Is the Epiphone G 1275 worth it

G & B-Classics: Gibson SG - The story of a classic

by Heinz Rebellius / Udo Pipper,

The solid body guitar was one of the most radical inventions in Gibson company's history. Nevertheless, it is the manufacturer's electric guitar that has been produced without interruption for the longest time. Solid body has been rocking the world for over 50 years!

R.Radical new designs are usually presented when the company has a problem. And the men around Gibson CEO Ted McCarty had exactly such a problem around 1960, because sales, especially their top seller Les Paul, had declined noticeably. The design was too old-fashioned, the weight too high, the sound too muffled - modern music of that time took place practically without Gibson! Everyone wanted the bright, piercing sound and sleek design that distinguished the guitars of its biggest competitor, Fender.

Country music has long been firmly in Telecaster hands, rock ’n’ roll, originally a Gibson domain, already interspersed with strat and tele sounds, and in modern music such as B. the wild surf a Gibson had nothing to do with. All that remained was dusty jazz and light popular music, where Gibson continued to be the top dog.

The attack by the Fender Jazzmasters on this genre could be fended off thanks to the conservative attitude of this clientele, but the Fender “Jazz” model enjoyed enormous popularity in modern surf of all things, which of course was also expressed in sales figures. Ted McCarty then made a difficult but consistent decision: Production of the Gibson Les Paul series was to be discontinued at the end of 1960 and the new Les Paul, the SG Les Paul, was to be introduced at the same time.

Les Paul

Gibson and guitarist Les Paul seemed inseparable back then, as did Les Paul and Mary Ford, the dream couple in the American entertainment industry of the 1950s. But both connections broke at the beginning of the 1960s. Les Paul publicly discredited the new guitar that still bore his name and initially did not sign the new contract presented to him to extend his engagement with the manufacturer in 1962.

The horns on the guitar are too pointed, you could injure yourself, he told the American journalist Tom Wheeler in 1982. And further: “I saw the first SG Les Paul in a music store, and I didn't like the shape at all. The guitar was too thin and they had moved the neck pickup back a little so that they could still accommodate my name. The neck was way too thin too and I didn't like the way it sat on the body at all.

That guitar had nothing to do with my design. ”Despite those pithy words, and despite the fact that both he and Mary Ford were still playing the old Les Pauls live, Les Paul was not too bad to be featured on many official Gibson Posing photos from the early 1960s with an SG Les Paul. After all, he was paid as a percentage of the guitars sold, so with his popularity he pushed the sale of the new model as well. Les Paul was not only a first-class musician, but also a rascal with a keen sense for business.

Which brings us to the real reason for terminating his relationship with Gibson. At the time of the possible contract extension, he was in divorce from Mary Ford and feared that he would have to make high payments to his future ex-wife if he signed a new lucrative contract. The new guitar model therefore offered him a welcome opportunity to get out of the business relationship with Gibson for the time being.

Doomed to Success

The Gibson executive suite actually had reason to be more than nervous in the early sixties. In 1960, $ 400,000 was invested in expanding the manufacturing facility on Parsons Street in Kalamazoo, doubling its size to 12,000 square meters. Gibson now needed a significant increase in sales in order to utilize the enormous capacities and to raise the credits! With the burden of these high expectations, the new SG Les Paul was launched in 1961. While the actual guitar was a new design, its name had been used before, if only briefly.

At the end of 1959, the Doublecutaway Les Paul TV was renamed SG TV, as was the Les Paul Special and Les Paul Special 3/4, accordingly to SG Special and SG Special 3/4. "SG" simply stood for "Solidbody Guitar", and of course not as you sometimes read - for "Satan's Guitar". Some had misinterpreted the two pointed body horns of this guitar. The big leap in development actually happened in 1961 - the Les Paul Standard, Les Paul Junior and Les Paul Custom appeared in a completely new form.

If you look at the design of the new SG Les Paul models and compare this with the earlier Gibson models, you will find that a radical cut has indeed been made here. All other models from the manufacturer, apart from the futuristic studies Flying V, Explorer and Moderne from 1958, have so far been more or less based on their own tradition. So on archtop jazz guitars with a vaulted ceiling and with no or only one cutaway. Exceptions like the cheap “Student” models Les Paul Junior and Special in the DoubleCut versions only confirm the rule.

