1970 - Music Man and G&L continued. (George & Leo, later Guitars by Leo) Musical Products. G&L guitar designs tended to lean heavily upon the looks of Fender's original guitars such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster, but incorporated innovations such as enhaced tremolo systems and electronics. Despite suffering several minor strokes, Leo Fender continued to produce guitars and basses. While he continued to refine the fundamental designs he had created decades earlier, he also earned many new patents for innovative designs in magnetic pickups, vibrato systems, neck construction, and other areas. Nevertheless, he never learned how to play the guitar.
A friendly, modest and unassuming man (his "coffee mug" was a styrofoam cup with the word "Leo" inked on it), he had the lifelong admiration and devotion of his employees, many of whom have remarked that the best working years of their lives were spent under Leo Fender. He died in 1991 from complications of Parkinson's disease. His pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
The company which bears his name, Fender Musical Instrument Corporation, is now one of the largest musical instrument conglomerates in the world. G&L is a guitar design and production company founded by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt in the late 1970s, after Leo left the company he founded that still bears his name. G&L instruments are similar to the classic Fenders, but with some modern innovations. They are hand built on Fender Avenue, in Fullerton, California. They are not widely distributed but are highly regarded by many musicians and collectors. The relatively small scale of production further allows for more custom options than are possible on larger production lines.
After the passing of Leo Fender in 1991, Fender's wife, Phyllis Fender, passed the management of G&L to BBE Sound of John C. McLaren. George Fullerton remains as a permanent consultant, and Leo's wife Phyllis remains as Honorary Chairman of G&L. It's believed that Leo Fender claimed the G&L line of instruments to be his greatest achievement, and that the instruments were of the highest quality, even better than the average Fender stringed instrument.
G&L Guitars offer several proprietary features, in an attempt to differentiate from other guitar companies, including:
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- The Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato has two pivot points. The design aims to improve tuning stability, and according to some has a sound that is more mellow than a traditional bridge and it allows the player to bend notes up as well as down.
- The G&L Saddle-Lock bridge utilizes a small Allen screw on the side of the bridge, to reduce side-to-side movement of the individual string saddles. The design aims to prevent loss of sustain due to this sideways motion by locking the saddles together. These are made in America by EBEGI right down the street from the G&L factory in Buena Park CA.
- The Magnetic Field Design pickups use a ceramic bar magnet instead of the traditional Alnico magnet, and allows a player to set the pickup output per string, as opposed to the entire pickup as a whole in traditional single-coil pickup designs.
- The Tilt Neck Mechanism designed and patented by George Fullerton.
G&L produces several distinct models of guitar & bass products, including:
- F-100 - The first guitar produced by G&L, featuring Leo Fender's Magnetic Field Design Humbucking pickups. Two small switches controlled a coil splitter and a phase switch (reversed the phase of one humbucker), allowing almost limitless tone creation abilities.
- G-200 - Designed by George Fullerton, it was the only G&L guitar to feature a 24-3/4" scale neck (similar to what Gibson does with their Les Paul). It incorporated two MFD humbuckers, saddle lock fixed bridge, a unique wiring/switching design by Leo Fender, Ebony fingerboard and mahogany body. Approximately 209 of these were made.
- ASAT Classic - Similar design to the Telecaster; offered as a solid-body instrument as well as a semi-hollow body instrument.
- ASAT Classic Bluesboy - Based on ASAT Classic, but with a Seth Lover humbucker pickup in the neck position and a modified MFD single coil at the bridge. Designed by Tim Page of Buffalo Bros.www.buffalobrosguitars.com> with the help of Seymour Duncan www.seymourduncan.com for neck pickup and Tony Petrilla (of G&L) for wiring of bridge pickup ~ first introduced as a Special Edition in 1999 in both solid body and semi-hollow versions. Due to its' immense popularity, in 2001 it became a standard model.
- ASAT Special - named G&L Broadcaster until 1985. Similar to the ASAT Classic but with two large "soap bar" MFD pickups and a proprietary "Saddle-Lock" bridge cast by Eric Book (rather than the Telecaster-style bridge found on the Classic). Recent models of this instrument have dropped the word "Special" and are now branded simply ASAT.
- ASAT Z-3 - Similar to the ASAT Classic but with three "Z-Coil" pickups (see Comanche), additional pickup switching options and a "Saddle-Lock" bridge.
- Will Ray Signature Model - based on ASAT Z-3, with changes to suit Will Ray's style, including overwound pickups, a B-bender, a different neck profile, and skull-shaped fingerboard position marker inlays designed by Ray.
