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 solution (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, no similar use of this term elsewhere in the industry can be found, 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 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. For an ASAT Classic with either Dual Fulcrum Vibrato or Leo Fender Vibrato, the bridge plate (still with signature) was modified to make room for the pivot bolts, as seen on George Fullerton’s ASAT Classic w/LFV. Around 2011, G&L even tested a shortened version 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 guitars, both sparkling ASAT Semi-Hollow guitars with 2 P-90 pickups built for the 2019 Winter NAMM, have seen the light of day with such a shortened bridge. Both of these guitars also have 3 compensated saddles, similar to the JD-5, as was also used on a couple of 2018 Custom Shop ASAT Classics with Bigsby Vibrato, one (CS1812016) with a half-sized pickguard akin to the F-150 prototype. With this type of bridge, one still needs a contraption to hold the string ball-ends. G&L uses a hard-plastic ferrule block, as seen on my first ASAT Classic, through which the string are inserted. As an exception proving the rule, this ASAT Classic Bluesboy Semi-Hollow Okoumé w/Port Orford cedar top uses separate ferrules as found on most Telecaster-like models of any other brand. Some players may change the ferrule block to a metal unit in hopes of increasing sustain. Be advised that in case one wants to replace the ASAT Classic bridge with a different unit, the holes may be in slightly different locations. Caveat emptor!

 

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