The world of yowhatsshakin


Leo Fender was the ultimate tinkerer and pickups were always an area of focus to him. How can a modern day instrument even sound better than those from yesterday? After the successful Magnetic Field Design (MFD) humbuckers on the L-1000 and L-2000, G&L used smaller footprint Bi-Pole™ humbuckers on the El Toro, introduced in June 1983, and Interceptor Bass with steady production starting in March 1984. The only difference between these basses is their body shape; effectively the same as the L-2000 on the El Toro, wild and quirky on the Interceptor Bass. And as with the L-2000, the early El Toro was initially available in both pure passive and active (El Toro-E) versions only to have the former disappear even before the Interceptor Bass came about. The electronics on the black wrinkle powder-coated control panel are different than for the L-2000. The master volume, Passive Treble and Bass (PTB) tone controls, and (black) 3-way pickup selector are retained. The red 2-way mini-toggle is known as the parallel/series bass boost switch. When pointing towards the bridge, the 2 buckers are in parallel which of course is only effective with the pickup selector in the center. When pointing towards the nut, the pups are in series and both always on; the pickup selector switch has no effect. The white 2-way mini-toggle controls the battery powered preamp: towards the bridge the bass is in high-impedance passive mode with amp/battery bypassed, towards the nut the amp is engaged and the bass is in low-impedance active mode able to drive long cables without loss of fidelity. Both El Toro and Interceptor bass were available with mahogany, ash, or maple body. This is an example of a swamp ash body Interceptor Bass in Cherryburst with some mineral streaks in the wood. The 34” scale hard-rock maple neck has a 7½” rosewood fingerboard, 1⅝” nut, and a matching “sickle headstock” with teat and gold lettering. The Interceptor Bass attained Rarebird status and has its own page in the Guitars by Leo (GbL) Registry with links to additional pictures in the GbL Gallery.


G&L Interceptor bass (control panel)

The story behind this bass

Year:                 1984

Serial number:    B015185

Neck date:         MAY 30 1984

Body date:         APR 26 1984

Strings:              D’Addario EXL170 Nickel Wound Light Long Scale (45-100)

These basses do not show up all too frequently so when Southside Guitars in Brooklyn, NY, listed this one, it came West. Its SKB case, held together by duct tape, was barely worth the name hardshell case but the bass now rests in a modern G&L tolex case. The DC-Impedance for the bridge pickup came out to be 209.1kΩ compared to 4.50kΩ for the neck pickup. Weird! Clearly the preamp is loading the output already. However, in passive series mode the DC-impedance measures 8.68kΩ indicating the bridge pickup by itself is about 4.18kΩ which makes more sense. What is the difference between the wider MFD on the L-series or ASAT basses versus these Bi-Pole™ buckers? The 1988 “Kings Of The Road” slick claims “... that there is a reduction in the collapse of the magnetic field, thus producing a more even response”. The sound is very good indeed: powerful, strident, deep, growling, in your face, even. It can be anything you would like it to be. And somebody must have loved playing this thing given all its battle scars. Absolute great bass, sonically and visually.