The world of yowhatsshakin

 
 

Jerry Donahue is one of the best-known and loved Tele-style guitar slingers around and another charter member of the Hellecasters. Starting in the late eighties, Fender had a Jerry Donahue signature Telecaster (as well as a Strat), all of them built in Japan. In his Tele, Jerry prefers to use a 5-position pickup selector wired in a particular manner, a Stratocaster pickup in the neck position and a Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue Lead Tele (APTL-3JD) in the bridge, all to give him more tonal options. Apparently, just after the change of the century, other companies also wanted to build him a signature model. G&L’s offering was introduced at the Summer NAMM of 2004 as the ASAT JD-5. This guitar has a swamp ash body with Blueburst or Three-tone Sunburst finish, a hard-rock maple neck with a satin finish and increased roll on the edges of the 7½” radiused fingerboard, and a 3-saddle(!) traditional boxed-steel bridge. The Super Switch 5-way pickup selector is wired in the following way: 1-neck, 2-neck with parallel 0.0022μF capacitor for deeper tone, 3-neck & bridge, 4-neck and bridge out-of-phase, and 5-bridge. Otherwise, it has the standard volume and tone controls. One finds a CLF-100 pickup, as used in the Legacy and George Fullerton models, but without cover, in the neck position and the APTL-3JD in the the bridge position. Looks pretty much like a Jerry Donahue signature model to me!


But something went horribly wrong. G&L got beaten out by Peavey who announced the Jerry Donahue Signature Omniac Guitar in early-2005. Hence, you will never see an explicit reference to Jerry or his name in any of the literature released by G&L while everybody still fully knows what “JD” in the model designation stands for. It would come as no surprise that, according to Hellecaster/Telecaster specialist Mac Whitehead, only a handful (±12) of these guitars were built between 2004 and 2007 when production stopped. My guitar is one of the few in Three-tone Sunburst finish. (When talking to Mac, he started with “So you have the Sunburst?”, almost making me believe this is the only original Sunburst). Only in 2012, G&L would release another ASAT production model with an Alnico (bridge) pickup: the ASAT Classic Alnico. This model had a webpage on the G&L website in the day, but it was taken down in December 2013 (although still visible on archive.org here).

 

G&L ASAT JD-5

The story behind this guitar

Year:                  2004

Serial number:    CLF33506

Neck date:         none, marked ‘ASAT JD-5’

Body date:         2004 (month and date illegible due to sanding and shim)

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

Oh what a summer/early autumn it was in 2009. The economy had been tanking for more than a year. And you could notice. Not only did prices come down, but also the inventory was wide and diverse. Many very interesting pieces were offered on eBay or at other places. This was the fifth of a septet of guitars that I was able to score. And it was the first time that I was confronted with being outbid (twice) but still winning the auction because in both cases the bids were retracted!? The 5-way Super-switch needs some cleaning. The 1-position initially seemed to be dead when the guitar arrived. But by moving the switch slightly back it works beautifully with a great, snappy bridge pickup. The neck pickup has a warm tone and the other 3 position give you a nice palette of tones. Too bad this guitar could not stay in production. Judging from the “Vintage Guitar Price Guide”, it is the Jerry Donahue model, demanding about 3 times the price of the Peavey model! And by the way, the Omniac is no longer in production either. In the meantime, Fret-King is producing Jerry’s latest Signature version in the Fret-King JD Black Label.