G&L 2015 Mid-Year Model Changes

As of July 1st 2015, G&L is making some of the more significant model specification changes in quite some time. G&L has gone through their whole lineup, and practically no guitar remains untouched in some way or another. Pricing is changing too, both in the form of some increases, and how guitars are priced relative to each other. There is a lot to take in, but here is a rundown on the more notable changes to the guitars, along with some commentary.

Neck Profiles

For years the #1 “C” profile neck with 12″ radius has been standard on most G&L guitars. On the Legacy and ASAT line this is now changing to the “Modern Classic” neck. The Modern Classic neck is 1-11/16 at the nut with less of a taper than the #1 neck (now .830 at the 1st fret to .870 at the 12th). On the ASAT and Legacy line the standard radius is 9.5″.

Also of note is that G&L has separated neck shape from radius. And in the dealer price list there are separate options for fingerboard radius (7.5, 9.5, 12) and for profiles. So pretty much you can mix and match anything for one up-charge. You don’t get dinged twice for radius and shape.

Why the new profile on their most popular guitars? One thought is that a frequent question I get is, “which profile is most like a Fender?” The Modern Classic is a pretty close fit. In addition there were occasional complaints about string fall-off with the #1 neck, and the slightly wider nut width of the Modern Classic will help this. Most of the other profiles remain (C, Wide C, U, V, etc.) with slight name tweaks. G&L still offers more options than just about anyone on a production guitar. However, a couple guitars — namely Fallout and SC-2 — do not offer neck profile options.

Here is a quick rundown of the more popular guitar and bass models and their new profiles:

  • ASAT – Modern Classic 9.5″
  • Legacy – Modern Classic 9.5″
  • Fallout – Slim C 12″
  • Invaders – Modern Classic 12″
  • S-500 – Modern Classic 9.5″
  • Comanche – Modern Classic 9.5″
  • SC-2 – Classic C 12″
  • ASAT Bass – 1.5 nut width Medium C 9.5″
  • L-1500 and 2000 – 1-5/8 Medium C 9.5″
  • M-2000 – 1-5/8 Medium C 9.5″
  • 5- String Bass – 1-3/4 Medium C 12″
  • JB – 1.5 Medium C 9.5″
  • LB – 1-5/8 Medium C 9.5″
  • SB – 1-5/8 Medium C 9.5″

Discontinued Models

G&L has thinned the herd slightly, and here is what I noticed. Nothing really earth shattering here; and from personal experience these models have either run their course, or never took off:

  • ASAT Special Deluxe
  • Legacy Deluxe (No pickguard, Flame Maple Top)
  • S-500 Deluxe (Ditto)
  • S-500 Semi-Hollow
  • Will Ray Signature
  • MJ Series bass guitars (Back in – recently amended)
  • JB-2 Bass
  • “Rustic” series products


While there are no changes to their single coil pickups, G&L will be using Seymour Duncan pickups only in the Rampage, Bluesboy and ASAT Deluxe models. All other models – Fallout, Legacy, Invader — will use G&L’s own Alnico humbucker pickups. G&L is of course known for their pickups, and there also some cost savings involved with using their own product versus sourcing from someone else. These are the same Paul Gagon designed pickups as used in the Tribute series, and they are made in Fullerton by G&L. The Duncan pickups will be available as an extra cost option, and if you must have them, the up-charge is well below the cost of going out and buying a set.

How do the G&L Humbuckers sound? We’ve played the G&L Alnico humbucker pickups, and in most cases we are talking about the bridge pickup in the Legacy and Fallout. The resistance is in the 13K range versus 16K for the Duncan JB. The G&L pickup is a little warmer in tone, with a softer high end. It lacks some of the top end sharpness of the JB which depending on your point of view is a good thing. When gained up it’s smooth with creamy tone, and again less sharp and buzzy than the JB. We recommend giving it a try, and of course there are a zillion aftermarket options.

The potential backlash with the G&L pickups is that some will say that this just makes the USA and Tribute models more like each other. I can’t argue that point, and my feeling is that while import guitars are important to the industry, (after all imports are >90% of the total US guitar market) using the same pickups in both the USA and import lines sends a confusing message to the consumer.

Model Name Changes

  • Legacy HB is now the Legacy HSS
  • Legacy 2HB is now the Legacy HH


Prices have gone up, but also they have shifted. The basic Legacy and ASAT guitars now have the same MAP price. Historically the ASAT was always more money. The SC-2 and Fallout are also the same MAP as the Legacy, and the S-500 is still a little more. The MAP on all these guitars is $1299 (S-500 $1399), and includes the standard burst or solid finishes, alder body, satin finish neck with maple or rosewood fingerboard, white pickguard and tolex case. It’s also of note that the Legacy HSS and HH models are now the same price as the standard Legacy, so no penalty for humbucking pickups. The Legacy Special is still a little more, and last time we looked those pickups were supplied by Kent Armstrong.

