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.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at GuitarWorld.com from 2019 to 2023, and also created 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.