My bass collection - G&L

 
 

The L-5000 was G&L’s first foray into the world of 5-string basses. But as stated on the page for that bass, the L-5000 had some fundamental shortcomings. The neck had to be quartersawn because the single truss rod was not beefy enough to counteract the tension of 5-strings. In addition, the nut width of 1¾” was uncomfortably narrow. And all this beyond the use of the unconventional Z-coil pickups. With a press release around the end of 1993, G&L announced the arrival of the L-5500, the first 5-string bass of the BBE-era, with the intent to address all the aforementioned issues. The nut was widened to 1¹³⁄₁₆” and the neck got carbon fiber reinforcement, both first tested on the ‘Z-5000‘ prototype. This particular bass has a 34” scale hard-rock maple neck with a 12” radius rosewood fingerboard and a 4+1 arrangement of the Ultralite tuning machines. Instead of the common 3-bolt tilt-neck attachment, the L-5500 was the first bass to use a 6-bolt attachment. And instead of 6 ferrules as used today, G&L still used a neck plate with the serial number stamped on it. The latter started at B000000 again, an interesting story in itself. These plates were either chromed or black-powder coated to match the finish of the Saddle-Lock bridge used. This particular bass has a contoured swamp ash body in a beautiful Clear Blue finish. Since no 5-string Magnetic Field Design (MFD) bass humbucker was available yet, G&L outsourced the pickups and wiring harness: EMG Soapbar 40DC humbuckers with their proprietary BTC System for the tone stack. Note that the spacing between pickups of the first L-5500s, as seen from the page in the 1993-1994 Catalog shown below, is quite a bit larger than on later models like this one. With no copies in my possession of price lists between January 1992 and September 1994, I have the L-5500 only appear in a list dated October 1, 1994. Pictorially, the L-5500 appears for the last time in the 1996 Catalog, also shown below. Indicating production has ceased, the July 1, 1997 price list makes no mention of the L-5500. Not a big surprise because by then G&L carries the L-1505 and L-2500 5-string basses, both with the 5-string MFD bass humbucker. Beyond the referenced press release above, there is very little information on the L-5500. Even the Basses by Leo website has not much more than this particular thread.

 

L-5500

The story behind this bass

Year:

Serial number:

Neck date:

Body date:

Strings:


Why adding this bass to the collection? A reasonable question to ask. After all, this site aims to be mostly about the Broadcaster/ASAT and is guitar-centric at the least. But a Legacy Bass had already been added merely because it was produced prior to 1997, when G&L dropped their 3-bolt attachment for most of their basses, and a precursor to the LB-100. The L-5500 bass precedes that 1997 cut-off date too. It just happens to have an early version of a 6-bolt attachment instead. But it also allowed the addition of some pictures to the EMG OEM pickup section and Serial Numbers chapter on this site. Sometime during 2018, I received an email from my dear friend Greg Gagliano alerting me an early L-5500, i.e. one with the wide pickup spacing, was available on one of the online auction sites. I do recall it was located in Sedro-Woolley, a small town north of Seattle, but cannot remember how I let that one slip through my fingers. So you keep looking and several months later the Sam Ash store in LA listed this great looking bass. All but the volume control of the the BTC controls have center detents. For the pan pot, center corresponds with both pickups been mixed in to the same extend. Both the treble and bass pots allow for a 12dB cut or boost. This makes this tonally the most versatile G&L bass in my opinion. Talking heavy bass here; not just the thumping quality of this instruments but also its heft. It will be hard for anybody to gig this for hours on end.

The story behind this guitar

1994

B000116

JUN 02 1994, marked ‘L-5500’

MAY 24 1994, marked ‘5’

D’Addario EXL170-5 Nickel Wound 5-string Light Long Scale (45-130)