There are also minor price changes on some of the options, but nothing game-changing. And yes, stainless steel frets are still expensive. Our understanding is that they chew up the tools very quickly and of course take a lot more labor and Plek time.

The pricing relationship between List and MAP is also different, and the MAP is now about 30% off list. Without going into great detail, buyers who typically assume they can strike a deal below MAP will find dealers more reluctant to negotiate than in the past. As Fender has done, the MAP price really reflects the true street price, and the battle continues to preserve price and brand value in the cyberworld.

Wrap Up

While nobody likes to see a price increase, G&L still offers a unique value in a USA guitar that can be made to order. As far as these changes go, I think most of them make sense either commercially, or in terms of what the market really wants. And if you really want a “Pre-July” G&L you can still option a guitar to come out that way. So nobody is left out in the cold. That is unless you want an ASAT Special Deluxe.

Stainless Steel Fret Option for your G&L Guitar?

Among the many possible options for a G&L guitar opting for stainless steel frets. It’s also one of the most expensive options, with a MAP price of $300. That’s considerably more than some other manufacturer’s charge for stainless steel. I’m at a loss to explain the markedly higher price, other than the hardness of stainless steel likely requires more labor and time on the Plek® machine, and that the lower volume usage of stainless raises the purchasing cost. But should you consider stainless steel frets?

Longer Life

Stainless steel frets will certainly last longer than the typical “nickel silver” fret material used for guitar frets. Most stainless steels contain both nickel and chromium, which provide corrosion resistance and durability. The inherent hardness of stainless will resist fret wear better, and the chromium gives them a brighter finish. Medium jumbo frets will also wear slower than narrow vintage frets because there is more material in contact with the string, and subsequently less pressure per square inch on the fret. Of course playing style directly affects fret wear, and how much and where you spend your time on the neck will matter. But even with conventional frets unless you keep your guitar for twenty years or gig relentlessly, you may never encounter significant fret wear.

Playing Feel

More so than longevity, the big reason for stainless may be how they feel. The harder stainless finish creates less friction with the string, resulting in easier fretting and bending. Stainless fret guitars feel fast and require lower effort. Stainless frets with a nice hard ebony fingerboard practically play themselves. If you have a need for speed, go stainless.


Hypothetically one would expect the harder stainless fret material to sound brighter than standard nickel silver. In practice I don’t notice any significant audible difference, and in the grand scheme fret material does not play a great role in determining tone.

Should You Fret About Stainless?

If you faithfully play your guitar many hours a week and/or rely on it for your profession, then the durability advantages of stainless make sense. If you fit that description and prefer the narrower vintage frets, stainless is all but a must. But most of all, stainless frets have a great silky feel that enhances the playing experience, and makes the guitar feel quicker and easier to play. If you are OK with the additional cost, they are a worthwhile upgrade no matter how much you play.

Vintage or Modern wiring for your G&L ASAT guitar?

Emerson vintage style Tele wiring kit with treble bypass

The Internet and blogosphere is full or articles and how-to’s on the differences of the so-called “vintage” versus “modern” wiring for guitars like the Telecaster® and Les Paul. So briefly, what is it and does it matter?

In short, in a typical two-knob volume and tone arrangement, the major characteristic of “vintage” wiring is that the tone capacitor (low pass filter) is wired between (connects) the volume and tone controls. On a “modern” circuit, the tone capacitor is connected from one lug of the tone control potentiometer to ground (usually the top of the tone pot). There are several variations on this theme, but in general terms this is the biggest distinction between vintage and modern.

Why Modern?

The modern tone control circuit allows for totally independent tone control regardless of where the volume control is set. Essentially, the tone control directly shunts high frequency single to ground, the amount depending on how much the tone knob is turned. In a modern four-knob setup (such as a Les Paul) the volume and tones controls are independent from each other and each pickup. In a true vintage Les Paul circuit, turning down one pickup all the way actually turns off both pickups (this can be remedied without changing how the capacitor is wired).

The characteristic of the modern circuit is that there tends to be a high end roll-off as the volume is turned down. This can be compensated by using a “treble bleed” or tone bypass circuit, which lets through a small amount of high frequencies no matter where the volume control is set. On G&L guitars there is a .001-microfarad bypass capacitor on the volume pot of every guitar. The capacitor acts as a high pass filter, and some treble bleed circuits use a capacitor/resistor combination.