- Comanche - Similar design to the classic Fender Stratocaster, but utilizes a pickup known as the Z-coil which incorporates G&L's proprietary Magnetic Field Design, along with the G&L Dual Fulcrum vibrato (see above) and additional pickup switch options (super-switch). Created from Leo Fender's original design for the Stratocaster.
- Invader - Uses a Floyd Rose bridge locking vibrato system, with a locking nut.
- Legacy - Similar design to the Stratocaster, with design considerations derived from older Stratocaster models from the 1950's and 1960's, but also modern features such as the G&L Dual Fulcrum vibrato and bi-cut neck (see G&L Guitars website).
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- Legacy Special - Based on the Legacy, but with blade humbucker pickups.
- Legacy Deluxe - A stratocaster licensed body with bolt on neck. This guitar has rear mounted controls and there is no pickguard. The standard pickup configuration is a Seymour Duncan TB-4 (An SH4 with different dimensions)and 2 alnico V single coils).
- George Fullerton Signature model - Based on Legacy, main difference is the vintage style neck - late 50's soft "V" shape rear contour, treble roll-off for the neck and bridge pickup that Mr. Fullerton had on his '54 Stratocaster.
- S-500 - Similar design to the Stratocaster and Legacy,but with modern-style pickups and additional pickup switch options.
- Rampage - Similar in design to the Stratocaster.Played by Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains.
G&L L-2000 - USA 1994
G&L L-2000 - USA 1994
All G&L basses feature bolt-on necks and 34 inch scale lengths. Five-string versions use 3+2 tuners; earlier models made prior to the BBE takeover carried a 4+1 arrangement.
- L-2000 Dual large MFD humbuckers, 4 string bass. Both active and passive electronics, selected by a switch, along with pickup switching for a wide range of tones.
- ASAT Bass - Relatively small bass guitar with a Telecaster style body shape. Available in both solid-body and semi-hollow versions. Same electronics as the L-2000.
- L-2500 5 string adaptation of the L-2000.
- L-1000 Passive bass with one large MFD humbucker in front position.
- Climax Bass Active/passive bass with sculpted neck heel area. Single large MFD humbucker in bridge position.
- L-1500 Active/passive bass with single large MFD humbucker in bridge position.
- L-1505 5 string adaptation of the L-1500
- SB-1 (first-style) Single coil MFD pickup in front position. Slab body.
- SB-2 (first-style) Two single coil MFD pickups. Slab body.
- Lynx Bass Very similar to the first-style SB-2, but with a contoured body.
- SB-1 (second-style) Similar to the Fender P-bass in form. The MFD split pickup has the same footprint as split Fender P-Bass pickups.
- LB-100 Also known as the Legacy Bass. Same as the second-style SB-1 but with an alnico pickup.
- SB-2 (second-style) Essentially a Second-style SB-1 with an added MFD single coil pickup at the bridge and a second volume knob in place of the tone knob.
- El Toro Bass Two small MFD humbuckers.
- Interceptor Bass Same as the El Toro but with a different body and headstock design.
- L-5000 Five string bass with split MFD pickup.
- JB-2 Bass J style bass guitar with 2 vintage Alnico jazz style pickups. Swamp ash or alder body.
In 2003 G&L introduced the Tribute series, a more affordable alternative to its hand-made selection. Tribute G&L's were made in Korea by Cort Guitars using mostly foreign-made hardware, though some original parts are also used on select models. The pickups used are all originally made by G&L in Fullerton/California. Production has since moved to a Cort facilities in Indonesia.
Before 2003 for a short time there was a production of Tribute guitars in Japan. But when production in Japan became more expensive and the best Korean manufacturing raised to the same quality level, the production moved to Korea.
The Tribute series is offered in many of the same body shapes as their original creations. These currently include the ASAT Classic, ASAT Classic Semi-Hollow, ASAT Special, ASAT Special Semi-Hollow, Invader XL, Legacy, Legacy SB, and S-500 guitar models and L-2500 & L-2000 bass models. The SB-2 was offered briefly but was discontinued, however, it was reintroduced late 2006/early 2007. The JB-2 was introduced to the Tribute series at the same time.
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- Official G&L Guitars website
- Guitars by Leo G&L Tribute Site
Leo Fender may have passed on, but his name and innovations will probably last forever amongst others like Orville Gibson, Les Paul and C. F. Martin as great guitar manufacturers and innovators.