G&L vs Fender – Choosing The Perfect Guitar Brand For Your Sound

When it comes to the world of electric guitars, two names often spark a passionate debate among musicians and enthusiasts: G&L vs Fender.

On one hand, the iconic status of Fender is undeniable, as their Stratocaster and Telecaster models have become synonymous with rock and roll since their inception in the 1950s.

On the other hand, G&L, although newer to the scene, was developed by none other than Leo Fender himself, who sought to infuse his legendary designs with innovative features and improved performance.

Both brands hold a unique and illustrious history that reflects the spirit of their founders and the progress of guitar manufacturing over the decades.

With different approaches to crafting instruments and unique contributions to the landscape of electric guitars, G&L and Fender have their fair share of admirers.

In comparing their product ranges, build and design quality, performance, versatility, pricing, and community reception, it becomes increasingly evident that choosing between these two brands is more than a matter of brand loyalty – it’s about determining the best fit for an individual’s playing style and preferences.

Key Takeaways on G&L vs Fender

  • G&L and Fender have different histories but share the influence of Leo Fender.
  • Each brand offers a range of products that cater to various musical genres and playing styles.
  • Personal preference and requirements should guide your decision when choosing between G&L and Fender guitars.

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History of G&L and Fender

In the world of electric guitars, Fender and G&L are two brands with a significant history that intertwines due to one man: Leo Fender. Both companies have contributed immensely to the development of the guitar industry and still play a prominent role in the market today.

Fender was founded in 1946 by Leo Fender, a self-taught electronics enthusiast with a passion for music. His innovative ideas revolutionized the guitar industry, resulting in iconic guitar models such as the Telecaster, Stratocaster, and Precision Bass.

Fender’s innovations had a lasting impact on the way music was created and played, as their guitars and amplifiers provided musicians with new tools to express their creativity.

In 1965, Leo Fender sold his company to CBS, and this marked the beginning of a new chapter in his legacy. Due to a non-compete clause, Fender could not start a new guitar company for ten years after the sale.

This break from the guitar industry ended in 1975 when Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt joined forces to establish G&L (short for George & Leo).

George Fullerton had initially collaborated with Leo Fender in the early days of Fender. Reunited at G&L, they continued to push the boundaries of guitar design and technology.

Despite the shift in focus at G&L due to Dale Hyatt’s background in manufacturing and sales, the company continued Leo Fender’s tradition of innovation.

Throughout the years, both Fender and G&L have produced numerous guitar models and built a dedicated following.

The electric guitars and basses from these brands have graced the hands of countless musicians, from beginners to legendary artists like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Curt Smith of Tears for Fears. Innovative features, solid craftsmanship, and timeless designs have ensured the lasting impact of these two brands.

To this day, Fender and G&L remain significant players in the electric guitar industry. Fender, now under the ownership of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, continues to produce their classic models alongside new designs, while G&L has evolved and is celebrated for their custom, handcrafted instruments.

The history of these brands, both linked by the genius of Leo Fender, remains a testament to their dedication to bring the best tools to generations of musicians.

Key Players Behind the Brands

Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt were instrumental in creating the legacies of both G&L and Fender. These visionary individuals played crucial roles in shaping the guitar industry as we know it today.

1. Leo Fender 

Leo Fender was an electrical engineer who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company in 1946. He is best known for pioneering the solid-body electric guitar and creating the iconic Telecaster and Stratocaster models.

His innovative designs revolutionized the world of music, making electric guitars more accessible to musicians and changing the way people played and listened to music.

2. George Fullerton 

George Fullerton played a pivotal role in Fender’s early success. A skilled luthier and employee of Leo Fender, George was deeply involved in the development of the first solid-body electric guitars.

He had a hand in designing the initial Telecaster prototype and was also influential in the development of the Stratocaster. His expertise and craftsmanship helped to solidify Fender as a leading brand in the world of electric guitars.

In 1979, after Leo had sold Fender, he and George Fullerton teamed up to create G&L Musical Instruments. Their goal was to build on their previous successes, developing new and innovative guitar designs using modern technologies.