Why Vintage?

In a vintage circuit the capacitor is connecting the volume and tone controls, and the signal going to the tone control passes through the tone capacitor first (in a modern circuit the full signal passes to the tone control before the filter capacitor is applied). As a result, the signal being fed to the tone control pot is dependent on the setting of the volume control.

The characteristic of vintage wiring is that there tends to be less high-end attenuation as the volume is turned down. Even without a bypass circuit, the volume control has little effect on tone. But the and volume controls are now interactive, and the tone control works differently depending on how the volume control is set.

Is One Better Than the Other?

The modern wiring setup provides independent operation, and with the addition of a treble bypass circuit the volume control is quite functional. On some guitars a little high-end reduction via the volume control may be desirable, but on a darker sounding guitar a volume control without a treble bypass may be all but useless.

With vintage wiring the volume control is usable – and possibly better sounding – without a treble bypass. But how the tone control works depends on where the volume control is set. To some this may be annoying, but I like the range of different sounds available via the interactive nature of the two controls. I also think the volume control plain works better too, and I prefer it without the bypass. On a two pickup four-knob guitar like a Les Paul, the vintage wiring setup allows a vast array of tones just not available with the modern wiring scheme.

I’m a vintage wiring proponent, but if you can solder it’s pretty easy to switch back and forth and see what arrangement are most comfortable with. There is no right answer, just options.




The G&L Bluesboy: Traditional Bluesboy or Bluesboy 90?

Belair Green G&L Bluesboy 90

The G&L ASAT Classic Bluesboy™ has been around for many years, and is very much analogous to the Fender Telecaster Custom, which comes and goes at times the Fender lineup. The concept is simple: Create an option for players that like the idea of a Tele® style guitar but find the traditional Tele neck pickup lacking in dynamics and flexibility.

It could be said that G&L already solved this problem by creating the MFD ASAT neck pickup, which pretty effectively “fixed” the Tele neck doldrums. But there’s a market for a humbucker equipped ASAT, so why not fill it?

The original ASAT Classic Bluesboy uses a Seymour Duncan Seth Lover pickup, which emulates the construction of the early PAF pickups developed by its namesake. With a fairly low output and Alnico 2 magnets, it has a smooth top end with good clarity, but the wound strings are on the warm side and lack a strong attack. It’s a “loose” sound that has a definitive old-school vibe, and it’s always seemed to me more of a Jazz tone than a Blues tone. It’s a very good pickup, but the contrast to the ASAT bridge pickup is rather stark to the point of being a challenge to find an amp EQ that works well for both (although the sound of both pickups together is rather heavenly).

The G&L Bluesboy 90

A few years back G&L developed a great P-90 pickup that they used in some of their limited edition ASAT Junior II guitars, and even some Tributes. Originally created by Gibson in 1946, the P-90 fell out of favor with the advent of the PAF humbucker. The P-90 lived on in the Les Paul Junior and other less prestigious Les Paul models, but the PAF was clearly viewed as the “better” pickup. So G&L has this really nice pickup and no standard USA production model to stick it in. Enter the Bluesboy 90 (and the Fallout too, but that’s another post).

My totally subjective theory is that P-90 pickups are not very popular because as builders responded to the commercial desire for higher output pickups, the P-90 did not respond well to higher octane techniques. High output P-90 pickups are often dull, one-dimensional, and at the bridge take on a grating nasal bark. Somebody trying a P-90 for the first time would not be favorably impressed.

Much to their credit, G&L developed a very moderate output P-90 pickup that measures in the mid-6K range, which is a “weak” reading for a P-90. While resistance is no guarantee of tone, the G&L P-90 is a clean sounding pickup, with good note definition, even midrange response, and the wound strings have a pleasantly percussive attack. It’s not the scooped glassy sound of a Legacy, but a fatter, firmer tone that is warm, clear and expressive. The pickup handles pedals well too, taking on a slightly creamy note, but not collapsing into mush. Or just turn up your amp – always a good idea – and the G&L P-90 will create it’s own natural crunchy personality.

It’s also a great tonal match with the ASAT bridge pickup. In terms of overall response, the P-90 and ASAT Bridge are more akin to each other, and if you tend to work both pickups in equal amounts, it’s more likely you’ll find a common ground amplifier EQ.

Traditional G&L Bluesboy or Bluesboy 90?

If you delve into Jazz or smooth pop, and typically don’t rely on the bridge pickup in large amounts, the traditional Bluesboy is a very nice guitar. No denying it looks cool too. There are a wide range of tones that you can get with the Duncan pickup, but be advised that what amp EQ works for the neck may not be optimal for the bridge.

