G&L ASAT Special - how different?

srblue5

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Apologies if this has already been covered ad nauseum…

On my way home from work today, I stopped in on a music store I hadn’t been to in years and saw a Tribute-series ASAT Special. I already own an ASAT Classic and a Vintera Modified Tele, both of which are go-to guitars for me. However, I’ve always been intrigued by the larger MFD pickups of the Special - unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to try out such a guitar myself.

Long story short, I tried out the ASAT Special and really liked it. However, I’m not sure how it compares to my ASAT Classic or Fender Tele and whether it is sufficiently different enough to be worth (eventually) acquiring or whether I liked it mostly because it was in familiar Tele territory.

Any thoughts, experiences, anecdotes, advice?
 

msalama

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Hmmm... if I was in need of a new guitar and had tried out a specimen I really liked, I'd probably just purchase the bugger and take it home. As it comes to its compatibility and comparability with your existing stock of guitars however, well, kind of hard to say really :) Why not just pull the trigger if the price is right and not worry about it overmuch?
 

John C

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I have had an ASAT Special in the past (well it was the brief-run ASAT Special Deluxe so it was a maple top over an American Tilia/basswood body), but I didn't have a more regular Tele at the time I had it. That being said I think the ASAT Special can cross over into "typical" Tele territory but it had something else going on. It can twang, but not as much as a Tele or ASAT Classic. I thought it was somewhat in-between a Tele and something with P90s - of course that could have been the model, and I had chosen the G&L over an EBMM Axis SuperSport with their MM90 pickups. I felt that the ASAT Special could nail those Led Zeppelin I tones (Good Times, Bad Times; Communication Breakdown) and Stones-y stuff where Keith could have used a Tele or could have used an LP Junior/Special.

Actually that ASAT Special Deluxe is one of the few guitars I've owned that I had sellers remorse after letting it go; wish I had kept it:

uCQlbKGl.jpg
 

hopdybob

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i had the cheap version but i had the US pickups inside.
at first i liked it, but later on i could not get rid of the, in my ear, bassy attitude.
but that could be because all my guitars have Bill Lawrence pickups and they don't do that.
 

Si G X

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I think they sound more like between tele and jazzmaster pickups, they have that sparkly top end and none of the midrange punch of a P90. Very Fendery still imo. Different enough? maybe, they are higher output and ceramic iirc
 

Cali Dude

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I had one that I liked very much. Wish I had never sold it. They have some Tele twang with the benefits of higher output pickups . The neck is nice and ballsy, and can do a decent strat like tone, with the right EQ. The middle sound is not quite as airy as on a Tele, but still very good. The bridge alone can rock much more than a Tele, in my experience. You need to use the volume and tone controls to hear what those pickups can do. Good luck.
 

Digital Larry

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I have one and also a Peavey Reactor with Cavalier pickups. The Peavey sounds way more like what I think of as classic Tele sounds, whereas the G&L is currently my favorite guitar to play, for whatever reason. It is a bit on the heavy side. When I first got it I was somewhat displeased about the sounds but I moved the pickups up and down and got it to where I like it now. So I'm not touching that!

I did also have a G&L S-500 Tribute and I grew to not like that one and got rid of it. It was even heavier, the term was fairly stiff, and I'm not enamored of Strats or 3-pickup guitars anyway.
 

StudentGuy

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Check this You Tube video out. It told me a lot about the MFD...

That they are in fact "Fender", Not FMIC but Leo Fender, the guy that started it all .

And what he was trying to do with them. The are not typical , Alnico twangy Tele pickups (but supposedly, can get there with the poles slammed all the way down) . Leo's "next step" for his original Tele pickup

They blossom into their own thing with the ability to adjust and raise the pole pieces ...

 
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mad dog

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I've owned two ASAT Specials, two ASAT Classics (all USA), many other teles with single coils.

The large MFDs are different from all the others. They look like JM pickups sorta, but luckily are not at all like them. They strike me sonically as a little bit from each: P90, dynasonic, minihumbucker, regular tele single coil. And they add up to something not quite like any of them.