Ted McCarty explained the new design at the time: “The musicians wanted two cutaways because they increasingly grip the sixth string with their thumbs, which of course doesn't work so well with a single cutaway.” Correct - the musicians who set the tone were simply not trained More guitarists who had learned to hold the gripping hand correctly, but more self-confident self-made types who simply grabbed around their necks and sometimes brought their thumbs into play. So the new, lightweight Gibson model got two cutaways, a significantly thinner body (approx. 44 mm) with a flat top and eye-catching, almost artistically contoured body edges.

Mahogany was used as the material for the body and neck, and the neck and scale dimensions were the same as in the old Les Paul models. In order to make access to the high frets as easy as possible, the neck / body transition took place practically on the penultimate, 21st fret. Initially, the neck was glued into the body by means of a sturdy tenon, which reached into the milling of the neck pickup. This connection was very stable, which changed two years later when Gibson made the neck / body transition more fluid and thus weakened it structurally. In 1967 they thought better of themselves and, in addition to a more stable neck / body transition, introduced the so-called Mortise & Tenon system (German: Feder & Nut), in which a pin was again firmly seated in a kind of neck pocket.

The start

The new model series sold very well despite the radically new design, the plant recorded a significant increase in production in 1961 compared to the previous year. Almost 6000 SG Les Pauls were sold in the first three years. Even though the new SG Les Paul was more expensive than the old Les Paul! In the price list of September 1, 1961, the SG Les Paul Standard appeared at a price of $ 290, whereas the Les Paul Standard cost only $ 265 in the May 1960 catalog. In 1963, Gibson removed the addition "Les Paul" from then on the guitar series was only called SG.

The SG fleet consisted of four models: The SG Les Paul Junior ($ 155), only available in Cherry, had a P-90 pickup in Dogear design, a wraparound divider bridge, one volume and one tone potentiometer, and a rosewood - Fretboard without bezel and with point inlays as well as Kluson machine heads with small, white plastic buttons. Also in Cherry was the SG Les Paul Standard ($ 310), had two humbuckers, two volume and two tone controls, a three-way switch, a framed fingerboard with "Crown" inlays, mostly Kluson machine heads with "Tulip" -Plastic buttons and a Tune-o-matic bridge in combination with the new Sideways-Pull vibrato system. The top model was the white lacquered SG Les Paul Custom ($ 450) with three humbuckers, two volume and tone controls, three-way switches, a bezeled ebony fingerboard with block inlays, mostly Grover machine heads with metal wings and a tune-o-matic Bridge with sideways pull vibrato system.

To make matters worse, the entire hardware of the custom was gold-plated - a guitar that should of course seamlessly tie in with the splendid appearance of the old Les Paul Custom, which, apart from its black finish, was identically equipped - right down to the flat fret wire with an almost rectangular crown, had earned the two guitars the nickname "Fretless Wonder". The SG Special did not appear in the transition period (from the SG Les Paul to the SG era) between 1961 and 1963 as an SG Les Paul Special, but as an SG Special in 1962, optionally in Cherry or Cream.

In the price list from 1963 it is listed at $ 225 and corresponded to the SG Junior in appearance and equipment - except for the fact that it carried another P-90 pickup in the neck position and accordingly two more potentiometers and a three-way switch on board would have. The bodies of the three SG Les Paul models, the SG Special and the SG TV, revived in 1961, were made of light Honduras mahogany with horizontal annual rings, the necks of the same wood, but with vertical annual rings.

The head plates were glued to the right and left “ears” made of mahogany to allow the typical Gibson shape, and tilted backwards at an angle of 17 °. Several layers of nitrocellulose varnish were painted, the last was polished to a high gloss. Early versions of the Standard and Custom were still equipped with “Patent Applied For” pickups, which were soon replaced by the Patent Number pickups or, in later years, by the Gibson pickups currently being produced. The EDS-1275, the Doubleneck-SG, made its debut in 1962. The light and small body of the new guitars was predestined for such a large instrument, which at the time was only built to order and achieved world fame in the 1970s with Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin.

Through the 60s

With the loss of the name of Les Paul, some further details changed from 1963 onwards. The neck became a little narrower in the lower layers, the angle of the headstock flatter (now 14 °). In the middle of this decade the peak of the American e-guitar boom was reached, no less than one and a half million e-guitars were sold. Gibson itself was able to double its sales between 1960 and 1963 thanks to the new SG series and some old successful models such as the ES-335.

