G&L L1000

G&L L1000

Year: 1980

Made In: USA

Specs: Mahogany body, maple neck & fretboard

Electronics: G&L MFD humbucking pickup, passive electronics

Controls: Volume, bass cut, treble cut, three way coil selection switch

G&L seem to be a brand which have largely gone under the radar until recently. The Tribute series is finally making people aware of the great instruments this company makes. It’s interesting to compare their earliest offerings with what Fender were putting out at the same time. In my mind, at least, what G&L were doing puts the big F to shame and, given the ongoing popularity of instruments made in their weakest era, makes you wonder what’s in the mind of those who pick a CBS era mongrel over something like this thoroughbred. It’s from about mid-way through the first year of production but G&L hallmarks like the heavy saddle-lock bridge and MFD were in place from the start.

Clearly an evolution of the Precision, the L1000 is the passive single pickup brother of the mighty L2000. It’s a very different beast with an identity of its own. Powered by a fire-breathing MFD humbucker, the controls are cut only, such is the output. It’s a clever design, featuring volume, bass and treble controls in an entirely passive circuit.

The three way switch offers an impressive variety of tonal options, going from humbucker to single (bridge coil) to what’s known as OMG mode, which runs both coils but with the high-end removed from the neck coil, resulting in a huge low-end sound suitable for generating earthquakes. It’s really a clever bit of engineering. The humbucker sounds like a cross between a Stingray and a Rickenbacker neck pickup.

The neck is surprisingly thin, I haven’t played anything like it from that era. It’s not quite Ibanez SR thin, but it’s a long way from the chunk you expect in a Precision influenced design. It’s really comfortable though. The whole thing feels familiar while, at the same time, offering a huge amount more than you really think it could. It’s a Precision but just a great deal smarter.

These are criminally underrated basses. Given the choice between one of these and a Precision I would pick the L1000 every time. Really, this is probably the greatest passive bass I’ve ever played.