Price paid: C$ 1500
Purchased from: Acoustic Music Shop
Sound — 9
I play primarily in a Ukrainian functions band, so I play alot of polkas, but I have a good amount of experience playing pretty well any type of music. That being said, I bought the guitar to compliment my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp in an effort to produce better clean blues, jazz, classic rock and country tones. On a clean setting with the bridge pickup engaged and both controls wide open, you get the signature Telecaster bite with absolutely searing precision. But, there is also a sweetness to be had, making this somewhat more versitile than a typical telecaster. Switching to the middle position (activating both pickups), the ASAT suddenly sounds like a strat! No kidding, it sounds almost identical to a Strat with a tex-mex pickup on the bride. The neck pickup yields a very warm almost jazzy tone that managaes to be thick without loosing definition during chording. Though I'm usually not a fan of playing with the tone control, this one can be used in moderation to take some of the heat of the tone, helping to mellow it a little bit. Turn the tone too far, and you get mud; moderation is certainly advisable. Going to an overdriven or slightly distorted (we`re talking Vintage Marshall territory on the outside here)yields truly brilliant tones. The bridge has significant bite and an absolutely screaming to end and excellent note definition on chords. Though extremely bright, it does not fall victim to the shrill or brittle highs often produced by tele`s and is by no means `thin` sounding. The neck pickup produces a more mellow tone with significantly more bass and lower mids. This is a less versitile tone, but is most certainly excellent for bluesy playing of all sorts. The middle position is somewhat of a dissapointment: it is not bad, but it simply does not match the other positions in clairity. It sounds somewhat like a cheaper Strat and tends to garble notes together rather unpleasantly. Going to higher gain settings using my Randall combo yielded suprisingly good results, though they werent altogether that good. The guitar is suprisingly capable of handling higher gain levels, maintaining its clairity and character, but it simply feels lacking. The guitar doesn't like higher gains, and it shows. Quite frankly, I am not suprised: this guitar was never meant to handle high gain, so the fact it doesn't sound completely like a flock of angry geese is commendable unto itself. Beyond that, the guitar is suprisingly quiet in operation, being only slightly louder than any of my humbucker equipped guitars. It is also rather loud, adjusting your amps level before plugging in would be adviseable.
Overall Impression — 9
I have been playing for about 8 years now, and I have (sometimes pitifully) played most major styles at one point or another. This is not the most versitile instrument, but it isnt really meant to be. It is however, the very best blues, classic rock and folk guitar I have ever played. There is simply something about a tele that makes is great, and this guitar takes that inherent quality and improves. Compared to a Fender, it is clear that Leo did a little extra work to make the G&L infinately better, and it is most certainly worth the premium money when compared to a Fender. If it were stolen, I would certainly buy a new one. Though, I don't really plan on allowing that to happen!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I have not had the chance to play this guitar live much yet, but given the solid feel and the inherent reliability of the simply design, I suspect this will be a highly durable instrument. The finish seems as though it ought to be able to withstand years of abuse (my bass has seen 11 years of service and some serious hits and only suffered some minor dings), as does the plating on the hardware. The tuning is also extremely stable, a nice thing to know when playing live. As mentioned above, the strap buttons are nothing too speacial, but they seem to be working. I am, however, using the little plastic strap-locks by Dunlop. As much as I think I could use this guitar live without a backup, I simply will not in case a string breaks or some other unforseeable even occurs. Just of note: this guitar comes with a 10, yes that is a decade, warranty against manufacturers defects and G&L is great about getting replacement parts out fast and cheap. They really do stand by their creations.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The factory set-up on this guitar is about the best I`ve seen. The action is low, but not so low that it feels like you are playing some shredding guitar. The frets are all dressed nicely and have nary a sharp edge protuding past the fingerboard. The intonation is quite good too, remarkable considering the guitar was made in warm, humid California and now resides in cold, dry Edmonton. Furthermore, the control pots have an assuring firmness to their movement, giving you the feeling that they will work for some time to come. And much respect to G&L for actually taking the time to cut the nut properly. The finish of the guitar is quite good, though there are a few thick spots on the back, but this is hardly a concern as it takes a fairly concentrated effort to spot them. The plating on the hardware (all of which is chrome) is good: it isnt the best I`ve seen, but it is consistent and looks quite good. Finally, G&L deserves massive thanks for putting good strings (D`Addario .010-.046) on the guitar at the factory.
Features — 8
This particular guitar is an American made (2009) G&L ASAT Classic. The body is made out of a single piece of swamp ash, which is finished in a transparent butterscotch blonde, and a rock maple neck with a maple fingerboard, both finished in a vintag-style tinted laquer and held on with the ubiquitous 4-bolt, G&L branded neckplate. The body also features a black, singly-ply pickguard (though others do exist). The neck features 22 (of what appear to be) medium frets and abalone Dot inlays, though there are many options available. The tuners are fairly generic looking 12:1, sealed-lubricating, and feature adjustable knob tension, something you don't really notice untill it is gone. The bridge is a boxed steel design, remeniscent of the ``ashtray`` style found on Vintage Fender telecasters, with 6 individual brass saddles. The body is a string through and, much to my disdain, features a string saddle for the B and E strings (though I'm yet to notice a problem). The strap buttons are nothing special, though they seem to work fairly well at holding the guitar in place. The pickups are G&L`s own Mangnetic Field Design, traditional-sized single coils in the Standard Telecaster configuration. The controls are, again, a fairly Standard Telecaster set-up: 1 volume knob, 1 tone knob and a 3 way selector switch. Overall, there is nothing astounding or all that innovative about the features of this guitar: it is the evolution of the Fender telecaster. Everything, however, is done to an extremely high Standard and kudos must be given to G&L for including a high-quality case, especially in an era where it has been deemed acceptable to supply a $2500 guitar with a gig-bag.