The world of yowhatsshakin


As related on the “G&L: The Improved Strat” page, G&L introduced its first single coil Magnetic Field Design (MFD) equipped instrument in March 1982 with the S-500. The pre-BBE S-500 was mainly available with an ash and less frequently with a mahogany or even rarer maple body. It has a Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato (DFV) with old-style arm, 2-part powder-coated aluminum pickguard, single volume control, and separate treble and bass tone controls. Initially, the hard-rock maple neck had a 7½” radiused ebony fingerboard, although rosewood became more prevalent later in the 1980s. For the latest version of the S-500, see this page:


G&L S-500 (pre-BBE)

The story behind this guitar

Year:                  1982

Serial number:    G010052

Neck date:          3 3 1982

Body date:          FEB 15 1982

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

Shortly after I purchased the Nighthawk, this hog S-500 became available on eBay, a model I also had on my wish list. The pups have the telltale square corners, typical for early S-500 pickups. The seller claimed the pup straddling part of the pickguard was replaced by a 3-ply guard from a mid-1980s Skyhawk. There is only one problem with that statement. It cannot be true! Due to the difference in angles and placements of the pups, the cavities would have to be rerouted and the pictures below clearly show that not to be the case. According to Paul Bechtoldt, the first production S-500 was completed 3/8/1982. So to my pleasant surprise, this guitar turns out to be one of the very first produced, which also may explain the pickguard! The guitar looks gorgeous as you can tell from the pictures below. And she sounds gorgeous too. Certainly there are similarities to a Strat but with enough differences. Glassy, bell/piano like clarity; high-fidelity would be the term to describe it. You still get some quack in the middle positions but with a different character. Upon arrival, the neck pup had a strange kind of idiosyncrasy: when playing the guitar with the body vertical, it was very scratchy, but when the body was rotated horizontally all sounded fantastic! Turned out the copper shielding foil folded over when in the playing position, shorting some pins, but would fall back when the guitar was face-up. Just pushed it back and made sure it seated reasonably well. Since it is a high(er) output guitar, all controls are rolled off a bit. But the benefit is that when you need that little extra, as Nigel Tufnel would say, “you can go one louder”!