Professional Music Technology are now proudly stocking G&L Guitars & Basses, the last guitars designed by Leo Fender
As we are now proud stockists of G&L Guitars and Basses here at PMT, we thought we’d offer up a brief history of the guitars, the last line of instruments the legendary Leo Fender ever worked on and discover why Leo famously declared 'G&L guitars and basses are the best instruments I have ever made.'
Without Leo Fender, the world would be an entirely different place. The legendary luthier and American inventor was responsible for designing some of the most iconic guitars, basses and amplifiers ever made including the Fender Telecaster, Fender Stratocaster, Fender Precision Bass, Fender Jazz bass and the Fender Bassman amp in particular.
Without these innovations in musical instrument design, music as we know it would be completely different, the guitar world would be completely different and birds would probably fly upside down… well, maybe not the last part, but you never know! Either way, Leo Fender’s influence on the world of guitar is still relevant today with his name still appearing on instruments and synonymous with music and guitar production. Needless to say, he was a heavyweight in the guitar world and his name lives on, strong.
However, it wasn’t just the ‘Fender’ brand that Leo worked on. In fact, they weren’t even his favourite instruments. Nope, that right was reserved for his last venture – G&L Guitars.
About G&L Guitars
After selling his first company, ‘Fender’, in 1965 to CBS, Leo Fender was kept on by CBS/Fender to design and produce instruments for Music Man in the 1970s through his company CLF research. Having then designed the likes of the StingRay bass and a myriad of other guitars and basses for Music Man, Leo Fender would decide to end his consultancy for the CBS/Fender branch in the late 1970s and start his own company again, this time partnering up with former Fender employees George Fullerton and Dale Hyatt.
G&L Guitars, G&L Instruments, 'GL' Guitars or 'G and L' guitars as they’re sometimes known as, was born.
This dream team of guitar designers would set up shop in the same facility on Fender Avenue in Fullerton, California, where the original Music Man guitars were designed.
However, there was something very different that set these guitars apart from any that Leo had worked on before. Thanks to decades of research and experience redefining what was possible with the electric and bass guitar, Leo Fender, along with George Fullerton and Dale Hyatt would go on to create a selection of electric guitars and basses that included advanced features that really set these instruments apart.
3 Key Innovations That Make G&L Guitars Special
There are a few key innovations that Leo Fender and George Fullerton developed that set the G And L guitars apart and improved on the design of existing guitars out there. Most notably the Magnetic Field Design pickups, Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato and G&L Saddle-Lock Bridge.
Magnetic Field Design (MFD) Pickups
The Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups found on the likes of the G&L Tribute guitars use a ceramic bar magnetic installed underneath each coil and include soft iron adjustable pole pieces which transfer the magnetic field to the top of the pickup.
This means you can adjust the output of each string on each pickup. Whereas Alnico type pickups allow you to adjust the height of the pickup only, you can make individual adjustments to each pole piece within MFD pickups.
Best of all, the MFD pickups yield around 2 x the output per wind resulting in a quieter pickup with a greater overall output, warmer sound and broader frequency response.
Dual Fulcrum Vibrato
The G&L Dual Fulcrum Vibrato differs from regular bridges as it uses two pivot points rather than the six wood screws usually used to attach a tremolo to a guitar. This difference in design results in a far smoother and ‘silky’ feel when you’re bending notes up and down.
A hardened steel bridge plate pivots on the knife-edge bolts which are set into massive brass inserts anchored into the body of the guitar. In addition, you can actually adjust the amount of resistance on the arm via a single locking Allen screw – ideal for those who want more control over their tremolo.
G&L Saddle-Lock Bridge
The G&L Saddle Lock Bridge design was revolutionary, offering superior resonance thanks to a small Allen screw on the side of the bridge. This screw presses all the saddles together so they resonate as one single mass, thus eliminating any loss of string vibration that usually occurs with regular saddles that can move from side-to-side. In addition, the strings are routed directly through the bridge on the electric guitars for optimum sustain and the bottom side of the bridge has a large protrusion which fits into a route in the body. This protrusion ensures the bridge fits snugly into the body against the end grain of the body wood, which then allows the resonant bridge to transfer much more of the string vibration energy directly to the core of the body. This results in an extremely resonant guitar - you can actually hear and feel the difference!
Show Me Some Of The Best G&L Guitars
There’s so many amazing guitars that are part of the G&L guitars range, so we’ve picked 5 highlights including a selection of electric guitars and basses so you can see just what this amazing brand has to offer.
G&L Tribute ASAT Classic MN Butterscotch Blonde
The G&L Tribute ASAT Classic is Leo Fender’s last word on the classic single cutaway design, featuring a range of classic appointments that all guitarists will not only appreciate, but will be able to afford, too.
The Swamp Ash body is lightweight and resonant and is perfectly finished off with a transparent finish which really brings out the wood grain. The guitar is also loaded with Leo Fender Designed G&L MFD Single Coil Pickups (Made in Fullerton, California USA) providing a powerful single coil sound that offers up the twang you want with the power you need. The keen eye will notice that this guitar has opted for the traditional boxed-steel bridge with individual brass saddles. This still offers extremely reliable intonation and tuning stability but appeals to those who love a classic look to their guitar.