If you like to tinker with your guitar, the opportunities for replacement humbucker pickups are limitless. A quick pickup swap with possibly a moderate output Alnico 4 or 5 pickup may be all that’s needed to bring sonic harmony.

My personal opinion is that out of the box (or the case) the Bluesboy 90 is a more harmonious package. For reasons previously stated, the G&L P-90 sounds good by itself, and plays nicely with the bridge. It’s a single coil, but it doesn’t sound like a Strat®, and chances are you already have one of those. There are fewer options in terms of pickups tweaks, and yes P-90 pickups can be noisy under stage lights. Thankfully, LED stage lights are on the rise. Once the drummer starts, who can tell?

It’s not difficult to find happiness with either guitar, but if you’ve never tipped your toe into the P-90 pool, the ASAT Bluesboy 90 is a very positive introduction.

The G&L ASAT Classic Solamente: One pickup is enough

In 2013, G&L surprised some ofsolamente us by coming out with the ASAT Classic Solamente. Solamente means “only” in Spanish, meaning that G&L had finally come out with their own version of a Fender Esquire type guitar. For quite a while I had been quietly pulling for a single pickup version of the ASAT Special, but this was close enough.

Historically, the Fender Esquire has been part of the Fender lineup almost as long as the Telecaster itself. The Esquire was mostly a way to sell a guitar a lower price point, and less so a recognition that many players never used the neck pickup. The original concept of the Tele neck pickup was to emulate a bass guitar, and the “true” tone of a Tele neck pickup was dark, and murky. I remember getting my first Tele in the 70’s and wondering what the heck was going on with the neck pickup. I quickly swapped it out for a Velvet Hammer Strat pickup and was much happier.

Over the years Tele neck pickups got more “normal” as players expected that a two pickup guitar should have two useable pickups. A modern Telecaster neck pickup is much more versatile than the vintage stuff, although they are still somewhat a mixed bag. The G&L MFD ASAT Classic neck pickup overcomes nearly all the shortcomings, and is a good blend of clarity, traditional tones when you need them, and more punch when you don’t.

But we are really talking about one pickup guitars, specifically the Solamente.  It’s an odd move to emulate a fairly unpopular guitar, and through the years there have not been many Guitar Heroes wielding an Esquire. Brad Paisley and Bruce Springsteen are the only ones that come to mind, and The Boss is not really a Guitar Hero. But G&L did it anyway, and should we be glad they did? Yes.

Guitar pickups by the very nature of their design create a magnetic field. In order for them to create a signal, strings need to have some proportion of iron in them to disturb the magnetic field. This also means that pickups have some amount of damping effect on the strings. This is precisely why setting your pickups lower tends to improve tone and sustain, while having them close to the strings makes them louder but can create some odd sonic artifacts (and even make them sound out of tune).

Single pickup guitars – especially those without neck pickups – dampen the strings less, and they just ring out better with a cleaner, bigger tone and more sustain. The Les Paul Junior is a great example of this, and players like Keith Urban get a huge range of tones out a little mahogany plank and a single P-90 (and he has some interesting single pickup custom Fenders). The Solamente has that same open chime, and there is more richness to the notes. It’s bright like a bridge pickup, but with more character and dimension.

You’ll also notice that there is still a pickup selector switch. There are a myriad of “Esquire” switch wiring schemes, and Fender has used a few variations over the years. The Solamente uses a fairly traditional version in which the “neck” position uses a resistor/capacitor network to emulate a neck pickup. It’s a darker treble tone and is reminiscent is a bridge humbucker. The middle position is a normal volume/tone circuit, and the bridge position bypasses the tone control. In effect, even though there is just one pickup, you can preset three different tones. Recently, Premier Guitar magazine devoted several articles to variations on Esquire wiring, and they are available online.

The Solamente is also available with either the G&L MFD design bridge pickup, or their traditionally designed Alnico pickup. In our opinion the MFD is the only way to go. Simply put you can just do more with it. It’s got the output, midrange punch, and upper end complexity to be a country pickup, a rhythm pickup, and a rock and rock pickup. It drives pedals really well, and in the “neck” position with some gain does a great rendition of a P-90 or Humbucker. I play an ASAT Classic S (modded with two large MFD’s in the neck and middle) in a cover band. When I think of it, there are about three songs all night when I’m not of the bridge pickup. With a Solamente and a little tweaking, I go could probably go all night.

