My guitar collection - G&L

 
 

What is a “fake Broadcaster”, or “replica Broadcaster”, the term used for S/N BC00088 in the Registry of the Guitars by Leo (GbL) website? Well, it is a long story which played around the time BBE started operating G&L, i.e. 1992 and later. It involves some rogue employees, a young and brash son of a higher-up, and a man nicknamed “Rhino”. Since only 868 original Broadcasters were produced between May 1985 and May 1986, it had attained a collectible status right off the bat. But the intended production number of 1,500 was never reached. Hence there was a large surplus of items like decals, inspection stickers, and especially neck plates with ‘BC’ formatted serial numbers. In the relative vacuum of the ownership transition, some saw an opportunity to make a quick buck by building Broadcaster replicas and selling them through the backdoor. However, they were not all too careful and made many mistakes which enables one to pick out these guitar with relative ease. Here are 16 pointers of use in determining whether a Broadcaster is original or a replica:

  1. 1.The most important one is whether it is present in Dale Hyatt’s version of the original sales log. If your Broadcaster’s S/N corresponds with an empty row, it should not exist. You can check out the different forums listed in the references to find ways to get access to the relevant sales log entry. Just do not ask G&L directly because their copy is “cooked” and hence unreliable.

  2. 2.The case is supposed to be a black tolex G&G hard shell case with black so-called monkey fur inner lining and gold piping. Right after BBE took over, they transitioned to thermoplastic cases. Rumor has it pre-BBE OHSC provider G&G still received incidental orders for “old style” cases with these very specific specs well into the BBE-era. If a seller claims a G&G case with white piping to be the OHSC for a Broadcaster, one should be on ones qui vive.

  3. 3.The pickguard material on the original Broadcaster is a thermoplastic called bakelite. It becomes rather dull over time quite unlike modern single-ply shiny black plastic pickguards. In addition, these later guards are thicker, .090” instead of the .075” thickness for a vintage guard, both measured with a ±.002” uncertainty. Note that when this came to the attention of the perpetrators, later replicas got a “corrected” guard.

  4. 4.The finish of an original Broadcaster is completely nitro whereas many replicas have a polyurethane topcoat. The latter is harder and has a glassy appearance compared to nitro. Later replicas got a proper nitro finish. One can test for the presence of a nitro finish through a chemical experiment using either paint thinner or acetone. Nitro will soften almost immediately whereas polyurethane will not be affected. Of course one should do such an experiment in a “non-visible” place on the guitar like around the neck pocket. But there is another alternative which has to do with a Broadcaster having a 2-piece or 3-piece maple body. If the body is not allowed to cure and dry properly before going through the planer, the area around the glue surface have a tendency to swell. Since a nitro finish shrinks over time, tiny ridges appear over the seam, maybe no more than a mil high, which are visible under beneficial lighting angles.

  5. 5.The bridge and control plate should be black powder coated, not black anodized. The former has a rough surface texture, the latter is smooth. Again, some later replicas may have undergone a “correction”.

  6. 6.The output jack of an original Broadcaster is slightly recessed in a countersunk hole and hence will not stick out above the surface of the body. Since making these guitars involved a lot of handwork, to what degree the jack is below the surface varies a bit between originals. But it will be clear if the bottom of the serrated jack flange is flush with the body. This is also something easily corrected in building a replica.

  7. 7.The fingerboard of an ebony board should be a thin veneer, convex at the top, concave at the bottom, both with a 7½” radius. Compliant with production techniques used in 1992, many replicas have a thicker veneer with a flat bottom glued to the maple neck. In later replicas, although the veneer got a concave bottom, the thickness is generally still incorrect and much larger.

  8. 8.In the appropriate case, the fingerboard wood should be unstained ebony, not e.g. stained rosewood. The pores in the wood grain are quite different between these 2 species. Several rosewood Broadcasters are listed in the GbL but given rosewood was only offered on guitars starting in 1988 (some basses were available with rosewood since 1983), caveat emptor!

