The world of yowhatsshakin

 
 

Among G&L aficionados, it has always been puzzling why the SC-3 had Nighthawk/Skyhawk pickups instead of 3 Jumbo Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickups as a logical extension of the SC-1 and SC-2 ‘entry level’ models. Same is true for the next step in the evolution of the SC-2: the ASAT. The pre-BBE era, three pickup ASAT III had Skyhawk or S-500 pups too; small footprint pups once more. So again, why? Leo never provided an answer. And after his death, it took another 7-years before players finally could do the experiment and start figuring it out themselves. The ASAT S-3 was introduced as a production model at the January 1999 Winter NAMM, with some single instruments built starting mid-1998. As Greg Gagliano states on his ASAT S-3 page, apparently players thought the middle pickup was a hindrance. Hence this model never became popular and production was ceased in early spring 2001. The ASAT S-3 had a swamp ash body, Saddle-Lock bridge, single volume and tone control, 5-way pickup selector, hard-rock maple Bi-Cut neck with either 7½” maple or rosewood fingerboard, and Schaller Locking tuners. Still, not all could have been bad. Later in 2006, a similar configuration would (re)appear in the guise of the ASAT Trinity Special Edition, followed in May 2011 with a Special Build run of the ASAT S-3 produced for Midlothian School of Music. While in production, this model even had a page on the G&L website which was taken down in December 2013 (although an archived page can be found here).

 

G&L ASAT S-3

The story behind this guitar

Year:                 1998

Serial number:    CL08983

Neck date:         NOV 29(?) 1998, marked ‘Locking Keys!’, ‘ASAT’

Body date:         NOV 19 1998

Strings:              D’Addario EXL120 Nickel Wound Super Light (9-42)

Dating this guitar is fairly simple, even before taking the neck off. As one can read on the “Serial Number Significance” page on the Guitars by Leo (GbL) website, the “CL” prefix was introduced in late-1997 and changed (fully) to “CLF” by February 1999. And indeed, the body and neck dates show this one to be one of these earlier one-off 1998 S-3s. Finding one, on the other hand, is not so simple. All in all not many were produced. This S-3 was bought in the last week of 2012 at Elite Music Sales in Montgomery, AL, after I missed out on one in mid-2011. It is interesting to compare this model with the Trinity. Although not stated on the web page cited above, the middle pickup is Reverse Wound like the Trinity; only the S-3 prototype (S/N CL07011) had an “ordinary” middle pickup. But without the expansion switch and the different body wood, one should experience some sonic differences. The S-3 has way more bite than the Trinity; the guitar is fairly loud. But when you dial down the volume, some delectable clean tones come to the fore, especially in the in-between settings adding noticeable (but not overwhelming) quack to the mix. Personally, on neither the Trinity nor this S-3 have I been fighting the placement of such a large pup in the middle, so no complaints here (yet).