These included the original designs of the G&L S-500, Comanche, and ASAT models.

3. Dale Hyatt 

Dale Hyatt was a key figure in G&L’s history. As a former Fender employee, Dale joined Leo Fender and George Fullerton in establishing G&L, taking the role of sales manager and eventually becoming a partner in the company.

Dale’s extensive knowledge of the guitar market helped drive G&L’s growth and recognition in the industry. His passion and dedication to the brand contributed to the continued legacy of G&L, even after the passing of Leo Fender in 1991.

Together, Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt dedicated their lives to pushing the boundaries of guitar design and manufacturing. Their collaboration, expertise, and creativity were the driving force behind the enduring success and influence of both Fender and G&L brands.

Comparison of Product Range

1. Electric Guitars and Basses

G&L and Fender both offer a diverse range of electric guitars and basses. G&L’s lineup includes their iconic models like the Legacy, ASAT, and Comanche, whereas Fender boasts renowned instruments such as the Telecaster, Stratocaster, and Jazzmaster.

In the bass category, G&L has models like the L-2000, SB-2, and Kiloton, while Fender’s bass lineup features the Precision Bass and Jazz Bass.

Both companies cater to various skill levels and budgets, offering instruments at entry-level, mid-range, and high-end price points. Moreover, they both produce a mix of solid-body, semi-hollow, and hollow-body electric guitars and basses to suit different musical styles and tastes.

2. Accessories and Parts

G&L and Fender supply a variety of accessories and parts for their instruments. Some common offerings from both companies include:

  • Pickups: Both manufacturers produce their proprietary pickups for enhancing the tone and performance of their instruments.
  • Hardware: G&L and Fender provide high-quality bridges, tuners, and other hardware components to complement their guitar and bass models.
  • Cases and gig bags: Players can choose from a range of protective cases and gig bags for securely transporting their instruments.
  • Straps and cables: Both companies offer a selection of straps and instrument cables to support their respective products.

3. Acoustic Guitars

While both G&L and Fender are more renowned for their electric guitars and basses, they also offer acoustic guitars in their product lineup.

Fender, in particular, has an extensive range of acoustic guitars, including the Classic Design Series, Paramount Series, and California Series, along with various signature models.

G&L, though less prominent in the acoustic realm, also features a selection of acoustic instruments, such as the G&L ASAT Acoustic and the G&L Jumbo model.

Build and Design

Construction Materials

Both G&L and Fender use high-quality materials for constructing their guitars. G&L guitars often have a swamp ash body, which is known for its lightweight and excellent tonal characteristics. Fender’s bodies are made from various quality woods, including alder and ash.

The headstock designs of G&L and Fender guitars differ, with G&L’s headstock featuring a more rounded and compact shape compared to Fender’s iconic elongated design.

Distinct Features

G&L and Fender have unique features that set them apart from one another. One of G&L’s most prominent unique elements is the saddle-lock bridge. This patented bridge design locks the individual saddles together, enhancing sustain and improving intonation.

Fender, on the other hand, is known for its dual-fulcrum vibrato, a floating bridge design that allows for smooth bending of the strings without affecting tuning stability.

When it comes to pickups, G&L’s ASAT Special model is equipped with large MFD (Magnetic Field Design) single-coil pickups. These pickups offer a more dynamic and responsive sound due to their adjustable pole pieces, enabling musicians to fine-tune their desired sound.

Fender’s guitars usually feature traditional single-coil or humbucking pickups, depending on the model.

Performance and Versatility

When it comes to performance and versatility, both G&L and Fender have a lot to offer. The pickups in G&L models, such as the ASAT Classic, are known for providing a rich and dynamic sound, perfect for various playing styles.

Fender, on the other hand, boasts an impressive lineup of popular models such as Stratocasters and Telecasters, which have become synonymous with precision in sound and playability.