The Melody Maker was also given the now successful SG shape in 1965, and it was now the cheapest guitar in the manufacturer's range. 1966 was another year of many changes. The most important one was the departure of Ted McCarty and with it the end of his era at Gibson, the company to which he has belonged since 1948 and whose development he had significantly influenced. From 1966 he directed the fortunes of Bigsby. Gibson improved the neck / body transition of the SG in the same year, as mentioned above, but the most obvious change was the introduction of the large pickguard, which now led around the pickups and shaped the look of the SG series very impressively.

In 1968 Stanley Rendell became the new Gibson President. At this point, sales had decreased significantly, but also specifically at Gibson, and production was in a miserable state, as the guitarist Bruce Bolen, who worked at Gibson from 1967, describes. He recalls: “One of the reasons I was hired was to rev up the electric guitar production. The SGs were the only solid body guitars we had at the time, plus a few archtops and thinlines like the ES-335. But none of them sold well back then.

The bestsellers these days were Gibson acoustic guitars! ”The sun finally darkened for the brave SG when Gibson brought the original Les Paul back onto the market in 1968. The blues boom in general and Eric Clapton in particular created great desires worldwide for the good old Les Paul. The SG quickly sidelined them, although they continued to be played by many top guitarists. George Harrison e.g. B. had used it for large parts of 'Revolver' and her full-time gravedigger, Eric Clapton, got an SG Standard in 1967, had it painted psychedelically by the Dutch artist collective The Fool and had a remarkable career with Cream, in which this SG had one played just as remarkable a role. The guitar sound on the legendary Cream album 'Disraeli Gears' comes almost exclusively from this SG.

The seventies

In the early 1970s the demand for electric guitars picked up again, and in the shadow of the Les Paul, the SG experienced not only an expansion of the entire series, but also some changes in its design. SG experts are even of the opinion that from around 1971 the original SG concept was undermined to an inadmissible extent. The previously one-piece necks are now made from three strips of mahogany and reinforced with a backward knob ("volute") at the transition to the headstock, just below the access to the truss rod, the weakest point of the entire neck. Certainly a good idea to make this predetermined breaking point more stable.

In addition, the neck was set significantly further into the body, the transition was relocated to the 19th fret and the neck from the 17th fret was reinforced on its back with a massive block. At the same time, the neck was placed parallel to the body - like with Fender guitars and not typically at a slight angle for Gibson. Not only has the headstock got bigger, but also the body! In addition, the cutaways and body edges were no longer contoured, so that the guitar appeared more angular, even chunkier.

Due to all these changes, the original design of the SG had clearly lost its elegance and the playability of the high registers, once a main argument for the SG, suffered from the modifications to the neck. In addition, the SG fleet was plucked properly: The SG Junior was completely removed from the program, the SG Standard became the SG Deluxe, the SG Professional replaced the SG Special. Only the SG Custom kept its name, the three humbuckers and the gold hardware, but was only available in plain walnut and, like its two SG sisters, now also came with a Bigsby B-5 vibrato system as standard. As a replacement for the SG Junior and the SG-shaped Melody Maker, the SG-100, - 200 and -250 were introduced, rather coarse SG variants with a maple body and neck, the latter also glued in parallel to the body.

The SG-100, which was only available in Cherry, had a diagonally mounted single-coil pickup directly on its neck, the SG-200 (Cherry and Walnut) got a second one on the bridge, the SG-250 corresponded in all details to the SG-200 but painted in cherry sunburst. These three guitars represented the low point in SG history, if not the entire development of the manufacturer's solid bodies. The musicians did not want to get used to the neck that ran parallel to the body, especially since the strings ran at an unusually high distance from the body, and none of the six new SG models could implement what this guitar model provided at the beginning of the 1960s became: elegance, lightness, superb playability.

Although these new guitars were built more robustly than the old ones, they couldn't hold a candle to their sound. A year later, the SG-100, -200 and -250 pickups were replaced by mini humbuckers; the same ones that Gibson had built into the first Les Paul model after the 1968 revival and that came from in-house Epiphone stocks. If these pickups still had fancy nickel caps in the Les Paul, they were put in black plastic here. At the same time, at the end of 1972, three more SG models were presented, the SG-I, SG-II and SG-III, which seamlessly replaced the 100 series, but brought nothing new apart from a few minor cosmetic changes. Because they didn't know what they were doing back then ...

