G&L Guitars - Commanche vs Legacy vs S-500

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by ToTheAtom, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. ToTheAtom

    ToTheAtom Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    I'm think about picking up a new or (more likely) used G&L Strat-style guitar.

    This will be my only axe, so I'd definitely like something versatile. I've always fancied/owned Strats, but I find the idea of a Strat-style guitar that can pump out creamy high gain tones without sounding too thin quite appealing.

    Basically, I am looking for a slightly more modern sound without completely losing the chime, feel and cut of a Strat. These G&Ls seem like a good compromise.

    What model would you recommend out of the three? I've read good things about all of them. Initially, I highly favored the Commanche, but I'm slightly concerned about reports by some that the pickups sound a bit too sterile.

    Also, what are your thoughts on the drop-off between USA models and their imports from Indonesia?

    Any and all advice is much appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. tnt365

    tnt365 Supporting Member

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    I have a 96 USA Legacy that I love to death. I replaced the stock pickups and definitely think that they were the weakpoint of the guitar (stock), though they still sound pretty good.
     
  3. sixesandsevens

    sixesandsevens Member

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    I'd stick with a used USA model. The resale on them is low, so (a) it's cheaper to acquire and (b) it's less painful if you decide to sell it off later.

    I ended up buying a Legacy HB, but I was mostly trolling eBay for low-prices, so if I'd seen a Comanche for less, I probably would have jumped on it instead. ;)
     
  4. Presc

    Presc Member

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    I have a Legacy and it is fairly traditional sounding. Sounds like you would be best off with the S500 or Comanche. I haven't played either enough to compare, but both sound substantially hotter and thicker than the Legacy. While neither will be mistaken for a 54 strat, they can still sound stratty enough - but you do trade some chime and sparkle for the ballsier sound.

    Otherwise, the physical guitars are exacty the same other than electronics. Comanches tend to ship with maple tops but all USA G&Ls are made to order and all three can be optioned identically other than electronics.
     
  5. NB_Terry

    NB_Terry Member

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    Some of those older G&L guitars came stock with Duncan pickups. Not sure what year G&L started making their own.
     
  6. cfo_deebiedaddy

    cfo_deebiedaddy Member

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    Perhaps a legacy special with the blade pickups might be a good compromise?

    As much as I like Comanches, you lose the flexibility of playing with different pickups, so I'd probably be looking at a legacy or S500.

    I'd also do the 'buy a used USA model' thing - they're such a steal.
     
  7. G&Ljunkie

    G&Ljunkie Member

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    Stick a mini hum in the bridge of your flavor. The passive treble/bass controls that come standard on the Legacy makes it VERY vesitale:)
     
  8. Zuhzuhzombie!!

    Zuhzuhzombie!! Member

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    Legacy is gonna sound basically like a strat.
     
  9. wrxplayer

    wrxplayer Supporting Member

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    I think the S-500 is the way to go. You could do it w/ or w/o and HB. The pickups on the S-500 are more modern; the pups on the Legacy more vintage. On the Comanche the pups are like lower output humbuckers (in fact I'm pretty sure the are humbuckers).

    Check out Jake Cinninger's tone for the S500. If you're unfamiliar w/ him go to you tube and search "umphrey's mcgee live" and you'll find a ton of clips. He's a great player (great band too, IMO) and his tone is very much "modern strat".
     
  10. sixesandsevens

    sixesandsevens Member

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    Or, you know, in some cases Moog. But it should be pretty easy to tell those two apart. ;)

    Great player though! There's a cool MI video I stumbled on with him and Bayliss and they walk the students through a bunch of the signals they use during improvs on stage. Fun stuff. :)

    I believe, but am not certain, that the Legacy models come with a swimming-pool rout, so there's plenty of flexibility for pickup changes without breaking out a router. I'm not sure if that's true for their other pickguarded models. Anyone know for sure on those points?
     
  11. sixesandsevens

    sixesandsevens Member

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    Don't say that on one of those threads about 2-post vs. 4-post trems and bent vs. whatever-the-other-kind-are saddles and what's "strattier". ;)

    I was shopping recently and never realized how controversial it was what constitutes "stratty"
     
  12. daddyagogo

    daddyagogo Member

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    I've owned a Legacy, S-500, and a Commanche. I came to hate the z PUs on the Commanche. Thought they had a harsh sound, almost shrill and I couldn't shake it. Just give me a guitar I don't have to negotiate with when I want to pick it up and play. Of the 3, I loved the 500 the most. Great guitar at any price.
     
