‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


The 1999 ASAT ‘Junior’ was the first all mahogany guitar G&L released and their second Custom Creations Department (CCD) Limited Edition model. Five years later, the ‘Junior’ was followed by the ASAT ‘Super’ as a less exclusive Special Build model. But that was not the only all-mahogany guitar built during 2004-2005. A slew of other models were produced as well, including the Comanche Mahogany, Legacy Special Mahogany, and S-500 Mahogany, with a production of less than 25 each, a single Invader XL, as well as less than 35 each of the ASAT HB and Legacy HB Mahogany. Each came in a beautiful brown tolex case; quite the treatment in the era of the thermoplastic molded case. Still, they were never listed as a CCD Limited Edition nor a Special Build on the G&L website retired at the end of 2017, nor as a Rarebird on the Guitars by Leo (GbL) website. Nor do they have the markings of a Special Build model, e.g. neither an “# of x” decal on the back of the headstock nor a Silver Certificate of Authenticity. However, the ASAT HB is listed as a Special Build in the GbL “Special Editions and Non-Production ASAT style guitars” section. And with the exception of the Invader XL, all the others are listed as a “Mahogany Special Build” in the model dropdown on the GbL Registry, although clearly not as first rank citizens of that program. Hence there is still a lot of mystery around these models and the intriguing question remains: what were G&L’s intentions, especially about the hows and whys? Given the time period, was each a candidate to become the 25th Anniversary model? Possibly. But then why release them a year prior? Were the ASAT HB and the Legacy HB Mahogany a test platform for the newly developed, proprietary AW4370B humbucker? This thesis cannot be rejected outright because until 2015 they were the only USA models with such a bridge pickup instead of the more customary Seymour Duncan JB (TB-4) Trembucker. And how can they have serial numbers dating it closer to 1998? My theory is that G&L had ordered a batch of white decals for better contrast on the headstock of the ‘Junior’. Leftover decals must have been used on these all-mahogany models. This is consistent with my findings that all but 10 instruments registered in the GbL Registry with serial numbers between CLF10000–CLF10500, CLF11001–CLF11200, and CLF11301–CLF11340 is an aforementioned model. The exceptions are an S-500 Deluxe, a Legacy 2HB/HH, another Invader XL, 2 Legacies, an L-2500, an ASAT Special Semi-Hollow, an ASAT S-3 (!?, completely the wrong era), an ASAT Z-3, and an unused neck plate thrown in for good measure. Not one instrument has been registered so far with a serial number between CLF10501–CLF11000 and CLF11201–CLF11300.

Next up is an ASAT Deluxe Semi-Hollow Mahogany. Although there is good evidence it belongs to the Special Build series, there is some uncertainty whether it is part of the experiment. The one in this collection came with a replacement Fender thermoplastic case. Is that because a previous owner kept the original brown tolex case, if so present? Possibly. But comparing the completion date in the log, the stamp in the neck pocket, and the markings on the neck heel with others in the series, it is clear this all hog ASAT Deluxe Semi-Hollow was built a mere 3 weeks after the Legacy HB Mahogany. The most interesting remaining difference though with any of the other mahogany models discussed above is the use of a serial number decal with black font though with the much lighter Honey finish, there is plenty of contrast and the S/N pops out just fine.

The purpose of the 28 ASAT Classic ‘Blues Boy’ Mahogany guitars the CCD built in May-June 2005 is a little clearer. What is colloquially referred as the ‘hog Bluesboy’ also appears in “Special Editions and Non-Production ASAT style guitars” section cited above. Its limited production run was used to work out the kinks with the new CNC machines purchased by G&L around that time. The body outline, pickup rout, control cavity, and neck pocket were all done by CNC with the arm contour done by hand (belly contours were done by CNC from the start but only as of 2016 arm contours were done by machine too). And a lot of finishing and setup work remains to be done by hand up to this day. This later model, built another 13 weeks or so after the ASAT Deluxe Semi-Hollow, also has a serial number decal with black font. And instead of the brown tolex case, the ‘hog Bluesboy’ came standard in a thermoplastic case.

But basically upon inception, all these extra hog models were promptly delegated to the proverbial dust bin.


2004-2005 mahogany guitars