Korina has a bit of A mythical
status in the guitar world: Gibson’s
Ted McCarty selected the mahogany-
like wood for the ill-fated 1958
run of his then shockingly futuristic
Explorer and Flying V, and few
production guitars have featured
korina ever since. But unlike those
rare ’50s Gibsons, and contrary to
legend, Korina is neither endangered
nor impossibly expensive, and
this tonewood (technically African
white limba) contributes a classic
yet unique vibe to a new family of
American-made ASATs from G&L.
Leo Fender designed the original
G&L ASAT to be a refinement of his
Telecaster, but this limited edition
Korina Collection boldly mixes in
features more typically associated with Gibson, from the body wood to a Tune-o-matic and
stop-tail to dual humbuckers and P-90 pickups.
The ASAT Classic Bluesboy, Deluxe II, and Junior II,
all begin with a recipe of classic Tele snap and bite, then
blend in varying degrees of Gibson-inspired fat midrange
and thick lows. These are uniformly well-built and easyplaying
instruments, thanks in part to precision CNC
routing and immaculate fretwork courtesy of PLEK technology.
And because the Korina Collection ASATs share
tight tolerances and identical body and neck specs, we
also found them an excellent platform for highlighting
the subtle tonal distinctions between similar pickups,
and even the sonic contributions of bridge hardware
and wood grain.
ASAT Classic Bluesboy
The ASAT Classic Bluesboy has a somewhat chunky
medium-depth vintage C neck (props to G&L for publishing
precise measurements online). While I tend
to prefer slimmer profiles, I found the combination of
vintage neck depth with more modern radius and frets
to be immensely playable, and the factory PLEK setup
was stellar: low action, very slight neck relief, and no
buzzing on big bends. The six individually adjustable
brass saddles are a cool touch, giving a cosmetic nod
to an early Tele bridge, but with more accurate intonation
and better tuning stability with rounded grooves
to hold the strings in place.
Both the neck and body feature a gloss polyurethane finish of medium thickness. I might have
preferred a thinner finish with visible wood
texture, but the Bluesboy doesn’t feel at all
overfinished when played. It has excellent
acoustic resonance and sustain, with a lively
snap even on the lowest notes.
I tested the ASAT Classic Bluesboy—as
well as the other G&L Korina models—
through an Ampeg GVT15, a Dr. Z Maz
Jr., and a Suhr Badger 30, and found tones
reminiscent of a vintage Tele, but with significantly
bigger midrange and rounder
highs. The bridge single-coil delivers killer
twang and bite, with added korina-fueled
fullness. Imagine a classic ash Tele bridge
with a bit of Les Paul blended in . . . yum!
Switching to the neck humbucker almost
feels like changing guitars. Gone is the
stringy twang, replaced with dark, buttery
thickness, spongy lows, and a slightly muted
upper midrange, with a dash of P.A.F.-era sparkle on top. Combining the two pickups
generates a huge and versatile sound with
clear highs and big, slightly wooly lows, great
for anything from Stones rhythms to chickenpickin’
to songwriter strumming.
This bridge single-coil/neck humbucker
configuration isn’t for everyone, as switching
between the pickups can be jarring at times.
But if you’re looking for big, Tele-inspired
tone with enormous range, the G&L Korina
Classic Bluesboy delivers.
ASAT Deluxe II
The neck pickup is a Duncan ’59, which
brings more snarl and tighter lows than the
similar Seth Lover ‘bucker in the Bluesboy.
But make no mistake: the Deluxe II is predominately
vintage-flavored, delivering a softer,
clearer, and more open neck tone than the
comparably crisp, midrange-heavy Dragon
II-equipped PRS Custom I referenced. The
Deluxe II’s Duncan JB bridge pickup further
pumps up the volume and growl, but
I found it a particularly good match for the
milder neck tone—I enjoyed flicking between all three pickup settings without ever feeling
the need to tweak an amp or step on a
pedal. And a push/pull tone pot taps the coils
of both pickups, yielding single-coil flavors
that are somewhat blander than, say, the
bridge pickup of the Classic Bluesboy, but
still entirely useable.
