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G&L ASAT Special - American or Tribute?

Discussion in 'Other T-Types and Partscasters' started by mdrake34, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. mdrake34

    mdrake34 Tele-Meister

    124
    May 12, 2011
    Columbus, GA
    I'm attempting to sell an american standard strat and gibson les paul traditional pro, and I want to buy a G&L ASAT Special with the proceeds. I've always wanted one, I love those big MFD pickups. If I sell both, I can afford an american made model, though I would still like to go used, or I can grab one of the tributes and save my money. I KNOW the American model will be better, but will it really be worth several hundred, if not close to a thousand more dollars? I like that tributes have a 9 inch fretboard radius. If I got an American, I'd have to hold out for one with the 12 inch radius, I don't care for the vintage radius on alot of the American models.

    The tributes look nice and run $599 on ebay brand new generally. They obviously have American pickups and the saddle lock bridge. Anyone have any experience with both?
     

  2. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Yup.

    The Tributes are not bad guitars; they're just not very close to "real" G + Ls despite the key parts they share.

    What makes a USA G + L remarkable is the manufacturing process; the approach used in Indonesia at the Cortek Plant where they make the Asian interpretation of the design is to create a superficially similar guitar, but a guitar with a quite different feel and sense about it. Even if the pickups are from the same place. The neck construction, the truss rod, these things dictate the guitar's character and they're 100% different.

    To me, based on what I've seen $ 599 is a huge sum to pay for a Tribute G + L (unless maybe a new example of the Will Ray model). By comparison, while a USA model, ordered from the factory, could cost $ 1,500, they can be found in stock for far less, new old stock or dealer stock.

    However the real crux of owning a USA G + L is to find a really fresh used one. These G + L brand guitars have shockingly bad retained value (yes, the Tributes too but mostly the USA models) so, just buy an ultra low mileage one. No point in looking for a beater, the price falls just so far, then almost levels out.

    I tried a lot of ASAT Specials, bought these 5 G + Ls instead:

    [​IMG]

    They're arguably hand produced, so they do differ, example to example.

    There was a small music store in Daphne, AL that was a dealer. See if they're still there - look for Jim Hamilton. Used ones seemed to show up at the GC in Pensacola; not sure why. There's also a dealer way over near Baton Rouge, Jody Mayeux, but that's a long haul from Columbus.
     

  3. mdrake34

    mdrake34 Tele-Meister

    124
    May 12, 2011
    Columbus, GA
    Thanks, that was really informative. The selling point of the Tributes were the USA pickups, which no other import offers, but I was scared the rest of the guitar wouldn't be up to par.

    Any difference in the 3 bolt and 4 bolt americans? Besides the number of bolts.
     

  4. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Yeah, I'm not saying the Tributes are lousy; they're not. They're a good economical guitar. If I could say it this way, they're not as convincing a G + L as other people might tell you they are, from a player's perspective. Kinda like, I would not use someone else's parachute, or their scuba diving rig, just because it looked like mine. A hair cutter doesn't want to use someone else's shears. That's the nature of the difference, and what's the point of going over to a G + L if you don't get the essence of it, all of it? :)

    3 bolts mean earlier, tending to be from when Leo was still living. Thinner necks, normally, and that keeps me away. 4 bolts means the McLaren family; thicker necks, a larger proportion of more Fendery looking designs. I like the early stage of the 4 bolt neck, with the "bi-cut" necks, up through sometime around 2007.

    Normally when we buy something very "custom" we have to take a big hit. The used USA G + Ls, you drive around the issue. But, you sometimes have to be patient since only a small number of G + Ls are made in comparison to the large stocks of Fenders and Gibsons.

    The ASAT Special was once the cornerstone of the ASAT lineup. Over time, the ASAT Classic and ASAT Bluesboy have taken away a big share of the T production. Then, when they introduced the Tributes, the proportion of non-ASAT Specials grew even more. Because you want the Special, you're under even more impulse to buy used and to buy USA, because that's where the examples are often to be found. And more than a few will be 3 bolt.
     

  5. huckdeuceman

    huckdeuceman Tele-Meister

    464
    Feb 24, 2012
    Homosassa fl
    I have a brand new G&L ASAT classic, Tribute and I love this thing!, put it up against my American standard with Texes Special pup's and it stood up quite nice!, my second fav to play! and the sound is killer! I would buy another if it got stole!
     

  6. dirtyold'68

    dirtyold'68 TDPRI Member

    34
    Mar 24, 2012
    Missouri
    Hey Friend! I used to work at a small little shop here in NW Mo on Saturdays (because we were like family to the owners and he knew i'd be there anyways:D), but we were a G&L Dealer. I have bought a few Am series over the years and really liked them all. I have played literally HUNDREDS of G&L's that came in the door. Then the tribute series came out. I did not like the thought of a "cheaper" line with the chance of ruining the G&L reputation. Then i tried one. I didn't make any friends when i said this then but i will say it again.....To me (and another guy that worked there) I thought that the Tribute series played more like a Tele than the American series. It doesn't make since because at that time there big selling pitch was, "Made out of the exact same parts as the Am series just put together somewhere else". But to me they sounded good, looked good, and played better than the high dollar models. But that is my two cents worth anyways. Hope this helps your decision.
     

