The world of yowhatsshakin


How much confusion is created if rather different models carry the same name? Quite a bit. This is the short-lived ASAT Classic Custom G&L offered between 1996 and 1997. And very much unlike the ASAT Classic Custom released in 2002. In effect, this is just another ASAT Classic but with some cool features for the body which were previously unavailable. This is the first ASAT model with a rear body contour, aka “belly cut”, “belly contour”, or “rib cut”, which later became a standard option. In addition it has faux top-binding, where a thin strip of the body is taped off before finish is applied. When the tape is peeled away, the original wood shows after which the lacquer is applied. This is especially effective when a body is capped with a different wood which is the case here. The alder body has a nice swamp ash cap finished in Three-tone Sunburst. As was customary in those days for instruments with top binding, the color at the edge of the top is continued on both edge and back which for Three-tone Sunburst results in an opaque black finish. It further has 2 Tele-style Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups, white pearloid pickguard, 6-saddle traditional boxed-steel bridge, single volume and tone control, and 3-way pickup selector. The hard-rock maple neck has a maple fingerboard with 12” radius, Dunlop Medium Jumbo 6100 frets, 1⅝” nut width, and G&L stamped Schaller tuning machines. This model was produced in low numbers; at the time of writing only 29 are listed in the Guitars by Leo (GbL) Registry with the differences in the serial number format indicative of the change from S/Ns starting with “G” stamped on the neck plate to water slide decals starting with “CL” (and “CLF” shortly thereafter) on the headstock which took place around that era. Fellow GbL member John Taylor relayed me Dave McLaren’s answers to some of his questions on this model. Around the time these instruments were built, a lot of the ash boards coming in were a little heavier than usual. This especially posed problems for G&L basses. Hence they experimented with bass bodies with an ash top, basswood back (see my L-2500), and wood binding, so the high demand for ash with transparent finishes could be satisfied. For the ASAT Classic, they experimented with a basswood back too as well as alder, as on this guitar. Although the former is lighter, the latter is more conventional and produces, as Dave says in his response, “a reasonable weight”. In the end it turned out to be a moot point since most consumers were willing to live with a heavier body and lighter ash boards came in again. There is no web page that I could otherwise find on this model. I can only refer you to this thread on the GbL site where Ken Crombie’s Clear Red ASAT Classic Custom is shown.


G&L ASAT Classic Custom (pre-2002)

The story behind this guitar

Year:                  1997

Serial number:    G051185

Neck date:         JAN 09 1997, marked ‘ASAT CL #2’

Body date:         JAN 21 1997

Strings:              D’Addario EXL110 Nickel Wound Regular Light (10-46)

That Clear Red ASAT Classic Custom of Ken’s was the first that made me even aware of the existence of this model. Yes, I knew about the Rarebird ASAT Custom released shortly before. And about the post-2002 ASAT Classic Custom with a completely different neck pickup. But this one just flew under my radar for years in large part due to the repurposing of the model name I think. Strangely (and luckily) enough only a couple of months after Ken’s guitar was displayed this specimen was offered on eBay by Douglas Hunninger. The fact that I was able to acquire it merely means I don’t have to pester Ken to make him part with his. The neck fit is one of the tightest I’ve ever had to deal with. To get to the date stamps, some careful wiggling needed to happen. One can see the transition between the ash top and alder body most readily in the neck pocket. The guitar is loud and the pups easily drive the front end of any tube amp. Wonderful tone monster. And yes, the belly cut makes it very comfortable to play.