‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


This page (no pun intended) is dedicated to the creations of Tim Page, either alone or in close collaboration with his brother Bob and/or the craftsmen at G&L. These Special Editions were exclusively sold through Buffalo Brothers in Carlsbad, CA, the store he and Bob owned until March 2013. And to accentuate the origin of these models, they come with a ”Special Edition” Certificate of Authenticity (COA) specifying the model name and its specs, prominently displaying the Buffalo Brothers brand. Three out of the 4 COAs are cosigned by all four (4) Page brothers, whereas the COA for the last is even more special. In addition, Tim will be the first to acknowledge the continuous support and encouragement provided by the “G” in G&L, Mr. George Fullerton. Each initial run consisted of a very limited number of instruments. I want to thank Tim for providing me with much of the info here.

But in one case, more have been produced. Which is quite an understatement! In November 1998, Tim started developing of his first creation. His ASAT BB (Blues Boy) called for a humbucker in the neck position and a single-coil pickup in the bridge position, a rather common combination made popular by players like Keith Richards, first tested at G&L about a decade earlier on the 1990 ASAT Classic ‘Keef’ prototype. But that particular design went nowhere and was never put into production. Being a G&L, the ASAT BB bridge pickup had to be an ASAT Classic Magnetic Field Design (MFD) pickup. For the neck pickup, at first Tim wanted a Seymour Duncan ’59 humbucker. But at the advice of Seymour, he settled for a (potted) Seth Lover (SH-55N) which is more balanced and smoother in that famous middle position. He placed his order in May 1999 with shipment to early adopters starting the following June. Of the 32 built, 20 have a solid alder body, with a quilted maple top only on #1, and 12 a semi-hollow swamp ash body, all with a Three-tone Sunburst finish, top binding, and gun-oil tinted hard-rock maple #2 neck (7½” radius/1⅝” nut). Of the 20 solids, 5 have a maple board, 14 East Indian rosewood, and 1 with ebony. The semi-hollows break down into 6 with a maple board and 6 with rosewood. They came with a TKL faux-tweed vinyl hardshell case, “G&L Special Edition” neck plate, and ”Special Edition” G&L ASAT BB (Blues Boy) COA. Due to the presence of some unique features, the COA for ASAT BB (Blues Boy) ‘Contour’ present in this collection is even more customized. With it, Tim hit a home run right away. This model became the Bluesboy production model which is now one of G&L’s biggest sellers.

Tim’s second model, with input from his brother Bob, was the ASAT ’50. This model has an ASAT Classic MFD bridge pickup controlled by a wiring harness inspired by, if not an exact copy of, the original schematic of a ‘50s (hence the name) Esquire as dug up by Tony Petrilla, who had worked with George & Leo since 1980. The design, with a Butterscotch swamp ash body, single-ply black guard, and Bird’s Eye #2 maple neck with matching fingerboard, was finalized in early-1999 and the factory order for only 10 was placed in May with shipment starting in June of the same year. Like the ASAT BB, it came with the TKL faux-tweed vinyl hardshell case, “G&L Special Edition” neck plate, and ”Special Edition” G&L ASAT ’50 COA. According to Tim’s original plans, the package was supposed to include a thermometer case reproduction to make it all even more vintage. But the intended manufacturer dragged its heels too long for the case to be ready in time. And it was pretty expensive too! But the ASAT ’50 does have a vintage string tree manufactured by a company specialized in reproduction parts for old Esquires. It would take another 14 years before G&L would reintroduce a similar instrument in the ASAT Classic Solamente.

Tim likes Z-coil MFD pickups ordinarily found as a triplet on either the G&L Comanche or the ASAT Z-3. In mid-1999, he was inspired by the newly released ASAT ‘Junior’, with its semi-hollow, no f-hole body, as well as the appearance of a Telecaster played by Jerry Donahue, member of The Hellecasters among other things, whom he had just met then. He wondered whether a 2-pickup ASAT Z-2 was feasible, especially with country-pickers in mind. According to his recollections, Tim ordered just 10 guitars in August of 1999, each with a double-bound semi-hollow swamp ash body in natural finish, tortoise pickguard, satin finished hard-rock maple #2 neck. But the tortoise body binding led to so much trouble, G&L swore to never use it again! Tortoise binding is mainly used on acoustic guitars where the curves are more “womanly” and gentle, unlike e.g. the treble horn on an ASAT which is much sharper and where that type of binding turned out to be extremely fickle. Can you imagine having almost finished one side of the body only for the brittle binding to break so you have to remove everything done so far and start anew? Or it will not stay glued in the groove and pops out? Or it reacts chemically with the glue and clouds? G&L went through 2 vendors before a solution could finally be found. Be glad the brotherhood of luthiers at times consists more of friends than cut-throat competitors. In 1999, Bob Taylor was not building electrics yet and G&L had long halted its unsuccessful foray into acoustics, Hence Taylor was willing to provide the name of a third vendor and instructions on how to “tame” tortoise. Due to all the difficulties, delivery took place only in November of 1999 instead of October as intended. It still came with a “G&L Special Edition” neck plate and ”Special Edition” G&L ASAT Z-2 COA, but in the standard thermoplastic G&L case. So no more tortoise binding? Ever? Time seems to have healing powers. Because in 2020 ...

