The world of yowhatsshakin


Added to the list of G&L entry level instruments in 1983, the HG-1 and HG-2 are another testament to Leo Fender’s creative powers in designing pickups. Up to that moment, variants of single coil pickups had been used on all entry level models. But humbuckers were never far off Leo’s mind. The F-100 and G-200, both introduced early on in the history of G&L, already sported MFD humbuckers each with their own character. Around the same time as the HG-2, the 1st X-body Interceptor II and Cavalier were introduced equipped with slanted humbuckers. Frequently you see the HG-2 buckers referred to as the “straight” versions of the Cavalier pups. Oddly enough, ‘HG-2’ originally was the internal name for the mini-humbucker under development, not the model. The pup got rebranded to GHB shortly thereafter, while HG-2 became the name for the guitar when it got to market. These GHBs have about the same footprint as the wide-bobbin MFD neck pickup on the SC-2 and fit in the rout. That fact is the more accentuated in this prototype where SC-2 covers are used with 12 additional holes to make room for the now 12 pole pieces. This was a well known habit of Leo when he was working on pickups. The nylon injection molded covers are relatively expensive to make, so frequently existing covers would be modified to accommodate the pole pieces of experimental pups. This prototypical GHB has 2 rather narrow bobbins which are pressed together. The DC-impedances are 4.10kΩ for the neck pup and 4.12kΩ for the bridge, compared to 4.57Ω and 4.59kΩ, respectively, for my “production” HG-2, indicating considerably fewer winding on these pups. Through the original unused holes it looks like there are 6 flat-head screws holding everything together. But that is all in the imagination. Except for the pups, the HG-2 is otherwise identical to the SC-2: soft maple body (3-piece in this case), single tone and volume controls, 3-way pickup selector, and hard-rock maple neck with 7½” maple finger board, although here still with an SC-2 decal on the headstock. Since this is a test mule, the finish is sanding sealer which is actually non-thinned nitro giving the guitar a very tactile feel, not unlike the NENA series. As most HG-2s, this one has a Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato (DFV) with the additional copper-plated spring included. Looking up the stamped S/N on this bridge in the sales log, one finds it previously belonged to a 1982 S-500 with mahogany body and ebony board. When that guitar was returned to the factory, whatever the problem was, it evidently couldn’t be solved. As was the custom, parts would then be scavenged and potentially reused on other instruments (see e.g. the S/N neck plate on this Commemorative) even if it could take a couple of years as is the case here. Interestingly, a Mustang bodied companion guitar to this prototype exists, built around the same period, with a GHB in the neck and a HG-2R (Cavalier) pup in the bridge. And a much better paint job. No wonder when you realize that its owner, Fred Villarreal, was one of the artisans in the finishing department at the time. The Rarebird HG-2 has its own page in the Guitars by Leo (GbL) Registry.


G&L HG-2 prototype

The story behind this guitar

Year:                 1983

Serial number:    G011722 (prototype)

Neck date:         1 24 83

Body date:         none, marked in spring cavity in pen under sealer ‘LYNX’, ‘6/3/83’

Strings:              D’Addario EXL110 Nickel Wound Regular Light (10-46)

One of the benefits of living close to a major music town like Seattle is the fact that there are some great stores, especially for used gear. Emerald City Guitars run by Jay Boone is definitely one of these stores. He took over the G&L dealership when The Zobrist went down in the early aughts. And although his bread and butter is Fender/Gibson/Martin, as it is for most used gear stores, sometimes he finds some very interesting G&Ls. This is one of them which appeared on their website in early-summer 2014, which I stumbled into when I needed some guitars to be appraised. A couple of days later Jay informed me it was sold. Guess my surprise when at the end of that summer I came in for another appraisal and found this very guitar on the sales floor again. Took her for a spin (Carr amplifiers are nice!) and even was allowed a look under the pickup covers. The history of this guitar is rather interesting. Dale Hyatt, who ran the G&L Music Sales, Inc. once in a while would offer G&L employees the opportunity to buy test mules, mainly to ward off theft. Steve Reed, wood shop supervisor and co-designer of the Comanche VI, bought this guitar on February 6, 1985, when it was reentered in the sales log remarkably enough not as a prototype. He sold it in 2004 to a GbL member, and now it is part of my collection. The sound of this thing is amazing. It can be a jazz-box for one tune and be a gnarly punk-rock machine the next. Very special instrument. And not just because of its relevance and history.