The world of yowhatsshakin


The role of John Jorgenson, famously of the Elton John Band and gypsy stylist extraordinaire, as a test player for G&L is discussed on the Hellecasters page. This John Jorgenson Signature has the later laminate pickguard G&L transitioned to after it turned out that the manufacturing of the fully transparent pickguard was too onerous, especially in light of the initially expected high demand. Instead, this pickguard consists of a layer of Silver Flake sandwiched between 2 transparent layers. Initially the JJ Sigs were intended to have S/N’s starting with “JJ” and G&L had such neck plates produced (see picture below). But all guitars manufactured have a S/N’s starting with “G”. The swamp ash body has the Silver Flake finish, about which more below, 2 “ordinary” wide-bobbin MFD pickups, Saddle-Lock bridge, and usual controls (volume, tone, 3-way switch). The guitar further has a gloss finished figured hard-rock maple Bi-Cut neck with 12” rosewood fingerboard (only a couple JJ Sigs did have maple boards).

No G&L webpage exists for this guitar but it is worthwhile to check out Greg Gagliano’s website which contains the most extensive history of all things Leo Fender I know of. He lists both a JJ Sig w/rosewood fingerboard as well as one with a maple fingerboard. The total number of about 190 John Jorgenson Signature in existence also warrant that it has its own Rarebird page on the Guitars by Leo (GbL) Registry.


G&L John Jorgenson Signature Model (laminate pickguard)

The story behind this guitar

Year:                 1995

Serial number:    G044249

Neck date:         APR 11 1997

Body date:         AUG 10 1995

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

Lets talk a little more about that finish! It is the early-1960s. A silver sparkle finish had never been done before and George & Leo want to figure out how to do just that to finish a couple of Teles. They decide to pulverize a silvered mirror, which, as we all know, is glass. Sharp glass! The powder is carefully mixed with the other components for the finish. Only after all this careful experimenting, they know how to create the sparkle! G&L could build on this experience 30 years later, when fortunately it is no longer needed to use a crushed mirror to create a Metal Flake finish (which also uses larger particles compared to sparkle). But still, the strict Californian environmental laws forces them to outsource the work to Marty Bell in Texas. Marty’s personal stamp in the neck pocket is another of the defining features of a genuine JJ Sig. The outside hardly shows any trace of all the grittiness underneath. And this guitar has the second incarnation of the pickguard. The only thing not making any sense is the neck date: Apr 11, 1997!? Was this guitar assembled later? Or was the guitar repaired under warranty when it got this gorgeous flamed neck? I honestly don’t know; I just report! Through Wayne Richman (aka Thumbs on the GbL site) I was able to get one of the few neck plates intended for this model, with S/N JJ0171, found in a drawer in the G&L factory. A chromed neck plate, as they were supposed to look, can be found on my clear pickguard John Jorgenson Signature page. In all, the JJ Signature is a beautiful instrument but essentially no different from any ASAT since it is not equipped with the pickups originally envisioned by John. But at least his elegant signature adorns the headstock. And it barks, it twangs, it rocks, ...