1982 G&L G-200


As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, electric guitarists increasingly sought instruments with excellent sustain and high output. Among the classic designs of the 1950s, the Gibson Les Paul was an obvious front-runner in this regard. However, players were unhappy with the weight of the new Les Pauls available at the time, and some also sought a brighter sound that retained more clarity through distortion. A number of manufacturers attempted to fill this niche by combining Gibson and Fender trademark features, such as installing hot humbucking pickups on long-scale guitars.

G&L, at that time the home of Leo Fender himself, threw its hat into the ring with a contender of their own. Already boasting a long-scale, double-humbucker guitar (the F-100), G&L went a different route with a shorter (24.75”) scale length and a mahogany body to create the G-200. Fender himself was apparently not thrilled with the short scale, but he still went along with it. True to form, he insisted on retaining front-mounted controls behind a cover plate. The guitar used the same humbucking pickups as the F-100, but these were considerably brighter and clearer than the overwound units used by most other builders at the time.

Although it is sometimes remembered as a “deluxe” model, the G-200 was priced similarly to the F-100. It was offered only with an ebony fretboard, but this was an option on the F-100 as well. Unlike the F-100, it was not offered with a maple fretboard, 7.5” fretboard radius, vibrato tailpiece, or onboard preamp. It was initially offered in a satin natural finish or a glossy sunburst. The guitar used G&L’s standard saddle-lock bridge and 3-bolt neck joint, and it borrowed the splitter switch (but not the reverse-phase switch) from the F-100. This splitter created three distinct modes for the pickups: humbucking, single coil, and single coil with a passive bass boost.

The result was a guitar that sounded a bit thicker than the F-100, but still considerably brighter than a Les Paul. Although there was a wide range of sounds available, none of them sounded like a classic Fender or Gibson instrument. The neck profile was much closer to Fender’s previous instruments, which made the G-200 feel more like a Strat than a Les Paul despite the short scale. Although the guitar was built partly in response to the weight of contemporary solidbodies, this particular guitar tips the scale at exactly 9 lbs – not a lightweight by any definition.

The G-200 did not sell well, and G&L made some changes based on players’ feedback. The cloud cover plate also disappeared in place of rear-mounted controls because players found the original design ugly, though only a dozen or two were built with this configuraion. The natural finish option was eliminated as well, leaving only the sunburst. A few experimental guitars were produced as well: this one, for example, has an original rosewood fretboard instead of ebony. Alas, the changes in appearance did not improve the G-200’s commercial prospects. Between the lack of sales and Leo Fender’s lack of enthusiasm for the design, G&L decided to discontinue it after barely a year in production and a total of 209 built. The company replaced it with another twin-humucker design, the Cavalier, which was similarly short-lived. It wasn’t until the 1990s that humbuckers became a staple of G&L’s lineup, and then they were primarily affixed to more traditionally-shaped bodies. To this day, the G-200 remains G&L’s only venture into short-scale guitars.