Price: $1,400 (retail)
From automobiles to kitchen appliances to, of course, electric guitars, designers have gotten a lot of mileage out of retro style in the past decade or so. When these designs truly succeed, however, is when they combine the stylish panache of days gone by with modern functionality, thereby providing the end user with an object that not only looks good, but performs well. The G&L Fallout could be a case study in this form follows function dictum.
The Fallout is an updated, higher-octane version of the SC-2 solidbody, G&L’s early-1980s classic. The Fallout offers a slightly harder edge and a thicker sound than the SC-2, with its hotter pickups and hardtail bridge. Aesthetically, the Fallout has a lot of ’60s vibe, including a cream or pearloid pickguard, barrel knobs, and a gun oil-tinted “aged” neck finish. It shares the small, lightweight alder body and 25.5″-scale bolt-on neck with the SC-2, but trades the latter’s MFD single-coils in favor of a meatier Seymour Duncan JB humbucker (with push/pull coil splitter) in the bridge position and a custom neck-position G&L P-90 designed by former Fender pickup guru Paul Gagon. Controls follow the SC-2’s straightforward layout with a single three-way pickup toggle alongside Volume and Tone controls. Gone, too, is the G&L tremolo bridge, replaced by a G&L Saddle Lock hardtail, which features not only six individual heavy chrome-plated brass saddles that can be locked into place with a recessed Allen set screw, but also a lot of mass that does an excellent job of pinning string energy directly to the body for excellent acoustic sustain.
The review Fallout was fitted with G&L’s #1 neck, featuring a comfortable modern C profile, a 12″-radius rosewood fretboard with dot inlays, and jumbo fret wire. The jumbo frets combine with the flatter 12″ radius to provide a low action with super-easy bending. The Fallout’s light alder body, with its slightly stubbier shape compared to the traditional double cutaway body, is comfortable to play both sitting and standing. Access to the upper frets is good and the volume control is nicely placed, not getting in the way while also offering easy access for volume swells. The pickup selector is easily accessible, too, yet tucked away enough so as not to not get bumped by accident.
The reviewed Fallout was plugged into an Orange Dual Terror head with a matching Celestion-loaded 2-12 cabinet as well as into a Fender ’65 reissue Twin Reverb 2-12 combo. The Saddle Lock bridge, tight neck joint, resonant alder body, and Duncan bridge humbucker conspired to give the Fallout a thick and tight overdrive tone with excellent note separation through the overdrive channel of the Orange amp. Even with the overdrive piled on, the bridge humbucker produced a crunchy tone that stayed articulate and didn’t wash out. The Gagon-designed P-90 in the neck position produced a hot and fat single-coil tone that easily kept up with the bridge humbucker for a nice balance. It also fared well with the overdrive piled on, providing a thick, dark tone without an overwhelming amount of the expected single-coil noise and hum.
Even though the Fallout is built for music with a slightly harder edge, there is no escaping its Leo Fender lineage. This guitar is capable of producing a broad palette of country twang and old-school blues tones through the Twin Reverb. The Seymour Duncan JB’s focused tone produces a clean sound in full humbucker mode and a foot-stompin’ twang in split single-coil mode, while the neck pickup’s thick-and-throaty tone is clear and round – great for blues. The balanced tone of the selector’s middle position produces a goodly amount of jangle with very round and punchy mids and punchy highs. Engaging the bridge humbucker’s coil splitter while in the middle position pushes the Fallout’s sound straight into Tele territory, with super-snappy highs and lush jangle. Unlike some guitars equipped with a single tone control, the Fallout’s master tone is well-tapered, allowing the player to gradually soften the highs of both pickups without turning them mushy or dull. Very useful.
The Fallout sports a ton of alternative retro vibe. More importantly, it offers the high build quality that is by now expected from the crew at G&L and a surprising variety of both modern and old-school tones.
This article originally appeared in VG November 2013 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.