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Steinberger GP-2 Six String

Guitarcheck

Article from International Musician & Recording World, April 1985

At last the Steinberger becomes affordable. Dave Burrluck reaches for his cheque book


Steinberger's Steinberger copy

Steinberger do not believe in sitting still for one moment. Many companies would be more than content to have achieved half of what Steinberger have but Ned and his team of merry men seem to go from innovation to innovation leaving a great deal of the guitar industry floundering as they go. In fact, there are only a couple of manufacturers anywhere near Steinberger and to be honest I can't see this situation changing in the near future judging by what I saw at the Frankfurt show.

The world at large is just beginning to realise the implications of the Steinberger transposing tremolo (reviewed in last month's IM) and believe me anyone who thinks that this is a gimmick is very wrong indeed. I was able to get Ned Steinberger's thoughts on the trem and he didn't waste any words.

"The ability to drop a whole chord — that's the advantage. People, guitarists in the States, are now writing with the transposing trem, therefore you will only be able to reproduce it on a transposing tremolo — we are shaping music."

Ned also stated that the transposing tremolo is more important than anything that has gone before. I know what you're probably thinking — "He sounds like a right opinionated, loud mouthed Yank" — but you're wrong again. He doesn't need, unlike some, to shout about his products — they are simply left to speak for themselves.

But the trouble with Steinberger is the expense, especially for us in the poverty-stricken UK, but that's where the 'Pro Series' comes in. The new bass and guitar will retail around half the price of a standard Steinberger though I'm more inclined to think two-thirds of the price bearing in mind the dodgy exchange rate.

Okay, so where's the catch? Firstly the instruments are made from a combination of carbon fibre compound moulded neck and timber body. Secondly it is a joint venture between the States and Japan. In a press release, Ned Steinberger said:

"From the beginning it was my desire to offer an instrument affordable to the mass market. We have finally achieved this with a new bolt-on design. A specially designed wooden body is mechanically fastened to a moulded composite neck fabricated from the high performance Steinberger blend of reinforcing material. In order to deliver the instrument at an affordable price to a larger market we combined our best design and technology skill with the production efficiency that Japan has to offer."

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so they say, and frankly I wasn't expecting to be disappointed at all with the new 'mid-priced' instruments.

Steinberger have chosen a new shape for the Pro-Series for practical as well as identifying reasons. As you can see from the photo the new shape isn't that new at all, merely a smaller version of a Flying 'V'. Maybe that's being a bit unfair — the new design actually looks a lot more guitar-like, yet definitely compliments the original design. The extra bulk of the guitar certainly aids the feel too. For many guitarists the change from large body to no body was rather drastic; the GP-2 is easier to get comfortable with immediately.

I would have expected the moulded neck to be of the straight-through type, but in fact it is a bolt-on. This is achieved in a fairly conventional way via four bolts which locate into small cups at the back of the guitar. As is typical with Steinberger the bolts are of the Allen key variety. (Interestingly enough this is one of the guitars that has a truly 'bolt-on' neck. Fenders, for example, use coarse thread screws which are always referred to as bolts — must be an Americanism!) The body is made in Japan of Hard Rock Maple, although it's impossible to see as the guitar is finished in the same manner as its more expensive predecessor, the GL-2.

The neck feels and looks identical to the original Steinberger with its characteristic full curved profile. Once more we have a 24 fret fingerboard plus a zero fret below the nut. The neck joins the body at the 19th fret — the body is approximately 2¾" longer than the original guitar basically to provide sufficient area for the bolt-on join. Certainly as the neck body join on the original guitar came at the 23rd fret the only option was to increase the length of the body.

A phenolic resin fingerboard is fitted to the Pro-Series instrumentsand as one would expect there are no compromises or economics in this area at all. If you liked the original Steinberger neck you'll like this too. Steinberger's reasoning behind the bolt-on moulded neck is as follows.

"Because the neck has so small a section it must be made from a high-performance material, much more so than the body. A wooden neck would really let it down."

V for Victory



It also occurred to me that the reason behind the 'V' shaped body is rather more practical than it may appear; it's simply to provide better access to the top frets. These kind of logical reasons are the key to Steinberger's success; if you analyse all of his most inventive designs you'll find they are all remarkably simple. It's th is type of infuriating simplicity that has the rest of the design teams in the world crying "Why the hell didn't I think of that!"

