‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


Korina is actually a marketing name for (white) limba. The name was coined by Gibson when they released their futuristic Explorer and Flying V in 1958 while not content with the proper name. And there is no fundamental difference between “white limba” and “black limba”; they are merely different parts of the same trunk. Korina is very similar in properties to mahogany although much lighter. But solely through the aforementioned Gibson models, korina has become a legendary tonewood. In this day and age, with the CITES treaty and the 1900 Lacey Act (and its amendments like the 2008 Farm Bill) making it a crime to import certain wood species harvested in illegal ways, and limba not being endangered and still relative cheap, one would expect more korina models to hit the market. Strangely enough, this is not the case. But seldom does one see the release of a korina model.

However, on July 19, 2011, it was announced that G&L’s Custom Creations Department would produce the Korina Collection. The promo shot shows a lineup of guitars with a golden hue, the very same that were reviewed in the Holiday 2011 edition of Guitar Player Magazine in text and video, and a single bass. Not surprisingly, there was quite a buzz on the Guitars by Leo website. As with the 30th Anniversary Collection, which is actually a number of production models offered in a unique finish and special logo on the back of the headstock, more than a single model was included but this time limited to 100 instruments each: the Korina Collection ASAT Classic Bluesboy, Korina Collection ASAT Deluxe II, Korina Collection ASAT Junior II, and Korina Collection ASAT bass, each presented with a nice marketing blurb on how that particular model came about. What all have in common, beyond the korina body with Aged Natural finish, is a pau ferro fingerboard on light tint gloss quartersawn hard-rock maple neck. Due to circumstances, there are still some subtle differences between instruments within three distinct periods. Instruments in this Collection were the first featuring the new brushed aluminum plate with S/N screwed to the back of the headstock and spec sheet with PLEK number. Although every Korina comes with such a spec sheet, which have been issued since February 4th, 2011, the earliest instruments still use a water slide decal, and hence an S/N lower than CLF061000, likely to exhaust the stock still available. The very first production run has nothing more than the S/N, the second run additionally shows a large CCD logo but without a sequence number underneath as seen in previous CCD runs. Both early runs include a Special Build Silver Certificate of Authenticity (COA) because the factory had not prepared an additional batch of Limited Edition Silver COA’s. Buyers of these early models could get a correct Silver COA through their dealer, if so desired. All other, later produced Korinas use the S/N plate, display a smaller CCD decal in the former spot of the S/N water slide, and an official Limited Edition Silver COA using the model designation in the title and, since no numbering is used in the entire collection, merely stating the instrument is “one of 100”.

But that is not where the story ends. It turns out a fair number of prototypes were built and 2 of them, both finished January 24, 2011, became available through the (now defunct) Pro Guitar Shop in Portland, OR, around Xmas 2011. I purchased the ASAT Classic Korina prototype right then, and due to some fortuitous circumstances, the ASAT Deluxe Korina prototype made a second visit to my house some 14 months later, this time to stay. In mid-2012, G&L offered another number of prototypes to be distributed among dealers containing another 5 instruments associated with the Korina Collection: an ASAT Deluxe Semi-Hollow (CLF60340) with Saddle-Lock bridge and ASAT Bass Semi-Hollow (CLF60338) both with black limba body and both completed April 26, 2011, a Tobacco ASAT Deluxe (CLF60323, completed June 5, 2011) with Saddle-Lock bridge and ebony board, an ASAT Classic Bluesboy (CLF60349), the first with an Aged Natural finish completed April 4, 2011, and (lo and behold) a cosmetically correct Legacy (CLF60344) finished April 14, 2011. It has to be noted that all mentioned prototypes have a standard hard-rock maple neck instead of the quartersawn neck used in the official models. For completeness I will mention the ugly duckling among them all. Since it had been decided to use a TOM bridge on 2 of the 3 guitars, a new CNC program needed to be developed resulting in an engineering prototype: a swamp ash ASAT Deluxe (CLF60204, completed May 12, 2011) and reused neck!


The CCD Korina Collection