The world of yowhatsshakin

 
 

Leo Fender has signed plenty of items throughout his lifetime. One can find cancelled checks and other knick-knacks with Leo’s signature for sale on eBay. But there are only a few guitars of any brand personally signed by him. Only 4 of these rarities are known to me: 3 guitars, 1 bass; 1 Fender, 1 Music Man/G&L “mutt”, and 2 G&Ls. The Fender is Les Paul’s 1951 Nocaster sold at auction for $225,000 in 2012. The Music Man/G&L “mutt” is shown in the color section of George Fullerton’s book “Guitar Legends, The evolution of the guitar from Fender to G&L” on p. 71 and now owned by his son Geoff. It is a Music Man Sabre body and neck but with the first set of Magnetic Field Design (MFD), hum-bucking F-100 pickups. Leo signed it on the headstock with an “electric pencil” and then rubbed graphite into it for visibility. The later G&L is Roger Carroll’s ASAT Bass, partially build with the 1974-1990 stage floor of the Grand Ole Opry. And then the one and only G&L ASAT in this category. After Leo had signed the 869 inspection stickers in the neck pocket of the Broadcaster, Vice-President of G&L Sales and de-facto shop manager Dale Hyatt had the idea of Leo personally signing a very limited run of instruments (no more than 1 per distributor) on the upper bass bout. Leo approved of the idea but when handed a ballpoint to sign the first he quipped: “Rembrandt didn’t use ballpoints to sign his work”. It took some effort to find the right ink to avoid it from running when the nitro top coat was applied (Note that Dale in his email from 2000 below mentions polyurethane). But after the right combination was found, Dale walked into Leo’s lab on March 23, 1988, with a Blonde ASAT for his autograph. Leo signed it alright and dated it as an extra bonus. It took until April 15 for the guitar to be assembled completely and entered in the sales log; several very thin coats of lacquer were applied and allowed to dry before applying the next. When brought in for final approval, to the surprise of everybody, Leo firmly stated there would be “No more!”. Dale was miffed and asked what to do with this one, upon which Leo said it was Dale’s to keep and he could do anything he wanted with it. Realizing its value, he kept it in his own collection. Due to the aforementioned exchange, this particular guitar became known as ‘The Rembrandt’. Rumor has it Dale was offered well into 6 figures once by a collector. Otherwise, this guitar is like many other ASATs of that era: swamp ash body

, 2 wide-bobbin MFD single-coil pickups, black wrinkle powder-coated Locktight (Saddle Lock) bridge, pickguard, and control panel, single volume and tone controls, 3-way pickup selector, hard-rock maple neck, (very dark) 7½” East Indian rosewood fingerboard, black chrome tuning machines, and string tree, which had replaced the bracket by then, between D- and G-string. The package includes extensive provenance written up by Dale, his son Ken, Gabe Dellevigne, former G&L employee Michael P. James, and the aforementioned Roger Carroll.


The original idea didn’t die entirely of course. Using water slide decals of Leo’s autograph instead, Dale introduced the Signature series a short time later that year.

 

G&L ASAT ‘The Rembrandt’

The story behind this guitar

Year:                 1988

Serial number:    G022959 (from Dale Hyatt collection, only ASAT personally signed by Leo)

Neck date:         APR 4- 1988

Body date:         OCT 23 1987

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

The Holy Grail! The perfect specimen to bringing this collection together. After Dale passed away, it was offered to me by his son Ken. For considerably less than 6 figures mind you. As for the Lacewood Commemorative #1 and many other unique G&Ls, it was bought by Mike Teepe of Acme guitars in Minneapolis, MN. He put it up for sale in multiple places including at an auction house and no biters. Showing patience paid off in a major way and in late-2015 we struck a deal to complete my version of the Dale Hyatt Collection. The guitar came set-up with my favorite string gauge, weighs only 7.6 lb., and has all the mojo one would expect from an ASAT of that era. Sounds beautifully again with all the tone shaping tools right under ones fingers.