G&L's new CLF Research S-500 is a fan-inspired “retro-futurist dream” that blends original designs with contemporary appointments

G&L CLF Research S-500
(Image credit: G&L)

G&L has added a new CLF Research edition of its Strat-style S-500 to its lineup of electric guitars.

In line with the ethos of G&L’s CLF Research line – which “represents Leo Fender’s legacy for continuous innovation” by combining original concept designs with “unique proprietary features”, the all-new CLF Research S-500 is touted as a “retro-futurist dream”, with features including Leo’s Magnetic Field Design pickup technology and a Dual Fulcrum vibrato system.

The guitar is an evolution from the company’s existing S-500 from an electronics standpoint; G&L’s John R McLaren has modified certain specs of the pickups, including length of pole pieces, wire turns and coil bobbin aperture. This results, G&L says, in a “softer, sparklier sound without losing the sense of smoothness and strength expected from an S-500”.

These pickups are controlled via G&L’s PTB (Passive, Treble, Bass) system – a three-knob system which allows for more precise tonal control – as well as a five-way selector switch and expander toggle, which offers an even greater range of pickup switching options.

Additionally, the guitar was developed taking inspiration from G&L’s fan communities on Facebook and Instagram. Interactions prompted the company to “draw together functional and styling elements prepared at CLF Research in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s”, including a three-ply black pickguard and machined CLF knobs.

Other features include a headstock based on an original G&L design – modified to fit Kluson tuners – as well as a bolt-on neck construction, 22 medium jumbo frets, and a 25.5” scale length.


(Image credit: G&L)

“The CLF Research S-500 has a look, sound and vibe that takes us back to the golden age of Leo on Fender Avenue, home of what he considered his finest creations,” G&L says.

In terms of availability, the CLF Research S-500 comes in two configurations: Tobacco Sunburst with a Caribbean rosewood fingerboard, or Mocha with a maple ‘board. Both are priced at $1,999. For more info, head to G&L (opens in new tab).

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).