The hardware on this guitar is identical to that of the GL-2 guitar, certainly as far as appearance goes. The nut assembly sits on the top of the neck securing the strings while the zero fret accounts for the serious job of providing a string break. The bridge and tuning assembly should need no introduction at all by now and not surprisingly it all worked perfectly. Mind you, one always pauses for a second or two when realising just how simple the Steinberger tuning system really is.

An interesting new feature of the Steinberger is the leg-rest. You may remember that previously the rest was a separate curved piece of plastic which slotted into the underside of the guitar — an add on part. The new leg-rest, however, is permanently attached. Again it's too simple — a flat piece of plastic approx 4½" long which is simply hinged to the body. When not in use it lies flat against the side of the guitar and when needed it's simply flicked into position. This new leg rest will also appear on the other Steinbergers as well as being offered to other manufacturer making flat-sided guitars. It is already visible on the Steinberger-licensed Hohner headless guitars.

As the body on the GP is timber the method of housing the electronics is different from the original. Whereas the electronics are mounted on the 'lid', or front, of the GL guitar on the GP they are installed onto a scratchplate in a Fender manner. The GP features two EMG high impedance humbuckers which have two screws for height adjustment in the usual manner. In typical EMG fashion the units are totally enclosed in matt black resin with just a simple EMG white logo. The control system on the GP appears to be the same as the GL too; volume, three-position pickup selector and tone. The jack socket is mounted on the scratchplate too and although this is not an ideal position it does mean that all the electronics mount directly to the scratchplate.

This is very important for the whole production of the GP series as it is split between the States and Japan. It seems that the neck, hardware, pickups and electronics are bundled off to Japan when they are assembled to the Japanese body and then shipped back to the States for distribution. Obviously then it is important that each part of the guitar is 'modular' and can be assembled with ease.

The controls are laid out in a similar position to those on the GL and work in exactly the same manner. The tone control has that characteristic wide range of variation and it has to be said that once again the overall sound of the Steinberger is stunning. Unfortunately I was unable to give it a direct comparison test with the GL, but bearing in mind Steinberger are aiming to offer this guitar at half the price of the GL you certainly don't get half the sound!

The action on the test instrument was good and playability was excellent; it does take a little bit of effort to get to the top frets but it's by no means hard work. There wasn't a hint of fret buzz on this sample and I only hope that this quality of set-up extends to the rest of the instruments when they appear in the shops.

One advantage the GP guitar has over its more expensive relative in the absence of a battery. As the specially designed EMG pick ups are high impedance — unlike those in the GL series — they do not need powering. I'm sure this will please those of you who are totally paranoid about batteries in guitars, especially those which power the pickups!

Conclusions



The introduction of these instruments should make a quality Steinberger available to many more people. We must expect it to retail around the £600-£800 mark which is definitely expensive but then this guitar is far from a hurriedly produced item to stave off Steinberger's imitators.

The future will also bring more for the thrifty Steinberger freak. Firstly is the standard Steinberger tremolo system which will be offered on this guitar. I was privileged to see one of these in its prototype stage and I can assure you that it will work on the same spring principle as the transposing tremolo, although it won't have the transposing facility. However, it will be attached to the guitar with the same screw fixings as the transposing tremelo so that if you fancy fitting one at a later date you can — they'll be available soon as a retro-fit and not just for Steinberger guitars alone. Bass players don't worry — Ned has plans for you. How does a transposing bass trem sound? Well Mr Steinberger assured me it'son the way!

I have a strong feeling that rather more guitarists and bassists will be seen playing a Steinberger this year and there will be quite a few kicking themselves for buying an imitation.

STEINBERGER PRO SERIES GP-2 SIX STRING — £700 (approx)


Featuring related gear



Previous Article in this issue

Ensoniq Mirage

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Korg DW6000


Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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International Musician - Apr 1985

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Gear in this article:

Guitar > Steinberger > GP-2


Gear Tags:

Electric Guitar

Review by Dave Burrluck

Previous article in this issue:

> Ensoniq Mirage

Next article in this issue:

> Korg DW6000


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