The Deluxe II—like all the Korina Collection
ASATs—features a quartersawn hard-rock
maple neck. But as an aside, I had the opportunity
to compare a prototype Deluxe II with
a flatsawn neck, which I found a hair more
compressed and sparkling, the quartersawing
contributing punch and slightly more stability
during pedal-steel-type bends. I’d be happy
with either, and it’s a testament to G&L’s consistency
that this difference was audible at all.
I’ll nitpick to mention I didn’t like the
sharp nut securing the pickup selector, which
sometimes bit my hand in the heat of battle,
but that did little to dampen my enthusiasm
for the vintage-vibed, yet still rather unique
and forward-looking Korina Deluxe II.
ASAT Junior II
Rounding out the Korina Collection is the
ASAT Junior II, which is reminiscent of a Les
Paul Special, with its dual soapbar pickups
and flat-top styling. Ignoring the pickups, the
ASAT Junior II shares identical specs with the
dual humbucker Deluxe II, and once again, I
was struck by G&L’s build consistency: when
played acoustically, these two test guitars
sounded almost indistinguishable.
But it’s all about the plugged-in tone,
and here the Junior II is decidedly single-
coil, as it features a pair of P-90-style
G&L MDF soapbar pickups, with a slightly
underwound neck and a slightly overwound
bridge. The result is an enormous tone brimming
with sparkle and clarity, but with bigtime
fatness and lower midrange push, and
outstanding balance from neck to bridge.
What’s not to like?
The Junior II’s no-brainer tone was especially
evident when I tried it through a new
Ampeg GVT15, which employs a non-traditional
Baxandall tone stack. That amp
had proven a bit tricky to dial in with several
other guitars, but when I connected the
Junior II . . . bam! There was the sustaining,
warm-but-biting lead sound I had been chasing,
but this time with no tweaking required.
With its P-90 style pickups, maple neck,
and korina body, the ASAT Junior II combines
some of the best qualities of classic
humbucker and single-coil guitars. This is an
instrument I’d feel confident bringing to just
about any gig or session, knowing I could dial
up a solid and vibey tone through any amplifier
for just about any style of music. Versatility
and mojo are often at odds, but the ASAT
Junior II cracks open big cans of both, and for
that reason, I give it the nod over the other
solid contenders in the Korina Collection, all
of which are interesting, classic-toned G&L
guitars well worth trying.
CONTACT G&L Guitars, (714)897-6766; glguitars.com
Korina Collection ASAT Classic Bluesboy
PRICE $2,200 retail/$1,699 street
NUT Width 1 5/8" bone
SCALE 25 1/2"
NECK Quartersawn maple, G&L Classic “C” (.830” thick at 1st fret, .960" at 12th)
FRETBOARD Pau ferro, 12" radius
FRETS 22 medium jumbo
TUNERS 12:1 ratio, G&L sealed
BODY Two-piece korina
BRIDGE Boxed steel plate with individual brass saddles
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan Seth Lover (SH-55) neck humbucker, G&L MFD
CONTROLS Single Volume and Tone, 3-way pickup selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 8.3 lbs
KUDOS Enormous tonal range, from bright and twangy to warm and fat.
CONCERNS Neck and bridge tones may feel disconnected to some players.
Korina Collect ion ASAT Deluxe II
NUT Width 1 5/8", bone
NECK Quartersawn maple, G&L Classic “C” (.830” thick at 1st fret, .960"
BRIDGE TonePros T3BT Tune-o-matic bridge and T1Z stopbar tailpiece
PICKUPS Seymour Duncan humbuckers: ’59 (SH-1) neck and JB (TB-4) bridge
CONTROLS Single Volume and Tone with push/pull coil tap, three-way pickup
WEIGHT 8.1 lbs
KUDOS Classic humbucker tones with unique attitude.
Korina Collect ion ASAT Junior II
PICKUPS 2 G&L P-90 type
WEIGHT 7.7 lbs
KUDOS Giant single-coil vibe that’s boneheadedly easy to plug and play.
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