G&L Guitars was Leo Fender’s final business venture before his death in 1991. Famously labelling them as “the best instruments” he had ever made, Leo’s later guitar designs would sport several cutting-edge features that improved upon some of his most famed formulas. And of these, his G&L ‘MFD’ pickups are perhaps the most acclaimed.
In this blog, we’re going to explain why G&L’s unique MFD pickups are so exceptional — uncovering how they work and what their benefits are over traditional pickups. We’ll also look closely at the different variations of G&L MFD pickups, comparing their physical designs and tonal characteristics. By the end of this article, you just might consider a G&L guitar for yourself!
What are G&L ‘MFD’ Pickups?
MFD pickups are installed in the majority of G&L’s electric guitars and basses — considered something of a signature feature. Their name stands for ‘Magnetic Field Design’ as they essentially transfer the magnetic field to the top of the pickup rather than the middle. This is achieved via a unique construction that utilises a ceramic bar magnet (installed beneath each coil) with soft iron pole pieces. Magnetic Field Design pickups also yield about twice the output per wind, making them less noisy than most conventional pickups while allowing for greater overall output. Ultimately, the result is a responsive tone with lots of clarity and a wide frequency response!
G&L Magnetic Field Design pickups are physically distinctive for their adjustable pole pieces too. These let you determine their heights in relation to the guitar’s strings. This is unlike traditional pickups which often have their pole pieces pre-set and fixed in a position considered optimal. The advantage of the MFD design is that it allows a player to precisely adjust the volume or “output” of each string, and to an extent, experiment with their guitar’s EQ. These pole pieces can simply be adjusted with a hex key Allen wrench.
Dave McLaren, G&L Guitars’ CEO and president, explains just how the company’s proprietary Magnetic Field Design pickups work in this detailed video: