Testimonials Pg 3 - Headless Instruments

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I've dreamed of owning a real, original, Steinberger bass for about 25 years!

The first time that I became aware of a headless bass instrument was in about 1986. I saw one being played in a Jamaican reggae band and I was immediately intrigued by the design. When I went to my local music shop, I found that they had a Hohner copy of the XL2 Steinberger bass.

It was within my price range, so I bought it and I played it for the next 13 years. Over the course of time, I did learn more about the "real" graphite Steinbergers, but they were way out of my budget-range, so I didn't think too much more about it.

That first headless Hohner bass was stolen after 13 years, so I went on-line looking for another Steinberger-style bass and bought myself a Spirit bass. I realized it was not graphite, but again, it was all that I could afford at the time, so I played that Spirit bass for about 10 years. That makes 23 years of playing Steinberger-style basses, but I had still never had my hands on a real, USA built Steinberger bass!

So I saved and saved my money, and I finally decided that I was ready for a real Steinberger bass. My body, my fingers, and my playing style were all totally acclimated to the sleek styling of the headless Steinberger design.

I searched the internet and realized that the "real" classic neck-thru-body Steinbergers were not inexpensive, not even when they were in well-worn condition. Eventually I saw a Steinberger XP2 bolt-on bass for sale on e-bay. Although I knew that I really wanted an XL2 bass, I went ahead and ordered the XP2, because it seemed to be about half the price of the XL2 models. It was advertised as being in "excellent condition".

When it arrived via UPS, I opened the package and immediately realized the instrument was just not for me. I really don't mind an instrument that has been used and has the scars to prove it - in fact, I believe that it can add character to an instrument, but the wear and tear on this particular instrument was not in any way accurately described by the seller, and it was way too beat up for me. I never even plugged it in, and I just sent it right back!

Enter Don Greenwald and HeadlessUSA. Thankfully, I found Don's website, read the testimonials, and felt that I had found a Steinberger dealer that I could trust. I am here to tell you that I was absolutely correct. My first transaction with Don was nothing less than perfect! After my initial contact, Don telephoned me and when I explained my situation, he became extremely excited.

When he found out that I had been playing only copies of the classic XL2 bass all of these years and that my first experience with a real Steinberger bass was to be one of his babies, he was thrilled. He almost offered to fly out to visit with me, just to witness the joy and the revelation he knew that I would experience when I plugged in a real classic Steinberger XL2 for the first time!

Over the next week or so, I asked Don many, many questions. The man is absolutely an expert on Steinbergers, but the best
thing is that he always replied quickly and took the time to answer all of my questions thoroughly. It was like getting a crash course in Steinberger 101 from Professor Greenwald!

Now that I finally had the budget to purchase the real thing, I decided that I wanted something really special, and for me that would be a (rare) white XL2 bass. Don picked out a number of these basses and he sent me detailed descriptions of his choices. I planned on playing this bass (as opposed to keeping it as a collector piece only), so I chose one that he described as excellent+ (instead of one that he described as mint).

Don sent me a series of detailed photos of it. It was a white XL2A with active EQ. I have to tell you that it looked brand new in the photos and I was stoked! Don is very conservative with his evaluations of condition and very specific about his grading criteria.
Once I had made my decision, Don told me he was bringing it to Jeff Babicz (who had been head of production at the Steinberger factory) to set it up and otherwise bring it up to optimal condition - how cool is that? I am used to taking my basses to my local repair guy for my set ups. It was certainly not necessary this time.

The package from Don arrived on schedule as promised, but the bass inside the box was wrapped up with so much protective bubble wrap that I wasn't sure if it was a Steinberger bass inside or the mummy of Tutankhamun! Thankfully it turned out to be the former! This bass is spectacular and in amazing condition -everything that I had hoped for and much more. When I finally plugged it in and played it, I was thrilled with how great the neck feels and how amazing the sound is. The active EQ really makes this baby growl! I now understand that there is nothing like a classic XL2 bass.

I could never go back to a lesser model again. The only problem now is that during rehearsal, every time that I leave the room, I find that my guitar player has his hands on my bass and doesn't want to give it back. I am going to have to get a wireless system so I can take it with me!

Thank you, Don, Jeff, and HeadlessUSA for providing the perfect bass for me!

