G&L Vs Fender Guitars: A Deep Comparison

In the world of electric guitars, few brands have had as significant an impact as G&L and Fender.

Both brands have their roots in the vision and innovation of a single man, Leo Fender. This man revolutionized the electric guitar industry with his groundbreaking designs. 

This Killer Rig article aims to provide a thorough comparison of G&L and Fender guitars. We will examine their history, design, sound, price, and the artists that have made them iconic. 

Brief History of G&L and Fender

Understanding the history of both G&L and Fender is essential to appreciate the innovations and legacy each brand brings to the electric guitar market. Here’s a brief overview of the origins and milestones for both brands.

G&L Guitars

G&L was founded in 1980 by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt. The name G&L is derived from the initials of the founders, George and Leo. After selling his namesake company Fender to CBS in 1965, Leo went on to establish Music Man in 1971.

G&L would follow and be the final guitar company Leo Fender would be involved with. He continued to innovate and develop new designs until his passing in 1991.

Today, G&L is known for its unique features, high-quality craftsmanship, and the continuation of Leo Fender’s innovative spirit.

Fender Guitars

Fender was founded in 1946 by Leo Fender in Fullerton, California. The company gained immense popularity in the 1950s and 60s with the introduction of iconic models like the Telecaster and Stratocaster.

These instruments played a pivotal role in the development of modern music and helped shape the sound of various genres. All from rock and blues to jazz and country. In 1965, Fender was sold to CBS, which led to a period of decreased quality and innovation.

However, in 1985, a group of employees and investors led by Bill Schultz bought the company from CBS. They went on to establish Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.

Since then, Fender has regained its reputation for quality and innovation. Its instruments continue to be used by musicians worldwide.

Design and Construction

When comparing G&L and Fender guitars, it’s essential to start with their design and construction. These factors heavily influence playability, tone, and overall appeal.

Both brands offer a variety of models with different body shapes, materials, neck designs, and hardware components. In this section, we will look into the key aspects of each brand’s guitar construction.

Body Shapes and Materials

G&L guitars are known for their various range of models, including the Legacy, ASAT, and Fallout. The Legacy resembles the classic Fender Stratocaster. While the ASAT takes inspiration from the Telecaster.

The Fallout, on the other hand, features an offset design that sets it apart from other models. G&L often uses high-quality tonewoods like swamp ash, alder, and mahogany for their guitar bodies.

Fender, on the other hand, boasts iconic models such as the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Jaguar. These guitars have become synonymous with rock and roll history!

They have been used by countless legendary musicians. Fender typically uses alder, ash, or basswood for their guitar bodies. The choice of wood affects the tone and resonance of the instrument. 

As a result, both companies carefully select their materials to achieve the desired tone and resonance.

Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster Guitar.

Neck Design 

G&L offers a variety of neck options to suit different players’ preferences. Most G&L guitars feature bolt-on necks made from hard rock maple.

With a choice of rosewood, maple, or ebony fingerboards. The brand also provides different neck profiles. Such as the Modern, Classic C, and Slim-C, catering to various playing styles and hand sizes.

Similarly, Fender provides a range of neck designs, often utilizing maple or rosewood fingerboards. The company’s neck profiles include the popular C-shape, D-shape, and V-shape options.

They offer players a comfortable and ergonomic playing experience. Fender necks are usually bolt-on as well, a design choice that has become a hallmark of their instruments.

Hardware and Electronics

G&L guitars are equipped with high-quality hardware and electronics. This includes their patented MFD (Magnetic Field Design) pickups, innovative bridges, and precise tuners.

The MFD pickups are available in single-coil and humbucker configurations. They provide a distinct tonal character and enhanced dynamic range compared to traditional pickups.

Fender guitars, conversely, are known for their vintage style and noiseless pickups. They are designed to deliver classic Fender tones while minimizing unwanted noise. Fender instruments also feature a variety of bridge options.

This includes the synchronized tremolo, hardtail, and adjustable Mustang-style bridges, depending on the model. The brand’s tuning machines are renowned for their stability and reliability. Which ensures consistent tuning performance.

Single coil pickup.

Sound and Playability

The sound and playability of a guitar are crucial factors. They contribute to a musician’s overall experience with the instrument.

G&L and Fender guitars, while sharing some similarities, offer distinct tonal characteristics and playability features. All of which cater to a wide range of preferences and styles.

Tonality and Versatility

Guitars made by G&L are renowned for their dynamic range and variety of tones. The patented MFD pickups deliver a special sonic character that sets them apart from other guitars in the market.

They are capable of producing clear, articulate tones with a pronounced midrange. It makes them suitable for various music genres, from blues and jazz to rock and country.

Fender guitars, on the other hand, are renowned for their iconic and unmistakable tones. For instance, the Stratocaster delivers a bright, bell-like sound with a pronounced high-end.

While the Telecaster provides a twangy and crisp tone that is perfect for country and classic rock. Fender’s range of guitars offers a wide array of tonal options. They have become synonymous with many music genres and playing styles.

Comfort and Playability

G&L guitars are designed with playability in mind. Offering various neck profiles and fingerboard options to suit different player preferences. The bolt-on neck construction contributes to a snappy and resonant sound.

