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There’s more to the story of Leo Fender’s sale of his storied company to CBS than “big business got involved and quality suffered.” Yet there’s no doubt that a pre-CBS instrument or amp bearing his name is very desirable. Post-sale, Leo found a way to continue building inventive, superior instruments via his G&L company. Fender passed away in 1991, but his company carries the torch of his vision and craftsmanship to this day.
Based in Fullerton, California, G&L has been creating and refining modern-classic guitars and basses since 1979. They take a small-batch approach to building that I liken to a master distiller who leaves a major whiskey company to produce smaller quantities of a smoother, more refined variation of the original product.
G&L (Good and Low)
Introduced some 20 years ago, the LB-100 bass was a new take on a traditional P that won over a number of players before being discontinued. The reissue furthers the development of this classic design with modern elegance and useful refinements.
When I removed the new model from its hardshell, tolex-covered case, I was greeted by new-bass smell and old-school features. The alder body is finished with a gorgeous three-tone sunburst that reveals the attractive grain beneath.
The body is more streamlined than that of a traditional P-style bass, and its contoured back feels balanced and natural. Weighing in at 8.8 pounds, the instrument isn’t too hard on the shoulders, and with zero neck dive, I could tell right away that it would be a joy to play.
The LB-100 boasts a G&L Saddle Lock bridge. This high-mass tailpiece is a substantial upgrade from a traditional P bridge—and a welcome one, since that’s one of the parts P players are likeliest to mod. G&L winds the passive, alnico 5 split-coil pickup in-house, and they designed it to replicate the tone of the original LB-100 pickup.
The LB-100’s three-ply tortoiseshell-like pickguard is a classic, as are the knurled barrel-style volume and tone controls and mushroom-head strap buttons. The maple neck is quartersawn, a woodcutting process that improves stability. A rosewood fretboard tops the neck, which attaches with six bolts—a nice enhancement of the traditional four-bolt design. The tuners are of G&L design, and there’s a proud “Made in Fullerton” badge on the back of the familiar crested headstock.
PLEK in Effect
The LB-100 arrived set up very well, with no neck issues or fret buzz. (It probably helps that G&L uses PLEK technology for all their U.S. models.) The bass feels finely constructed, its assembly points engineered damn-near to perfection. There are no rough edges or odd gaps anywhere. The LB-100 sounded great unplugged, with even, sustained tones from the first fret to the upper register.
I plugged into an Eden CXC210 combo amp and went to work, starting with the amp’s EQ set flat and the bass’s tone control halfway up. The bass sounded great, if slightly subdued. The familiar P-bass-style tone is there, but the LB-100 takes it a little further with its wider EQ range. When I dimed the LB-100’s tone control, the LB-100’s voice opened into a wonderfully aggressive yet controlled tone that had me playing a lot longer than I’d planned.
The bass simply feels fantastic. The PLEK’d neck was like an old friend, dependable and unwavering. The bass made me want to play more and more—the mark of a great instrument. While I normally lean toward slimmer necks, the 12" radius and 1 5/8" nut didn’t feel too chunky. I was totally at home and could dig in as aggressively or subtly as needed.
The LB-100 delivers a tight, focused sound that’s a bit more modern than a vintage P, and it does so with warmth you can hear and feel. The more I played, the more convinced I became that this bass can handle any gig. It’s expertly made, and its features are well thought-out. The original LB-100’s goal was to evolve the traditional P design, and this reissue takes it even further. G&L has simply nailed it here, both tonally and structurally.
Sure, the $1,300-plus price is a serious investment, but it’s a sound one, especially given G&L’s 10-year warranty. If you’re looking for a new P-style instrument but want to venture away from the usual suspects, you should check out this bass.
Watch the review demo: