Fender vs G&L Necks: Aren’t They Interchangeable?

Left: Fender and Right: G&L
Left: Fender and Right: G&L

Every now and then I get an email or two from players asking about putting a Fender neck on a G&L guitar. Some of the G&L guitars have pretty thin necks and it is not easy to obtain a replacement from G&L if you don’t like the profile plus there are no readily available aftermarket companies making G&L replacement necks.. So the question arises “Can’t I just put a Fender neck on my G&L guitar”? The answer is no….and here’s why.

The heel of a Fender neck is very different from the heel of the G&L neck. First of all the traditional vintage style Fender neck only has 21 frets whereas the G&L neck has 22 frets. Some modern Fender necks do have 22 frets but the difference is at the heel. The G&L neck has the butt end of the heel AFTER the 22nd fret making the neck about 5/16″ longer than the Fender neck! This goes for the 22 fret Fender necks as well because there is a sort of “lip” that supports the 22nd fret. The butt end of the 22 fret Fender heel is still the same as on a 21 fret neck.

So, because the Fender neck is about 5/16″ shorter what do you think that will do to your intonation? Exactly….what intonation? The bridge saddles cannot make up that big of a difference so the guitar will not intonate. You would actually have to move the bridge on the G&L guitar back about 5/16″ to make up the difference. On an ASAT with top-load bridge it may work but it will also look a little funny with the bridge that far away from the pickguard. Some older G&L guitars have a 3-bolt mount so you would have to find a Fender 3-bolt type replacement. It is just a can of worms that’s not worth it imo.

True story: A few years back I found a 90’s G&L ASAT. I always wanted one and finally found one that was priced just right. I hit the panic button and a few days later it was “in da house”..!!! I was pumped and could not wait to give it a whirl. The problem was that the guitar had really old rusty strings on it and the set-up was terrible. No problem for a guy like me. I like little projects like this anyway. So off to the shop to give it a good set up. The neck was very underbowed and needed a truss rod adjustment in the worst way. I found the proper allen wrench and gave it about 1/8 of a turn and ~snap~…..the truss rod broke! I never had this happen to me and the only thing I could think of was that it was really rusted or maxed out or something even though it felt like it was turning normally. I was pretty shocked because this was not my first rodeo setting up a guitar. So after the shock wore off I was up against finding a replacement neck for a guitar that was nearly impossible to find one for. G&L never returned my emails or phone calls……thanks!! The guys on the forum were pretty cool and gave me a little info. I contacted all kinds of manufacturers and the only one who was brave (or crazy) enough to make me a replacement neck was Musikraft right here in NJ!! I sent them down my broken neck along with my specs of what I wanted and a few months later I had my replacement neck! The neck did have a paddle headstock which I had to cut but the replacement was perfect….heel and all! I do not know if they offer this as part of their line but they did a one-off for me in the $350 range if I remember correctly. Now I have a great ASAT with the “right” neck on it.

So to sum this up always remember that Fender and G&L necks are not interchangeable, be very careful when adjusting a truss rod and if you look hard enough and don’t give up you can find whatever you want/need on the internet..!!!

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