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Thread: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

  1. #1

    G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    I was told the G&L guitars are made in the old Fender factory in CA. Leo came up with an improved tremelo with a bigger backplate, and improved the truss rod design and the pickups are a little smoother. They don't have the garbled distortion sound but provided a little smoother sound then the Fenders back in the 80's.

    Fender then hen came out with the lace pickups (Gold, red, and some others). The new American Strats and Tele's appear to have some design improvements along with newer custom pickups. Both the G&L and new Fenders are great instruments.

    Has anyone compared the G&L to the latest Strat and Tele's? What differences have you found and which do you prefer and why?

  2. #2
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    Bump.

    I was just browsing around and came across several mentions of G&L guitars. I did some research into the company and found myself scratching my head.

    Leo Fender sold his original company in 1965. He and George Fullerton and Dale Hyatt formed G&L in the 1970s. Leo continued to innovate, and while his guitars have the familiar Stratocaster/Telecaster shapes (heck, they were "his" designs in the first place) one would think the technical advances would put them ahead of the guitars made by FMIC. To add insult to injury, G&L guitars appear to be stupidly cheaper than their counterparts. For example, I found a very delicious-looking Tribute Legacy for $470 with free shipping!

    A part of the description:

    The Legacy's vintage-spec CLF-100 Alnico V pickups have that unmistakable chime and quack reminiscent of the best examples from the late 50s,thanks to the work of Paul Gagon,G&L VP Engineering. Gagon found his inspiration reviewing original prints stored in Leo's private laboratory at G&L,but that was just the start. About 30 years ago,Gagon was an R&D engineer at another company when he was tasked with finding out what was so special about the early bolt-on guitars many players raved about. Gagon tirelessly analyzed many examples of what were considered holy grail guitars,spending time out on the shop floor talking to builders still working in the pickup department since the 50s,all on a quest to discover where the real mojo was and wasn't. What he learned from the builders matched his own engineering analysis. You see,back in the day,the actual spec of pickups coming down that old production line varied considerably. That meant coming up with the right specs for the Legacy pickups was more challenging than simply following the prints. Gagon's persistence paid off as the Legacy garnered rave reviews from both players and magazines like Guitar Player and Guitar World.


    This axe is no slave to the past,however,starting with Leo's PTB™ (Passive Treble and Bass) system which functions on all three pickups for dramatically more variety than the vintage setup. What's more,the Legacy features a Leo Fender-designed Dual-Fulcrum vibrato,a work of engineering art which allows bending up or down with unsurpassed stability,while offering a silky feel through its beefy aluminum vibrato arm.
    The Legacy is all about honest,classic Alnico tone complemented by Leo's own modern refinements. And now,it's available at a price within reach of every working musician. Once you play a G&L Tribute Series,you'll never look back.

    So what's up? Why aren't G&L guitars the "gold standard" and not Fender? Or are they? Or has Fender improved so much that they can charge x4 for USA-made guitars?

  3. #3
    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    The $470 Tribute Legacy is made in Asia. US made G&Ls aren't cheap new (about $1200-1500 at the chains?) though they can be quite a bargain used.

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    The $470 Tribute Legacy is made in Asia. US made G&Ls aren't cheap new (about $1200-1500 at the chains?) though they can be quite a bargain used.

    That's interesting to know. It still doesn't explain why G&L guitars aren't more prominent. Every search I do results in posts of people who absolutely love them.

    Is it because Fender has the production and tooling power to produce guitars in mass quantities, thereby effectively flooding the market? It seems the name on the headstock carries a lot of weight (I confess, it does for me -- I pass on the "Squier by Fender" guitars in favor of the standard "Fender" logo).

    Perhaps this is the "Microsoft versus the world" analogy? Fender is just so big and its presence is so well known that other brands ("competitors") are swept to the wayside. Even if their products are superior.

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    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    I believe it's because people want what their heroes played. Nostalgia is the basis for almost all of the gear market. Not many people dreamed of owning a G&L when they were a kid.

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    I believe it's because people want what their heroes played. Nostalgia is the basis for almost all of the gear market. Not many people dreamed of owning a G&L when they were a kid.

    That could be part of it. As was pointed out to me, G&L never set out to dominate the guitar market, but rather set themselves up as a "boutique" guitar maker. Sort of a "Hey, let's let Leo tinker and we'll just build out the stuff he dreams up."

    I came across a nifty SC-2 that caught my eye (it's my penchant for the "natural wood" look). It's neither a Tele clone or a Strat clone. By outward appearance, it's plainly different. I wonder, if G&L hadn't stayed with the Tele and Strat shape (which were, after all, Leo's design) might they not have had more prominence?