BTW, it's not just the p/us that make the ASAT special different. No bridge plate, heavy, top-loaded bridge setup. That may be one reason I didn't care for the bridge MFD in the ASAT Specials I had, while I love those neck p/us. I never switched from the neck only spot on those guitars, just varied the sound (quite a bit) on the neck p/u via the tone knob. All the sounds I wanted were in that one p/u.
 

sudogeek

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My current.number 1 is an ASAT Custom Classic which has a large ASAT MFD pickup in the neck position and the Tele-sized MFD pickup in the bridge. See here.

Nothing like a P90 (except same the approx size) to my ear, but I like it a lot. More high end - reminds me of the hot Jazzmaster pickups which Fender used in the Classic Player Jazzmaster a few years back. You can dial in a jangly tone like a Jag/JM or Ric and it does a pretty good impression of a pedal steel with a slide. With the MFD pickups mostly, I find, the tone knob lives around 50% as opposed to the typical Tele pickup where it’s usualy only turned down a bit to taste.

Tribute models used to have the same US G&L pickups as the MIA G&Ls but they don’t currently. They have a version made “to G&L specs” in Asia. You should try a MIA one - mine is a keeper.
 
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maggieo

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Swirling Snow

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Buy it, and if then you have too many T-styles, sell off something else. :)

Leo Fender's Big MFD is the last route and the best pickup ever designed. Period. If you don't like them, you simply haven't dialed it in right. :twisted:

Several good points here - you must use the controls. Like a Ferrari, a Big MFD can go too fast and turn too tightly. They are too powerful, AND they have too much treble and bass. But they can be tamed to be anything you want. And yes, the pole pieces move. It's like having two pickups (and all the gradations in between) in one.

The reason for the high output is, it drives the noise lower. Leo hated noise, but didn't like humbucking designs.(Looking back, many of Leo 's choices were an attempt to be different. He really tried to set his work apart from Gibson and the others.) The ASAT was created at a time when Marshalls ruled and metal was heavy.

I love big MFDS.
 

Swirling Snow

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When my friend Anthony picked up my '88 ASAT and plugged it in to my PRRI, he shouted, "HOLY S**T!!!! THIS IS AMAZING!!!" And it is. I've found that descriptions never do these guitars justice. They are their own thing, and that thing is so amazing it defies language.

Here's my pal, Darth:


1988 G&L ASAT, October 28,2021 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


1988 G&L ASAT, October 28,2021 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr


1988 G&L ASAT, October 28,2021 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr
Oh, Maggie, oh Maggie.....

Trying to stop drooling long enough to ask if it's maple?
 

JDB2

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Leo Fender's Big MFD is the last route and the best pickup ever designed. Period.

Having owned Leo era ASATs, both maple and ash (with large MFDs) and early ASAT Classics, and still owing an ASAT Classic, I can tell you that it’s possible to like the ASAT Classic pickups better than the large MFDs. I do anyway. I liked the large MFDs at first but came to like the ASAT Classic pickups much better. It’s a matter of personal taste I guess and you need to try both.

FWIW, Leo designed the MFDs on the ASAT Classic specifically for that guitar. The original ASAT was put together by the G&L marketing team to make a T-style using pickups designed for the SC-2 model. A few years later G&L introduced the ASAT Classic as one of the last guitars that Leo actually had a hand in designing.
 

StudentGuy

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Tribute models used to have the same US G&L pickups as the MIA G&Ls but they don’t currently. They have a version made “to G&L specs” in Asia. You should try a MIA one - mine is a keeper.

OK ... Not to start a "fire-fight" but this directly contradicts the info from the G&L webpage ... which they may not be the greatest in updating

The G & L webpage says :
"
Tribute Series by G&L brings Leo Fender‘s latest designs to popular price range.

Tribute Series brings unique G&L features and standardized CNC construction together in a surprisingly affordable line of guitars and basses.

With genuine G&L Fullerton made pick-ups, G&L designed bridges and electronics, Tribute instruments feature tone, sustain and playability that far surpasses instruments at higher prices."

So If you have a later update to document the off shore pickup (which would make G&L no different than Fender, PRS Gibson and everybody else) then please point me to it. The supposition that MFD's are American made, as put forth by their web page ... of course makes them more valuable to me ...
 

StudentGuy

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Please excuse me for being such a "Market Research" geek ! (its an occupational habit) I did a quick Google search, and sure enough, its a question been asked many times before.

