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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

G&L more Fender than Fender?

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by karnac, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. jiveturkey1

    jiveturkey1 TDPRI Member

    Feb 28, 2010
    buchanan michigan
    This old thread has been an interesting read. I'm surprised how many think that the G&L headstocks are ugly. I think they look rather nice!

  2. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    I have a USA Legacy, an ASAT Special Tribute, and a MIM Fender Tele. Ive had both USA and MIJ Fender strats, a Squier CV tele and a very nice mostly Fender parts tele partscaster.

    I wont say "better" since thats so subjective, but I greatly prefer my G&L's over Fenders, at any pricepoint. My MIM Tele would have been another Tribute but i got such a good deal on it I had to get it. And replace the pickups(with Cavaliers). Sounds too good now, but the fretwork sucked. My tech spent 2 hrs on them, and its a keeper now.

    I just think G&L makes a better guitar for the money, whatever money.

  3. raf

    raf Tele-Afflicted

    May 8, 2007
    I owned two asat classic tributes several years ago. Great guitars...loved them both. Currently playing a fender american special.

  4. Fred Rogers

    Fred Rogers Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 8, 2013
    Long Island

  5. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2009
    New York
    I've seen a few G&L's and Tributes in GC. I think a good percentage of people mistake G&L as a 'Fender ripoff' when they see it in stores. I've suggested G&L's to a few players who wanted Fenders, and their replies are usually along the lines of "I dont want a Fender knockoff"

  6. tonyj

    tonyj Tele-Afflicted

    May 23, 2011
    Alberta, Canada
    Porsches are Volkswagen knockoffs.

  7. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Jan 23, 2007
    Wow , people go back even further than Leo , LOL......
    Leo was devastated that they wanted him to work on something so closely shaped to the Strat and Tele , if I remember right....Leo was an engineer and these people dont understand why people dont like progress....In his mind the Strat should have made the Tele obsolete , and so forth......
    My opinion on the G&L´s : Horrible looking headstock , and yes , it matters to some of us...They are quite different to normal F models , and I actually applaud that......I just dont need any of these changes..
    And , did I mention the headstock design ?

  8. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    I like the headstock. I'm a tele guy, and still prefer a Fender strat headstock to a tele's, and think the G&L's is a good combo of things. But, I'm not a guy that it really matters to. Its the least important part of any guitar IMO, including the name on it. If it sounds and plays good, I'm happy.

  9. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Jan 23, 2007
    Maybe its because Im in Europe. Only the same copies sold as in the US have altered headstock shapes. Untill now , only the decal would cause the mighty F to wake up , compared to the US.....Im shallow , and I really dislike the GL headstock shape , allthough I dont care about the decal.
    Mr Leo Fender made 2 important guitar models , and a couple of basses , maybe the world doesnt need any more designs or ideas from him ?

  10. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    Doubt he had a choice. New company, patent laws, probably had to change the headstock not to get sued. And think back to the beginning. G&L, 1980. The late 70s early 80s was NOT Fenders best era. Maybe their worst. The original ASATs and S500s were different, as were the other early G&Ls, the SC3, F100, etc. Leo wanted to keep making guitars; what else could he have done? Make copies or change things a bit? And, take any 1981 G&L and compare it to a 1981 Fender. Not even close. The G&Ls were WAY better made.

  11. Jimo

    Jimo Tele-Afflicted

    May 7, 2004
    hey BTW....

    When Leo sold Fender didn't he say in the contract he would not go into competition against Fender.......????

  12. bun malaey

    bun malaey Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 14, 2012
    Shertz, TX
    Yes, he did.

    He thought he was dying, that's why he sold Fender. I believe it was a 20 year no compete clause, after that he could do whatever he wanted. CBS feared Leo knowing if he was to compete he would crush CBS Fender.

  13. The_Doctor [EV]

    The_Doctor [EV] Tele-Meister

    Jul 22, 2014
    My father owned a G&L ASAT Semi-hollow Bass for years and years, and it left a lasting impact on me. If I were to look into getting a high-dollar guitar that WASN'T a jazzbox, it'd probably be a G&L. They just FEEL better than similarly priced Fenders. I don't mind the headstock shape, and I love that you can basically do a custom-order at the price of a production American-made instrument.

    Then again, I've never had strong brand loyalty or an aversion to modern technology. I play a plastic-bodied Tokai superstrat through a Peavey Bandit; I'm about as far from the traditionalist guitar mindset as one could be. :D

  14. Lunchie

    Lunchie Poster Extraordinaire

    The local ma and pa has 3 of the American made G&Ls right now, two Teles and a Strat. They are absolutely gorgeous and the value seems to hold with them better to boot.

    Its kind of funny that in 2014 he has had probably 5 G&L Teles come through the door, all killer guitars, but not a single American Tele. Not really sure what to read into it.

    When he gets the used G&Ls in, they tend to sell quickly at a premium and they don't tend to come back. So I don't think its the case that the Am Teles are superior its just that it takes a special buyer for the G&Ls. Since, no one around us sells them, you have to buy it blind and hope its what you want it to be.

  15. savofenno

    savofenno Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 16, 2010
    Ferraris are Fiat knockoffs, and Lamborghinis are farm tractors.:D

  16. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Aug 21, 2005
    I believe that Leo/G&L were threatened more than once with headstock lawsuits, and similar to the first Gretsch threat about using. Broadcaster (even though the spelling was different and it was a drum kit name) he just changed the shape to avoid confrontation. I do, however, believe that at that time under CBS reign they probably definitely felt threatened by his re-entry into the market whereas the old Broadkaster/Broadcaster thing was along the lines of professional courtesy as neither the early G&L or MusicMan headstock designs would be confused with a Fender by anybody with the slightest eye for detail (much like the Gibson/PRS lawsuit over the Singlecut).