    That said, I know there are some terrific boutique guitars out there: Carvin, Washburn, etc. But I definitely feel I'd have to play one before buying. I've been known to buy a Fender on looks and stated specs alone!

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    Forum Member chuckocaster's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    I had a discussion once with my mentor about this very subject, he had an intimate knowledge of Fender. From his perspective, and I concur, G&L was the "next step" for Leo. It was never about trying to recreate the past, it was about trying some new ideas. Leo was always pushing for newer and better or updating his designs, he was never one to just leave well enough alone and call it good. Look at what he did while he was at Fender, everything was changing, new models were coming out and being updated every couple years. So whenever people now cry about how Fender is messing with success they're missing the point of what Fender always was. Leo sold Fender and then went on to form MusicMan. There they worked on the idea of some of the first hybrid amps, active basses and other groundbreaking designs. Then came G&L...

    To me, where I think people don't "grok" the G&L concept is the pickups. The MFD style is quite an interesting design and has a unique sound. But, a lot of guys buy a G&L and then swap out the pickups for something more akin to a 50's or 60's F guitar. They buy the guitar not understanding that they are going to sound different, intentionally, they were never built to be replicas or time machines. Yeah sure, they made one or two that were clones of the past, but by and large they were trying new things. I used to buy ASAT pups for CHEAP!!! Like $40 a set, and they're awesome for what they are. I don't know the exact design of them, but they're sort of a low impedance pup. One of the best Teles I've ever built has an ASAT lead pup in the bridge paired with a Bill Lawrence L250 in the neck. With the controls full up you get a quasi HiFi soundscape, roll the tone and/or volume back a little and it gets some old school grit. The ASAT pup only reads like 4K, and I believe it has ceramic magnets, it's constructed much like a P90. So does it sound like a 53 or 62 Tele? No. But I don't want it to, and never expected it to. But guys buy these guitars and expect to travel back to that time period... Kind of a travesty as they're missing out on some cool tones.

    With that said, I LOVE vintage Fenders, I build clones of them all the time. But on the other hand, I also build guitars that are similar to what G&L was doing. There's room in this world for all types of guitar tones, and we as musicians are usually trying to recreate classic tones we hear or heard on albums we listened to when we were kids, by guys using what we now call vintage gear. Back in the day Keef was buying up old F lap steels and pilfering the pup out of it to put in his Teles. Because at that point in time it was just old and used gear you could get for cheap and cannibalize... Heck, all those guys in England playing late 50's Les Pauls? At that point they were 10 year old guitars! That'd be like me going down and buying a 2004 Strat, playing it through a new amp and people freaking out about the amazing tone.

    Sorry, didn't mean to go off on a tangent! My point is this, G&L guitars are GREAT instruments. Just don't buy one thinking it's going to sound like whatever your idea of a "classic Fender tone" is, because you're going to be disappointed. Buy one though because you like the familiar yet slightly different feel and sound.
    "don't worry, i'm a professional!"

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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    Chuck. Great info. Thanks.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    I agree with Chuck. The only way that Leo was trying to recreate the past with G&L was that he wanted to be working with the guys developing gear like in the old days. He wanted to advance the guitars.

    I'd love to try an ASAT or an SC-2 with MFD pickups.

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    I appreciate the in-depth info and perspective, Chuck. I'm not eager to buy a G&L (yet) -- heck, I'm still waiting for my latest Strat to arrive -- but the G&L story intrigues me. Or maybe it's the lack of a story, given that Leo spent nearly as much time with them as he did with his eponymous company!

    I've always been a bit of a contrarian. I don't buy a guitar thinking of how I can make it sound, I buy it thinking of how it can make me sound! Each one of my guitars sounds different (except my twin SGs, but I digress). I don't like new guitars with the relic look. To me, they are like buying pre-washed jeans; I'd rather put my own wear and tear on them, thank you very much! So I get your point, 100%. There's a certain irony in the most recent Telecaster I bought: It was such a stupid cheap price that I figured it could wind up being my "cheap-ass modifiable" guitar. Then, it turned out to be such a sweet player that there's no way I'm going to mod it it!

    By the way, I named my #1 Strat last night. I've been playing Woody (one of my SGs) and TeleStrat.Or quite a bit, but I'm packing up my guitars so changing weather in my home over the next week will have minimal impact on them. So I picked up my Eric Clapton Artist Series and played a bit before putting it in its case. It played so silky-smooth -- which is why it's my #1 guitar -- that I knew its name:
    Silky.

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    Forum Member chuckocaster's Avatar
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    Re: G&L Legacy and ASAT Classic vs American Fender Strat and Telecaster

    All good man, seems like you get it. I was just throwing all that out there because it seems like most people don't understand what G&L is about.
    "don't worry, i'm a professional!"

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