There are not many players who will own just a one-pickup guitar. But I know very few players who own just own guitar. Single pickup guitars have a magic all their own, and part of their charm is their simplicity and their tone. Sometimes having less to work with makes you more creative, and you rely more on yourself than on the guitar to be creative. I’ve owned a Les Paul Junior for several years; it still surprises me on how versatile and massive it sounds. The G&L Solamente is very much the same, but with a G&L flavor. It’s a worthy addition to your collection for home or stage.

For more information on the ASAT Solamente:  www.upfrontguitars.com




Should your next G&L guitar be Pine?

Sometime in 2012, G&L obtained some nice figured pine and started offering guitars – mostly ASAT’s I recall – in pine. This was over and above their Pine Launch Edition of their new ASAT Alnico product. Always liking to have the latest and greatest G&L models at UpFront Guitars, we ordered a few of these for the shop.

To be charitable, the pine guitars were very slow sellers, and hung around for quite while. Anybody who bought one seemed to be very happy with their choice, but it took months and months to find customers willing to take the plunge on a pine bodied guitar.

Around Christmas time, I had a dialog with a buyer interesting in one of the remaining two Pine ASAT Classic (MFD) guitars in stock. Lacking sound clips – yes, another thing on the to-do list – he asked me to evaluate both guitars and give my honest opinion.

One was Tobacco Sunburst with a glossy maple neck, and the other a Butterscotch Blonde with tinted satin maple neck. Through this process, I became enamored with the sound of both guitars, and was on the verge of trying to figure out how keep the Butterscotch guitar. But honesty is the best policy and the Butterscotch guitar found a happy home in Nashville.  Right in time for Christmas no less.

But pine guitars continue to languish on the shelves, and we’ve got two Alnico S Launch Editions to prove it. But why?

Pine is not as dense as most other tone woods, and most pine guitars are going to be lighter in weight. If you want an ASAT that is less than eight pounds, pine is one of the most reliable ways to achieve that goal. As I’ve continuously proclaimed, weight is not synonymous with tone, but most would agree that all other things being equal, lighter is not a bad thing.

The grain of pine is not particularly exotic or bold. Like most alder, it’s straight-grained wood, and unless it’s full of knots there is not a whole lot going on. But its straight uniform grain has a pleasing, crisp symmetry. Besides, a knotty pine guitar would look more like a Middle School Woodshop project than a fine instrument. Applied to pine, the G&L transparent finishes take on a very liquid appearance, and the lack of a bold grain pattern gives them a smooth creamy look, as if the finish never quite dried. Finishes that look particularly good on pine include Butterscotch, Honey and traditional Sunburst.

Tonally, pine gives the player a lot of control. Pine has a degree of natural compression that allows the player to manipulate the attack. There is a little sag and swell – almost like a tube rectifier – that allows the tone to develop rather than just blast out of the speaker. If you want tone that is immediate and in-your-face, pine is probably not the answer. Pine probably won’t please a shredder, but much like a vintage tweed amp, it has a slightly softer, looser feel.

Pair this up with the G&L MFD pickups, and there is nice synergy between the wide- ranging, sensitive nature of these pickups and the soothing effects of pine. MFD pickups have plenty of attack and output, and the pine body allows an extra measure of control. Overdriven tones take on a slightly creamier nature, with a nice “push” after the initial attack, and a complex lingering decay.

So in many ways pine has a bad rap. Probably because it is just “pine,” a domestic wood more associated with Early American furniture and rustic wall art than fine instruments. Pine comes in many grades, and there is clear-grained high quality pine, and there are 2×4’s; and pine should not be dismissed as some sort of cheap substitute for something else. And the fact that we don’t have to clear-cut a rainforest to obtain it is a bonus. Attractive in a way that is clean and elegant, and with a tone that rewards mining deeper more complex timbres, pine is fully deserving of a place on the mantle of fine tone woods (how’s that for hyperbole?)

Sales be damned, we’ve doubled down and ordered four more pine ASAT’s, three in Butterscotch. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing.

For more information on the G&L Pine guitars:  www.upfrontguitars.com


What should your G&L guitar weigh?

Of all the questions I get asked from prospective G&L buyers, “what does the guitar weigh?” is one of the most frequent. Besides reminding me that I should just weigh every guitar as soon as it arrives, guitar weight and its purported benefits is a hotly debated topic.

How much a guitar weighs has obvious implications such as playing comfort, but it has also been ascribed with many other qualities such as tone, resonance, and sustain. There are various theories and schools of thought: Some feel that lighter guitars are more resonant, other believe that heavy guitars have better low end, and so forth. My own experience — and this will seem like a cop-out to some — is that all guitars are “different” and that the tonal qualities of any guitar is the sum of its parts. Personally, having a lighter weight guitar is nice from the viewpoint of playing a 3-hour gig, but a guitar that weighs 8.5 pounds is not onerous either. After all, bass players survive often playing instruments that weigh upwards of 9-10 pounds. And let’s not forgot the Les Paul players out there, and very few of those guitars weigh under 8.5 pounds.

