While it’s not new or exciting, having been designed by Leo Fender in 1982, the G&L SB-2 Tribute is something of a revelation to me, and I think I may have finally found my ideal PJ bass.
The G&L SB-2 immediately feels comfortable, with a great blend of classic looks and modern ergonomics, it’s a P bass with a few enhancements. The familiar body shape has been refined to improve balance and make it more playable, with deeper contours and better access to the higher frets. The neck is a slim Jazz style with a rosewood fingerboard and a modern 12″ radius, making it fast and easy to navigate. The fit and finish on this bass is perfect, easily equal to instruments many times the price, the frets in particular are really well fitted and totally level, allowing for a very low action.
Like all G&L basses it’s fitted with the high mass saddle lock bridge, an allen key at the side of the bridge locks the saddles together to increase sustain, it works as it should and it looks great. The MFD (magnetic field design) pickups are the same American made models they fit to their premium basses and they are the jewel in the crown, the split coil pickup in the middle is gutsy and powerful, while the single coil in the bridge adds clarity and brightness. If I had to pick a fault, the bridge pickup on its own sounds a little weak, particularly when compared to the thunderous split coil in the middle.
The controls on the SB-2 are basic but really effective once you’ve had time to adjust, pun intended, a volume knob for each pickup lets you blend them together to achieve a multitude of tones. While there is no tone control I found backing off both volume controls give it a softer, more vintage inspired sound, but definitely more Paul Simonon than James Jamerson.