At the same time, the "normal" SGs were also subjected to a thorough revision, just one year after the previous one! SG Deluxe and Professional have been deleted and replaced by familiar names, SG Standard and Special. The neck, which is still three-part (with volute), has now been led back into the body at a slight angle, the neck / body transition has been set back to the 21st fret and the headstock is inclined at an angle of 17 ° - changes that the eighth Various SG models, which the Gibson catalog showed at the end of 1972, did very well and which were no longer fundamentally touched until 1986.

At that time, a well-known German electronics tinkerer began a three-year commitment at Gibson. Bill Lawrence aka Billy Lorento aka Willi Stich developed pickups and electronics in Kalamazoo and was also involved in some guitar designs during these years. For example, this year SG Standard wore pickups from another manufacturer for the first time - the Bill Lawrence super humbuckers, which had a ceramic and an alnico magnet and were encapsulated with epoxy resin. This pickup was the first “hot” humbucker in history, even before Larry DiMarzio, Bill Lawrence's former assistant, was able to celebrate great success with his Super Distortion.

Instead of a bigsby, a standard stop tailpiece was used on the SG Standard for the first time. Already at the end of 1973 the unfortunate SG-I, SG-II and SG-III were deleted from the catalog, the SG series now only consisted of the classics Custom, Standard and Special, which can only be found in details such as: B. the hardware differed from the 72 models, with which one had found back in the correct SG track. In 1974 some important decisions were made at Gibson headquarters when the Chicago Musical Instrument Corporation, to which Gibson belonged, was sold to the Norlin Music group. At the same time, a second Gibson factory was set up in Nashville, which began operations in June 1975.

The original plan was to produce a handful of models, mostly solid bodies, in large numbers in Nashville, while the Kalamazoo plant was to produce a variety of other models and custom orders in small numbers. Nashville was soon pretty busy with the production of Les Pauls, but the reduced SG line, from which even the SG Special dropped out in 1975, was now also being built there. And now for the first time with two-piece mahogany bodies, a first cost-saving measure by the large corporation.

But everything Norlin could think of was by no means bad. So one established z. B. a new serial number system that is still valid today. The end of this eventful decade marked a new "cheap SG", the Spartan The SG. Basically an SG Standard, but with a three-part body and neck made of walnut and an ebony fingerboard. A Gibson humbucker sat on the neck, on the bridge the super humbucker designed by Billy Lawrence, which was to be renamed "Velvet Brick" in 1980 and which also brought this The SG to a boil.

The eighties

The new decade began ... hesitantly. After 19 years in production, the chic SG Custom was sent to the elderly, the left-hand version of the SG Standard was deleted and the SG was given a similarly simple SG, The Firebrand made of mahogany with a burned-in Gibson logo on the headstock. To complete the confusion, in July 1980 both instruments were renamed The SG Standard and The SG Deluxe. The remaining flagship, the SG Standard, was also subjected to a renewed revision. In order to standardize the production, like the other SG models it got a slightly wider fingerboard, which now had the dimensions of the very first SGs, which had been reduced in the meantime.

All millings for pickups and electronics have also been adapted to the other two SG models in order to standardize the production process. Available colors were Cherry, Walnut, White and Tobacco Sunburst. The SG Standard was canceled as early as 1981 - there were only two left! But from the middle of the decade they could also be ordered with a vibrato system, the Pro-Tune Vibrola manufactured by Schaller, which was similar to the Bigsby B-5. And then it was just one more. The SG Deluxe was also eliminated in the mid-eighties. 1986 marked a turning point in the history of the manufacturer. At the beginning of the decade the guitar business was bad, in 1982 alone there was a loss of 30% compared to the previous year.

Gibson was not alone with this situation - almost all other American manufacturers were confronted with the invasion from the Far East, but also with the growing disinterest of the musicians, because the hit parades were dominated by synth pop, in which guitars no longer played a role. In 1979 sales were $ 35.5 million, down from $ 19.5 million in 1982. And since this balance sheet also suffered from rising wage and production costs and currency fluctuations, the profit-oriented group had no choice but to offer Gibson like sour fruit - which, by the way, they had been doing quite far-sightedly since 1980! Most of the production has long been done by the plant in Nashville, in Kalamazoo only custom orders, banjos and mandolins were built.