G&L’s ASAT Classic features Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups, offering a higher output and a wider frequency range compared to traditional pickups. This enables players to have more control over treble and volume, thus increasing the versatility of the instrument.

Fender’s Stratocasters and Telecasters are equipped with single-coil pickups that produce a bright and articulate tone, making them suitable for different playing styles, from blues to rock to jazz.

In terms of performance, Fender’s Telecaster and Stratocaster models are praised for their comfortable neck profiles, allowing for smooth and easy playing. G&L’s ASAT Classic follows suit, with their modern-classic neck shape that caters to a broad range of musicians, regardless of their playing style.

Bold text. Fender’s solid body guitars, such as the Strat and Tele, are known for their exceptional sustain, while G&L’s ASAT Classic is noted for its unique resonance, partly due to the individual brass saddles on the bridge.

Both brands provide consistent performance with a focus on precision and clear tones, which is crucial for professional and amateur musicians alike.

To sum up the performance and versatility of G&L and Fender guitars:

  • G&L offers Magnetic Field Design pickups, which provide higher output and a wider frequency range.
  • Fender’s single-coil pickups produce a bright and articulate tone, suitable for various playing styles.
  • Both brands have comfortable neck profiles for smooth playing.
  • Fender is known for exceptional sustain, while G&L’s ASAT Classic boasts unique resonance.

With both G&L and Fender offering an array of high-quality guitars, musicians of all skill levels and playing styles can find an instrument that suits their needs perfectly. Their focus on precision and performance makes them both solid choices for anyone seeking a reliable and versatile guitar.

Pricing and Value

When comparing G&L and Fender guitars, one of the primary factors to consider is their pricing and value. Both companies offer a wide range of models, catering to various budgets and playing styles.

G&L provides a more affordable option for many musicians. Their entry-level guitars, such as the Tribute series, start around $500, making them accessible to beginners.

The higher-end models, such as the Legacy and Comanche, can be found in the $1,500 to $2,500 price range. These guitars are known for their excellent build quality, innovative design, and versatile tone.

Fender, on the other hand, has a broader price range. Their affordable models, like the Squier series, start at $199 and offer decent quality for the price. Fender’s mid-tier instruments, including the Player series, cost around $700 to $800 and are popular among intermediate players.

The high-end American Professional and Custom Shop series guitars can easily reach upwards of $3,000 and are renowned for their craftsmanship and iconic designs.

In terms of value, both G&L and Fender deliver quality instruments at various price points. G&L’s build quality, advanced features, and lower prices can make them a better value for some players.

However, Fender’s long-standing reputation and extensive model range give customers the opportunity to invest in iconic and dependable instruments.

When deciding between G&L and Fender, it’s essential to consider personal preferences, budget constraints, and specific guitar features. By assessing these factors, musicians can find the right guitar that meets their individual needs and offers the best value for their investment.

Community and User Reviews

The Gear Page is an online forum where musicians discuss and review various musical instruments and equipment, including G&L and Fender products. Within this community, both brands have their enthusiasts and detractors.

On the Gear Page Lounge, users consistently praise G&L for their high-quality build, attention to detail, and exceptional playability. Many of them appreciate the variety of options G&L offers, such as customizing the neck profile, pickups, and finishes.

In contrast, some users express concern about Fender’s inconsistency in quality control, often noting differences in craftsmanship and playability from one model to the next.

Soundclips provided by users on the forum show how both G&L and Fender guitars excel in various genres, providing a wide range of tones. They particularly applaud G&L’s innovative pickup designs, which contribute to their distinct sound.

However, Fender’s classic single-coil and humbucker pickups have also earned accolades for their vintage tones and versatility.

Comparing Gear Reviews for both brands reveals that G&L is consistently praised for its value for money. Fender, on the other hand, remains a sought-after brand for its iconic models like the Stratocaster and Telecaster, despite being pricier in comparison.

In the Buy and Sell section of the forum, both G&L and Fender guitars are regularly up for trade or purchase. Some users seek out older models of both brands, while others search for custom or limited-edition versions.