After working on a couple hundred G&L guitars, I’ve got a pretty good feel as to what they are going to typically weigh. So depending on the particular model of guitar, here is a rundown of what you can expect for guitar weights.

ASAT – The ASAT (Telecaster) body style is pretty good chunk of wood, and you can expect an Alder ASAT to weigh around 7.8 to 8.4 pounds. In terms of weight Alder is quite consistent, and these guitars do not vary that much. Guitars with premium transparent finishes are usually Swamp Ash, and this can run anywhere from 7.6 to 9.0 pounds. There is quite a bit more variability in Swamp Ash, and most guitars are in the 8 – 8.4 range, with fewer of them coming in under 8 pounds. There are examples of very light Swamp Ash guitars out there, but it’s difficult to source consistently lightweight material, and a medium-volume builder like G&L does not have the luxury of being that selective. While G&L does not advertise it, you can opt to get a transparent premium finish on Alder. The grain is not as striking, but they can look very nice in their own way, and will generally weigh less.

One way to trim a little heft from your ASAT is to get the optional top and rear body contours (like the Legacy/Strat contours). These contours can increase playing comfort plus shave a few tenths off the guitar weight. The consistently lightest ASAT’s are of course the semi-hollow models. These ASAT Classic and Special semi-hollows are always swamp ash — so there is a little more variability — but they never exceed 8 pounds, and are usually in the 7 – 7.5 range. A customer recently ordered a semi hollow ASAT Special, and was quite unhappy when it turned out to weigh 8 pounds (it’s the heaviest semi-hollow I’ve come across). Chalk this up to two factors: The variability of swamp ash, and that he ordered the vibrato bridge option, also a first for me on an ASAT. Steel weighs more than wood, and weight gain of the bridge is not compensated for by the extra routing of the body.

The Mahogany Body/Maple Top ASAT Deluxe models generally tip the scales at about the same weight as an alder model. The ASAT Deluxe semi-hollow is one of their lightest ASAT models, and ranges from 6.8 to 7.5 pounds.

The limited edition chambered Savannah series are real feathers. Made from Okoume with a Korina top, they rarely exceed 7 pounds. The solid body Korina series from 2012 were quite hefty, but that sure did not hurt how they sounded.

OLS Body Option – In 2015 G&L started offering the “Original Leo Spec” body thickness as a no-cost option for the ASAT. This body is about 1/8″ thinner and can shave off about 1/3 of a pound. It’s kind of a no-brainer in terms of comfort and weight.

Legacy/S-500/Comanche – Being slightly thinner and more contoured than the ASAT, an Alder Legacy with a vibrato bridge is consistently in the 7.6 to 8.0 pound range. As with the ASAT, Swamp Ash guitars will weigh a little more, sometimes in the low 8’s. Hardtail guitars are usually a tad lighter, and we have a hardtail Legacy Special in swamp ash that tips the scales at 7.2 pounds. As we’ve said, you can get lucky with swamp ash and get a really light guitar, but there is no way to predict it. We’ve never had a semi-hollow Legacy in the shop, but you can likely expect those guitars to come in around 7 pounds. There are other Legacy permutations such as the Legacy Deluxe and Invaders, both which have mahogany bodies and maple tops. Generally speaking, these guitars tend to weigh around eight pounds, but we have not handled enough of them to have a feel for the typical weight range.

SC-2 – Those who like the ASAT but are really concerned about weight will find the SC-2 easy on the back. Although it has the same pickups as the ASAT Special, the thinner body and slightly narrower waist is just naturally lighter, and the heaviest SC-2 the we’ve seen was a 7.8 pound swamp ash guitar. We’ve also seen them as light as 6.6 pounds. The new Fallout guitar is the same body as the SC-2.

Wrap Up

Light weight is often a desirable quality, but tends to get overemphasized in the buying process. It’s generally not a highly accurate indicator of tone, although like a lot of things with guitars, the intangible “feel” of an instrument is in the hands of the beholder. How much weight matters is related to how you plan to use the guitar. If you play clubs every weekend, a lighter instrument is a considerable advantage. If you play mostly at home or do studio work, an extra pound should be lower on the list of concerns. There are a lot of great instruments out there that deserved to be played. Don’t let a few ounces stand between you and a great musical experience.

