‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


G&L, originally for George (Fullerton) & Leo (Fender) and Guitars by Leo since 1986 after George sold his share, rose up from the ashes of CLF Research Corp., the company named after Clarence Leonidas (Leo) Fender (August 10, 1909 - March 21, 1991), which he had started after the expiration of the decade long non-compete restrictions stipulated in the terms of sale of Fender to CBS, as signed on October 16, 1964 but effective only as off January 5, 1965. Within CLF Research, Leo (co-)designed and produced instruments like the StingRay and Sabre guitars and basses for Music Man (MM). MM itself focussed on building amplifiers (also designed by Leo). It was no secret that the founders of MM, Forrest White and Tom Walker, wanted to incorporate the production of instruments within their outfit. The agreement between MM and CLF Research stipulated the latter was only paid for every built instrument after it had been accepted by the former. A ploy to force the move of production into the MM fold by rejecting a large number of instruments, and hence payments to CLF Research, was the straw that broke the camel’s back and backfired. Leo, his usual fiercely independent self, withdrew himself from the agreement in early-1979 and started G&L. George Fullerton (March 7, 1923 - July 4, 2009) and Leo partnered in G&L Musical Products Inc. and began designing and building their own instruments right away (using already existing parts here and there). Later in June 1980, Dale Hyatt (December 10, 1925 - March 28, 2013) and Leo partnered in the independent G&L Music Sales Inc.; so George and Dale were never partners! After Leo’s death and Dale’s retirement on November 4, 1991, Mrs. Phyllis Fender sold the company to BBE Sound, Inc. Although BBE started managing G&L immediately, full ownership was fully transferred only in May 1992. You will frequently hear the period before the sale being referred to as the “Leo-era” but, as G&L researcher Gabe Dellevigne pointed out to me, that would shortchange the enormous contribution of many (long time) collaborators participating in G&L: George, Dale, Lloyd Chewning, Amanda Ybarra, and others. Hence, like Gabe, I will refer to it as the “pre-BBE era”.

So it came to be that my favorite bolt-on neck guitars are built in Fullerton, CA, on Fender Avenue not too far away from where the original Fender Company started out. During the first five years, Leo, in close collaboration with both George and Dale, introduced the world to his latest thinking in electric guitars and basses, applying many of his patents on a range of interesting models, including what they perceived to be improvements to the Stratocaster, the futuristic Interceptor guitars and basses, and heavy-metal Superstrats, so apt for the dominant music style of the 1980s. But the vast majority of the instruments on this site are some variant of the Broadcaster/ASAT introduced in 1985. The G&Ls can otherwise be divided up into the high-end Dale Hyatt Collection, Commemorative series, CCD Limited Editions (with separate pages for the Korina Collection and Savannah Collection), CCD Special Build, Buffalo Brothers Special Editions, other dealer Special Editions, prototypes, and The Hellecasters “endorsed” models, with an occasional custom order sprinkled in. However, the ASAT would never have come into existence were it not for the SC-2 and SC-1, two of the ‘entry level’ models. No collection can be complete without a good bass, and some of the results of Leo’s last foray into that area are discussed on this “low-enders” page. My “The Family” page honors George, Leo, and his widow Phyllis. Serial numbers are always important in identifying instruments and G&L has had quite a number of formats worthy of a separate discussion. I am not the first one to have written about this wonderful brand of guitars and basses so a long list references to books and magazine articles is provided on the “What has been written before ...” page.



bolt on necks ...