~Paul Jensen
USA
Dear Don,

Thank you very much for my first Steinberger, an XL2A-L. I started playing bass in the mid-1980’s, and like many others coveted an XL2. But even when they seemed to disappear from the hands of prominent bassists, and I myself went in a different more “woody” direction, I would still peruse my old Steinberger brochures and catalogs, wondering what might have been.

Twenty plus years later, having for some time been a Fender Precision convert, I found myself traveling and needing a travel-sized bass. Naturally, I revisited Steinberger. But, alas, the Synapse is not made left-handed, which of course I am (see “-L” above). So I broke out my old catalogs again. Fender was celebrating sundry anniversaries, and of course frequent references were being made to Fender’s novel design that has remained essentially unchanged for 60 years. Reading the old articles about Ned’s award-winning design, I realized that now was the time to acquire probably the only real innovation in electric bass design since its invention 60 years ago – and that innovation was 30 years ago!

I went on eBay only to find scattered instruments here and there, and even one lefty. I bid … and lost. I checked out all the Steinberger sites and eventually joined a Steinberger discussion group that led me to Don. (Thank you, Tim and Tony! I could NOT have found Don at that time without your help.) I was absolutely shocked to find that Don had not one but THREE left-handed basses, and each one representing the models I so coveted in my beloved catalogs: classic XL2, unlined fretless, white 5-string. (If you have those catalogs, you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

What was I to do? I couldn’t decide which one for nearly two years! Finally, I went with the iconic Steinberger – black, fretted, the award winner. We negotiated a price, and I had Don ship it to Thailand, which was not cheap. He felt my pain and gave me a free set of LaBella flatwound strings (I said I’m a P-Bass guy) and a high-quality Levy’s “HeadlessUSA” strap. Not only that, but included in the purchase price was Jeff Babicz’s unbelievably thorough work getting the instrument in top shape. And here I echo so many other of Don’s satisfied customers … When I opened the well-packed box, I was amazed. It looked like a brand new bass. Apart from worn EMG logos, this bass was glossy new. It was cool also to see Jeff’s signature on the inside from 20 years ago.
I love my P-Basses, but I don’t have any bass that sounds like a Steinberger. I am SO glad that I finally realized my dream of owning one, a real, award-winning XL2 the likes of which will probably never be made again …. Hey, Don, do you still have that lefty ’85 fretless?

~Sincerely, Thom Smith
Bangkok, Thailand
Somewhere, in the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to own a Steinberger guitar. Over the years, I’ve owned Stratocasters, Telecasters, a couple of Les Paul’s, a SG, a PRS CE-22, a couple of Taylor’s, a BC Rich, a Hofner, a Vantage, a Northern… each one with its own character and unique little quirks. But the guitars I’ve hung onto the longest are for any number of reasons, very special instruments.

I think the first time I ever saw a Steinberger was in 1982. I was sitting stage right at Maple Leaf Gardens and Rush was rocking the house. Geddy Lee had brought his new Steinberger bass on the road for the “Signals” tour and truth be known, I thought it was the coolest looking thing I’d ever seen. Fast-forward a bunch of years (and a bunch more shows) to Massey Hall and Lou Reed performing to a sold-out crowd. For most of the night, Lou was playing a Steinberger GM and the tone! Wow. Needless to say, it made an indelible impression.

Jump ahead a bunch more years to me sitting in front of my computer doing some research on Steinberger guitars. I’d seen the occasional one on eBay and I thought this might be the right time to add one of these unique guitars to the family. I soon happened upon HeadlessUSA.com and after checking-out the website and reading a bit more about the incredible guitars Steinberger made in the company’s heyday, I decided to get in touch with Don. Thus began my education into all things Steinberger.

Don spent a great deal of time discussing these guitars both on the phone and via email. We discussed the history of the Steinberger company, Ned Steinberger’s design philosophy - the guitars, basses, the numerous variations of each, tonal differences, pick-up configurations, active vs. passive, model numbers (and what they meant). Don must have emailed me dozens of photos of just some of the guitars he had in his collection for sale. It took a little while to absorb all the details but what became pretty apparent to me was that Don was someone I very much wanted to do business with. Being that I’m primarily a Strat player, I decided on the GM body style and after checking out a bunch of GM’s the right one finally came along.

Incidentally, my GM7TA arrived this afternoon, packaged to the nines, in perfect condition and incredibly, it’s still in tune! Unbelievable. I forgot to mention… I live in Calgary, Canada where it’s March… where the word “Spring” is just a suggestion.

