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BY DAVID ABDO
It’s not uncommon to hear marketing speak describing economy-class instruments with statements like, “these basses use the same parts as our flagship models” or “it utilizes identical construction and build philosophies.” They’re statements that appeal to our sensibilities as well as our pocketbooks. But when woods of lesser quality, cheaper electronics based on originals, or compromised craftsmanship are part of the equation, these frugal forays can often end up in disappointment.
But there are a number of builders that show a commitment to consistency throughout their entire lineup, and G&L is one that’s known for building quality instruments across the board—from their U.S.-made models to the imported Tribute series. The latest addition to the G&L family is the Tribute series M-2000 bass, which incorporates a brand-new preamp into the template that has made G&L basses so popular for over three decades.
Variation on a Theme
Modeled after G&L’s well-known L-Series, the Tribute M-2000’s recognizable body shape is a hybrid of previous designs brought to prominence by Leo Fender. The M-2000 reviewed here boasts a nice honeyburst finish, but it’s also available in transparent blueburst, 3-tone sunburst, or gloss black.
The M-2000’s neck design relies on the best of past G&L accomplishments: Six bolts support the satin-finished, C-shaped neck, which feels smooth and solid. It maintains the company’s standard 12" radius, though it is slightly narrower—down from 1 3/4" to 1 5/8".
Where the L-Series and M-Series truly differ is in electronics. Though the Magnetic Field Design pickups look the same as those found on the L-2000, the pickups on the M-2000 are wound differently and dialed in specifically for the M-Series preamp. The recognizable switches of the L’s preamp have been replaced by a more streamlined design, giving the M-Series a unique level of flexibility not found in other G&L basses. The 18V active system features volume and blend knobs, and a 3-band EQ with smaller, detented dials. This new preamp nicely complements the pair of MFD pickups, which deliver characteristic G&L tone—a combination of assertive lows with detailed high-mids.
The comfort and playability of the M-2000 were simply stunning, so kudos should go to G&L for their attention to detail with this bass. The weight and balance were just right, letting it maintain its position at nearly every playing angle. The neck was impressively smooth and allowed effortless shifting across all areas of the fretboard. And the M-2000’s design provides ample room between the neck pickup and fretboard for sophisticated slapping techniques. Aside from some bird’s nest-esque wiring in the preamp cavity, this is an instrument that doesn’t appear to have cut any corners.
Enhancing the frequencies of the MFD pickups, the intuitive, practical, and great-sounding preamp provided a wide tonal palette. This was particularly evident during a rehearsal with a horn band playing a variety of soul and funk classics. Plugged into an Ampeg B2R head paired with an Ampeg 4x10, the M-2000 could quickly go from Rocco to Jaco with a twist of the blend control. Fine-tuning the tones was simple—the slightest adjustment to the bass, mid, and treble knobs offered plenty of boost or cut ability. It couldn’t quite cop Marcus Miller’s exact tone, but many thumb players will still appreciate its aggressive, biting sound.
Although the M-2000’s tone-shaping capabilities are excellent, for me the most pleasing setting was with both pickups balanced and the EQ flat—it allowed the M-2000 to clearly convey whatever my hands asked it.
You know that feeling you get when you pick up a bass with no expectations and, in an instant, it triggers an explosion in your mind because it feels so surprisingly comfortable and contains such a nice variety of tones? The next thing you know, you’re trying to figure out what other gear to sell so you can buy the new wonder. This could be a possible scenario for anyone giving G&L’s Tribute M-2000 a go, because it rivals its U.S.-made counterparts in construction and playability.
Whether you’re a novice or a pro, if you like G&L bass tones, you’re likely to love the M-2000.Watch our video demo: