Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

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Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

Postby Erkalump » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:23 pm

So... 6 months ago I bought my first 5 string and my second ever bass, a G&L Tribute L 2500. I just can't seem to get comfortable with it.

My first bass was a SBMM stingray Sub and I thought the G&L would be a serious upgrade, but so far, I'm disappointed.

I'm finding the G&L less comfortable to play, and tonally unsatisfying.

Even after upgrading to the USA preamp assembly, (big improvement) the SBMM still just sounds more full and complete than the L2500. I like the boost / cut 2 band eq too.

I'm considering either switching to a boost / cut pre or cutting my losses and selling the G&L.

I love the idea behind the L series, but I spend more time trying to dial in a sound and feel than I do playing.

Any advice from the G&L faithful would be appreciated. Especially anyone who has switched to active tone controls who can provide comparison feedback.

-Erkalump
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Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

Postby Ken Baker » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:40 pm

One thing to remember with a fully active basses like the SUB (I had one too) and the G&L M Series is that the preamp isn't providing a lot of gain. What does add or subtract gain is the EQ section. As players we perceive that as added tonal flexibility. The stock L Series preamp has no active EQ and, on its own, provides just a tiny gain boost. There's also a touch of treble added, but just a touch. The Passive Treble Bass (PTB) tone controls are cut only, and many look at that as a limiting factor. I did for a while, but not so much now. They're great sounding out of the box.

I switched my Fullerton L-2500's preamp out for an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp. The coil switching is basically "K" equivalent (Series/Single/Parallel) and pickup selection is the stock switch. So what do I do with all that flexibility? Not a helluva lot. I give it a little mid cut and a weensie bit of bass and treble boost, something I could do just as easily with my amp. The bass sounds every bit the G&L L Series that it is. I switch to passive, which is pickups to the jack through the volume control, and it stills sounds like a G&L.

There is a notable difference in raw tone between the G&L with its ceramic magnet pickups and the EBMM StingRay or SUB with its alnico magnet pickups. As a general rule, the ceramic pickups will have a more aggressive tone than the alnicos. I'm guessing that this difference is part of what's bothering you. What you might do before anything else is look around for a SLO Music Man Sterling bass, which has ceramic magnet pickups. Play it with the EQ flat, which should approximate the G&L with bass & treble dimed. Don't pay too much attention to feel; just listen. It's probably going to sound quite similar to the G&L. A-B them if you can. Then compare it to a 'Ray or your SUB.

Another thing to try is turn down the G&L's volume to 75%-80% and see how it sounds to you. In addition to turning down the volume you're also dialing back some of the aggressiveness. You can always add the volume back in at the amp. You might also try playing a G&L M-2500, which has a fully active preamp with 3 band EQ. Its pickups are less hot than the L-2500 and you may find it fits you better.

If you find that the aggressive tone of the ceramic pickups is what is bothering you, then you may as well flip the G&L because that is the G&L's voice and it isn't going away, even with fully active EQ.

As to how the G&L feels, that is very subjective and will vary from instrument to instrument. A pro setup may help or it may not; only you can tell. Another thing to consider is that the USA basses usually have a nicer and more playable feel than the Tributes, so finding a USA L-2500 might be a good thing.

Sorry for the wall of text. I figured some back story and experience could help you get your head wrapped around this.

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Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

Postby Erkalump » Sun Jul 28, 2019 2:58 pm

Very helpful, Ken. Thank you for your insight! :D
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Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

Postby TDR1138 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:00 am

I tend to feel that a lot of people don't approach/view the L-series basses the way that they're designed. They're really, at heart, a passive bass. The preamp is just a buffer, for the most part, and not your traditional preamp that boosts/cuts. Ken gives some good advice in approaching it with the volume about 75%-80%, but I'd go further and say roll all three knobs back to about 75%-80%. Then you can kind of work it to add a little more bass and treble with those respective knobs, or push the mids out more by increasing volume while decreasing the bass/treble.

As Ken mentioned, the M-2500 is going to have your more traditional active preamp with B/M/T boost and cut with center detent. The M is a little smoother than the L, but still retains a lot of the character of the L. I've played Ls long enough that I found myself missing that extra little bit of oomph from the L. I also think the M (and anything with an active preamp, really) gets a little muddy in the low end, as most preamps tend to boost the low end in the 40Hz range, which is too low IMO. But that's just my gripe. Maybe that's what you're looking for.

As to the feel, is there something in particular that you don't like about it? i.e. string spacing is too tight, neck is too chunky, action is too high, or what? A setup can cure some things, but others may be inherent to the design of the bass itself. And it may just be that it will take a little time to get used to it, too, seeing as it's your first 5 string. Have you played other 5 strings? What were they, and did they feel more comfortable?
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Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

Postby Erkalump » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:09 pm

Update... So I took the above advice as well as lowering the pickups substantially. I'm keeping the bass in passive mode primarily.

The instrument is much more well behaved and the tone controls much more usable. I swapped out the knobs for skirted amp type knobs with numbers on them. Keeping the volume between 6 and 8 and treble at about 2 with bass at about 6 gives a very smooth yet defined sound.

My comfort issue was solved by settling on a strap length that lets both my elbows bend about 90 degrees and keeps the neck angled up about 35 to 40 degrees.

Thus puts both my wrists at a mostly straight angle. An unexpected benefit has been that my plucking attack effort is greatly reduced. The whole bass is just easier to play and totally buttery.

Playing in a cover band requires me to dial in a very different sound from one song to the next and now I feel that the switches and knobs are more useful in that regard.

Plus, I still have gobs of earth shaking bass with a flick and a twist whenever I want it and I can get real thin with another flick and twist the other way!

Thank you both!
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Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

Postby Ken Baker » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:03 pm

YAY!!!

Does this mean she's a keeper?

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Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

Postby Erkalump » Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:35 pm

So far so good. Thinking about the K mod. Also gasing for a jb. I can't ever leave anything alone.
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