The world of yowhatsshakin


One might call the Comanche G&L’s final vision of what the Strat should be. Introduced in early-1988, it came in 2 versions: the Comanche V and (released slightly later) Comanche VI. Both of these models introduced the world to Z-coil pickups, in effect a revisit of the split humbucker as used on the Fender Electric XII which in turn is the guitar version of the Precision Bass pickup developed in the 1950s: 2 slightly offset relatively reverse-wound coils. On the one hand this allows the pickup to retain a lot of single coil character, on the other hand it also exhibits hum-bucking. Leo Fender had spent a lot of time experimenting with winding, aperture, and size. In that respect this is the pinnacle of his thinking in pickup design. Both models originally had a 3rd style Interceptor body with 3 Z-coils but later morphed into a more Strat like appearance. As has this Comanche V prototype, since a swamp ash Skyhawk body in Clear Red finish was repurposed. The individual pickup routs were redone to fit the Z-coils. Judging from the quality of work (see picture below), this was likely done by Wood Shop foreman Steve Reed or Shop foreman Lloyd Chewning otherwise. As with later production Comanche Vs, this prototype has the patented Passive Treble and Bass (PTB) tone stack, i.e. single volume and separate bass and treble roll-off (in stylish black as are the pickup covers), with 5-way pickup selector together with an expander switch to allow combining neck and bridge pickups or all three. Another curiosity on this guitar is the Leo Fender Vibrato Lock behind the chromed “Pat. Pend.” Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato (DFV). Unlike what one might infer from the name, this contraption will block the arm only from being pulled up, which in my opinion only comes in handy when you change strings. Hence, it never found general acceptance. The hard-rock maple #2 neck, with 7½” rosewood fingerboard and Sperzel locking tuners, is also interesting in that the font used for the model name on the headstock is indicative of it being a prototype. This name actually consists of individual water slide letters readily available at art stores at the time. The model name of the very first Interceptor was put together by Lloyd in similar fashion. For the production models (compare to my Comanche VI Signature) waterslide decals were provided by Meyercord, a company in LA before they went under in the early-1990s. And this prototype establishes the pattern for non-Signature guitars to have the (teat-less) “sickle headstock” whereas Signature guitars have a more traditional headstock. The Comanche disappeared after BBE took over G&L in late-1991. The pre-BBE Comanche V is a Rarebird with its own page. Greg Gagliano’s website also features 2 Comanche V Signatures from 1991 and 1992, respectively. The current BBE-era G&L Comanche, effectively a reissue of the Comanche V, was reintroduced in 1998.


G&L Comanche V prototype

The story behind this guitar

Year:                  1988

Serial number:    G021651

Neck date:         JAN 8 1988

Body date:         NOV 21 1987

Strings:              D’Addario EXL120 Nickel Wound Super Light (9-42)

It could be this guitar was built for the 1988 Winter NAMM that took place at the Anaheim Convention Center between January 15-17. A counter argument would be the so-called “grocery store sticker” in the spring cavity which indicates “012988”, later than the convention. But this guitar was used in an early version of a spec sheet shown below. Allegedly Dale Hyatt kept it hanging on his G&L office wall and took it with him when he retired from G&L in November 1991. Funny thing is Dale usually would create an entry in the sales log for any guitar he kept but this is one of the known exceptions. As such, it was never properly accounted for in the financial sense. This very guitar has gone through the hands of some noted G&L collectors. Gary Maki bought it from Dale, then sold it to Larry Garrett, who in turn sold it to Brandon Vestal. I have bought many an instrument from each and everyone of them. On my end, this was a deal long in the making. Brandon and I had been talking about a transfer for a long time before it finally happened in late-summer 2016. Brandon had checked in with Gabe Dellevigne to prove the originality of this guitar. In the process it was discovered the volume pot dates from 1990 and hence likely is a replacement since all other electronics parts are from 1986 or before. But make no mistake. This is one of the best sounding guitars in my collection. Period. Wonderful Strat sounds and everything you’d want beyond. Absolute HiFi; absolute sonic beauty.