The world of yowhatsshakin

 
 

Already in the 1980s, John Jorgenson, later of Hellecasters fame, was not only a G&L ASAT endorser but also provider of some exciting new ideas. One was to add a dummy coil underneath a wide-bobbin Magnetic Field Design (MFD) single-coil pickup for hum cancellation, a project already started during Leo’s lifetime, which was supposed to become the defining feature of a John Jorgenson Signature model. After Leo’s passing, Seymour Duncan was called upon to finish the development of this pickup, but he unfortunately was seriously strapped for time. Another example of ideas provided by John was to finish the swamp ash body with Silver Flake to add “... some sparkle to the guitar under stage lighting”. As if his riffs are not sparkling enough. To highlight that finish, the earlier JJ Sigs have a clear, high-gloss, plastic guard made of transparent drum shell allowing the finish underneath to be visible. But the onerous manufacturing process forced some changes leading to the laminate pickguard John Jorgenson Signature. Otherwise this model has the Saddle-Lock bridge, usual controls (volume, tone, 3-way switch), and gloss finished hard-rock maple Bi-Cut neck with 12” rosewood or maple (rare) fingerboard. When G&L wanted to bring out this new guitar during the 1995 NAMM, the main problem of output reduction of the pup with the hum cancellation coil still had not been resolved. Therefore they opted to equip the JJ Sig with 2 “ordinary” wide-bobbin MFD pickups but without keeping John in the loop on this decision. G&L even announced the introduction to their dealers in the May 1995 issue of the “G&L Craftsman” (see picture below). However, note that whereas both the George Fullerton Signature and Jerry Cantrell Signature model get a bit of a blurb, John is only featured in a picture playing his guitar. “Hear” the end of this story from the horse’s mouth by reading this interview published on guitarinternational.com (01/25/2010). Now you know it didn’t end well for G&L. Not surprisingly, in all no more than about 190 Signatures were manufactured. This warrants this model to be a Rarebird in the Guitars by Leo (GbL) Registry.


For more info, consult Greg Gagliano’s ggjaguar.com website for an exemplar with a rosewood fingerboard as well as one with a maple fingerboard (both of them with laminate style pickguard). Note that the finish here and in both the Registry as well as on Greg’s site is marked as Silver Flake where large flakes are being used. Nowadays, that finish goes by the name Silver Metal Flake.

 

G&L John Jorgenson Signature Model (lefty, clear pickguard)

The story behind this guitar

Year:                 1995

Serial number:   G044749

Neck date:         OCT 17 1995, marked ‘J.J.’, ‘Shiny’, ‘E’

Body date:         AUG 12 1995

Strings:              D’Addario EXL110 Nickel Wound Regular Light (10-46)

It is so much easier to find a laminate pickguard JJ Signature. Sigh! After an 8 year wait, with searching high and low for this rarity, I finally found one even though it is a lefty with transparent, 124” thick guard (and hence no channel in the body as on the laminate guard JJ Sig). But it being a lefty is actually OK since it clearly demonstrates how G&L has always been looking out for the southpaws too. The potentiometers on the control panel are left-handed, as should be expected. The headstock is non-inverted with nicely applied Signature decal. A wonderful looking and sounding instrument. Just a little harder to play. And it has a nickname it came with as scribbled on the thermoplastic G&L hardshell case: “Sparky”. I like it! Although there aren’t too many available, a chromed neck plate intended for all John Jorgenson Signatures is shown in the pictures below. Craig Dewey has another one, and beyond this JJ0076, I have seen JJ0023 and JJ0035 on eBay.