My new main squeeze…

After years of searching, I’ve found it!

A while ago, I mentioned in a previous story that I like my main playing guitars & basses to have a ‘twin’… a cheaper version that I can use so I can leave my original safely tucked away from harm. I’ve gotten twins for my Les Paul Bass (here), my G&L SC1 (here) and it’s worked out great. But one bass that I’ve had trouble matching is my 1972 Fender Precision Bass, which is my #1.

I’ve played this bass for nearly ten years now in all my bands and a hell of a lot of shows. The weight is perfect, the sound is perfect and the neck (a delicious factory custom Jazz Bass neck) is what made me fall in love with the bass in the first place. The full story is here…

So, as my vintage P-Bass was getting pretty beat up, Tim from Tym Guitars built me my infamous Tym T-Byrd, which was based heavily on my Fender but made to look like a Maton. This did the job, and so the Fender was used only on special ocassions, like recording and some local Brisbane gigs. But after 6 years and 3 Europe tours, now the T-Byrd was also getting pretty beat up… plus being a one off, I was getting more and more paranoid of her going missing. Also, the weight was slightly different to my P-Bass (it was a little heavier) and I’d stupidly designed the top horn a little too short so it didn’t quite hang the same as my Fender. I got used to this over the years, as the T-Byrd was it’s own instrument, not just a Fender copy… but at the end of the day, my original P-Bass was still my perfect bass.

Fast forward to last month and I was at my cousin’s wedding in Port Macquarie when I got a text from my friend Mark, who travels a lot with his job and is always checking out the local Cash Convertors for guitar gold. He sometimes sends me messages with stuff I may be interested in… such as a G&L SB2 Tribute Bass for $280 that was in Townsville.

I’d played a US G&L bass years ago and was gobsmacked how good it was. If this was anything like the US version, it might be a decent backup bass. So I told Mark yep, and he bought it. A week later he dropped it round and as soon as I picked it up, I knew that I’d found my P-Bass twin. The weight was EXACTLY the same. Plus the neck was a perfect Jazz Bass profile like my Fender. Before I got too attached, I brought it to Tym’s for a setup and asked if he could cut a black scratchplate for it so it would match my Fender. When I got it back, I was shocked at how great it looked and how much it looked like my Fender.

The sunburst is nearly identical. Man I was happy. For $280 I’d gotten an absolute star of a bass. This Tribute is from the first series, so they were made in Korea, not Indonesia like the later models. Korea is basically the new Japan for guitar manufacturing, so the quality of this SB2 was top notch.

The bridge was a great heavy duty version of the G&L saddle lock bridge. It was a great alternative to the Bad Ass II on my Fender. Still solid as a rock and sustain for days.

The star of the show are the pickups. These aren’t just some cheap Asian knockoffs that you upgrade later on… these are legitimate USA G&L MFD pickups. And they sound fantastic. In fact, the pickups are probably worth more than half of what I paid for the whole bass. The controls are two volumes, so I can have mostly P-Bass with a smidge of Jazz Bass in there for more clarity.

The body is a little more svelte than my Fender, which is ok as I’ve a svelte dude (I’m short, ok?) The whole thing hangs perfectly and just looks great. I’m glad I changed the pickguard as it really goes with the black edges.

So there you go. For less than the price of a boutique fuzz pedal, I’ve got a bass that will probably be my main player for the next few years. The T-Byrd will still see action, but any out of town gigs will be done by the SB2. For $280 I have a bass that plays as good as my Fender, sounds fantastic and I’m not paranoid of it getting snapped in half by baggage handlers.

If anyone out there is looking for a cheap, awesome bass… I fully recommend these.