Introduced in 1982, the S-500 was Leo Fender’s evolution of the iconic single-coil double-cutaway guitar that he invented in the early 50s. 36 years later, the G&L USA Fullerton Deluxe S-500 takes that re-imagining and modernises it further.
The original S-500 re-designed the familiar pickups and vibrato bridge becoming mainstays of the model and this 2018 version has G&L’s Passive Treble and Bass (PTB) system as well as a mini-toggle for expanded pickup selection options.
Much like most S-type guitars from the mid-50s onwards, the Fullerton Deluxe S-500 has an Alder body. Alder has a relatively light weight which means this guitar will be easy on your back and it has been said that Alder offers a well-balanced tone to guitars.
The neck is a MCNK or “Modern Classic” profile which is very comfortable to play with its generous edge roll and a mild taper which goes from fairly slim to a little bit thicker up the neck. The 9.5” radius fingerboard has a reasonable curve that's comfortable for fretting chords but doesn't make string bending difficult like more curved, vintage-style fingerboards. The rosewood fingerboard makes for a natural and smooth playing experience and it has been said that rosewood adds warmth to the tone.
The electronics and hardware are what really set the Fullerton Deluxe S-500 apart from similar guitars of the past. The pickups are Leo Fender-designed G&L Magnetic Field Design single coils. These pickups are hotter than a more vintage-voiced single-coil making it perfect for higher gain. However the MFDs also retain the ability to produce smooth, articulate sounds that S-type guitars are known for.
The PTB system adds greater functionality and flexibility to the tone controls allowing you to shape the bass and treble with more precision. The mini-toggle expands the switching capabilities of the Fullerton Deluxe S-500 further than traditional S-types giving you the option to select just the bridge and neck pickups for a T-type style sound or selecting all three pickups together.
Another innovation on this guitar is the Dual-Fulcrum vibrato bridge (also designed by Leo!) that allows you to easily bend up or down and greater tuning stability than its vintage counterparts.
The Fullerton Deluxe S-500 looks and feels like a classic S-type but with far more expansive tonal variety.
The 2018 Fullerton Deluxe S-500 bundles some of the most time-honored option combinations from the G&L Option Order menu. All FD S-500s feature swamp ash bodies coated in transparent finishes to showcase their beauty, with ideal pickguard pairings to set off the colors just right. That elegance continues up the neck with the G&L polished Vintage Gloss finish that looks fantastic and feels silky, not sticky.
The G&L S-500™ debuted in 1982 as Leo’s own evolution of the traditional double-cutaway bolt-on axe, delivering innovations including the Dual-Fulcrum™ vibrato and Magnetic Field Design™ single-coil pickups, each designed by Leo Fender himself. These MFD™ pickups deliver a bright and sparkly top end and robust bottom end, all without losing midrange focus.
You’ll find plenty of punch in the MFD pickups, but what’s surprising is how glassy and detailed they become as you roll back the volume and bass controls, the latter a part of the S-500’s PTB™ (Passive Treble and Bass) system which functions on all three pickups. What’s more, the S-500 includes a mini-toggle switch to allow neck+bridge or all three pickups together. In a pinch, the neck+bridge combo does a convincing faux ASAT™ Special. Talk about versatile!
The S-500 features a Leo Fender-designed Dual-Fulcrum vibrato, a work of engineering art which allows bending up or down with unsurpassed stability, while offering a silky feel through its beefy aluminum vibrato arm. The S-500’s hard-rock maple neck features an easy-playing satin finish, while its 9.5” radius lets you bend notes deeply and its Plek-dressed medium-jumbo nickel frets deliver silky playability. The moment you open the luxurious deluxe Tolex hardshell case, you’ll be greeted with a stunning instrument and delicious aroma that’ll have your pulse racing.
Leo’s forward-looking spirit is clearly reflected in the S-500, a guitar he designed for players who share that spirit. If that’s sounds like you, you owe it to yourself to check out the S-500.
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