  13. Jet Age Eric

    Jet Age Eric Member

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    Yeah, get the S-500--Stratty but richer and higher output. -E
     
  14. SouthpawGuy

    SouthpawGuy Member

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    The Legacy and S500 don't come stock with locking tuners, the S500 did until maybe a year / eighteen months ago. They're still an option on both. The Legacy Special and Comanche have locking tuners as standard, if the op is a heavy trem user, or wants the convenience of faster string changes that might be a factor to consider.

    The only one I haven't played is the Comanche, it's not available in lefty. If I had to choose I'd go for the Legacy Special, the Dual Blade Gotohs are fairly powerful and if they're set too close to the strings a lot of the stratty tones will be diminished, the solution is to lower them quite a bit and the in between positions will regain their quack. The MFDs in the S500 are quite a bit more powerful, fuller and fatter sounding, I find the PTB tone system is more sensitive when used with the MFDs and the Gotoh pickups, not so much with the alnicos.

    In fact it's almost a requirement to learn how to use the master bass and treble with the S500 and Legacy Special, especially if going for a typical strat like tone.
     
  15. shredtrash

    shredtrash Supporting Member

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    I have a Comanche and I get get just about whatever I want out of it. I mostly play mine in my Country band but I've played rock, blues, etc. with it (usually on the same gig) and it sounds great. You have to learn how to use the PTB tone controls, volume knob, and pickup switches effectively but, once you do, you'll be able get anything you want out of it.

    BTW, don't worry about the "sterile" tag. Comanche's are not sterile (probably more the player, and their lack of knowledge about the PTB, than the guitar). Those Z-Coil pickups are the BOMB! The Comanche could easily be my only guitar and I would be a happy camper!
     
  16. DavidMgT

    DavidMgT Member

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    I have a Comanche as well and really like it. It has a broader dynamic range than a strat and the Z coils are extremely versatile. it takes some work to get "your" sound - adjusting pickups pole height, and experimenting with the PTB system are essential

    [​IMG]
     
  17. desertrat07

    desertrat07 Supporting Member

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    I currently own a Legacy and a Comanche Semi-Hollow. Until recently, I also owned an S-500 hardtail. Keep in mind that all 3 are essentially the same guitars except for the pickups and electronics. But that's where it gets interesting.

    The Legacy is definitely the most "stratty" of the bunch - pretty easy to coax those familiar sounds that we all know and love from it (with a better vibrato than Fender IMO). Pup changes are always an option if the stock pups don't do it for you (I changed the bridge only; to a much hotter SSL-5). Solid guitar, great value.

    The S-500 I had was awesome. The pups were hotter but quieter than the Legacy's. The hardtail bridge lent it sustain for days. Definitely a rawk machine, and probably best fits into the "strat with balls" description. But the PTB controls and pickup selector toggle give it so much versatility that it can convincingly achieve anything in the rock or blues genre. In fact, I sold it to a buddy of mine who plays in a blues/rock band and it has since become his #1 over the USA Strat he played for 15 years before that.

    Now the Comanche is a different beast for sure. To start, the z-coil pickups are dead quiet (which may contribute some to the description of "sterile" by those used to traditional single coils). The pickups are also extremely touch sensitive and have incredible string to string definition and clarity. They are powerful and sound great when overdriving a tube amp- kind of a thick grinding humbucker sound but with single coil clarity and bite. Pretty awesome. It took me about a month of playing my Comanche before I was able to throw my "stratty" expectations out the window and start dialing in the amp and control settings the Comanche demands, but I'm glad I was patient because this guitar has really inspired my creativity. Great with pedals too. Here she is:

    [​IMG]

    If you can, play all 3 before you decide. If not, I hope my description helps a little.
     
  18. brianr0131

    brianr0131 Member

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    If it were me I'd get a used USA Comanche. The pickups are anything but sterile if you ask me. WTF is sterile anyway. HiFi? These are weird adjectives that make no sense to me. Tweak the amp if things are a little off EQ-wise. That's all.

    Those Z Coils are Hum Free and they are very full bodied. The Comanche is one of G&L's best models IMO. For my money, the Comanche is the clear cut winner of those 3 and definitely the most unique of the bunch.

    I'd vote S500 2nd though. But, I'd say the 2 sound somewhat similar (due mainly to the ceramic iron poled pups) and the nod would go to the Comanche for being hum free. No brainer to me.
     
  19. mikeylikesit

    mikeylikesit Member

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    The S500's are exceptional guitars. With the separate bass and treble controls you can coax a lot of different tones out of it.
     
  20. ToTheAtom

    ToTheAtom Member

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    Thanks, everyone, for your awesome responses! I think I'm leaning toward a S-500 now after reading everything and watching some YouTube clips. Appreciate the help!
     

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