Tuesday, November 23, 2010

1984 Steinberger XL2 Bass

Hi there!

Back in the 1980s, everybody and their brother wanted one of these: a 1984 Steinberger XL2 4-string bass. I have owned a half dozen of these basses over the past 20 years, and this one is a peach, from a condition and playability standpoint.

These basses were very innovative, with composite materials construction and rock solid electronics and tone. The original run of L series basses was from 1979 to 1995. Gibson bought Steinberger out in 1987 and sent the company straight into the K hole.

If you ever go looking for a Steinberger L series bass, this is THE model to buy. The couple of hundred earliest "transition" XL2 basses have all of the best features from both the L2 and the later XL2.

From the L2: a. warmer EMG "SS" pickups (as opposed to the "HB" models which replaced them. b. more comfortable and cooler looking plug-in curved leg rest. c. rounder neck profile.

From the XL2: a. engraved logo (not a sticker). b. cleaner looking face-plate attached from the rear. c. headpiece designed for double-ball strings (the L2 headpiece was designed before double-ball strings were available).

The body on this one is in great shape, with no modifications or unseemly damage. There some swirl marks and normal play wear evident, but no signs of abuse. There is the slight groove that these get on the back from where the strap button on the pivot plate slides across the bass.

The neck is tdf. The frets have very little wear, and will hold up for years. It may have been refretted at some point. If so, they did a marvelous job. There are no weird bends or lumps on this one. There is a small nick (1/32"), back of neck at around the 3rd fret region. There is no truss rod, so of course there are no truss rod issues…

The pickups and the electronics work fine. It has the original pickups, pots and wiring.

All of the hardware is original. The tuners work well. It still has a battery cover and the super rare plug in leg rest.

The serial number is 1903, which dates this to 1984, and this one was made in Newburgh, NY. Brrr.

It plays great, and it is solid. It sounds great and would work well for most any gig. Just be prepared for the questions when you pull it out of the bag.


  1. Hey Rex,nice site.I bought my XL2 in 1985 loved it from day one,and of all the bass guitars that I owned, it was the only one I ever played.In 2005 I did something really stupid,I sold it.A day does not go by that I regret doing so.I'd love to get my hands on another one. CHEERS

  2. Thanks for the kind words!

    I know what you mean. In some small way, I miss almost every guitar or bass I have ever owned. I miss the Steinbergers a bit more.



  3. Hi Rex,
    I share your love for Steinbergers. I own L2 #0018 and I'm thinking of selling it....that is, I WAS until I read your note about the remorse you feel. Maybe I shouldn't. I've done next to zero marketing and already quite a few people have showed interest. Do you think I should just hang onto it? I don't really NEED the dough. I don't know. Whatcha think? - Stu

  4. Hey Stu.

    If you like the way it plays I would say to hold onto it if at all possible.

    But if you need to sell it, it is very collectible with a build date of August 1981. That is pretty much the first full month of production for the model.

    If you can, wait to sell it until the economy picks up a little, as things are not selling too well right now. If you get a chance check out my series on selling your guitar on the internet. Make sure you get lots of good pictures.

    Good luck!


  5. Rex,

    Great blog. I traded my 1985 XL2 years ago and regretted every second. Luckily, I hooked up with Steinberworld and Don Greenwald to buy another recently. It's a bit later year than my original, but it plays and sounds even better than I remember. My advice to anyone owning one of these would be to hold on to it. It also is a breeze to travel with.

    I've also read conflicting interviews with Geddy Lee about the sound. Sometimes he says the compact size was the reason for switching, especially for the keyboard albums, while other times he cites the great sound. One time he said the Steinberger just didn't sound good. I would never go against my IDOL, but he did come out with his own signature bass series...so who knows. And, by the way, who am I to criticize someone's opinion, especially about music!


  6. Mine is missing the leg rest. Looking at that leg rest, I wonder if a portion of a wooden drum hoop would work if you could somehow come up with a plug-in piece.

  7. I have a XL2 I believe ,Serial number 2517 .
    any info would be great .. looking to sell possibly . Joewaldrop37@hotmail.com

  8. Hi,
    I have two L2's, took me ages to locate one, then i ended up with two.
    It would be hard to part with either one as they are lovely to play.
    One is 1982 and the other 1983, both Steinberger Sound Brooklyn.

  9. FOR SALE: Steinberger L2 (#865) in very good condition -- but missing the leg rest. elliot.freedman@gmail.com

  10. braini7core@gmail.com ill buy it cash let me know