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Fender Vs. G&L | TOP 10 Differentiating Factors for Guitar Aficionados!

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In the guitar world, as is the case with many other products, popular and dominant brands hold the limelight.

When people are considering buying a new guitar, especially if it is their first guitar, the first names that come to mind will be Fender, Les Paul, or Gibson.

These are big brands that have solid reputations built over the several decades that they have been around.

However, when it comes to truly high-quality instruments and guitars that are worth more than their price tags, there are a few niche brands that really stand out.

Among these lesser-known gems is G&L guitars. This company has been around for over half a century and is producing some quality products that hit well above their weight class.

Here is a round up of some very interesting facts about Fender and G&L guitars.

Fender Vs. G&L Guitars Top 10 Facts 

1. Origins Of The Brands


Fender came into existence just after World War 2, in 1946. The founder, Clarence Leonidas (Leo) Fender, wasn’t a musician himself but had a keen interest and talent for repairing and building innovative electrical components. 

In Fullerton, California, Fender officially came into existence in the year 1946. At this stage, Fender was producing a number of guitars, bass guitars and amplifiers. 

The trademarked single coil pickups that Leo had developed powered all their stringed instruments. These are the same pickups that the brand continues to use to this day and are a main feature of models, such as the Stratocaster.

G&L Guitars

Leo Fender sold the Fender brand to CBS in the Mid 1960s. However, by the mid-1970s Leo was in collaboration with Dale Hyatt and George Fullerton and the trio were working on a new startup. In the late 1970s, G&L Guitars came into existence. 

They derived the name G&L from the first letters of the names of the founders, George Fullerton and Leo Fender. Leo remained with the company till his death in 1991 and George also remained with the company till his death in 2009.

2. Fender vs G&L Guitars: A List of Innovations Present in G&L

Fender is well known for having pioneered the single coil pickup system along with its unique ergonomics designs. However, there are a few things that Leo really perfected with his G&L designs. These features include:

Saddle Lock Bridge: This feature helps to maximize sustain as it improves the rigidity of the individual string saddles. 

More specifically, it restricts the saddle’s side-to-side movement, which helps improve the sound mechanics of the instrument. They achieve this by installing an allen screw on the side of the bridge that keeps it locked in place. 

Dual Fulcrum Vibrato: Most fender guitars feature the iconic ‘whammy bar.’ G&L guitars take this a step further and incorporate two pivot points on the bridge as opposed to one. This allows the player to bend notes both up and down. 

Magnetic Field Design Pickups: These modified and improved versions of the original Fender pickups allow the player to set up a pickup output according to each string, as opposed to having a single setting for the pickup in a regular single coil system. 

However, these MFD pickups also provide more clarity and power than regular single coil pickups used in Fender models. 

There were some other innovations in the early days of G&L Guitars, but, as production processes changed and the overall design and structure of the guitar was improved, many of these modifications became obsolete and are no longer used in G&L Guitars. 

3. Fender vs G&L: Tonal Differences and Characteristics

Fender guitars are well known for their bright, crisp and warm sounds. This is a result of the construction materials used, the trademark electronics and the unique features such as the tremolo arm. 

Various players consider Fender to have a finer quality to its sound and a certain warmth that you just don’t get with beefier guitars like a Gibson or Les Paul. 

When you hear a G&L, you can certainly tell that it relates to the Fender in some way, but it has its own unique sound. The reality is that the G&L has a unique sound that just makes it different from the Fender. 

For some people, it is what they have been seeking but were never able to get with a Fender, while for others it is everything that they did not want to hear because they want that classic Fender sound. 

G&L is a very refined and a very specific kind of instrument. Given that it offers a ton of adjustment and tweaking options, it is the perfect guitar for a musician who wants to create a custom sound. 

Here is a good video putting the top offerings from each brand head to head.

Here is another video focussing on the sound and tonal differences of these two brands. 

4. Fender vs G&L: Style & Adaptability

If you took the label off the headpiece and put a G&L Guitar next to a Fender and present it to the average music fan in the audience, there is a high chance that they would never be able to tell the difference. 

The DNA of the two guitars is very similar, if not identical, but once you hold the guitar and actually play, you can tell that there are stark differences. 

To some extent, this boils down to your natural style. For some, the G&L will feel completely natural, while for others, it will feel like an alien object. 

In terms of capability, they are both top-quality instruments. Whether you want to play some classic blues or you want to play some modern metal, they both have the hardware and design to create those sounds. 

How well you like the sounds that they make is your personal preference. If you are considering one of these two guitars, it would be best to physically try them out and see how they work for your style. 

5. Fender Vs G&L: Body and Construction Materials Used 

As mentioned earlier, these two guitars are extremely similar in their design and construction.

Even things that would otherwise make a Fender stand out on a shelf, such as the tremolo arm or the ergonomic cutaways, are found on nearly all offerings from G&L Guitar. 

In fact, both manufacturers also use a range of common woods such as alder, ash, and rosewood. However, G&L Guitars also used basswood on some models, which is something you won’t find on any Fender guitar. 

Even the electronics look very similar on both guitars (though they sound quite different). Everything from the weight of the guitars to the overall size to the looks remains very similar.

