232

G&L’s Climax & LB-100

 
G&L Climax

G&L Climax (serial number B025855) in Emerald Blue finish. Carve on the back of the Climax.Photos: Bill Ingalls Jr. Instruments courtesy of Naffaz Skota (Climax) and Ryan Cass (LB-100).

G&L LB-100

G&L LB-100 (serial number B031205) in Bel Air Green.

In its first decade, G&L – the solidbody instrument maker created by Leo Fender after his departure from the legendary company he first founded – thrived on innovations like the Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickup. Its first bass, the L-1000 (“Bass Space” December ’03 and July ’06) was a passive single-pickup instrument Leo considered an improvement over his own legendary Fender Precision.

In Leo’s time with G&L, the company produced numerous other basses, including models with active electronics, futuristic body styles, etc. Following his death in 1991, G&L was sold to the audio technology company BBE Sound. As it turned out, the first new G&L models introduced by BBE ownership were based on a combination of marketing and a nod to the aesthetics of classic models associated with Leo.

Introduced in ’93, the Climax and LB-100 (initially called the Legacy until it was discovered the name infringed on a patent) were quite different from each other, just as their respective forebears were. The Climax, with its solitary pickup located near the bridge, bore a distinct resemblance to the Sting Ray bass Leo designed during a brief association with Music Man, while the LB-100 was a near-clone of the Fender Precision. Both had a 34″ scale on a maple neck with a 71/2″ neck radius on a maple or rosewood fretboard. One interesting similarity involves the headstock silhouette; while it had the standard G&L “barb” opposite the posts for the D and G strings, the “hook” near the company logo was new (and more Fender-like); the same portion of the headstock on earlier G&L bass models was rounded.

While the basses have different fretboard woods, both have pearl dot inlay (black pearl on the LB-100’s maple board), 21 frets, and their bodies join the neck at the 16th fret on the bass side, 20th fret on the treble side. Both have the massive G&L bridge with locking saddles.

From the top down, differences begin with the width of the neck at the nut. On the Climax, it’s 11/2″ (like the Music Man Sting Ray) and on the LB-100, it’s 13/4″ (like the Fender Precision).

Photo by Willie G. Moseley

Photo by Willie G. Moseley.

While the bodies (usually poplar, alder, or ash) are the same width (123/4″), the more-modern Climax has sleeker cutaway horns and sharper edges, while the LB-100 body maintains a traditional profile and edge shapes. One unique feature of the Climax is a 1/4″-deep recess around the neckplate.

The pickup on the Climax is an eight-pole MFD, and its 9-volt circuitry is controlled by two mini-toggle switches (Active/Passive and Preamp On/Off). Control knobs were found for Volume, Treble, and Bass. The passive LB-100 has what company literature calls an offset “split-coil vintage” pickup and standard Volume and Tone controls. The Climax was available in G&L’s standard or Premier finishes, while the LB-100 was offered only in standard finishes.

Ultimately, both models were relatively short-lived. The Climax was discontinued circa 1996, but was succeeded by the L-1500, which has a fretboard measuring 13/4″ at the nut, and six-bolt neck attachment. The LB-100 hung around until 2000.

There’s little debate over whether the Climax and LB-100 emulated Leo’s goundbreaking Fender models. And while they weren’t long-lived, they offer an appropriate historical tip of the hat to the memory of a guitar-manufacturing legend.



Special thanks to Paul Bechtoldt, author of G&L: Leo’s Legacy



This article originally appeared in VG‘s September 2009 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

This entry was posted in Classic Instruments. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.