‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


On July 24 2012, about a month after G&L first published the list of bass and guitar prototypes on their (previous) website, the lists were extended by several additional instruments put up for sale. Way at the bottom of the cited page, 4 were added which were not merely guitars but something a little more. These were pieces of art produced in a collaboration between G&L’s Custom Creations Department and artist Johnny Garcia. Johnny had gained notoriety in the late-1980s by designing the ‘Skull and Bones’ guitar for George Lynch, later building more under his J Frog Guitars label. Now, he has also made his name as a make-up artist in Hollywood. The man clearly knows what he is doing. All of the listed G&L ASAT models in the prototype list became available through Martin Music Guitar in Memphis, TN. The first is ‘Cowhide’, an ASAT Special Deluxe (CLF56578, completed January 6, 2010) with the top covered by a real cowhide. The fact that the headstock is also covered on the front by cowhide (with a cut-out where the brand and model decals are displayed) may explain why this is the only one in the quartet without a CCD logo on the back of the headstock. Then comes a beautiful Transparent Red satin finished ASAT Classic nicknamed ‘The Roses’ (CLF56577, completed January 6, 2010) with an intricate floral pattern on body and headstock. Next, ‘Santa Fe’ (CLF56776, completed January 7, 2010), a Southwestern/Native American themed ASAT Special Deluxe finished in a beautiful satin Transparent Turquoise. And finally an ASAT Classic nicknamed ‘The Wrangler’ (CLF56757) also completed January 7th. It shows an engraved bull skull on the lower bout with barbed wire “binding” around the body and on the headstock around the tuning posts. Although no Silver COA is provided with each, they do come in a tolex case with CCD logo embroidered on the inside of the lid as first seen for the C.L.F. Centennial. For ‘The Roses’, ‘Santa Fe’, and ‘The Wrangler’, Johnny uses a soldering iron to burn and sculpt the intricate design into the wood, as if it is an engraving. All his pieces are signed by him this way on the back of the body. For these custom engraved/branded guitars, G&L wanted the artwork to be tactile through the finish leading to exceptionally thin coats on all of them. In particular, ‘The Wrangler’ with its Honey Ale finish and Baltic Amber pickguard, provided by Paul Chandler himself, became the inspiration for the Nearly Naked™ (NENA) 2012 Special Collection, including the ASAT Classic ‘S’ in this collection.

All 4 of the original Johnny Garcia guitars were gone reasonably fast. This must have sparked some notion of desirability for these models. So what to do? In 2014, G&L decided to continue its collaboration with Johnny. Now it needed to be decided what design to pick. Something new? Something old? With its tattoo-like appearance, the design of ‘The Roses’ won the day and, around September of that year, 20 more pieces were commissioned in a Limited Edition run. To make sure they would not be confused for the original ‘The Roses’, which as stated above is a Transparent Red ASAT Special Deluxe, the new batch uses an ASAT Classic Bluesboy as the “canvas” finished in Amber with a satin “frost” topcoat. Although the overall design is common among the 20, the last of which was built in 2016, the details differ from instrument to instrument. They were distributed among several premier G&L dealers. The one that ended up with UpFront Guitars (CLF074872) had its Seymour Duncan Seth Lover (SH-1N) neck pickup swapped out with a David Allen P-51. Although the ASAT Classic Bluesboy ‘The Roses’ is marked as a Limited Edition run, the only place where this is indicated is on the Custom Build Specification where one finds “The Roses by Johnny Garcia” as the header at the top. Built in the age of the brushed aluminum serial number plate, it does not have a CCD decal on the back of the headstock for instance.


Custom artwork by Johnny Garcia