5 string. But I am very happy with it and I'm quite critical. What I liked about the XL was the 'piano' like clarity, the responsiveness of a super rigid body/neck and the evenness of sound anywhere on the bass. The XQ is the same.

    The only complaints I have are that I run my action high and I can't get the intonation spot-on for the low 'B'. The bridge won't allow for it. Of course, you don't play the 'B' string on the 12th fret+ in reality anyway, so it's no big deal. Maybe a truss rod adjustment would solve this. The factory setup is pretty good for most people, but too low and 'buzzy' for me. Also, the low 'B' is decent sounding, but doesn't seem to ring as freely as the other strings, nor have the piano clarity. The low 'B' is nice sounding and its slightly muted tone is probably a good match for the small cabinets I'm using anyway. It kind of has an Anthony Jackson w/Michele Camilo tone...which is kind of cool. I believe it could be reworked by an expert luthier if necessary.

    By the way, the package - the case, tools, etc, that comes with the bass are all top notch. Again, it seems like a great deal at the price.
  5. I get the same type of clarity and responsiveness from both my Status Graphite fretless and my Parker 5 fretteds.

    I'll definitely have to check out the Synapse now that you have mentioned possibly quality control issues. I wonder how it's possible that the more expensive model is not as good as the $400 one? Thanks for the posts!!!!


  6. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Jay - sorry if I wasn't clear. The $1500 XQ is preferred over the $1100 Synapse.

    By the way, just got a new Status Graphite Stealth 5 fretted. Amazing! How do you like your fretless? What model is it?
  7. BillytheBassist


    Aug 18, 2005
    I bet they'll lower the prices on the synapses as soon as i buy one.