Price paid: C$ 800
Purchased from: Avenue
Sound — 9
This bass has been my main working bass for the past 4 years, seeing piles of both function gigs and more typical concert type gigs. I have played it through a variety of amps, mostly an Eden NA650, but it seems to produce good results regardless of the amp. Using the bridge pickup alone creates a powerful, biting grind, which one could be forgiven for mistaking as a MusicMan Stingray. Its a very aggressive sound, but it is highly usable because of its ability to cut through virtually any mix. Like other settings on this bass, this setting works best when played fingerstyle, but it sounds good when played with a pick too, almost resembling a rather mean jazz bass. The middle position on the pickup selector is both pickups together, and this is one of my favorite sounds. Its not dissimilar to bridge only tone, but with some added warmth and low end. It sounds almost like a rather good P-bass. This is my go to setting simply because it it bright enough to cut through all but the nastiest of mixes while still having enough bottom end to case accidental bowel movements. It is worth noting however, that this setting is more prone to humming, especially around fluorescent lights. Using the neck pickup alone produces a lovely warm, burbling tone. Its quite a bass-heavy tone, but not so much that it is necessary to roll off the bass. Rather, it is just a very full version of itself. Slap players will appreciate the extra bottom end that this setting has to offer. This is really a very good setting to get classic motown and jazz tones out of the bass. Changing focus to the pre-amp control, the true versatility of this bass begins to become apparent. Running the bass in passive mode warms everything up, and more importantly, softens the dynamics. The attack is softened quite dramatically and the tone sounds quite a bit warmer, darker and looser. Running the control on the middle setting, pre-amp on with no boost, gives the bass a rather classic sound. It still retains some warmth from the passive setting, but it gains a much more aggressive attack, as well a mountains of upper mids and treble. This is where I spent the majority of my time. It sounds more articulate than a classic Fender design without sounding too modern, making it perfect for most styles of music. Finally, switching to the treble-boost setting, the bass immediately sounds quite a bit more modern. This is really the only setting where the bass ceases to sound like a Fender, sounding more like a Spector or an MTD. This is lovely for playing styles that require either great amounts of articulation or great amounts of aggression. Playing with the series/parallel switch, it is possible to hollow-out the tone somewhat. While I never found this particularly useful, I did like the fact that flipping the Switch could help to combat noise issues in some venues. Finally, it is worth noting that, even though its a little floppy in play, the low b remains very tight and articulate when playing. It just sounds absolutely huge, while resisting the urge to become flabby or sloppy sounding.
Overall Impression — 9
This bass has just been an absolute beast for me for the last few years. It plays brilliantly well, it sounds great, it can play nearly any type of music and it has held up to every bit of abuse. Quite simply, this is my favorite bass. I have played a host of other basses and nothing has quite compared to this one, at least not to my ear. This bass is just "right" for me, everything seems to work the way it should. I would highly recommend any working bassists in search of a highly versatile and reliable 5 string to take a look at this bass. Yes, the price may seems a little high initially, but an instrument like this easily justifies the price tag. This is easily my favorite bass, and I suspect other players will find it to be so too.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This bass is an absolute tank. Over the years it has taken some very serious blows, both from me and the previous owner, and it hasn't faltered once. Sure, the finish has become damaged from some of the harder hits, but the bass is structurally bombproof. Additionally, all the hardware is colossal! Everything on this bass looks like it was made for a tank! Consequently, I have never had any problems what'soever with any of the hardware or electronics on this bass. Even the strap buttons work well without strap-locks (which have since been installed). I wouldn't use this bass without a backup, but that's simply out of principle. I have played dozens of gigs where my backup has just sat on its stand behind my amp while this bass has seen 4 or 5 hours. I have total Faith in this bass's ability to withstand anything that's thrown its way.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
I cannot comment on the factory set-up of the bass, as it was already older when I got it. However, it is plain to see that there was a great deal of care put into the construction of the bass. The finish is very near perfect, especially on the neck, with hardly any signs of runs or imperfections. Ditto for the chrome work, which is as close to flawless as one can realistically expect. Overall, everything on the bass is finished to a very high standard and everything works the way it should. To me, that's the most important thing in any instrument. Everything was done properly.
Features — 9
My particular bass is a slightly older (4-5 years) model, I'm not entirely sure as I bought it used and haven't checked the neck pocket yet, but it features the modern specs. This bass is G&L's USA made 2 humbucker, 5 string bass. The body is made out of swamp ash and finished in a translucent orange. The neck is made out of maple with a maple fretboard, and it features 22 frets (I replaced the stock ones with bell-brass medium-jumbo frets). The features a 12" radius, 34' scale length, and a 1 3/4" nut width. This bass features 2 G&L magnetic field humbucking pickups with over-sized pole pieces. The real heart of this bass, however, is the tri-tone active-passive electronic system. This system features knobs for volume, bass and treble, as well as mini-toggles for pickup selection, series/parallel selection and pre-amp selection. The preamp can be selected to operate as a passive unit, an active unit or as an active unit with top-boost. The remainder of the hardware is standard G&L fare: a saddle lock bridge unit which can be strung through the body or the bridge, G&L ultra-light machine heads, and giant, beefy strap buttons. All the hardware is finished in a nice, consistent chrome. It is also worth noting that the bass comes stock with a very nice quality case (appears to be of SKB origins, comparing with other cases I own), for which G&L certainly deserves kudos. Overall then, the parts spec is quite good. Everything is highly useful and well thought out, and there is very little that a working bassist would find superfluous or unnecessary.