Are There Different Versions of the G&L MFD Pickup?
G&L boasts a large instrument catalogue, comprising many electric guitar models. Instead of fitting the same MFD pickup in all of its instruments, G&L has developed multiple versions of the design in order to produce slightly different sounds – giving their models more tonal disparity. In this next section, we’ve broken down all of the different types of G&L MFD pickups:
The “original” G&L MFD pickup is essentially a single-coil. Considered a marked improvement over the renowned single-coil design established by Fender in the ‘50s, Leo’s MFD pickup delivers more output and provides a balanced frequency response with deeper lows and articulate highs. These qualities make G&L’s MFD single-coil more versatile than customary single-coils.
You’ll find G&L’s venerable MFD single-coil pickups fitted in their ASAT Classic, S-500 and Skyhawk models:
The G&L Jumbo MFD pickup is a modified “fatter” version of the MFD single-coil. Voiced to deliver a tone akin to a P90 pickup, the Jumbo MFD offers a punchier mid-range than its single-coil counterpart and can thus cover slightly more sonic territory. It is more apt for use with overdrive and even distortion, yet still retains that classic “twang” you’d expect from a single-coil.
G&L’s Jumbo MFD pickups are made exclusively for their ASAT Special guitars, which come equipped with pairs to adhere to the classic T-type configuration:
Perhaps the most unusual-looking version of G&L’s MFD pickup is the peculiar Z-Coil. It’s name is somewhat indicative of its irregular split-coil shape, which emphasises the bass response of a guitar’s three lowest strings and accentuates the treble of its highest strings – yielding a well-balanced and contemporary sound with plenty of output.
However, the most important aspect of the G&L Z-Coil pickup’s unique design is its ability to eliminate 60-cycle hum. Although all G&L MFD pickups produce far less noise than vintage-style single-coils, the Z-Coil goes one step further and is practically free from hum or susceptibility to feedback. This is thanks to its split-coil format, which cancels out hum similarly to a humbucker.
The popular G&L Comanche model utilises a trio of MFD Z-Coil pickups, making it a solid contemporary alternative to the iconic S-type guitar. G&L’s recently-revived Espada model also comes fitted with a pair of MFD pickups that are similarly-designed to the Z-Coil too:
G&L’s Wide-Bobbin MFD pickup is basically a single-coil fitted in a soapbar-style pickup casing. This gives it the appearance of a Jazzmaster-like guitar pickup, which is why Wide Bobbin MFDs are seen only in G&L’s offset Doheny models:
However, there are some tonal differences between the Wide Bobbin MFD and its standard single-coil cousin. Voiced to project more “jangle” than “twang”, the G&L Wide Bobbin MFD pickup features traditional Formvar wire which captures the nostalgic ‘60s offset tone.
If you’re a bass player, you’ll be happy to learn that G&L produces a powerful humbucking pickup featuring its innovative Magnetic Field Design technology. Able to deliver a thick and well-rounded tone with lots of dynamic range, the potent MFD bass humbucker is found in all of G&L’s L Series bass guitars, as well as their Kiloton and short-scale Fallout models:
From what we’ve explained, it’s clear that G&L’s proprietary MFD pickups are brilliantly-engineered and give their instruments a versatile voice. They’re well-suited for contemporary players who seek noise-free pickups that can still deliver plenty of output. And best of all, they’re great value-for money. That’s because the exact same MFD pickups found in G&L’s US-made Fullerton Deluxe guitars are also fitted in their affordable Tribute Series instruments!
So, are G&L MFD pickups Leo Fender’s greatest innovation? It’s hard to say, especially when you consider how many things the iconic guitar designer invented and pioneered during his lifetime. But Leo’s Magnetic Field Design pickups are certainly among his crowning achievements, and arguably deserve more recognition in the guitar community.