Living Up To A Large Legend
By Jim Gault
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
G&L was founded by Leo Fender and George Fullerton in 1980 and the L-2000 bass has become a classic just like most of the other Leo Fender designs. Leo is no longer with us, of course, but the L-2000 is, in both an American-made version that is true to the L-2000 Leo first created and in an imported Tribute Series model that is an exceptional production rendition of the American-made model.
I wrote a hands-on review of the G&L L-2000 basses nearly a decade ago and was thoroughly impressed by them. Now asked to do it again, I was curious to see how the current L-2000s compared with those of yesteryear. Would the G&L basses still be the kind of instruments that Leo would be proud to have his initial on?
Especially among musicians, there's a "they just don't make 'em like they used to" bias, a prejudice that favors vintage over new. In some cases and in some ways, this attitude is justified—but not always. There are companies whose products improve over time because of design refinements, craftsmen who develop in skill, technological advances, and improvements in manufacturing techniques. G&L is a perfect example of this kind of company.
The American-Made L-2000
If you want a beautifully crafted and flawlessly finished pro-quality bass, the American-made L-2000 or L-2500 (the five-string version) is it. It is an instrument that combines proven classic virtues with the best modern refinements. The body design blends the forms of Leo's two most famous creations, and is shaped from a thick slab of premium swamp ash or alder. The body is fairly thick and therefore heavy, but the instrument balances so well that it hangs easy on the shoulder.
The L-2000 I received was especially elegant-looking with a tobacco burst finish on both the body and headstock. The rosewood fretboard was free of markers except for those on the side, and with the gleaming chrome hardware, the overall effect was very classy.
It had a slim neck with a 1-1/2" nut width and a 12" radius and, except for a heel that seemed less streamlined than it could be, was fast and easy to play from top to bottom. The American-made G&Ls are available in a number of configurations (colors, neck shapes, and fretboard options). Call us for details.
In all cases, the L-2000 neck is attached by six bolts, making it plenty secure. In one interesting construction technique, the neck is milled from a single hard maple blank that is cut in half lengthwise, then glued back together with the truss rod mounted. This technique relieves stress on the wood and makes the neck less likely to warp or twist.
Hardware & Electronics
Premium woods and fine craftsmanship are only a beginning for the G&L L-2000 or L-2500. The hardware and electronics also serve to define them as high-end instruments. The tuners are tapered aluminum-post Ultra-Lites, a custom G&L design. The bridge is another G&L innovation. It's called the Saddle-Lock bridge because an Allen set screw on the side tightens the saddles together so that the bridge functions more like a single piece of brass to more readily transfer string vibration. It is also a rather massive bridge and a very stable anchor.
The electronics really set the L-2000 apart from earlier Leo Fender designs. Basically it is a tri-tone active-passive system. Three mini toggles provide three-way pickup selection, a series-parallel switch, and an active-passive switch (preamp on/off) with a high-end boost. These, combined with three tone controls, give the L-2000 an incredible tonal range. Whether you want it snappy for funk slap or deep and throaty, whether you want an active hi-fi sound or a passive system punch, the L-2000 basses can deliver the goods.
The heart of the electronics is a pair of G&L's patented Magnetic Field Design pickups. They are dual-pole-piece humbuckers with a magnetic ceramic bar under each coil and have adjustable soft iron pole pieces. These pickups have about twice the output per wind of conventional pickups, and a warmer sound and broader frequency range. With the various options provided by the toggles and the tonal range the three tone knobs can provide, it can take some time to explore all the capabilities of the L-2000.
The Tribute version of the L-2000 is an imported production model that costs about one-third as much as the American-made instrument, but don't let that lower your expectations too much. I don't know if I've ever seen a better "affordable version" of a high-end instrument. G&L has obviously applied very high-quality standards to the manufacturing of these basses. I checked out two models—a four- and a five-string (L-2500)—both of which had premium transparent finishes with beautiful wood grain showing through. Both models had a wider, flatter profile than the American-made model and thus a different feel, but one many players might prefer.
They don't offer as many options as the American models do, but the tonal character and range of the Tribute model is pretty much identical to that of the American-made bass and for good reason. The electronics are exactly the same—all American-made real stuff—with the same preamp, toggles, tri-tone controls, and the same wound-in-America MFD pickups. Even the hardware is the same, made under license using G&L designs and specs. It is rare that an affordable version of a pro-level instrument shares so many of its features. The Tribute models and the Fullerton custom shop instruments prove that G&L really does make them like they used to.
Features & Specs
- 2 G&L Magnetic Field humbucking pickups
- Ash body with transparent finish; alder with solid finishes
- Hard rock maple neck with rosewood or maple fingerboard
- Ultra-Lite tuning keys with aluminum tapered string posts
- G&L Saddle-Lock bridge
- G&L Tri-Tone active/passive electronics
- 3-way mini-toggle pickup selector, series/parallel mini-toggle, preamp control
- Mini-toggle (off/on/on with high-end EQ boost)
- Includes G&L hardshell case
Tribute L-2000/L-2500 Features:
- 2 G&L USA humbuckers
- Basswood body
- Hard rock maple neck with rosewood or maple fretboard
- G&L-designed Saddle-Lock bridge
- Ultra-Lite tuners
- Tri-Tone active/passive electronics
- 3-way mini-toggle pickup selector, preamp control, series/parallel control
- Treble boost/cut knob
- Bass boost/cut knob
- Volume knob
- Includes G&L deluxe gig bag