Steinberger XL2A SpaceBass Reviews 5

I was looking for an XL2A ever since I had first met one, more as a "lifestyle" solution than for its many other qualities because it's portable and climate-proof. I found this one at Daddy's Junky Music for $900 with no problems, a bit of fret wear, and OK cosmetics.

Portable and climate-proof, stays in tune like a piano. Sound is great. Not a huge range of voicings, but has a full-voiced "regular" bass voice: thump, growl, pong, and a touch of high end yowl. Sound is via my favorite: dual EMG humbuckers. It has good sustain, the right amount for most playing, as opposed to endless sustain that keeps a player busy muting strings ! Best ergonomic feature is the famous yoke that hangs on your strap, with the entire rest of the instrument pivoted on the yoke at the center of gravity. Holds any angle. Equally famous is the swing away "leg rest" for sit-down playing. It works well. Strings can be changed in a flash anytime. It has no rod in the neck and needs none. That's one less thing to be messing with. Controls are simple: gain, fader, tone. The tone control has noticeable effect. It came with a sorry looking canvas [yep, canvas, this is "vintage"....] gigbag that fits like OJ's glove. It also fits any guitar bag [bass bag is way too big] with room for an extra sweatshirt as well. I add two rubber feet at the corners so I can just lean it up against the wall and don't need a guitar stand.

The output jack is on the BACK side at the upper corner so a right angle cord is very important [but not absolute necessity, the corner is a bit outboard of the player's torso, at least for me, at most playing angles]. Zero other complaints.

This is one brick house !!! There is zero wood content. It weighs almost twice as much as the various wooden copies, and the copies are Solid while the Berger is HOLLOW !! The neck and body are integral and the top, or face, of the body is removeable. Theres a "keel" that sort of continues the neck thru the hollow. The keel is integral with the back and is about half as deep as the body cavity [does not come near the top panel, leaving space for the elevators for the humbuckers]. The bridge is massive, double any typical 4 string. Mine has the stainless "wear inserts" in each saddle. Spacing is just a bit narrower than typical 4 strings but wider than a viola bass. The fretboard is phenolic, and the rest of the structure is carbon fiber reinforced resin. The neck is not hollow. The "neck joint" shape is similar to the old set neck shape of the wooden basses like Gibsons. Mine is active [XL2A] but there is also an XL2 passive version.

This is a great bass for classic bass style but won't be a favorite for popper snappers, although it won't really impede them either. It's a true humbucker bass, with all that goes along with that. For RnB, electric jazz, rock or string quartet, it's the king of the hill. It's about basic tools and simple approach, however unconventional its material, hardware, and shape. In a long historical perspective, I'll bet it's THE landmark bass after the original P-Bass. Consider everything that be be done with a new killer midi keyboard. Then consider a Jimmy Smith at a Hammond B3. The XL2A is very much the B3 for the Jimmy Smith that might be in your thuddwakker soul. I'm rating it a 5 because there's no button marked "6+" on the rating scale.

Golem rated this unit 5 on 2003-01-28.

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