Norlin wanted and had to save, so the Kalamazoo plant was closed in September 1984 - after more than 65 years in Gibson’s service. In the summer of 1985, Norlin finally found buyers for Gibson: Three business people who had known each other from university ended up buying Gibson for only $ 5 million: Henry Juskiewicz, David Berryman and Gary Zebrowski. Whether the new SG model, which came onto the market in 1986 and was enthusiastically celebrated by SG fans around the world, had already been initiated by the new trio at the top of the company can no longer be clearly determined. But for the first time with this guitar a trend was anticipated that was to determine the guitar market from the 1990s to the present day - the retro or vintage trend!

The SG-62 corresponded to the SG Les Paul Standard from 1962 in all design details, except for the Les Paul name addition and the vibrato system, which has now been replaced by a stop tailpiece. The body was also an idea smaller and got its old contours again - simply: The SG had arrived exactly where it had started 24 years earlier! The guitarists liked that, which in turn liked the Gibson makers, who insisted on quickly shooting a so-called SG LP Custom, which of course exactly corresponded to the 24-year-old, white predecessor model.

Concessions to the modern era were also made, but with less sensation and success: The SG Special 400, also launched in 1986, brought two single coils and a dirty finger humbucker for the bridge. The Kahler Flyer-Locking-Vibrato-System advertised the connection to the rock music of the eighties, which was characterized by superstrats, hair-dryer hairdos and spandex pants. Of course, the entire hardware was anodized in black. Interesting, because totally atypical of SG, also the control unit: master volume, master tone and three on / off switches.

The new top-of-the-line model from 1987 was the SG Elite, painted either in white or metallic sunset, with two so-called spotlight humbuckers, each with two Alnico magnets and a single coil switch. At the end of 1988 the SG Standard, which had long been overtaken by the SG-62, was canceled. But the new Gibson makers, and this can be said to this day, never stayed idle when it came to trying out new things. In the SGLager, too, they did not rest on the successes of vintage reissues and did not allow themselves to be disturbed by failures, which, incidentally, were to be followed by many more.

So the unsuccessful, modern SG Special 400 was stamped in in 1988, but immediately afterwards the spectacular SG 90 was brought out - the SG for the upcoming nineties, in which, according to Gibson, the SG player needs the following features: A 24-fret -Neck with graphite reinforcement, a Fender-typical long scale length and hot pickups! The SG 90 Single had an HB-L8 humbucker on the bridge, the SG 90 Double also had an angled L-200L mini humbucker on the neck.

Either the strings were pulled through the body, or these guitars were optionally available with a Steinberger KB-X locking vibrato system. In return, they shaved another classic from the Gibson range - the SG-Special was no longer built in 1988. Nevertheless, SG experts claim that the SG family was probably the best of all times at the end of the 80s. The vintage-oriented SG-62 and SG LP Custom, paired with the elaborate SG Elite and the versatility of the modern SG 90, were ideally positioned for any eventuality.

The nineties

It seems that in the first years of the Gibson era under Juskiewicz, who is still in charge of the company today, while Berryman works in the background and Zebrowski has long since left, a good basis for the future of the SG was laid. The bread-and-butter business of the modern guitar business was established with the right instinct: the vintage and signature models from Gibson. But under Juskiewicz this company pursued anything but a conservative administrative policy. Rather, the constant success of the new editions of historical models enabled many attempts in new directions.

The only tragic thing is that most guitarists were actually not interested in new, modern Gibson guitars, but rather wanted to conservatively maintain and uphold the old values, as it is still today. At the beginning of the nineties, the Gibson range was sorted into individual collections, which served for clarity. The five-headed SG Collection didn't really bring anything new, apart from the fact that the double-necked EDS-1275 now officially belonged to the SG family. The 62 SG Reissue, which now embodied the preservation of the old values ​​with Classic 57 humbuckers, stop tailpiece and the "fastest neck in the world", was the most popular model, followed by the simpler SG Standard, the one with the hotter Gibson pickups 490R and 498T and the large late sixties pickguard.

