Steinberger Synapse FL5 Reviews 3

It's small, white, glossy, and has 5 strings, 4 knobs, a humbucker and a piezo PU. I use it in a a small ensemble, small venue situation, no drummer. It's a familiar situation 4 me, about 999 nites into it ....

I got it on clearance from MF, and I think it's worth the reduced price. The normal price is kinda stiff ... but it's actually a pretty well loaded boat. I dig piezo-magnetic FL basses, so I've been aware of this one for a while, and I had a gift certificate [to MF] as well, so even tho I'd never heard or played one, I just figgered that for the reduced dollar risk, I'd trust Gibson not to totally undo the genius that is Ned Steinberger ! Ned comes thru more or less intact, but this si not a pure old school hands-on Ned job, and in some ways it tells. IOW, this ax is not the sleeper of the century, the unsung holy grail ... but it's cool ax at an OK price.

The piezo bridge is the traditional wooden saddle type, with some inneressin updates, so it allows some tweaking for intonation and for action height. Has an Ebanol FB. Some players hate them. I love them. Very comfortable neck profile. Has a strap-hook extension dingus that hangs the strap opposite the 12th 'fret' for good hang balance. Can theoretically use ordinary strings if you can't get what you want in a double ball [headless Berger] version.

Strap is not all that secure on the extension dingyus unless you wrap some string in the slot. String bears no weight, but blocks the strap from exiting the slot if you lift the neck quickly in enthusiastic playing mode. String spacing is a bit narrow, but livable. Facility for use of regular, non-double-ball strings is not very practical or trustworthy. This is common to nearly ALL such attempts ... but I'd have expected better from Mr. Steinberger, especially on a feature pivotal to his whole concept of headless basses.

It seems like a well QA'd import. It's Berger, so it's weird. But it's quite comfortable. Everything works well. It's noise-free ... should be at 18 volts ! Nothing seems like it's frail or poorly done. OTOH, you don't get that extreme extra confidence building impression like you get from a MusicMan. OK, lotsa stuff is not a MusicMan .... It's got the typical fine tuners and leg rest and other 'traditional' nontraditional Berger stuff, which seem as good as ever. The jack is still on the back, but it lives in a hollowed area, and feeds out sideways, so you don't need a 90 degr plug like the original Bergers. Shape is similar to the originals, but it's a bit bigger. Has some heft. Supposedly there's a graphite neck hiding inside the wooden one. It DOES have a truss rod. And overall, weird as it still is, it's not the ugly duckling that the original was. Not a work of art, but somehow just looks more reasonable than the old XL2.

Sound is not the "I can't put this thing down" kind, but it has a versatile range, not just of "bass guitar" sound, but funnt stuff you can get the piezos to do, twangy stuff, drum-like stuff, etc. It can cop the decay pattern and "tone contour" of an acoustic ax, but as piezos go, it's not very "woody-stringy". But it's more versatile than most any magnetic-only ax, and fun to play, if if there's no really sooper ultra special tones in it's whole repertoire. It's like the 16-color cray set, not the 64-color. So it's better than the 8-color, and it's easy to play. It is NOT easy to dial up tones. There's not much thaz intuitive about what will happen. It's like you twiddle the knobs and a jumble of the good and the not-so good jump out at you in random fashion. You CAN return to the good stuff just by noting the knob positions ... but finding the good stuff is hit and miss.

Golem rated this unit 3 on 2009-06-11.

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