The world of yowhatsshakin


Over the decade, the pre-BBE S-500 evolved and like the Skyhawk got make-over in 1987. The major change constitutes the transition to a 1-piece plastic 3-ply pickguard with a triplet of now round-corner S-500 Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups, with same orientation and position as those on the Skyhawk, and volume and PTB controls mounted to it. A so-called expander mini-toggle switch was added which, when engaged, allows you to select all pickups in the 2- and 4-position and neck+bridge in the 1- and 5-position. The swamp ash body comes in Cherryburst, the finish seemingly most popular in the Signature series available in the late-1980s and early-1990s. The super-rare gold hardware, including the Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato (DFV), makes it stand out even more; it is likely the only one ever built. The hard-rock maple #2 neck has a 7½” radiused maple fingerboard and the restyled slightly smaller headstock. The currently available version of the S-500 is basically identical to this pre-BBE version. Its page on the G&L website can be found at:


G&L S-500 Signature

The story behind this guitar

Year:                 1991

Serial number:    G029477

Neck date:         NOV 14 1991

Body date:         NOV 14 1991

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

When I started creating the “G&L: The Improved Strat” page, it became evident a late pre-BBE version of the S-500 was needed to document all the changes. This one showed up in late-2016 and it having all gold hardware made it suitable to be added to the collection. All date stamps are for November 14th, just 10 days after Dale retired from G&L, while the completion tag has the date of 11/27/91. In taking the pictures I encountered something not experienced before. The pickups mounted on the pickguard use a rubber sleeve instead of a spring for height adjustment. Due to these sleeves being compressed, they bulged out preventing me from putting the guard back on easily. I had to lower all pups to remove the bulge, mount the guard, and raise the pups back to their original height. With values of 4.63kΩ (N) and 5.03kΩ (B), the DC-impedances for the neck and bridge pup are only about 150Ω higher than on the hog S-500; the middle is even the same at 4.66kΩ. That hog S-500 is sonically a little more mellow but that may very well be due to the difference in body wood. Still, the S-500 has a lot of high frequencies but is also the model where the versatility of the PTB tone stack shines through most: you hear how either the treble and/or bass frequencies are tapering off when you turn down the controls, even if by a little bit. Although you have to work a little harder to make it sound like a Strat, absolutely great stuff.