G&L tech resources: Bridges


The ASAT JD-5, available for a short time in 2004 and intended to be the signature model for Jerry Donahue and hence the most Tele-looking G&L, is the only production model having a non-G&L vintage bridge with 3 brass saddles. Such a bridge was patented by Leo Fender in US Pat. 2,573,254, filed January 13, 1950. But with only 3 saddles, vintage Telecasters are notorious for intonation problems. Many companies have tried to come up with direct replacement solutions (see e.g. these Callaham compensated saddles) to fix this elementary problem. A much easier solution is using 6 independent saddles, the solution adopted by G&L for their ASAT Classic models. Although G&L consistently refers to this bridge as “Boxed-Steel with 6 saddles” on their post-2011 spec sheets, nowhere else in the industry is this term being used, not even for this part in the G&L Online Store. Hence the term “ASAT Classic 6-saddle bridge” is used here. Incidentally, the saddles are very similar to those shown in US Pat. 4,031,799 discussed in the history of the Locktight/Saddle-Lock bridge: a barrel with 2 screws for height adjustment and one long screw for intonation allowing all necessary degrees of freedom for a perfectly set up guitar. The 3 examples shown below are a chrome plated ASAT Classic bridge on an ASAT Classic Signature (top-bound) and the gold plated versions on Lacewood Commemorative #1 and Lacewood Commemorative #26. Observe each brass saddle here is still chrome or gold plated. Also note the disappearance of the ‘by Leo Fender’ phrase on the bridge plate of #26. When BBE Sound, Inc. took over operations at G&L in November 1991, they immediately got sued by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) for the “illegal” use of Leo’s signature. In May 1992, this suit got settled leading to the removal of signature on instruments as well as parts. On the bridge plate, behind the B- and E-saddles, a stamped ’12’ is found. The same number is found on the bobbin of (almost all) pre-2008 ASAT Classic MFD bridge pickups. According to Dave McLaren, “the significance of [the] 12 stamp” is merely the tool number used to produce the parts. Whereas the ’12’ seems to have disappeared from the bobbin starting in 2008, the bridge still carries it. A traditional bridge, where the strings are inserted through the body, requires something to hold all 6 string ball-ends. For about the first 25 years after the introduction of the ASAT Classic (Bluesboy) model, G&L used a hard-plastic ferrule block as seen on my first ASAT Classic. As an aside, notice the ’12’ on the bridge pup of that guitar. Some players like to use a metal ferrule block in hopes of increasing sustain. However, by the end of 2015 the ferrule block was discontinued altogether, marking the sad demise of another unique G&L feature. Instead, 6 separate ferrules are pressed into the back of the body, an arrangement seen on most Telecaster-like models of any other brand. They are seen on this ASAT Classic Bluesboy ‘S’ from December 2015 and had not been used by G&L since the early-1980’s F-100 with the string through version of the Locktight (Saddle-Lock) bridge.

For an ASAT Classic with either Dual-Fulcrum Vibrato or Leo Fender Vibrato, the bridge plate (still with signature on the pre-BBE version) is modified to make room for the pivot bolts, as seen on George Fullerton’s ASAT Classic w/LFV. For that guitar, the strings are held by the vibrato block of course.

Around 2011, G&L tested a shortened version of the ASAT Classic bridge with rounded corners as seen on this ASAT Deluxe ‘TeleGib’ prototype. Since the start of the G&L Custom Shop at the tail end of 2017, at least 2 more have seen the light of day with such a shortened bridge, both sparkling ASAT Semi-Hollow guitars with 2 P-90 pickups built for the 2019 Winter NAMM (search for “Champagne Metal Flake” and “Silver Metal Flake”). And both of these bridges have only 3 compensated saddles, similar to the JD-5. A couple of 2018 G&L Custom Shop ASAT Classics with Bigsby Vibrato also have 3-saddle ASAT Classic bridges, one of these (CS1812016) also having a half-sized pickguard akin to the F-150 prototype as well. Its current owner swapped out the ASAT Classic MFD pickups (and wiring harness) with a more traditional set.

Be advised that in case one wants to replace the ASAT Classic bridge with a different unit, the (screw) holes may be slightly off. Caveat emptor!


G&L (Boxed-Steel) ASAT Classic 6-saddle bridge