Tribute S-500 review by G&L

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (48 votes)
G&L: Tribute S-500

Price paid: $ 622.2

Purchased from: Guitar Shop ,Birmingham

Sound — 9
The first thing I noticed about the G&L was the sound. I played one in the music store, and something about it grabbed my attention. Even though I thought I didn't need another guitar, I went back and bought my first one the next day.These pickups fill the bill for me. To my ear, they resemble the richness of the early Gibson P-90s more than anything else. I've been a Strat man for nearly 30 years and never thought there could be anything better than a Stratocaster. When I played the S-500, I learned what I was missing. I think of it as Leo Fender's final evolution of the Stratocaster. In my opinion, it leaves everything by his former company in the dust.

Overall Impression — 10
I've been a Strat man for nearly 30 years and never thought there could be anything better than a Stratocaster. When I played the S-500, I learned what I was missing. I think of it as Leo Fender's final evolution of the Stratocaster. In my opinion, it leaves everything by his former company in the dust. What comes out resembles a cross between the fullness of Santana's guitar in 'Smooth', and the excitment of Hendrix's guitar sound in 'All Along The Watchtower'. It's a killer blues sound too, having the sweetness of the single coils, and a fullness. You can get many sounds out of the guitar, but I just like to find one really great sound and then use either the front pickup to get those really full sounds or change to the rear pickup if I want more bite or to bring out the scream of jumping harmonics a la Roy Buchanan. If you want jazz, the front pickup with the treble control rolled off works nicely. If I could, I'd rate the G&L an 11 or 12 for sound.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The G&L Tributes are pretty much bulletproof. Having been made by Leo Fender, Although I don't abuse guitars I would say that the G&Ls will stand up to a lot. I've had the shop replace a volume and tone pot on one of my G&L, and these were replaced free of charge, and the distributor was informed, so they may have upgraded to better pots by now. Either way, they stand behind their product.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I love the quality of the G&Ls. I didn't think anything could look nicer than the S-500 in blueburst with a white pearl pickguard, they are gorgeous.

Features — 8
Made in Korea with the american pickups and fantastic swampash body maple neck rose wood finger 21 frets, has a 5-way selector but with a extra flick switch you can have neck and bridge or all three pickups on.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I Played several G&L Models including the S500 Premium, The one that goes for $900. On Ebay. I've been playing Guitar for almost 40 yrs. Frmr Piano player too. I can tell you for the Money it kicks A, Including the $400 Korean Strats and Teles, They're Great for the money. If they weren't produced any longer they would go up to Ten times the amount of money. I've owned SG's they're Great, But, Today, They're a Ripp-Off. A $400/$500, Korean model is as good or better than an American made model from the Big F*nder company. They're Great! Thumbs up for Guss & Leo.
    i have the g&l s-500, not tribute, one of the greatest guitar ive ever played. sounds amazing to, i manage to get tones for death metal out of it.
    i have this guitar and i had no trouble with it i played a epiphone and i would choose this over it maybe because i play mostly alternative type of music but still with a good marshall stack you can go crazy with this guitar and it is very durable i charish this guitar and i think that G&L is a really good company and i always get my guitars from there if your like a metal person a epiphone will be a little bit better but i think the tribute fits every thing else
    I have 3 American G&L's(2 ASAT's and 1 custom built Legacy-HB) and always been kind of snobbish about the Tributes UNTIL I played one! I'm not saying my S-500 plays better than the American versions, but it plays equally as good. It plays better than my US and MIJ Strats. I have a Cherryburst with maple neck and it looks and plays like a guitar 2 or 3 times the price.
    I nearly bought a MIM roadhouse with Texas Specials, but I took a big gamble and paid 349.00 for a new S500 premium(swamp ash body) tribute over the internet. Worth the gamble, love it so much, extra room on fingerboard-12 inch radius, just like pre 65 strats, makes it easy for the fingertips to get where you want them. MFD's I found a little bright at first, but you soon get the tone right where you want it, no need to go out and buy a telecaster with this, it can sound like both strat or tele. I have owned US strat and tele, and guess what? this is better...sounds familiar, doesn't it? Only drawback for me is the frets could be more jumbo, but otherwise it has all you want. I have push /pull toggle on treble pot for p/u phasing. This links bridge with either mid or neck, you then in fact get a 'humbucking' effect, as the switch is linking 2 s/c's and this is indeed reflected in the fatter tone. my example, is tobacco burst with maple board and weighs a ton!! My advice for to anyone considering this is, don't be a headstock snob and dare to be different, you will be rewarded with a superior guitar and bask in the knowledge that this design was one of Leo's final contributions, this is how Fender strats might have ended up but for him selling to CBS..
    These guitars are just amazing. I have no idea why they sound better than the other asian imports, since they are all made by either Sammick or Crate (Or sometimes Ibanez), but this guitar beats the hell out of most Fenders. Fender guitars are basiclaly Strat copies now anyway, since Leo is dead.
    I tried one and it literally blew away every other guitar I've ever tried. I can only IMAGINE the American one, but for now this one will have to do. Better than American Strats, no question.
    Lovely guitar, well made and with a wonderful suond. I use it with a Vox Valvetronic and an Orange Tiny Terror, and in both cases the the combination with this guitar is really good. Beautiful to play !!