Enjoy traditional Leo Fender styled basses but want something just a little bit more advanced? That sounds like the new G&L M2500 to us! Dan Veall takes one for a spin.
1981 saw the release of the original L2000 and L2500 four and five string basses from G&L, the company formed by George Fullerton, Leo Fender and Dale Hyatt in the 1970s. Leo left a lasting legacy for G&L, as you might expect, and was quoted in a magazine advert as saying 'these are the best instruments I have ever made'. But instrument design is never set in stone - even Leo's! - and the latest G&L we have here, the M2500, is from the company's new Tribute Series and is an evolution from the original L series.
Opening up the custom G&L case included with the instrument was a treat - a quality case including paperwork and tools and a great start. Things only got better when we had the bass out for a pre-review warm up. The build quality was flawless and I have to say that I'm liking white basses more! This is only the second white bass we have had in for review and the finish on it was spotless.
The M2500 sits on the knee well balanced and is not too weighty or neck-heavy, which isn't necessarily what you might expect from an instrument with five standard open backed tuning keys in a three-two layout. The smooth finish to the medium C carve hard rock maple neck is a joy to navigate and the rosewood fretboard with its 22 nickel frets was equally perfectly finished.
G&L premium instruments are well known for their build quality; but the M2500 has had an upgrade in the electronics department too. Leo's MFD humbuckers have been the mainstay of the successful L-Series and in the new M-Series, they are voiced to fully exploit a new studio-quality 18v preamp created by G&L's R&D wizard Paul Gagon. The new preamplifier features an LF442 chip, 100v poly caps, 1% metal film resistors and military specification circuit board. In use, the controls, volume, pan and the three band EQ are solid, with a quality feel to their rotation. The pan and the EQ controls have centre detents for their mid-way positions, which we also liked.
Plugged in, the M2500 has a full character with 'everything set flat'. It's hard to describe the sound of pickups(it's a good job we havevideo, then! - Ed), but these humbuckers have a pleasing roundness to their tone, not overly bright with a slightly zingy 'Musicman' rasp, but at the same time the kind of fatness you'd expect from a classic P bass pickup too.
One thing on our sample was that the bridge pickup was set a little low, which made it quieter than the neck pickup (easily compensated for with the pan control, of course) and I'd also personally have opted for a lower action, though if you are looking for a studio clean tone, there's not a single buzz or rattle even with aggressive playing styles! That is noteworthy. Either way, it reinforces the point we always make on Gi, that when you buy a new instrument it is important to negotiate a personal set-up in the price, because everyone's tastes are different.
That aside, the EQ is centred perfectly and I found the boost and cut to really enhance the voice of the instrument.
Moving on to the hardware, as expected the tuning keys have a smooth operation and I'm always happy to see a high mass bridge on a quality bass to aid sustain and fullness of tone, in comparison to those less substantial 'bent tin' style bridges. The G&L bridge, designed by Leo Fender, features saddles that can be secured in position to stop sideways movement thus helping to improve tone still further.
The M2500 is a great bass, beautifully made and with a great tonal character. It's something a bit different to Leo's other well known designs and has an added modern vibe, without losing that essential rounded, vintage sound you get when pulling those high end frequencies back.
If you are a fan of Leo's other basses, then the M2500 will feel like an old friend even new out of the box. That's got to be a good thing if you are looking for wider tonal variation from a traditionally profiled instrument. It isn't a cheap bass: it's a handmade, US-produced one designed for serious players who know exactly what they want and it's certainly worth the asking price.