Robert Poss & the G&L SC-1

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An article by Robert Poss from Band Of Susans.

In Australia, vintage G&L’s are pretty thin on the ground. But back in the 80′s & early 90′s in the US, they were pawn shop treasures. Robert Poss from Band Of Susans sent guitarnerd this great article on his passion for the G&L SC-1…

“…I was scouting around for an inexpensive guitar that I could really devote to an open tuning. At St. Mark’s Music, I saw this blue guitar with one pickup. It looked really odd, and I’d never seen anything like it. They said it was a G&L (an SC-1) — it cost around $150. I played it for about thirty seconds and bought it because it felt really solid. Then I discovered that it was the greatest guitar. It was perfect; it had more bass than a Stratocaster, but it was a single coil sound.

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It had a lot of the brightness that humbuckers lacked, it was a nice small body, very simple, with a solid bridge, and it would stay in tune no matter what you did to it.

So then I thought, ‘ What if this one got stolen?’and I started looking for another one.” “When Band of Susans started, that G&L more or less became my trademark. I started buying G&L’s in pawn shops, and they were still going for $175 and $200. Every time I’d see one, I’d buy it. We started putting them on the record covers. It became sort of an obsession. I have three or four blue ones and the best one — the one on the Love Agenda poster — is the first one I got. (The Love Agenda LP was released in 1989).

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Even though I had many G&L’s I have a mental ranking of them — and I can tell them apart. They’re all great, but some are greater than others, and that first one is still probably the best. My main concert guitar is a bright blue G&L with a humbucker. It’s one of my best, but not the best. These days I probably wouldn’t take my very best G&L on tour.”

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“I liked the G&L’s, but they didn’t look quite right to me. I did like the way Les Paul Juniors looked — they had the single pickup, but also a certain kind of classic pickguard. So one day, lying in my bed, I got this idea that I could put a new pickguard on the SC-1. My friend Bob Meetsma and I worked out a design, and I had a pickguard made out of Bakelite. I put it on the G&L and it just looked totally different. So then, of course, I had to get one made for all of my other G&Ls. First in Bakelite, and then I said, ‘Oh, why not a tortoise-shell one? And why not a pearl one? And a white one? Once again, I became totally obsessed with this concept.”

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“I’ve done weird things, I had my friend Nicolas Collins bury a dummy coil into the back of one of my G&Ls – just a coil from a G&L pickup, and the humbucked with that. And then had humbuckers installed on one of the SC-1s, and then two G&L pickups side-by-side one another! But still I think the best sound is from the original pickup.”

“The pickup had a perfect balance of bass and treble – neither strident nor dull; it had sustain without loss of clarity, and its overtones sang exquisitely. It worked extremely well in the high distortion feedback-laden style I had developed, yet it sparkled when played cleanly. I generally use my G&Ls in a high density experimental rock context, but I’ve seen and heard them used very effectively in Country, Classic Rock, Blues and Jazz situations. The pickups have what I term neutrality with character. They are comparatively Hi-Fi, but never clinical sounding.”

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“Special Tip: when a high distortion high level gigging/recording situations call for a humbucking pickup, I use the DiMarzio Humbucker From Hell in the bridge position; it’s my go-to substitute for the MFD. Go figure.”

“The metonymic significance of my SC-1 reached its zenith when the guitar was used as the central design motif for our Love Agenda, The Word and The Flesh and Peel Sessions CDs.

Our record company sent a poster to G&L, and while on tour in California, we learned that we had been invited to the G&L factory to meet Leo Fender. For me, this was no less than an audience with The Creator. We toured the factory, and Leo Fender and his long-time colleague Dale Hyatt took us out to lunch.”

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It was a triumphant moment: there on the factory wall was our Love Agenda poster, a pinup photograph by filmmaker Beth B that featured Susan Stenger lying languidly next to my beloved SC-1, in what might be seen as a post-coital repose.

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Although they were interested in having me try some of their current models, I told them of my singular obsessive interest in the discontinued SC-1, their least expensive and least successful instrument. Subsequently, Mr. Hyatt had the factory run a limited re-issue of three of that model in custom colors – the rarest G&Ls ever produced — and he gave them to me. I have never been prouder.

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Thanks to Robert Poss for the great info and photos.