G&L tech resources: Parts & patents


For all neck options available through the years, one is referred to the “G&L Neck Options” resource on this site for a compendium. As has been most common for any Leo Fender designed instrument, the scale for basses is 34” and 25½” for guitars. But of course each has a single exception in the G&L universe. The G-200, available between 1982 and 1984, had a 24¾” scale. For the basses, one had to wait until 2019 for the Fallout Bass Launch Edition to be released with a 30” short scale length.

One of the most notable features of a pre-1997 G&L is its 3-bolt neck attachment. Almost without exception this makes musicians cringe due to the poor implementation of US Pat. 3,550,496, for which Leo filed on July 14, 1969, as seen on 1970s Fenders. The patent for an actually working 3-bolt neck attachment was filed in the 1970s alright, and not by Leo Fender this time. Instead, George Fullerton was awarded US Pat. 3,678,795. There is a small modification though in that only 1 angle adjustment screw is used instead of the 2 featured in Figs. 3 and 4 of the patent. The main difference between the 2 patents is in the design: the metal disk in the neck heel against which the tilt adjustment screw pushes has moved forward and the bottom screw now goes into the wood instead. So no slop, no wiggle; a G&L neck sits very tightly in its pocket. And even when G&L transitioned to multi-bolt attachments in 1997, no tolerances were sacrificed.

The truss rod has undergone an interesting evolution throughout the years. The very early G&Ls had a skunk-stripe neck. Likely, the truss rod used is one with a flat middle section for easy bending, as described in US Pat. 4,074,606, filed October 20, 1976. The skunk-stripe neck disappeared when the patented Bi-Cut neck was introduced in early-1983. Around the same time, any G&L not belonging to the entry-level instruments received a headstock having the G&L hook or “teat” as covered in US Pat. Des. 270,544. This now so-recognizable shape had been introduced on the G-200 in late-1981, followed by the S-500 only a handful of months later. Neck profiles were hand carved and there was quite the variability when measuring the neck depth at e.g. the 1st or 12th fret. The different radii of the fretboard for the different neck options were produced using a belt sander and a swing arm with the proper length to which the neck was attached, fretboard facing down. The Bi-Cut neck witnessed the transition to a different neck attachment around early-1997 to mid-1997. For all guitars this entailed using 4 bolts and a chromed neck plate with just the G&L logo stamped on it. (One of the) first with such a neck attachment, an Invader Plus from the first week of February 1997, even missed the logo on its original neck plate. For G&L basses, the transition away from a 3-bolt neck attachment is much more complex and depending on the model. The L-5500 used a 6-bolt neck attachment with neck plate as of its introduction in 1993. The 5-string L-1505 and L-2500, both introduced in 1996, also initially started out with a 6-bolt neck plate until 1997 when the switch to 6 ferrules was made. The L-1500 and L-2000 basses followed the same timeline as the guitars, transitioning straight to a 6-bolt neck attachment using ferrules in 1997. In conjunction with this switch, the neck pockets of basses with the 6-bolt attachment were deepened by ⅛“ with a corresponding lengthening of the neck and fretboard beyond the last fret. On the other hand, the ASAT Bass (Semi-Hollow), SB-1, and SB-2 kept their 3-bolt neck attachment for many more years. While the SB-1 was (temporarily) discontinued in 2000, the ASAT Bass and SB-2 kept their 3-bolt neck plate certainly up to 2005 and possibly even up to the transition to the non-compression truss rod in 2006 discussed below! One can hear echoes of G&L’s use of necks with a headstock without the G&L hook for the entry level SC-3 until its discontinuation in 1992. Clearly they just do not like to waste material, especially when it is hardware.

The Bi-Cut neck was used until mid-2006, when G&L changed over to a non-compression truss rod. Now necks are produced on a CNC machine and always without a fingerboard, even in case such a board is maple. A channel is routed from the top in which the truss rod is inserted and then capped off with the slab fingerboard. A CNC machine is also able to (re)produce time and again the different neck profiles offered by G&L. On post-2011 spec sheets one will find a stated value for the neck depth at the 1st and 12th fret with a tolerance of ±.015”. All guitars are now attached to the body using 4 bolts and a neck plate and most basses using 6 bolts now with ferrules instead of a neck plate, including the JB-2 introduced in 2001. However, both the JB, introduced in 2009, as well as the aforementioned short scale Fallout Bass use 4-bolts, the JB with ferrules and the Fallout Bass a guitar neck plate. In mid-2013, a different implementation of the non-compression truss rod was introduced in the form of the dual-action truss rod which has a slightly different design and a welded-on nut. The different truss rod nut designs are discussed separately.

Until early-2017, all necks had been immobilized either on a neck template or on the bed of the CNC machine using 2 dowel pins fitting in holes drilled in the neck, one on the headstock, one on the neck heel. Before applying the finish on the neck, the hole on the headstock was filled with a walnut dowel forming what is colloquially referred to as the “birthmark”. This G&L idiosyncrasy disappeared around February/March 2017 when some retooling had taken place at the factory and the CNC machines were reprogrammed. Now there are tabs left at the end of the neck which are removed just before applying the finish to the neck.

According to Gabe Dellevigne in this reprinted post, the fretwire can vary from instrument to instrument during the pre-BBE days. The 2000 G&L website mentions Dunlop fretwire, but it likely goes back to the 1996/1997 timeframe of the 3-bolt to 4-bolt transition for the guitar neck. Two kinds were used: Jumbo 6100 frets which G&L consistently refers to as Medium Jumbo, and Medium 6230 which G&L refers to as Vintage. With the transition to the PLEK process in 2011, the fretwire was directly sourced from Jescar with their Fret Wire 43080 for Vintage frets, Fret Wire 57110 for Medium Jumbo frets, and Fret Wire 57110-S for Stainless Steel Medium Jumbo frets. The USA Bass Options and USA Guitar Options pages on the G&L website still cite Jescar as the source for all fretwire. But the G&L Custom Shop, which started a couple of months before the January 2018 Winter NAMM show, lists Senko as the source of Medium Jumbo frets on their CS Guitar Options page, even though ‘MJF’ is used for the code everywhere. The Stainless Steel Medium Jumbo and Vintage frets are still sourced by Jescar. For a decade or so, the PLEK process was applied to all American built instruments. The 2018-2019 Fullerton Standard instruments were the first to be excluded and in January 2021 G&L announced only Custom Shop instruments get PLEK’ed.


Necks & truss rods - The index