When discussing Effects Gear, the Overdrive Pedal appears to be a popular choice among both G&L and Fender users. It is said to enhance the natural tones of both brands, offering diverse possibilities regardless of the specific guitar model.

Other gear commonly discussed in relation to G&L and Fender includes Bass Gear, Speakers, Digital Modeling equipment, and Keyboards. This indicates a wide range of musicians, from guitarists to bassists and keyboardists, using G&L and Fender products.

In the Garage Sale and Emporium Archives sections, users frequently buy and sell various G&L and Fender-related equipment. These transactions reveal that both brands have a strong following, with older or rare models being highly sought after.


G&L and Fender are both reputable brands in the world of guitars. While Fender is often seen as the originator of iconic models such as the Telecaster and Stratocaster, G&L has built a reputation for refining and improving upon these classic designs.

Ultimately, the choice between G&L and Fender will depend on individual preferences and priorities in terms of features, aesthetics, feel, and price.

G&L, founded by Leo Fender and George Fullerton, offers a range of instruments that cater to players who value innovation and the pursuit of perfection.

With their esteemed MFD pickups, G&L guitars often provide a more versatile tonal range and dynamic response than their Fender counterparts. Additionally, their build quality is consistently praised in the guitar community.

On the other hand, Fender, as an established and pioneering brand, appeals to those who value tradition and classic design. Their instruments have been consistently popular choices for musicians worldwide and possess a distinct, timeless appeal.

For those who appreciate the charm and history associated with Fender, there is certainly a lot to gain by choosing a Fender guitar over a G&L model.

Frequently Asked Questions

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G&L Legacy vs Fender Stratocaster: Which is better?

Both the G&L Legacy and Fender Stratocaster are great guitars with their own unique characteristics.

The G&L Legacy features G&L’s dual-fulcrum vibrato system and Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups, which provide a wider range of tonal options and better stability.

The Fender Stratocaster, considered a classic, is known for its iconic design, comfortable feel, and versatile sound. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on individual preferences and playing styles.

G&L Tribute vs Fender Player: How do they compare?

The G&L Tribute series and Fender Player series both offer high-quality guitars at affordable prices.

G&L Tributes come with G&L’s distinctive MFD pickups and hardware features, whereas the Fender Player guitars have the traditional Fender sound and build. Both series have various models and finishes.

Comparing the two requires considering personal taste, specific model requirements, and budget.

What are the differences between G&L Fullerton Standard and Deluxe?

G&L Fullerton Standard guitars typically have more basic features and finishes, with an emphasis on quality construction and playability. The Deluxe series offers upgraded hardware, enhanced electronics, and a wider array of aesthetic options.

While both are excellent choices, the Deluxe models cater to those seeking a higher level of customization and features.

G&L Tribute ASAT Classic vs Fender Player Telecaster: What sets them apart?

The G&L Tribute ASAT Classic and Fender Player Telecaster are both inspired by the classic Telecaster design. Differences lie in their components and tonal characteristics.

The G&L Tribute ASAT Classic utilizes MFD pickups, providing a broader tonal palette, while the Fender Player Telecaster features traditional Fender pickups, ensuring the classic Telecaster sound.

The choice between these two depends on the player’s tonal preferences and brand affiliations.

Are G&L Custom Shop guitars worth the investment?

G&L Custom Shop guitars offer high-quality craftsmanship, customization, attention to detail, and premium components. These made-to-order guitars cater to players who seek a personalized instrument that meets their unique specifications.

The value of investing in a G&L Custom Shop guitar is subjective and varies based on individual priorities, budget, and the importance placed on having a tailored instrument.

Is there a significant difference in quality between G&L and Fender guitars?

Both G&L and Fender produce high-quality guitars, and comparing them comes down to individual preferences and specific model requirements. G&L offers a more extensive range of tonal options with their MFD pickups and hardware innovations.

Fender is known for its traditional sound, exceptional craftsmanship, and iconic designs. The choice between G&L and Fender ultimately depends on personal taste, playing style, and desired features.

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