    What I find interesting, is that the earliest G&L headstock that he was asked to change wouldn't even be able to be challenged in today's market, especially when you look at how little the changes have to be to get away from a lawsuit...maybe the law is a little more relaxed or Fender takes a slightly more lenient approach if it's only a replacement neck instead of a high quality competing guitar company.

    I don't mind either of the G&L headstock variations and applaud them for not trying to get as close as possible to skirt the laws and take on an identity of their own. Their guitars are of high enough quality to stand on their own merits, and they've also chosen a better headstock look IMHO than some other very high end makers that probably make a closer "copy" of a Strat or Tele as far as interchangeable parts are concerned.

    G&L also made a real 22 fret neck for their Legacy and ASAT before Fender offered one and has caught flak for that. I understand why Fender used the overhang method, and it makes perfect sense given the point in the game that they added it, but like pretty much everything Leo did when he designed something from scratch he did it the way be thought would be best and didn't worry about interchangeable parts with other company's products.

    I believe that he was somewhat pushed into offering MFD pickups to sell in the aftermarket as replacement for Fender guitars and didn't take issue with that, but he really didn't want to make the ASAT Classic or Legacy as he had technically done that 40 year's earlier and always intended to make his next model replace the older design (which has been brought up before, going back to his Fender days).

  17. ShaunQ

    ShaunQ TDPRI Member

    Jul 4, 2010
    I have a convoluted relationship with G&L. I so WANT to prefer them to Fender on principle alone. Even under BBE ownership, it just feels as though the company is more focused on building quality instruments whereas Fender feels so...corporate, for lack of a better word.

    That said, I no longer own G&L guitars. My MIA Legacy was great, but heavier than any LP I've ever held. It felt so fancy and sleek and eventually turned me off. I traded it for a 3-bolt ASAT Special, which was nice, but so loud that it was impossible to switch between that and my strat without serious amp adjustment at a gig (that, and the jack was terrible; without running the cord under the strap, it would just fall out of the guitar. Playing seated was a no-go). I then had a tribute S-500, which played wonderfully but again, seemed overly sleek and sounded too boomy.

    The tremolo however, is my favorite that I've ever played. The S-500 was the first instrument I had that I could pull the pitch upward in perfect thirds and get those sweet pedal steel sounds without it going out of tune. It's an ugly, bulky system that just works so beautifully. I think when finances allow, I'll give G&L one more go. I have serious GAS for the newer SC-2 reissue (trem model, please), but they're a little harder to find on the used market.

    Until then, I'll happily plug away on my MIM Classic Series Esquire.

  18. fescue

    fescue TDPRI Member

    Sep 17, 2013
    Red Wing, MN
    Take the Comanche: gawd is that thing ugly with those squiggly pickups. Sorry, there is just no eye appeal there.

  19. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's

    Sep 20, 2005
    Kansas City
    Actually it was a 10-year non-compete. Leo was officially a part owner/investor in Music Man in 1975, and he was producing the Music Man instruments at CLF Research by 1976. The story is that Leo was a "silent unnamed investor" in Music Man as early as 1973; they had to wait until after January 1975 to introduce him as a partner.

    I think the headstock change was pushed as much by Music Man as it was by Fender. When Leo parted ways with Walker and White it was pretty acrimonious; White even went as far as to claim in his book that CLF Research was sabotaging the Music Man necks with improperly installed truss rods during 1980.

    Most of Fenders reactions to G&L were them putting "by Leo Fender" in a script font on the headstocks - that violated Fender's trademark. That's why the wound up putting the "Leo Fender" signatures on the bodies instead of the neck during the late 1983.

    And Dale Hyatt was the guy who created what we now call the ASAT Special - Leo wasn't on board with it and had to be shown it was significantly different from the old Tele, and it was Hyatt who named it "Broadcaster" knowing full well that the Gretsch family was going to raise the issue again (since the family had repurchased the company by that time) simply for the publicity.

    True - plus the deeper neck pocket used at G&L also made the 3-bolt neck more stable. It goes back to the F-100 and all the models that predate G&L using the Strat body shape. G&L didn't start the "true" Strat shape until about 1989; they had their own double-cut shape prior to then.

    I never thought that Hyatt pressured him into offering the MFDs; he really thought they were the best and decided to make Strat-sized versions for resale (which eventually the company would use them in their guitars). Leo had enough issues with the original large-pickup ASAT Specials; he definitely didn't want the ASAT Classic. I'm not sure he was really involved in the Legacy despite what BBE says; it would be easy enough for anyone to swap out the MFDs in the now Strat-shaped S-500 with Duncan SSL-1s and simply drop the expander switch.

    The history of the 3 companies are really so intertwined, particularly Leo's split with Music Man and the start of G&L. If you read both George Fullerton's books and Forrest White's book it begins to read like depositions in a celebrity divorce case. Since they are all gone now we won't ever know the real story.

  20. Dunzie

    Dunzie Tele-Holic

    Funny... we seem to see the exact opposite around here. A large shop got in a whack of G&L's at a discount and had to practically give them away. Maybe people are more educated on what they are down your way, but a sales guy told me their store didn't want to take them on again because they were such a tough sell even at deeply discounted pricing.

    Just my personal thought too... regardless of the headstock which I can't get my head around... I played a bunch of MIA models and they just didn't do it for me. Some great colors and specs that you can't necessarily get in a Fender equivalent, but I just didn't find they played as well as many in this thread suggest. Nice having buying options though for sure, and maybe I just didn't find the magical one.

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