You will also find that numerous finishes and textures are common between these two brands. However, there is a difference in the necks, which we will get into a little later. 

6. Between Fender and G&L: Which is Generally More Affordable?

You can look at affordability in a few different ways. If you just consider the price tags, then G&L Guitars will be more affordable. They are not inexpensive guitars, but they are of slightly lower prices than their Fender counterparts. 

Moreover, if you look at the entry level guitars from Fender, you will find that entry level guitars from G&L are priced quite similarly. In some cases, the G&L offerings will be slightly cheaper, but they are in roughly the same region. 

However, one considerable difference is the quality. Even with entry-level G&L guitars, you get some excellent build quality and, of course, the classic electronics that set G&L apart. 

Also, keep in mind that a lot of the G&L guitars don’t have different electronics for cheaper models and other electronics for more premium models, as is the case with Fender. 

The overall spectrum is smaller with G&L guitars, so the quality between entry level and premium level is not that big of a difference as it is with Fender models. 

At the premium end of the catalog, both Fender and G&L models can get quite expensive. Still, Fender will be a bit pricier than G&L. However, the difference in the quality of the product becomes even more noticeable. 

When you are comparing the American-made versions of both these guitars, there is quite a difference. 

This is largely because Fenders are produced in higher numbers and since G&L has a more controlled production, they have more time to focus on the very intricate details of each piece. 

Another important aspect of affordability is resale value. In this regard, Fender is the clear winner. 

With its incredible brand value, even an entry level Fender will easily sell for good money in a few years down the line, whereas G&L guitars ‌don’t hold their value very well. 

Lastly, if you are looking for customized guitars, G&L will be a lot more affordable. Custom Fender guitars can cost tens of thousands of dollars and they can be quite hard to get. 

G&L on the other hand has nearly always been open to customization and you can get a guitar made according to your requirements for a fraction of what you would have to pay for a custom Fender. 

7. Fender Vs G&L: Vintage vs Modern

If you are looking for something that has that classic sound to it, then a Fender is the way to go. This is for a number of reasons, but overall, all players will agree that the G&L Guitars just sound a bit more modern. 

Even though they sound good, they don’t have that classic, rustic feel that Fenders naturally create. G&L would be a great guitar for someone that focuses primarily on modern sounds and modern styles of playing.

8. Fender vs G&L Necks

There is a noticeable difference in the necks of these two guitars. Both brands make C shape necks as standard. Fender makes the necks with a 9.5 radius as standard, while G&L prefers to make them slightly thicker, but with the same radius on the fretboard of Fender. 

Recently G&L also made a slight modification and made the neck of the guitars slightly thicker at the nut. 

For players with larger hands, this is incredibly comfortable, but for players that are more comfortable with the slender and uniform neck thickness of a Fender, this can be a little troublesome. 

For players with smaller hands, or those that prefer to cup the entire neck, a Fender will be a better neck to play on. Larger hands will prefer the extra thickness on the G&L guitars. 

These days, both these brands use CNC machines to produce necks for their guitars. This results in more homogenous products and very good build quality. 

However, the thickness of the neck is a major factor when considering a guitar, so trying these out in person will be the best way to see which one feels more comfortable in your hand.

9. Fender vs Gibson Aesthetics

Keeping in mind that Leo based the designs of guitars under the G&L brand on his early designs for Fender, it should come as no surprise that these guitars are hard to tell apart.

In terms of finishes, colors and styles, both brands offer a lot of similar products. However, there are certain finishes that you will find in Fender that may not be available as off-the-shelf models in G&L Guitars. 

Also, Fenders are available in huge numbers and there are lots of custom styles that are specific to particular product lines under the Fender brand. Those specific styles will be hard to find under the G&L brand. 

However, G&L does offer complete customization of their guitars as a standard service, so it would be much easier to build something completely unique with a G&L. 

In terms of the overall design and structure of the two guitars, they are very similar. Even the weight is quite similar since they use the same kinds of woods.

However, there are minor differences in the headstock, designs of the knobs, switches and the pickups. These are differences that the average person won’t see. 

10. Fender vs Gibson: The Case of Availability and Affordability

Both these brands will be available at your local guitar store or you can find them online. 

Official G&L store 

Official Fender store 

On that note, where you will see aisles upon aisles of Fender products, you would be lucky to see a full rack of G&L Guitars at a physical store.

It will be a similar situation if you are shopping online for these products from a third-party retail store. 

Fenders are more easily available since they are produced in larger numbers. G&L Guitars offers a smaller pool of products and each of those products is manufactured in much smaller quantities. 

However, you can always place an order with both these merchants if you want something that is out of stock or particularly hard to find. 

Overall, a Fender will be easier to get but more expensive. G&L Guitars will be more affordable, but you will have to look around more to get to see their entire catalog. 


Both these brands offer quality products. While they do share some common qualities, history and design, they are both unique instruments and it is hard to say whether one is ‘better’ than the other. 

At the end of the day, it boils down to what resonates better with the player. In terms of quality, both are excellent products. Try each out to see what strikes a chord with you.