G&L 2012 Special Collection JB – Bass Review by Eric Parsons… The Special Collection JB bass is manufactured by G& L Musical Instruments in Fullerton, California. The G and L name is derived from the first initials of George (Fullerton) and Leo (Fender), who along with Dale Hyatt founded the company in 1980. I bring this point up because the JB bass is obviously G&L’s take on how to refine the original Fender Jazz Bass, which was designed by Leo Fender.
The body is constructed out of swamp ash and coated with G&L’s ultra-thin “Nearly Naked” TM (NENA) finish in Honey Ale which complements the natural beauty of the wood. The body also sports a retro looking NOS Baltic amber pickguard. The neck, which is made out of hard-rock maple with a rosewood fingerboard, has a satin finish with Hipshot tuners, a bone nut and twenty medium jumbo frets. G&L uses a computerized PLEK machine to analyze string action under tension and then to dress each fret accordingly to achieve the desired ideal setup. Visit the following link for more info: PLEK LINK
G&L uses their own JB Alnico 5 single coil pickups in both the neck and bridge position. There are dual volume controls and a shared single tone control to adjust both pickups. The JB comes equipped with a G&L designed Saddle-Lock® bridge, which reportedly locks the bridge parts together so that they resonate as one mass. The bottom of the bridge also has a protrusion that fits into a route in the body to reportedly increase the transfer of string energy to the body, thereby increasing sustain.
Picking the bass up, I am immediately struck by how light this bass feels – It only weighs 7.5 pounds according to my scale. I strap it on and find that it balances well with no neck dive. The neck is trim and fast, the PLEK finished action is smooth, precise and easily accommodates both finger playing and slapping with little extraneous pickup or fret noises.
Plugged into an amp, the sound of the bass is extremely focused and responsive. When I hit a note it is immediately all there, there is no lag time for the note to bloom or build. I do find that there is a little more emphasis in the upper mids which would likely lend itself to cutting through a dense mix, but may need some taming particularly when popping in a low volume situation. Playing the bass with a pick and palm mute provides just the right amount of thud accompanied by the definitive snap of the pick- a perfect tonal balance.
This bass is versatile, extremely quiet, [especially for single coil pickups] and will work in a variety of musical situations. It should be noted that these are passive pickups and they may require a little more gain at the preamp stage to reach your expected volume level. G&L also provides a deluxe black tolex covered hard-shell case, a certificate of authenticity and a ten year limited warranty with a street price around $1299.00. The Special Collection JB is considered to be a custom build by G&L, and as such, will have a limited production run. For more information on this bass, click HERE.
In closing I wish to thank Jeff Simons of Watermelon Music, an independent and vibrant music store in Davis, CA for his generosity and support in providing me with the G&L JB bass for review.