The world of yowhatsshakin


The L-5000 is G&L’s first foray into the 5-string format. At the end of the 1980s the popularity of this format had skyrocketed, likely because of the added booming B-string. Together with another new model called the L-6000, its development was announced in the June 1988 price list. Both these basses would have had 2 humbuckers. The L-6000 never came to be but might have been a precursor to the infamous baritone guitar. The actual L-5000, which only became available at the end of 1988, got a single Z-coil (hum-bucking) pickup instead, controlled by a single volume and tone controls. The contoured body was either soft maple or swamp ash. Judging from the instruments included in the Guitars by Leo (GbL) Registry, most of them have a Black finish but the model was also available in either Red, Sunburst, Viking Blue, or White. The carefully selected, slightly chunkier, quarter-sawn (for additional strength), 34” scale, hard-rock maple neck with 1¾” nut either had a maple or rosewood fingerboard. The “sickle headstock” used a 4+1 tuner lay-out and was void of the G&L teat. Although still included in the first BBE authored price list from January 1992, the L-5000 did not survive beyond that summer due to its unpopularity. This Rarebird has its own page in the GbL Registry on which you also find links to additional pictures in the GbL Gallery. BBE later released the L-5500 which has completely different humbuckers but does solve the neck width issue. More on this model and its evolution can be found on Greg Gagliano’s website which features L-5000s built in 1989, 1990 (with Bahama Blue body), and even 1992.


G&L L-5000 (fretless)

The story behind this bass

Year:                  1988

Serial number:    B019277

Neck date:         DEC 14 1988

Body date:         DEC 12 1988

Strings:              D’Addario ECB81-5 Chromes Bass Light Long Scale (45-132)

This Black finish L-5000 was listed by Brannon Terry on Reverb for quite a while and it finally moved into the collection when, as Bob Barker would exclaim, “... the price [was] right”. Like for all other L-5000s, the headstock is a dead giveaway for the neck being quarter-sawn. And for good reason. That neck does not have the benefit of any added mechanical strength due to e.g. embedded carbon fiber rods. But since the neck is very much based on the then available necks for 4-string basses, it goes right to the heart of why this model was not very popular: the neck feels uncomfortably. Another thing is that the original frets had been completely filed down by the first owner. Brannon had them subsequently pulled and filled with some nice exotic Redheart wood ghost lines by a qualified luthier. I was surprised to learn this bass is not the only one where this happened. Of the 95 L-5000s registered at the time of writing, at least another underwent the same treatment and an additional 4 are marked as fretless with ebony boards. The latter are more likely to have come from the factory that way although the fretless option is not mentioned in a single price list. Initially, I couldn’t tune the low-B of the set of LaBella 50-132 flat wounds down to that note before the string started flopping. But after taking the neck off to take the pictures below, I could. All that changed was that the string got tensioned anew from completely being slack. Go figure! Otherwise, the sound is wonderful, still snappy and articulate without any noise. Great pup.