‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


In July 1998, G&L started its Custom Creations Department to build specially designed instruments. This page focusses on Limited Edition models, i.e. instrument produced in a truly finite number, never to be reproduced again. The seeds for the CCD were planted in February 1998 when craftsmen at G&L were experimenting combining mahogany bodies with G&L’s patented Jumbo Magnetic Field Design (MFD) single-coil pickups. But a request from the artist department in April of that year for an ASAT III like model with a middle pickup and 5-position pickup selector, a configuration popular amongst studio cats in Nashville, led to the first CCD sanctioned model: a run of 100 ASAT ‘Classic III’ guitars. This was soon followed by the result of the February skunk works: the ASAT ‘Junior’ of which 250 were built, starting in July 1998 spilling over into 1999. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the company, several models were offered in 2000: the Custom Creations Rampage with a total of 70 issued, funnily enough only available with gig bag, followed by the 20th Anniversary model of which 50 were built between August and December. It would take almost six years (indeed, production of the 250 guitars did not start until February 2006!) before the next LE: the 25th Anniversary model. But since then there has been a steady stream of at least 2 models every 2 years: the F-100 Return Edition and the Phyllis model: ‘Blondie’ announced in July 2007, each 100 pieces, and in January of 2009 50 C.L.F. Centennial ASATs and 50 C.L.F. Centennial L-2000s to commemorate Leo’s 100th day of his birth. To honor long-time G&L player Jerry Cantrell, the CCD issued the Limited Edition ‘Blue Dress’ Rampage with Alain Aslin’s iconic Blue Dress pin-up girl and Jerry’s signature on the back of the headstock. Announced at the 2010 Winter NAMM and available in mid-2011, the 50 ‘Blue Dress’ guitars are the most expensive G&Ls ever marketed. The year 2011 turned out to be very productive otherwise too for the CCD with the release of the Korina Collection. In 2013 the Savannah Collection was added. Since both involve a relatively large number of models, they each have their own page. The same is true for the custom artwork by Johnny Garcia. Although listed among prototypes on the previous G&L website, the initial 4 guitars he created in 2010 and released in 2012, including ‘The Wrangler’, strictly speaking should be seen as Limited Editions. And it is certainly true for the 20 ASAT Classic BluesBoy ‘The Roses’ Limited Edition Johnny created between 2014 and 2016.

Sometimes circumstances will dictate what is possible. In 2010, the 30th anniversary of G&L was not celebrated with a limited edition but rather a 30th Anniversary Collection. A variety of production models (initially ASAT Special, ASAT Classic, F-100, Legacy, and L-2000, later expanded to include an ASAT Classic Bluesboy, ASAT Bass, S-500, and SB-2/SB-2T) were offered in a special Pearl Frost finish with a specially designed 30th Anniversary logo on the back of the headstock. Originally, orders would be taken until the end of December 2010, but they were still taken even in January of 2012, according to Steve Grom (then) at G&L. Similarly, instruments in the 35th Anniversary Collection, in Emerald Green Metallic finish (now a standard finish), could be ordered from September through December 2015, with an ASAT Special, ASAT Classic Bluesboy, Legacy, LB-100, and M-2000 in the lineup. Both ASAT models in this collection came with the Original Leo Spec (OLS) body depth of 1.625” (1⅝”) as used in the mid-1980s, instead of the BBE-era 1.780” used at the time. The OLS option had been available since May 2015 and became the default again on all ASAT guitars and ASAT Basses as of February 2017.

The indication of a Limited Edition also has changed over time. The ‘Classic III’ only had the stamp on the back of the headstock whereas the Junior has a similar stamp and a neck plate indicating “# of 250”. Both the 20th and 25th Anniversary models only have a stamped neck plate with “# of 50” and “# of 250”, respectively. In general, Custom Creation Department models built between 2006 and 2017 have a CCD logo decal on the back of the headstock, with an additional “# of x” indication until 2011, and a Silver Certificate of Authenticity. Although, the Korina Collection is all over the place as discussed in its chapter.

In 2017, just after G&L changed their serial number format and application again, they released a limited run of 10 ASAT Classic Bluesboy Semi-Hollow Okoumé w/Port Orford cedar top guitars. Like the S/N, the “# of 10” is laser etched on the back of the headstock. The #2 of that series came with standard paperwork, nothing special. However, since there is no CCD logo on the headstock, that guitar is merely mentioned here. At the 2018 Winter NAMM show, which took place between January 25-28 in Anaheim, CA, G&L announced the introduction of the Custom Shop, the next evolution of the CCD. Their instruments have serial numbers with a ‘CS’ prefix, instead of ‘CLF’, underneath a Custom Shop logo very similar to the old Custom Creations logo. To some extend, instruments build by the Custom Shop replace the instruments previously available in the ‘Rustic’ series, but other options are available too. The main reason to start the Custom Shop is that dealers saw the CCD as such anyway and did not care too much about what G&L wrote on their website. Since its inception it has been run by a single employee, David (Dave) Brown. He has been responsible for every instrument, each a unique creation not likely to be duplicated, e.g. this 2019 Custom Shop ASAT RMC P-90/HB. Still, the Custom Shop is not responsible for all post-2018 instruments released as a Limited Edition, emphasizing its more “one-off” focus. For example, the spec sheet for this 2019 Doheny Tiki Limited Edition w/Hula Art, of which only 30 were built, states it to be a Limited Edition but the Custom Shop logo neither appears on the back of the headstock not on the included paperwork envelope nor on the inside of the case.

For its 40th (Ruby) Anniversary in 2020 G&L offered a much smaller collection of instruments than for its previous two lustra. The S-500 and SB-1 had an Okoumé body in Clear Ruby Red finish, either maple or Chechen fingerboard, 40th Anniversary logo etched in a headstock without the G&L hook and with Kluson tuning machines on the S-500, and were produced to fulfill all orders, akin to how the 30th and 35th Anniversary Collections were handled. But the company also went back to what made the 20th Anniversary model and the 25th Anniversary model truly special and exclusive. With a limited production run of 40 pieces each, the Custom Shop built a 40th Anniversary Custom Shop CLF Research Espada and 40th Anniversary Custom Shop L-2000, both having an Okoumé body with a 3A Quilted maple top finished in Clear Ruby Red Thin Urethane and a roasted, highly figured maple neck.

CCD Limited Edition models (L-to-R):

1998 ASAT ‘Classic III’, 1998 ASAT ‘Junior’, 2001 20th Anniversary model, 2006 25th Anniversary model, 2007 F-100 Return Edition, 2008 Phyllis model: ‘Blondie’, and 2009 C.L.F. Centennial ASAT.

Post-2018 Custom Shop models (L-to-R):

2019 Custom Shop ASAT RMC P-90/HB. Not shown: 2020 40th Anniversary Custom Shop CLF Research Espada.

For these CCD Limited Edition Collections, visit their own page:

2011-2012 Korina Collection, 2013-2015 Savannah Collection, Custom art work by Johnny Garcia.


History: CCD limited editions