I am absolutely blown away by both Don and Jeff’s level of customer service, product knowledge and expertise. Guys, thanks for making the process of buying my guitar (and playing it) so incredibly easy and enjoyable! If there are any other guitar players or collectors north of the 49th parallel reading this that are seriously considering investing in a Steinberger, do yourself a favor and give Don a call. You won’t regret it.


~Glenn Howard
Canada
http://www.ghvo.net
When I found out that many of my favorite artists from the 1980s used Steinberger basses on so many of their great songs, I knew I had to find a real Steinberger to be able to obtain that unique bass sound myself. I stumbled upon Headless USA while searching the internet. After viewing their site, I knew that these guys were passionate about these Steinberger instruments. It was especially reassuring knowing that THE Jeff Babicz himself was part of this company and personally set up each instrument.

I emailed Don Greenwald and asked if he had any original lined fretless basses in stock. Before I could blink, he responded right away telling me he would check his stock and get back with me. A short while later, he let me know he had a couple of lined fretlesses in stock and told me how much they would be. In the same email, he also offered me a less expensive option. He informed me that Jeff Babicz could convert a normal, fretted XL2 bass into a lined fretless bass, and that it would be less expensive than an original rare factory lined fretlesses. This was perfect, because I was planning on playing the instrument, rather than hanging it on the wall as a collector's item. Cosmetic condition was not as important to me as full functionality. Knowing this, Don dug even further and found an "employee" bass (a bass originally made by a Steinberger employee for personal use and not to be commercially sold) for Jeff to convert. This saved me even more money.

Listening to my needs, Don found the perfect fit for me, and Jeff's conversion to the lined fretless bass was simply flawless. Check out the pictures of this particular project in the photo gallery here on the website. One might think that having to have such extensive conversion work done to an instrument, the turn around time would be several weeks, even months. But not even 3 weeks after I placed my order, my custom converted XL2LF was in my hands. Simply amazing. In summation, I would advise anyone who wants to buy one of these unique instruments to purchase from Don and Headless USA with confidence. Let him know what you are looking for and he will deliver without a doubt.

~Joe Brock
USA
As the former owner of the coolest vintage guitar shop in Cleveland, Ohio, and as an avid guitar collector/enthusiast, I have owned and played the full range of rare and iconic American vintage guitars, including ’59 Les Paul Sunburst, 50’s Strats, etc. However, I have always felt that the Steinberger neck was THE neck for me. It just feels absolutely perfect in my hands. I'd owned and sold several Steinbergers during my days as a guitar shop owner and now, years later, as I have been rebuilding my personal guitar collection, post shop, I wanted to add a Steinberger to my most eclectic collection.

My vintage shop was based on providing expert service and knowledge to the novice and to the collector. Now, when I am looking to add guitars to my own collection, I look for the same service. Steinberger guitars are an entity unto themselves, and because of the many unique aspects of this instrument, dealing with someone you can TRUST is essential. There are Steinberger “dealers” and “Steinbergerstein” guitars out there, that for a variety of important reasons, can, and should, create many questions (and doubts) in your mind.

I can say without reservation that dealing with Don Greenwald and HeadlessUSA has been a real pleasure. I was drawn to the Steinberger GM series because I am a rock and roll dinosaur: traditional body shapes and no pointy headstocks! In this case, no headstock at all! I was looking for a GM1TA because of the relative rarity of the breed. (I am a collector, first and foremost.) After months of internet noodling, I contacted Don to see what he had in stock. To my delight, he had a GM1TA - in original matte black finish no less. I contacted him and we talked at length about Steinbergers in general and this GM1TA in detail.

I bought it. Plain and simple. I was impressed with Don’s knowledge, candidness, and the fact that he had experience with other instruments in my collection. And, he has as a colleague, Jeff Babicz, who is the best Steinberger tech on the planet. Tough combination to beat.

The guitar arrived in great condition, Don answered the few questions I had about the instrument, and I am a happy camper. The guitar sounds great and THAT NECK still blows me away fully 20+ years after the fact.

Do your homework and ask questions. Deal with reputable people and know that there is an anchor in the Steinberger storm, and ironically, it is HeadlessUSA.

~Paul Brown
Ohio, USA
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