For guitar offerings from Upfront Guitars:  www.upfrontguitars.com

What color for your G&L guitar? A few suggestions

Shopping for a guitar, or even better ordering exactly what you want, can be a lot of fun. Considering that G&L offers a myriad of potential options, there are a lot of choices to make. One of the big decisions is what color for the body. While this is a totally subjective decision, we do have the benefit of seeing a lot of guitars pass through our hands. Some colors just look good no matter what they are on, while others are an acquired tasted. So without trying to fan any particular flames of passion, here is an unofficial subjective list. You can usually find examples of all of these colors on the UpFront Guitars site:

Good looking “safe” colors that I like:

  • Gloss Black – Hard to argue with black, except for the fingerprints, and it’s propensity to highlight any scuff or scratch.
  • Cherry Burst – Very attractive, and looks super on Legacy guitars. THE color for a flame maple top.
  • Tobacco Sunburst – Classic, looks good on anything. Also super with flame maple.
  • Three color Sunburst – You’ll never get grief for having sunburst, but if you’re going to special order a guitar, why?
  • Sonic Blue – Pale blue, looks almost white at a distance. Very attractive.
  • Belair Green – Greens are the hardest to photograph accurately, so I fret about getting it right. But people love it. It’s a 50’s color but not dated or tacky looking.
  • Blonde – The later 50’s style whiter translucent creamy blonde
  • Butterscotch Blonde – Way too many out there, but a classic finish of the early 50’s telecasters. Looks out of place on anything else.
  • Fullerton Red – A nice classic medium red. Not burgundy, not pale, and their most popular red. See my comments on satin frost option.
  • Honey/Honey Burst – Tasteful light amber, or as a burst finish with a slightly darker edge fade. Shows the most grain of any burst finish. Works with tinted maple or rosewood fingerboards.

Some interesting more adventurous colors:

  • Clear orange – A great shade that highlights the grain. Lovely with creme guard and tinted maple neck
  • Spanish Copper Metallic – A deep bronze, looks good with tinted necks, and creme or tortoiseshell pickguards.
  • Black burst – When you want black, but don’t want just black. Fades to a light black “wash” in the center. Kinda cool, and not as fragile in terms of fingerprints and scuffs.
  • Tangerine Metallic – Yes, orange does work. Good with rosewood, or tinted maple, and also with their satin frost topcoat option
  • Clear blue – Very classy and really shows the swamp ash grain well
  • Midnight blue metallic – Deep blue with a subtle sparkle, good with rosewood
  • Shoreline gold – More like a pewter, with a very subtle metallic sheen.
  • Emerald Blue – A nice blue/green metallic that is kind of 60’s looking. Goes well with white pickguard, rosewood or maple.
  • Two color Sunburst – Huh? The original Fender ‘bursts were two color, and the G&L two color burst is a black – to – yellowish brown that sometimes has almost a slight greenish tint. It’s hard to photograph and get the color right. It’s a complex and interesting shade, but not what you’d might expect. It’s so “period” in look it should only be on a Legacy or SB bass.

Colors that I find less attractive:

  • Blue burstGreen burst and Red burst – The black fade covers up too much of the grain and makes the overall finish too dark. Shows fingerprints like crazy too. Clear green is not bad, but risky stocking a green guitar. These colors all look better to me as just clear finishes with no burst.
  • Yukon gold – Brash, and winds up looking a bit too Vegas.
  • Candy Apple Red – Actually not a bad color, but someone once said to me, “people don’t buy red guitars.” I have actually found that to be somewhat true, and I don’t order red guitars unless it’s a customer order. Something to consider if resale is a concern.
  • Ruby red metallic – Deep rep with a tasteful metallic sparkle. Same problem as Candy Apple. If you like it, buy it. But I do have my Red Guitar Phobia.

Satin Frost Topcoat – G&L also has a satin frost option that can be applied to any finish. It kills the shine giving a traditional finish a low-sheen look. It’s sort of “vintage” without being aged. On metallic finishes it really changes the whole character of the finish. I have a Tangerine metallic bass with a satin topcoat. It’s kind of sexy and does not show any grime. If you want a guitar to look “older” without physically abusing it, the satin frost topcoat is a good option.

Neck Tints – G&L’s light tint and vintage tint are now available in both gloss and satin finishes. This is really nice because the feel of a satin neck is very smooth and dry, but looks “naked” without some type of tint or a rosewood fingerboard on top. Many customers opt for the vintage tint, but it’s deeper hue has a little orange tint to it, and it does not work with everything. So to me, it’s a matter of getting the best match with the body color. In general the light tint is the most adaptable, but the vintage tint looks dynamite with certain shades.