While the ergonomic body shapes ensure a comfortable playing experience. G&L’s innovative hardware, such as the Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato and Saddle-Lock bridges, further enhances the overall playability and tuning stability of their instruments.

Fender guitars are known for their comfortable playability and iconic body shapes. The brand’s various neck profiles cater to different hand sizes and playing styles.

The contoured body designs, such as the Stratocaster’s double-cutaway, provide easy access to the higher frets. Fender’s hardware, like the synchronized tremolo and hardtail bridges, further contribute to the playability and performance of their guitars.

Price Range Comparison

G&L guitars are available at various price points. From their affordable Tribute Series to their more premium USA-made models. The Tribute Series offers an accessible entry point for musicians seeking G&L quality and craftsmanship without breaking the bank.

Meanwhile, the USA-made models provide a higher level of attention to detail. But also premium components, justifying their higher price tags.

Fender guitars also span a wide price range. Starting with the budget-friendly Player Series to the luxurious Custom Shop models. Player series guitars provide an affordable option for beginners and budget-conscious guitarists.

All while delivering the essence of the Fender experience. Fender’s American-made models, such as the American Professional and Ultra series, offer higher-end features.

But also better build quality and more refined tones. These models come at a higher price, reflecting their upgraded features and quality.

Value for Money

When assessing the value proposition of G&L guitars, it’s important to consider their features. Things like the MFD pickups, innovative hardware, and a varying range of models.

These factors, combined with their competitive pricing, make G&L guitars an attractive option for musicians. Especially those seeking a versatile and high-quality instrument.

Fender, however, offers value through their iconic designs, classic tones, and a proven track record of quality and reliability.

While some Fender models may carry a premium price, the brand’s reputation and the enduring appeal of their guitars ensure a strong resale value. They are a lasting investment in your musical journey.

GL Telecaster Guitar.

Popular Artists and Endorsements

A crucial aspect of a guitar brand’s appeal and recognition is its association with notable artists and their endorsements.

Both G&L and Fender have been used and endorsed by influential musicians throughout the years. This has helped shape their respective images and contributed to their success.

G&L Artists

G&L has attracted a number of high-profile artists who appreciate the brand’s quality, craftsmanship, and lone tonal characteristics. Some notable G&L players include:

  1. Jerry Cantrell: Known for his signature G&L Rampage model, Cantrell had been a long-time user of G&L guitars. Relying on their distinct sound and playability.
  2. Tom Hamilton: As the bassist for Aerosmith, Hamilton has used various G&L bass models. Today he has a G&L bass called the ASAT Tom Hamilton Signature.
  3. Elliot Easton: Easton has played several G&L models throughout his career. But he is known to prefer the ASAT Classic.

Fender Artists

Fender guitars have been used by countless legendary musicians across various genres, further solidifying the brand’s iconic status. Some of the most notable Fender players include:

  1. Jimi Hendrix: Arguably one of the most influential guitarists of all time! Hendrix’s use of the Stratocaster helped define the sound of rock music. It also established the model as a symbol of innovation and creativity.
  2. Eric Clapton: Known for his unmistakable tone and technique! Clapton has been a long-time Fender enthusiast, predominantly playing Stratocasters and Telecasters. He even has a signature Stratocaster model to his name.
  3. David Gilmour: Gilmour’s distinctive sound and playing style with his Fender Stratocaster became synonymous with Pink Floyd’s music. He is regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in progressive rock.

The association of G&L and Fender guitars with these prominent artists showcases the versatility and appeal of both brands. But also their ability to meet the demands of professional musicians.

G&L doesn’t have as extensive a list of artist endorsements as Fender. But the brand has still managed to attract notable players who value their offerings and quality craftsmanship.

Which Brand is Best?

Leo Fender has had a huge impact in the innovation of both brands. But they are very different from each other. So which one is best, you might ask?

G&L guitars offer a larger range of models, innovative features such as MFD pickups, and a competitive pricing structure. Their instruments are known for their dynamic range, tonal versatility, and high-quality craftsmanship.

If you are a musician seeking a guitar with a distinct character and a wider array of tonal options, G&L might be the ideal choice for you.

Yet, Fender is a legendary brand with iconic models such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster. They have become synonymous with various music genres.

Their guitars are known for their classic tones, comfortable playability, and enduring appeal. Are you a guitarist who values the iconic status, proven track record, and strong resale value of Fender instruments? Then you may find them to be the best choice for your musical journey.

Ultimately, the choice between G&L and Fender guitars boils down to personal preferences and priorities.

It’s recommended to try out different models from both brands and consider factors like design, sound, playability, and budget before making a decision. By doing so, you will be able to find the perfect guitar that best suits your individual needs and style.


Are G&L guitars heavy?

G&L guitars are no heavier than other brands. The weight does vary quite a bit between 7 and 9 pounds, but nothing that will be uncomfortable with long periods on your shoulder. There are many other guitar models out there that are far heavier than G&L guitars.

What does ASAT stand for in G&L guitars?

According to G&L, the term ASAT stands for Anti-Satellite. This was used when Leo had to change the original name Broadkaster to ASAT due to an issue with Gretsch already having claim to it.

What was Leo Fender’s favorite guitar?

Leo Fender has made quite the guitars for players, and we love every one of them! But what did Leo like more? Well, he is famously quoted as saying that G&L guitars were the best instruments that he ever created.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!