The G&L Legacy

Guitar Player Magazine (United States)

by Scott Malandrone

THE G&L Legacy was one of Leo Fender's last guitar designs (G&L stands for George and Leo--as in Fullerton and Fender). Constructed according to notes found in his old files, the guitar features a fast maple neck, sleek alder body, and rich vintage alnico pickups. The appropriately named Legacy is 100% Leo: pure genius.

Nuts and Bolts. The Legacy's three-piece strat-shaped alder body is very resonant and relatively lightweight. Its candy-apple-red finish is nearly flawless and will definitely turn some heads (in case your playing doesn't).

The Legacy's neck and fingerboard are made from hard-rock Canadian maple, which imparts a bright, open sound. The fingerboard is slightly flat with a small radius; it boasts 21 well-dressed, medium-jumbo frets and black abalone position markers. The back of the neck has a subtle "V" shape and is coated in a light satin finish. It feels great--an excellent blend of old and new. Setup was good out of the box, with low action and very little neck relief. This requires a light playing touch to prevent buzzing; pounders will need to raise the action. The top-notch fretwork allows effortless bends. The Legacy offers a plastic nut; its enclosed six-in-line mini-Sperzel tuners feel luxurious.

The neck bolts to the body using three screws reinforced with a cast zinc plate. Though I can't say this three-bolt neck joint caused me problems, I definitely prefer the classic four-bolt design and most players and builders agree with works better to prevent neck shifting. G&L assures us the Legacy's three bolt system differs from the infamous design Fender used in he '70s.) The Legacy's tight neck pocket contributes to excellent sustain, and there are no gaps between neck and body.

Animal magnetism. Stock pickups are often better suited to walkie-talkies than guitars. This is not the case with the Legacy: It comes with three Seymour Duncan Vintage single-coils wired in a standard strat configuration with a 5-way switch. Because the middle pickup is reverse wound, positions two and four are hum-canceling. With the exception of the neck pickup's E poles, string alignment over the pole pieces is dead on.

The Legacy yields some wonderful tones. The medium-output bridge is great for solos and heavy crunched chords; it retains its definition even in very high-gain settings. Positions two and four are definitely my faves: The former has a reduced mid content--excellent for ringing, picked chords and funk skankin'. Position four is similar, but imparts more "latex" to the sound. In position five, the neck pickup delivers a lovely bell-like, stratly tone.

The internal passive electronics are very neat, with high-quality wire and pots throughout. The cavity's top and bottom are shielded; too bad its sides are not. The volume pot is excellent: Even at 1 or 2 you hear the note's attack, thanks in part to a small ceramic cap that allows the high end to bleed through. The guitar's cool bass-cut knob acts like a built-in amp damping control.

Armed and dangerous. The Legacy features G&L's non-locking Dual Fulcrum trem bridge. Its knife-edge floating design enables you to push and pull notes flat or sharp. Each bridge saddle permits string intonation and height adjustment. The wang bar slips into the bridge and is secured by a small set screw that lets you control the amount of play. The bridge tension fells very similar to a Floyd Rose; three rear-mounted springs provide further adjustment. The bridge does a superior job of resisting string gargle.

Bottom line. The American built Legacy begs you to wail. I tested it through three different systems: a Hughes and Kettner Metal Shredder preamp driving a petite 1X12 cab, a Marshall Artist 30-watt head into 4X1, and a Soldano X88R preamp into a Marshall 9050 stereo '50-watt power amp driving two Marshal l4X12s loaded with 30-watt Celestions. The verdict? The Legacy kicks complete booty! It has some of the biggest strat sounds ever. Great acoustic tone and Duncan pickups make it almost impossible to return this guitar to its case.

One area needs improvement: At times, I had trouble keeping the treble strings in tune. The culprit is probably the plastic nut. A simple replacement with, say, a Graph Tech nut and Sperzel locking tuners would likely solve this problem. If you're considering a new strat-mobile, I highly recommend the Legacy. It's one of the best-built, cool sounding production guitars available. Leo would surely be pleased.