REVIEW ELECTRIC GUITAR GUITAR £665
Like this? Try this... PRS Tremonti SE Singlecut with twin pickups and plenty of attitude. Excellent construction and a keen price too RRP: £599
Fender Special Edition Custom Telecaster FMT HH If you fancy Leo’s surname on the headstock then the FMT comes equipped with just that, plus a flame maple top and twin Seymour Duncan pickups RRP: £695
Tom Anderson Cobra If the idea of a flame top on this style of guitar floats your boat then the Anderson Cobra has to be one of the best available – but it comes at a price. RRP: £3500
G&L’s saddle-locking bridge is one of the meatiest and most stable on the market thanks to this and the twin humbuckers that nestle in the mahogany body, but for those who remain the ASAT Deluxe Carved Top is a tempting assembly despite its breaks with tradition.
As you may have already surmised this guitar is aimed more at the heavier end of the music spectrum and the mixture of chrome hardware and the trans-black finish on the maple top work very well together to create a modern rock look. Another clue to the gainflavoured leanings of the ASAT is the 12" radius on the rosewood fretboard which offers plenty of room for soaring bends and technical gymnastics. The nonvibrato bridge features G&L’s SaddleLock which secures the six individual saddles thanks to a surrounding frame and small Allen screw. The idea is to stop the saddles from moving side-toside and losing sustain, which – judging by the impressive way the ASAT clings onto a note – it seems to achieve.
The controls include master volume, master tone, and three-way selector, but pulling on the tone knob reveals a coil-tap, something we’re seeing less of these days, and in this instance it works smartly. So there is a bit of twang in the ASAT after all.
The Alnico-magnet humbuckers are designed by G&L’s Paul Gagon
Sounds The neck humbucker offers up a healthy slice of resonant bass that feels particularly lively and pleasurable when combined with aggressive fingerpicking. In general strumming situations it pays to be accurate, as the powerful lower strings can swamp the higher ones if left unchecked – but when played together they afford a rich and full tone that will find a place in a plethora
The ASAT gives you a great playing experience and eminently usable tones and it doesn’t cost the earth of styles. Combining the two pickups gives a tighter tone that’s excellent for rhythm work in general and for adding a bit of edge to a solo. The bass is tamed slightly but it still sounds full when you hit it hard.
Opening up the bridge pickup creates a brittle voice that’s best served with overdrive to smooth out the edges. It’s raw and cutting, in a good way, and complements the deeper tones of its sibling in a rewarding fashion. Detuning the low end and throwing a load of gain on top brings out the real girth of the bassy pickups. The neck gets a bit too muddy at lower volumes but the bridge sounds punchy and metallic, which is perfect for that hard-edged chug.
As usual engaging the coil-tap results in a noticeable drop in signal strength, but the tones on offer are well worth having to boost the volume control. In truth the drop is more obvious on cleaner tones but when under heavy gain it actually just firms up the sound and adds a bit of sparkle. For staccato sections of rock songs it’s a brilliant secret weapon.
Verdict It doesn’t take long to find yourself really liking the ASAT Deluxe Carve Top. The looks are a weird combination of beautiful and menacing – not an easy thing to pull off. The colour reminds us somewhat of a PRS SE Singlecut, but the vintage bodyshape adds something else. Then there’s the very playable neck and the solid, usable selection of sounds thanks to the coil-tap and well-voiced humbuckers. But the thing that endears you to the guitar is that it just seems to want to be played. Notes just fall under your fingers, and soon far too much time has passed while you’ve been noodling in the corner. Certainly the ASAT can be trusted out on the road to take the knocks and keep on performing, while the simple nature of the design means keeping it in good working order will be a straightforward affair. At £665 it’s not the cheapest instrument to come from a far-east factory, but these days we’re seeing more and more high quality guitars emerging from these sources. We think that the ASAT delivers a generous amount of bang for a reasonable amount of buck and wouldn’t look out of place beside some far more expensive models. A simple guitar that gives you a great playing experience, eminently usable tones, and doesn’t cost the earth. We think Leo would be proud.
FINAL SCORE G&L ASAT DELUXE CARVED TOP Build Quality 18 /20 Playability 18 /20 Sound 17 /20 Value for money 17 /20 Vibe 17 /20
64 Guitar & Bass FEBRUARY 2012