Building a better (G&L Tribute) Fallout April 05 2022, 2 Comments
Look at that thing! Isn't it a work of beauty? The surf green finish, the curves of the pickguard, saddle-lock bridge, small SC-2 style body paired with a 25.5" scale neck. These are such great guitars that only suffer in a few spots out of the box, but one of those spots is kindof a big deal. I've owned a lot of these Tribute Fallouts. I mean A LOT. Played them live and in-studio. One of my two "every day" players in my office is a Tribute Fallout. I've tried a lot of different pickup configurations in them. I've bought trashed ones and fixed them up. I can say that I know these guitars very well. As a result, this post will be a little shorter-winded than my typical review (maybe).
For Tribute Fallouts, try to find one pre-2019-ish, or at least make sure you're getting one with a mahogany body. These will most likely come with a gloss neck. Tape off the body and surrounding neck parts you don't play (headstock) and lightly sand the back of the neck with some 1200 grit wet dry, followed by 3000 to go from a gloss to matte finish. Don't sand through the finish, we're just controlling the gloss. Follow up with a little Birchwood Casey gunstock wax if you wish (not necessary strictly speaking). These typically come with a small neck shim (usually a little piece of cloth sanding belt material). It helps keep you from having to crank the saddle height. Not a big deal, just be aware if you take off the neck.
Saddle block bridge is great, and the top loading style gives this guitar a special sound and feel. Resonant yet slinky and bouncy. Sustain is wonderful, and the guitar is lively even unplugged. Tuners are fine. Nut has been a mixed bag on mine. Had to replace a few where they stuck the wrong nut on the guitar.
Let's get to the improvement needed. The bridge pickup. Jeez. Stock, it's the poster child for somehow inexplicably too hot and too muddy. I've tried dialing it in a million different ways, and lowered down (a lot) and raising up the pole pieces helps some, but it never seems to get it right. The coil split is wired to switch to the inside coil (toward the neck - who the hell thought that was a good idea?), so that doesn't help much either. The worst part is that the neck p90 is actually quite nice. Here's where the magic comes in. I have found a pickup that is the perfect mate for the neck p90. Best part? It's cheap. I give you...the GFS Surf 180. It's a direct drop in, just need to replace the tone pot. It has the sparkle, clarity, and output level all in the sweet spot to offset the warmth of the neck pup. Just...wow. It's the perfect mate for this guitar. Try it for yourself, see how much this $36 pickup can help. You'll be surprised.
With those little changes, you'll take this guitar from OK to freaking amazing. Satin neck, versatile pickups, amazing sustain and tone, super comfortable to play for long periods on stage. I can't recommend the post-tweaking Fallout enough, just be aware that the little big of investment and time will give you back major dividends. You won't want to put it down. Eagle-eyed shoppers can find these cheap, so the cost of a new bridge pickup is easily absorbed. If you don't want to go through that process, try one out in person and see if you can bond with that bridge pickup first.