G&L Tribute ASAT Special RW Tobacco Sunburst
Another highlight from the G&L guitars range comes in the form of the G&L Tribute ASAT Special RW Tobacco Sunburst. This is a modern classic loaded with electronics designed by Leo Fender himself.
Straight out of the box you have G&L Jumbo MDF Single Coil Pickups at your disposal. These pickups offer a sound similar to the likes of a P-90 or Jazzmaster pickup but provide a punchier low end and brighter high-end than other pickups out there. In addition, you get the highly resonant and extremely reliable G&L Saddle-Lock Bridge which sets these guitars apart and transfers string energy far more effectively. Basswood body and hard rock maple neck with a rosewood fretboard are all professional level tonewood, which are found on guitars many times the price. An affordable, but highly professional guitar with Leo Fender’s stamp of approval.
G&L Tribute Legacy Hss 3-Tone Sunburst Maple Fingerboard
The G&L Tribute Legacy Hss 3-Tone Sunburst Maple Fingerboard improves upon Leo Fender’s original double cutaway design, providing players with a huge sounding guitar packed with immense sounding pickups and the Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato bridge developed by Leo himself.
Loaded within the Swamp Ash body you have 2 x G&L CLF-100 Alnico single coil pickups and 1 x G&L AW4368 Alnico bridge humbucker for a powerful and versatile sound. In addition, the Leo Fender designed Dual-Fulcrum vibrato bridge is a superb example of Leo’s ingenuity as it allows you to bend your notes up and down at will, without compromising the tuning stability and intonation of your guitar.
For added tonal diversity, you also have a 5-position pickup selector with volume, treble, bass (PTB system) as well as a push/pull switch on the treble pot so you can split the humbucker – there’s not a lot this guitar can’t do.
G&L Tribute Fallout MN Sonic Blue
Fans of offset guitars will adore this G&L Tribute Fallout pictured here with a Maple neck and Sonic Blue finish. This is a fairly new addition to the G and L design catalogue and was developed in homage to the coveted (and highly collectible) ’83 G&L SC-2 guitar. This updated version builds on the original design but offers more modern improvements to suit the demands of today’s guitarists.
The Paul Gagon (the ‘G’ in G&L guitars) Alnico pickups provide that kick you need whether you’re busting out grunge riffs, surf licks or smooth blues lead runs – this guitar can do it all. The humbucker bridge pickup can be split thanks to the push/pull coil tap tone knob for added tonal versatility whilst the G&L AP4285B P-90 pickup in the neck position covers the fat tones you need.
Again, the G&L Saddle Lock bridge has been included as well. The six individual saddles actually lock on to the strings and resonate as one unit, so whether you’re playing chords or single lead lines, you’ll enjoy full-fat tone and amazing sustain.
The mahogany body offers the warmth you need whilst the maple neck provides that snap and articulation so you stand out from the mix – a great sounding and looking guitar!
G&L Tribute Kiloton Bass Olympic White Brazilian Cherry Fingerboard
Next up we have the G&L Tribute Kiloton Bass pictured here in Olympic White with a Brazilian Cherry Fingerboard. This extremely powerful bass guitar hits you in the face with its thunderous tone thanks to the G&L MFD Magnetic Field Design humbucker pickup. The cool thing about this pickup is that you use the 3-position toggle to have the pickup in Series, Split or Parallel offering serious tonal variety.
This pickup, in combination with the Leo Fender-Designed Saddle-Lock bridge and swamp ash body makes for a very powerful, resonant and unique sounding bass that really stands out from the mix.
A Medium ‘C’ neck profile is comfortable to play, yet provides enough “chunk” so you can really grab on to the neck, whilst the 21 medium jumbo frets give you enough room on the fretboard.
This is a rocking bass that can handle a wide range of tones and suit all genres.
G&L Tribute Doheny RW Lake Placid Blue
The G&L Tribute Doheny pictured here with a Rosewood fretboard and Lake Placid Blue finish is about as ‘surf’ as you can get! This guitar is inspired by the surf guitars of Southern California and named after Doheny Beach where the 60s surf movement became legend.
The G&L Tribute Doheny features Wide-Bobbin MFD Pickups, which are the newest addition to the G and L catalogue of pickups and the most ‘Jazz’ sounding that the brand offers. However, don’t think for a second that this is just designed for jazz! These pickups are capable of providing everything from jangly cleans to all out grunge soaked distortion when you throw some grit at the guitar through an amplifier or pedal. Furthermore, the Doheny’s PTB (Passive Treble and Bass) system allows you to clean up the guitar by rolling back the volume and bass controls so you have total control over your sound via the guitar.
Best of all, the G&L Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato offers far greater tuning stability than any other offset guitar – there’s no need to change the bridge out like those in the know usually do with their Jazz or Jazzmaster style guitars.