It took until the end of 2006 to make it a quartet with the creation of the magnificent ASAT Trinity, with some wonderful contributions by Mr. George Fullerton himself who hence, with Bob and Tim, is a signee of the companion ”Special G&L Edition” ASAT Trinity COA. It started in 2003 and got closer to fruition in mid-2006 after G&L indicated it was willing to produce another Special Edition. Tim’s aim was to produce a lightweight ASAT S-3, with the flexibility of 3 pickups, but harkening back to the Broadcaster or SC-3 w/ebony fingerboard, one of his favorite models. G&L historian Gabe Dellevigne helped out in finalizing the choice of a soft maple body and provided the specs for the 3 Jumbo MFD pickups. The middle pickup is a Reverse Wound/Reverse Polarity version prototyped by G&L employee Efrain Meraz. A push-pull volume control allows selecting the neck and bridge pickups together, or even all 3, beyond the customary pickup combinations on such a 3-pickup guitar. Writer/columnist Greg Gagliano, all things Fender expert, suggested the natural wood binding. G&L employee John Salcido then provided the idea to make the wood binding appear a little darker by tinting it. Most importantly, John also resolved the difficulties of naming this Special Edition by coming up with ‘Trinity’. As Tim writes: “Whether you say Trinity is for Leo Fender, George Fullerton and Dale Hyatt ∼ or for the three pickups ∼ it sure was a cool name!” Officially, there are 25 out there, all with a semi-hollow body. without f-holes to reduce weight, a “G&L Special Edition” neck plate, and brown tolex G&G case with yellow poodle lining. All but 2 have a surplus ASAT S-3 pickguard, as per G&L’s stipulation. One had a choice between maple (12 of 25) or ebony (13 of 25) fingerboard on a gun-oil tinted neck. There were 4 choices for the (1996-2015) neck profile with 7 having a #1 (12”/1⅝”) neck, 14 a #2 neck, 2 a #3 (12”/1¾”) neck, and 2 a #4 (12”/1¹¹⁄₁₆”) neck. Incidentally, about half of the Trinity model were the first to undergo the PLEK treatment at G&L as they were built during the transition to the non-compression truss rod. The others still have the Bi-Cut neck in use until then. The most common finish is Vintage White as found on 21 guitars. Trinity #1 (S/N CLF43509) is a Tobacco Sunburst Trinity built for Greg which got lost in a natural disaster. Fortunately, G&L built him another with S/N CLF54115. More on his misfortune, and the Trinity in general, can be found on Greg’s ggjaguar.com website. Sunburst Trinity #16 (S/N CLF45250) was built for Gabe and not surprisingly has one of the #3 necks. Bob Page’s highly personalized Trinity #24, found in this collection, looks quite different with its Clear Red finish, retro black powder-coated hardware, and absence of binding. Although Tim’s Trinity #25 (S/N CLF44987) shares the black hardware with Bob’s Trinity, it has a Sunburst finish. S/N CLF43528, in Vintage White and a #2 neck, is registered as a Trinity but due to incorrect binding was sold by Buffalo Brothers as an ASAT S-3 without a Trinity COA. There is one more guitar known to be in existence with S/N CLF45576, in all likelihood a Trinity with replacement neck. When George Fullerton was shown Bob’s finished Trinity, he suggested that they would not be complete without a special logo. He took it upon himself to design one and produced 3 proposals. Worries whether a decal could be applied on top of the finish were quickly allayed by George, claiming it had been done at Fender many times without averse effects!

Tim has confided in me that he has some other candidates that would make interesting Special Editions. And although now without a store, I still hope he will execute on it because I hardly can wait what it might be!


Buffalo Brothers special editions