G&L tech resources: Parts & patents

 
 

It is necessary to limit the scope of this section. Pickup swapping is a favorite pastime of many guitar and/or bass player and the number of variations can thus grow to an astronomical size. And not even all pickups ever used by the G&L factory on their instruments will be covered here. Please consult the “List of pickups used in G&L guitars” and “List of pickups used in G&L basses” on the Guitars by Leo (GbL) website for that. These tables also include some typical ranges for DC-R values but unfortunately nothing on magnetic field strengths. Ohm, but no Gauss. Especially in the old days, the pickup winding machine was driven by elastic bands which inherently led to a large variation in the DC-R values. The revolution counter almost by definition could not be right! Most pickups used on the G&L Broadcaster and/or ASAT are listed in this Lunch Report on GbL, which you can consult if you do not want to visit each and every guitar on this site. This section will hence only focus on pickups designed and manufactured by G&L. Most of these still have a modern day variant in use with many available in the G&L Online Store on its Pickups page.


G&L is most known for its use of the proprietary Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickup of which it has produced many variants for both bass and guitar:

  1. 1.A wide footprint bass MFD humbucker, now called the L-Series MFD.

  2. 2.A narrower footprint bass MFD humbucker variant called the Bi-Pole™.

  3. 3.A single-coil bass pickup, here referred to as “Jazz”-style MFD.

  4. 4.A split-coil MFD bass humbucker.

  5. 5.The super rare 5-string Z-coil bass pickup.

  6. 6.A MFD humbucker for guitar, now called the F-100 MFD humbucker.

  7. 7.A single-coil version known as the S-500/Skyhawk pickup.

  8. 8.The HG-2R “Angled Offset” humbucker, covered by a separate patent (US Pat. 4,463,648).

  9. 9.The GHB (aka HG-2) humbucker, a rectangular version of the previous.

  10. 10.The Jumbo MFD for guitars, with the next pickup the reason for my interest in G&L instruments.

  11. 11.The ASAT Classic MFD, featured on my favorite guitar.

  12. 12.Like for the bass, the Z-coil pickup for guitars, cover by US Pat. Des. 319,456. Leo finished the development of this split-coil, hum-bucking version just before his death.

  13. 13.The Espada split-coil MFD guitar pickup was introduced in 2019 at Winter NAMM.

  14. 14.The JM MFD pickup, inspired by the Jazzmaster. Introduced in 2017 and the first MFD design in which Leo Fender had no part beyond the original invention.

  15. 15.The V12 MFD humbucker, introduced on the CLF Research Doheny V12 in 2018, has a similar footprint as the JM MFD but different innards.


Another pair of patents filed by Leo Fender on April 9, 1984 are worth mentioning here: US Pat. 4,581,974 and US Pat. 4,581,975. Both concern an assembly with one or more secondary, unmagnetized coils combined with one or more single-coil MFD pickups hooked up to a preamp. The dummy coils are intended to provide the hum cancelling. Such a setup may be visible in these pictures of the Innovator prototypes. Whether a similar arrangement was to be included on the John Jorgenson Signature guitars is also within the realm of possibilities.


G&L has also made non-MFD pickups under its own brand name although none while Leo Fender was still alive. Many of these BBE-era pups were designed by pickup guru Paul Gagon and include:

  1. 16.The CLF-100 single-coil guitar pickup.

  2. 17.The Blade humbuckers: Dual-Blade and Power-Blade.

  3. 18.G&L’s line of Alnico guitar humbuckers available in quite a number of variations.

  4. 19.The ASAT Classic Alnico single-coil pickup.

  5. 20.Even a G&L version of the P-90.

  6. 21.The JB/JB-2 Alnico single-coil pickup.

  7. 22.The Bi-coil Alnico found on the recent MJ-Series basses.

  8. 23.The split-coil LB-100 Alnico bass humbucker found on the reintroduced eponymous model.


G&L has also used quite a number of pickups made by other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). It is easy enough to swap out pickups (see e.g. this ASAT Classic Alnico Launch Edition with Fralin pickups) seemingly providing an infinite number of permutations. Here, only factory installed pickups from other OEMs are discussed.

  1. 24.Schaller not only provided tuning machines but also humbuckers as well as plit-coil bass pickups appearing on models introduced in the mid-1980s.

  2. 25.Although Leo initially was vehemently against using pickups sourced by Seymour Duncan, especially their PAF humbuckers, many of their pickups appeared on models from the BBE-era.

  3. 26.Gotoh has sourced single-coil pickups and humbuckers ever since 1992.

  4. 27.At least one bass came from the factory with a Bartolini pickup.

  5. 28.The L-5500 bass came with EMG pickups. But since 2009, EMG has also sourced humbuckers for several guitars.

  6. 29.In their experiments to create an ASAT with Alnico pickups, at least one prototype has DiMarzio single-coils.

  7. 30.Kent Armstrong Blades pickups temporarily acted as substitutes for G&L Blade buckers in 2012.

  8. 31.The Filter’Tron inspired pickups by TV Jones are famous because of their association with Gretsch guitars from the 1950s. They also have been used on a handful of G&L guitars.

  9. 32.Jason Lollar makes great pickups. His version of the Charlie Christian pickup was used on a run of dealer initiated Special Builds.


As an amusing final note, it turns out Leo Fender was also the owner on the patent for waxing pups, the technique of dipping the completed bobbins in wax to avoid microphonic feedback which would otherwise cause the squealing of the pickup. It is all covered in US Pat. 4,885,970, for which Leo filed on July 31, 1987.

 

Pickups - The index