  9. 9.Since different fretwire is used for the 2 builds, especially the height of the frets used on many replicas is different compared to an original Broadcaster, with the latter being about .020” lower when comparing frets at the end of the fretboard which are least likely to have been redressed.

  10. 10.The bullet truss rod should first be just that, a bullet truss rod, and second be in the correct location. Due to changes in the manufacturing process, a 1992 or later neck has a more gentle rounding behind the nut leading to the bullet nut being further away from it. In other words, there is more wood between nut and nut.


Whereas the points above are all about the exterior of the guitar, for the next pointers the guitar needs to be partially disassembled:

  1. 11.While you have taken off the pickguard to check for pointer 3 above, you should notice there are no channels routed between the pickup cavities and the control cavity. These channels are standard on any and all BBE-era ASAT models with the sole exception of the early John Jorgenson Signature model which came with a transparent guard.

  2. 12.The pickups on an original Broadcaster have plain enamel (PE) coated wire whereas a replica has wire with a polysol insulation, commensurate with the production techniques during the 2 periods. PE appears a dark purple whereas polysol is golden brown. Although impossible to detect from the outside, it is a very important indicator which only got corrected late in the “age of the fakes”. And even when PE wire was used, these newer Jumbo MFD pickups have a higher DC-R value, typically 5kΩ and above, compared to the pickups on an original Broadcaster with DC-R values around 4.6kΩ-4.9kΩ.

  3. 13.The CTS pots used in the wiring harness have to be from mid-1984 to mid-1985 as evidenced by their date stamps. If these do not start with “R13784##” or “R13785##”, you know it is a replica. Note that when this came to the attention of the fakers, the attics at G&L were raided looking for old pots in unused wiring harnesses. But many of those found have date stamps preceding 1984 since they were intended to be used on the SC/HG series of guitars.

  4. 14.The date stamp found on the neck heel is made with a different stamp machine and hence its font and number layout are incorrect. None of my Broadcaster have a date stamp in the neck pocket. And why should they? Isn’t there a date on the inspection sticker?

  5. 15.That inspection sticker found in the neck pocket is signed by Leo Fender alright, but although many times the same employee backdated the sticker, they may also have been filled out by a different person. As can be seen in the pictures of inspection sticker on the non-Kahler Broadcasters featured on this site, the handwriting on original inspection stickers, which I believe to be Gene Engelhart’s in both cases, is very uniform in style, ink, and pressure used. Compare that with the sticker in the neck pocket of the Kahler equipped Broadcaster filled out by Leo Crabtree. You get the idea.

  6. 16.The body wood of an original Broadcaster is always maple, whereas replicas, especially the early ones, frequently have an alder body or even ash. When this was pointed out, maple was used on all later replicas.


I have pictorial evidence S/N BC00075 through BC00092 are all replicas, as well as for BC00910, which was sold on Reverb in March 2019 and moved to Australia. The inspection sticker for the latter looks like an original, again with what I think is Gene’s handwriting, but then one notices several discrepancies. There is also evidence the “fake Broadcaster” was produced well into the 2000s. Although one might argue the last one was produced as late as 2018. However, this time it was for all to see by following either the CLF Research group on Facebook and/or the reposts on the GbL site. Look for “Project fake Broadcaster” in the Posts section in the References/Links for a list of installments.

 

“fake BROADCASTER”

The story behind this guitar

Year:

Serial number:

Neck date:

Body date:

Strings:


Not in the collection yet. Now I know a little more about Broadcasters, I have been able to suss out some replicas offered online. Hopefully a suitable replica can be added to the collection such that any differences with an original Broadcaster can be shared in pictorial fashion. But one should realize these replicas are still true G&L’s, i.e. it is not some outside party producing a total rip-off. The same people were involved, operating the same machines, in the same factory. And I have heard statements by people familiar with both that the production quality of a fake is better than that of an original! So although it may not represent the same market value, it is still a great ASAT to play.

The story behind this guitar

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