  7. Phelonious Ponk

    Phelonious Ponk Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 27, 2011
    charlotte, nc
    I recently bought a true value import guitar, an Xavier. Just got it back from fret dressing and set up a couple of days ago. I haven't a clue how the truss rod was put itn but it now plays as well as any Fender I've ever had my hands. But not as good as my G&L.

    I suspect the Tributes are very good, but a little expensive for Asian guitars. And Boris is right - the barely used G&L USA can be an incredible bargain. Where I disagree with him is that I've owned six American G&Ls. The one I've kept has the big MFD pickups, which are awesome. Best neck pickup I've ever had. If I could make the bridge pup sound more like a Tele, it would be the perfect guitar for me.

    [​IMG]

    P
     

  8. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Neat story!

    I'd agree, some Tribute models are a little more like a Fender guitar than the real G + L USA models are. Actually, I'd say they're kinda like a Squier or Japanese Fender in some ways, more than like a North American Fender. A lot of little Squier type bit parts on them, little things like the Fender jack.

    I'm wondering if you preferred the medium fret size, and the intermediate fretboard radius (inbetween the two USA models), and the neck shape which is different. Those are IMO the most easy to explain reasons why people go for them that I understand immediately.

    And it doesn't totally collide with what I say, which is the Tributes (Korean, but more so the Indonesian) are nice guitars; they're just not nice G + Ls. ;) I love the special DNA of the Fullerton guitars, to me that's the whole point but others feel otherwise.

    There's a small shop somewhere near here, that I haven't been in in a while. G + L dealer, or was. He's probably still got 1 USA G + L that needs help (maybe needs to go back to the plant) and about a dozen Tributes. I've played them all; I'd have a hard time recommending that USA guitar over most of the imports, too. You still have to find and buy a nice one, not just any one.
     

  9. ludashoeless

    ludashoeless Tele-Afflicted

    if i got a g&l it would be this:

    [​IMG]
     

  10. TeleTown

    TeleTown Friend of Leo's

    Oct 10, 2010
    Twangers Medows USA
    Ive sold my Am std teles with no regrets. Selling my ASAT special & classic will never happen !! The fender teles that i do own have all been to my guitar tech at one time or another. My G&Ls ( USA ) have never met my tech. Out of the box, change strings, set-up, and its been bliss ever since. Good luck!!
     

  11. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 30, 2011
    U.S.A.
    Used USA model over new Tribute any day.

    That said, used Tributes are pretty darned cheap.
     

  12. animalcbb84

    animalcbb84 TDPRI Member

    55
    Jun 22, 2011
    San Antonio, TX
    I've owned 2 American G&L guitars (wish I still had them), an early ASAT and a Leo Signature Skyhawk. They are GREAT guitars!
     

  13. animalcbb84

    animalcbb84 TDPRI Member

    55
    Jun 22, 2011
    San Antonio, TX
    My advice is to find a great used American version. If u pay retail and ever want to sell or trade it, u willl take a real big hit on resale.
     

  14. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    I have a 2004 Tribute ASAT Special Premium arriving tomorrow. Admittedly, it was an impulse buy, but I based my decision upon some quick research on my fave forums and the GuitarsbyLeo web-site.

    I'm hoping that this new axe will feel/sound at least as good as my 2 Fender MIM Standard FSR Tele's, with which I am quite happy.


    Music to my ears, dirtyold'68. I hope you're right!


    But the MFD p'ups are exactly the same on the USA and Tribute guitars, right? So apart from 'feel', they should 'sound' the same, right?
     

  15. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member


    The same pickups, different pots and wiring, should sound somewhat alike but while pickups can often be the #1 item controlling the sound of a guitar, they don't necessarily need to sound the same on two differently sourced guitars.

    My belief is, G + L wouldn't have embarked on this if the imports and the USA made examples sounded the same. That would be a bullet to the head - you put yourself straight out of business if they're "the same" in sound.

    I reject your underlying thesis. If your approach is correct, then we can put a set of CS No-Caster pickups in a Squier CV and have a guitar just like a No-Caster. Experience tells me that's not so.
     

  16. ClassA

    ClassA Tele-Meister

    116
    Jul 28, 2011
    NY State
    I just got an ASAT Deluxe Tribute (Ebay $350) and i am loving it. Had a bad vol pot but that might have happened in shipping? Anyway after a quick set up and pot replacement this thing is nice. I have the 12" radius with the jumbo frets, Not my first choice but it does make for a fast neck, very easy to slide around. Now Im gassin for another G&L!
     

  17. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    ;)
     

  18. mdrake34

    mdrake34 Tele-Meister

    124
    May 12, 2011
    Columbus, GA
    Thanks for the replies, but I wound up buying this guy. Love it.

    [​IMG]
     

  19. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    Not my thesis, boris. Just asking the question.

    On the other hand, there are those who prefer the attention to detail and the finer integral components.

    As a hobbyist and weekend player, I'm more concerned about function than form. The Tribute ASAT Special doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be different than what I already have.
     

  20. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    I hear you.

    I just thought you did such a superb job of stating the fundamental question which is:

    We know how crucial pickups are to the sound of our guitars. But when they do sound different, why? I am hard pressed to bowl the reader over with a "bombproof" explanation as to what is going on. Which is a challenge to me, and I had to try my best to rebut your question.

    But the truth is, I failed. I can't really explain why folks should pay the extra, even if they don't play out. I just think they should! :D
     

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