Satin or Gloss Light Tint – Best with Greens, Spanish Copper, Yellows, Cherry Burst, Blacks, Blues and Blonde. A lighter alternate for Oranges and traditional bursts too.

Satin or Gloss Vintage Tint – Butterscotch, Sunburst, Tobacco Burst, Two color Burst, Reds, Honey, and Oranges. Also a good alternate with Cherry Burst, and Blues.

Plain satin or Gloss – Best on natural finishes and Blonde. If a guitar has a rosewood or ebony fingerboard, plain satin is a very good and economical playing surface. It’s a good way to keep the cost down, as gloss and tint both add cost.

To see how color plays on G&L guitars from Upfront Guitars:  www.upfrontguitars.com

Solid Body or Semi-Hollow for your G&L Guitar?

With just a few exceptions — the SC-2, Invader and Rampage come to mind — just about every G&L guitar is available in solid body or semi-hollow format. On the bass side, the ASAT bass is also available in both flavors. Here is a rundown of the things to consider when selecting whether to go with a semi-hollow or solid body G&L.

Finishes – Any semi-hollow model automatically includes the premium finish option on swamp ash, and this is built into the cost. You can get a solid finish too, but the wood choice will still be swamp ash. Of course the “Deluxe” models have flame maple tops so don’t ask for a solid finish on that!

Weight – Some guitar players are obsessed with the topic of weight. For many, the tone of the guitar is often ascribed to the weight of the body. While weight and tone is a subjective discussion, from a purely comfort standpoint, a semi-hollow is definitely easier on the back. Typically, a semi-hollow G&L will tip the scales at about a pound lighter, which you will definitely feel. An ASAT semi-hollow will generally weigh between 6.8 and 7.6 pounds, while its solid body brethren will weigh from 7.6 to 8.8. Why such a wide swing on the weight? Swamp ash has more inherent variability than alder, and sometimes can get pretty hefty. Really light swamp ash is out there but it’s getting rare.  An and ASAT, solid body alder is generally within a couple tenths of 8 pounds. Body contours and belly cuts can also take a little weight off a solid body ASAT, but are not available on the semi-hollow. Note that the ASAT Deluxe semi-hollow has a mahogany back, and theses are often the lightest of the ASAT family (and the most expensive). Any other semi-hollow is all swamp ash, and alder is not available.

Cosmetics – The entire semi-hollow line is available with or without the f-hole. So if you don’t like the look of the classic violin-type sound hole, no problem. My own ASAT is a semi-hollow with no f-hole, and while I have not played enough guitars side-by-side to determine if the hole makes a big difference, I imagine the effect is subtle. Generally, make your decision on whether or not you like the look. G&L does not finish the inside of the guitar, so if the guitar has a very dark finish, the white swamp ash wood inside the f-hole may be too much of a contrast for some tastes.

Sound – So the big question, how does it affect the sound of the guitar? To my ear, the semi-hollow configuration seems to even out the sound across the spectrum, making the response a little more even and less peaky in spots. Overall the attack is a little softer, and there is slight reduction in low end response. If maximum attack/punch or low end response is of great importance then a solid body G&L is generally a better choice (hard rock or snappy country picking come to mind). It’s not a true acoustic, so feedback is a non-issue, and overall the sound is a touch richer and more dimensional that a solid body. Because of the slightly reduced low end, I’m not sure I’d recommend a Legacy semi-hollow. The conventional Alnico pickups are a little bass-starved to begin with, and a solid alder body is the best choice, just as Leo intended. In contrast, the G&L MFD pickups have plenty of attack and response, and the semi-hollow treatment works very well with them. In particular the ASAT Classic makes a great semi-hollow, and so does the relatively rare Z-3. The Z-coils are powerful critters, and the combination of saddle lock bridge and chambered construction creates a simultaneously complex and powerful sound, with the only downside being that the bridge pickup lacks a little low end.

Cost – Because the semi-hollow construction includes both the added labor of a chambered body and the premium finish upgrade, it does command a price premium. For an ASAT-style guitar, the street price up-charge is about $225. For reasons that I can only imagine relate to build complexity, the semi-hollow Legacy, Comanche and S-500 guitars are a lot more expensive. The street price up charge is close to $700. For that reason alone I really have no experience with them, and customer inquiries about them are rare.

Wrap Up – While other guitar makers offer chambered guitars — Carvin, Gibson, Fender and Godin have them as standard offerings — G&L has really made them a staple of their line and not just catalog oddments. While the additional cost of going semi-hollow is not insignificant, they do offer both sonic and comfort benefits that may “tip the scales” for many players (sorry about the pun).

To check out body styles offered at Upfront Guitars:  www.upfrontguitars.com