And there is a clear reason for the confusion. See, in the "Tribute Series", not all the guitars have MFD pickups. Some have Alnico 5 or typical single coil pickups. It would make sense, that these could be locally sourced in Asia. And it don't mean they are bad ! As the Tele pickups (probably Chinese made ) in my Harley Benton TE 52 .. kick plenty booty !

Sound as "Tele" as they wanna sound ...

But the MFD ? Here is the inquiry as done on "The Gear Forum"
https://www.thegearpage.net/board/i...not-made-in-usa-which-pickups-update.2199175/

Still a shot out to G&L Fullerton might refresh things (I believe I did that once , but its lost in a million e-mails)
 
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srblue5

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Thanks for the input/advice, everyone!

Part of my interest in the G&L ASAT Special is also as a backup for my ASAT Classic, which has a lot of sentimental value to me. I get a little nervous taking it to certain gigs/jams but that's probably because I'm a little superstitious.
Hmmm... if I was in need of a new guitar and had tried out a specimen I really liked, I'd probably just purchase the bugger and take it home. As it comes to its compatibility and comparability with your existing stock of guitars however, well, kind of hard to say really :) Why not just pull the trigger if the price is right and not worry about it overmuch?
I like your rationale. Unfortunately, I've had a lot of house-related expenses come up lately and money is a little tight. Maybe if I just had one Tele-like object at home, I could have justified it, but with two Tele-like objects already, I wanted to think it over and make sure it's different enough to justify adding to my arsenal without just sitting around gathering dust. I might still go back for it...you never know! ;)
I think they sound more like between tele and jazzmaster pickups, they have that sparkly top end and none of the midrange punch of a P90. Very Fendery still imo. Different enough? maybe, they are higher output and ceramic iirc
Hmm. I've always been intrigued by the Jazzmaster sound, though I don't see myself owning/playing one (yet).
I had one that I liked very much. Wish I had never sold it. They have some Tele twang with the benefits of higher output pickups . The neck is nice and ballsy, and can do a decent strat like tone, with the right EQ. The middle sound is not quite as airy as on a Tele, but still very good. The bridge alone can rock much more than a Tele, in my experience. You need to use the volume and tone controls to hear what those pickups can do. Good luck.
Funny enough, I learned to use the volume and tone controls more once I got my G&L ASAT Classic. So much so that I kept doing that with the Vintera Tele and was accidentally taking some of the twang out of it in the process. 😅
I did also have a G&L S-500 Tribute and I grew to not like that one and got rid of it. It was even heavier, the term was fairly stiff, and I'm not enamored of Strats or 3-pickup guitars anyway.
I was a Strat guy till I got my ASAT Classic. I actually found and tried out an S-500, thinking that I'd never be a full-on Tele guy but would like the G&L MFD pickups in a Strat-like format. I didn't like it either. I eventually (and gladly) accepted that I was no longer a Strat guy. 😁 That being said, I would love to try out a Comanche someday.
 

mad dog

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Having owned Leo era ASATs, both maple and ash (with large MFDs) and early ASAT Classics, and still owing an ASAT Classic, I can tell you that it’s possible to like the ASAT Classic pickups better than the large MFDs.
Having owned a '94 ASAT Classic, I can understand why it's possible. Thinking back to all the cool guitars and pickups, the small MFD neck p/u in that '94 ASAT Classic was unequaled. On stage, it sounded enormous. Warm, with this amazing crunch and edgy howl when pushed. Whatever they were doing that year, it was something special. I had later ASAT Classics with p/us that were good but not great like that.

For years my other stage guitar was an orange partscaster tele, chambered, thin spruce top, Don Mare "Nancy" pickups. That guitar's neck p/u was the other all time favorite. Not a loud p/u. Quieter than the small MFD. More refined somehow. But the same in how it amped up. Huge sound on stage. Sweet tone, warmth and clarity that held together even very loud.
 

JDB2

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Long story short, I tried out the ASAT Special and really liked it. However, I’m not sure how it compares to my ASAT Classic or Fender Tele and whether it is sufficiently different enough to be worth (eventually) acquiring or whether I liked it mostly because it was in familiar Tele territory.
How about taking your ASAT Classic to the store and comparing directly to the ASAT Special?
 




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