The world of yowhatsshakin

 
 

Until the end of his life, Leo Fender loved to work on pickups. His G&L office/lab can still be found in (almost) the same condition as when he left it for the last time on the evening of March 19, 1991. The workbench has a Music Man amp and Peterson Strobe tuner. Another table is full of jigs, fixtures, and parts he used for his research. One of the last pickups he developed was the Z-coil pickup, introduced on the Comanche V in 1988 and Comanche VI shortly thereafter, which combined the clarity and highs of a single coil pup with the hum cancellation of a bucker. After production of the Comanche was stopped at the end of 1991, this pickup disappeared from any production model. That is not to say it was not in use by some up-and-coming guitar player by the name of John Jorgenson, who had been gigging several G&Ls for a number of years. He really liked them on his unique prototype Comanche and was curious how they would sound in an ASAT. Hence a prototype was produced following John’s specs (see this interview) basically copying his Comanche for all but the body shape and tone stack: 3 Z-coil pups in a maple body, 5-way pickup selector, single volume and tone control, Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato (DFV), and (S-500) neck with rosewood fingerboard. The factory used an available, originally Black, ASAT III body, routed a “bath tub” to make space for the pups, and had Marty Bell refinish the body in Silver Metal Flake. When the endorsement deal went south, as related in the aforementioned interview, G&L paid John off with a whole bunch of guitars and likely this particular guitar was part of that batch. At least John seems to recall he got it around 1995, and played it a lot on the Hellecasters tour that year as well as the Elton John Band later on. The S/N also places it in the 1994/1995 time frame; later than 1990 at the least. It would take another 3 years before Z-coils reappeared on the (reintroduced) Comanche and the ASAT Z-3.


This model is extensively discussed on this page on the Guitars by Leo (GbL) website.

 

G&L ASAT-Z3 prototype for John Jorgenson

The story behind this guitar

Year:                 1990 (as per the date stamps, but likely assembled in 1994-1995)

Serial number:   G036433 (prototype)

Neck date:         DEC 7 1990

Body date:         APR 16 1990

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

With Dean Coy in attendance, GbL webmaster Craig Dewey bought this guitar from John after attending the Hellecasters’ reunion concert at Deke Dickerson’s Guitar Geek Festival in January 2012. John and Craig knew each other from an earlier transaction where Craig had traded his maple board JJ Sig for John’s rosewood board JJ Sig. Some emails were exchanged by Dean and John in 1998 and Craig and John in 2012, which are part of the provenance. Due to the nature of the correspondence, I have elected not to show these emails here. I am very honored to be the proud owner now. This is a quintessential source guitar for the Z-coil pickups with a rare DFV to boot. The guitar sounds quiet and extremely well balanced. From bark to jazz just by adjusting volume and/or pickup selection. From the height of the pole-pieces it looks that either John and/or his guitar tech played around a bit balancing the strings. Clearly a guitar set-up for a professional.