‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


Buffalo Brothers is not the only store behind production runs of specially designed instruments. Nor do they turn out to be the first ones, not even by a long shot. Already in 1994, Fred Bramante, founder of Daddy’s Junky Music with several locations around New England, decided to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of his first store by commissioning 22 double-bound ASAT Classics. The 3-bolt chromed neck plate displays “DADDY’S 22nd ANNIVERSARY” above the G&L logo and “# of 22” underneath. Unfortunately, Daddy’s Junky Music did not make it to 40 and closed down in 2011.

After Tim Page of Buffalo Brothers had revived the idea of an ASAT S-3 with his ASAT Trinity Special Edition, Midlothian School of Music in Orland Park, IL, revived this model again in 2011 with a run of special built instruments. It came in 2 versions: the ASAT 3 Special Limited, your basic ASAT S-3, and the ASAT 3 Special Deluxe Limited, a top-bound ASAT S-3 without a pickguard and rear-loaded controls.

Not only was the Pro Guitar Shop in Portland, OR, the first to retail some of G&L’s prototypes, they also commissioned a couple of runs of special editions in 2011. The ASAT Special Deluxe No Top is an ASAT Special Deluxe but without the maple top, i.e. the body is entirely mahogany. They also offered the Nitro Thin Series Special Build consisting of the Legacy, ASAT Classic, and ASAT Bluesboy models with a thin lacquer nitrocellulose finish. Sadly, the store closed after founder Aaron Miller unexpectedly passed away in early-2017.

Another interesting model is the ASAT™Cat offered through Alley Cat Music in State College, PA. This guitar adds an S-500 middle pickup to the ASAT Special model. Their initial run in 2007 consisted of 10 solids and 10 semi-hollow guitars (see this example) with either an alder or ash top-bound body and the following number scheme on the ‘ASATCat’ engraved neck plate: “# of 2” for the Redburst solid bodies, “# of 2” for the Redburst semi-hollows, “# of 8” for the Three-tone Sunburst solids, and “# of 8” for the Three-tone Sunburst semi-hollows. They repeated with a run in 2013 now using a Western Pine body, different colors, and water slide logos on the headstock with “# of 15” for the solid bodies and “# of 6” for the semi-hollows. It also included at least 1 left-handed model as well as 2 prototypes with okoumé body. In all cases, the S/N is a surplus water slide from before the transition to the brushed plate leading to some confusion because some serial numbers now only differ by a leading “0”. Strangely enough, the same Western Pine bodied model, marketed as ASAT Special Pine Body 3-Pickup and lacking the ‘ASATCAT’ water slide, also showed up in other marketplaces under the banner of Guitar and Effect. It should be mentioned here Alley Cat Music also commissioned (at least?) 2 LegacyCat guitars in 2014. As seen in this post on the Guitars by Leo (GbL) website, and like the later ASAT™Cat, these have a pine body, Jumbo MFD bridge and neck pickups combined with an S-500 middle pickup.

Not only guitars have been released as dealer initiated Special Builds. In 2013, Blacksburg, VA based Rocket Man commissioned a run of SB-2T Special Build basses exclusively sold through their store. The ‘T’ in the model designations indicates the presence of a master tone control beyond the separate volume controls for each pup. The output jack needed to be moved to the side of the body to make room for the extra potentiometer on the control panel. Per the February 2017 price list, the SB-2T is the standard configuration although the “traditional” SB-2 can still be ordered.

In 2014, Martin Music Guitar in Memphis, TN, also designed several special edition runs. The Roasted Maple Ltd series included Legacy and ASAT Classic models with dark roasted maple necks as previously used on my ‘Port & Chocolate’ and GbL LE-2. These models instantaneously became very limited when G&L announced late-September 2014 it would no longer use this material for necks. (To access the last link, unfortunately you need to log in on the GbL site). Their ASAT Classic Charlie Christian Ltd model harkens back to the early age of amplified guitars by using a Lollar Charlie Christian pickup in the neck of an ASAT Classic. And although some instruments had previously been produced for this wood, they also commissioned a run of ASAT Classics, Bluesboys, and Legacies with East Indian walnut (aka monkeypod) bodies.

The year 2014 must have been a popular one for dealers to order Special Builds. That year, also Music Store Live commissioned one, a run of ASAT Classic ‘S‘ Semi-Hollow Special Build guitars. As demonstrated in this video, they were available with either MFD or Alnico pickups and choice of maple or rosewood fingerboard.

Sweetwater, the musical equipment megastore in Ft. Wayne, IN, added G&L to their offering in early-2020, an occasion celebrated by commissioning a special run of 100 guitars later that year. The model? An ASAT Classic Custom Limited Edition. The ASAT Classic Custom had been discontinued in 2013. It was issued in 2 configurations, all with a 1-piece swamp ash body, top binding, belly contour, and the pickguard removed. The 50 in Clear Orange finish had white binding, white cover for the Jumbo MFD neck pickup, and a maple fingerboard. More interesting were the 50 in Vintage Natural finish, black pickup cover, and a rosewood fingerboard. That version appeared with tortoise binding, revived after it had been so problematic in producing the Buffalo Brothers ASAT Z-2 guitars in 1999. Apparently the memory of what once was a traumatic experience slowly fades into oblivion given enough time ...


Special editions by other dealers