The SG Custom was completely vintage again, painted white, with gold hardware, three 57 Classic pickups, an ebony fingerboard and a stop tailpiece. The program was rounded off with the SG Special, which was now also equipped with two humbuckers (490R, 498T) and only differed from the standard in a few cosmetic things. P90s just weren't trendy at the time. With the SG Z, on the other hand, they dared to step forward more courageously - an SG with a silver or white lacquer with a 500THumbucker on the bridge and a Superstack 490R humbucker that was angled on the neck if you wanted to serve the hard rock clientele, applications in lightning form on the body and headstock should have an animating effect. After all, Angus Young played this sleek guitar for a while, and the lightning bolts on his signature guitars are still reminiscent of that time.

But all further efforts were in vain - the guitar fell through the grid of taste and, like most of its modern sisters, was anything but successful. For this, the Les Paul SG Custom Reissue, as part of the newly introduced Historic Collection with the usual regalia, restored the successful vintage connection.

Carlos Santana could even be hired as an advertising icon for the Gibson catalog - with a picture that shows him with a white SG Custom, which, however, had already been taken in the mid-1970s. No wonder, because Carlos stopped playing Gibson guitars in the nineties. With the SG Les Paul Custom 30th Anniversary, Gibson presented a one-year limited edition, 1991, for the first time in the SG series - a marketing move that was to be used very often in the future and was aimed primarily at the collector's market that flourished in the nineties .

Again and again models were published that started with a short calculated lifespan right from the start. SG Standard Korina, SG Standard Celebrity (like SG Standard, but with gold hardware), the magnificent SG Les Paul 63 Corvette Stingray, the SG Deluxe with three mini humbuckers or the SG Classic with two P90s enriched the Gibson Catalog. The SG-X, part of the All-American series and a rather poor version of an SG with a bridge humbucker, was offered from 1995 to 2000.

The new millennium

What emerged clearly in the nineties has now been consistently carried out - and this is still the case today. Only vintage reissue models of the two classics SG Standard and SG Custom were long-lasting, the phalanx of which was loosened up by a number of quick shots of illustrious SG versions, but I don't have the space here to list them in full. Examples are: B. the SG Voodoo mentioned (2002 - 2004) with a black and red finish and black hardware, the SG Platinum (2005) with platinum-coated paint and a large, platinum-coated pickguard, the SG Menace (2006 - 2007) all in black, the SG GT (2006 - 2007) in heavy-duty design or the SG Diablo (2008) with 24 frets, a vaulted top and a silver finish, the effect of which was not disturbed by any pickguard.

The SG Robot set a milestone in 2008 because it was equipped with self-tuning mechanisms designed in Germany. A big topic in the new millennium started with the Signature SG models. And if you look at the artists after whom a special SG was named, you will quickly be able to outline the main clientele for which this unique guitar stands: rockers and rebels! Exceptions also confirm the rule here.

Pete Townshend and Angus Young were the first two to have a Signature SG dedicated to them. That was in 2000. Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi joined them a year later, Judas Priest in 2003, Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd) in 2004, Elliot Easton (The Cars) in 2007 - and more to follow. As this article also shows, the SG went through ups and downs like no other instrument from this manufacturer. After all, from 1961 onwards, the SG has always been part of the Gibson program in some form.

Born as Ted McCarty's last ingenious idea for Gibson, carried almost to the grave by the Norlin Group, brought back to life by Henry Juskiewicz and partners and today, thanks to the vintage boom, with both feet in the middle of life - SG can do some of that To sing songs. She, although always in the shadow of the Les Paul, is the great constant of the Gibson program, and anyone who wants to know how the company was at any point in its history only needs to look at the respective SG concepts and know.

Even more than the other Gibson models, the abbreviation SG represents not just a single model, but a whole family of different versions and interpretations of what can be understood as solid guitar. If you choose one of these SGs yourself, then you are indeed in good company and mostly deal with musicians who are extreme in some form or another. Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Pete Townshend, Angus Young, Toni Iommi and Robbie Krieger have set milestones with their SG sound. And what have such different types as Frank Zappa, Link Wray, Chris Spedding, Duane Allman and Derek Trucks in common? The SG! Each of these musicians wrested a very special aspect from a SG over the last 50 years and made them immortal in their own way. High time to take care of an SG yourself, right?

Gibson SG today

... as of August 2011! The SG program is diverse, nicely grouped around vintage and signature models. B. in the case of the Zoot Suit always good for a surprise. Surprisingly, the sometimes very low prices of certain series such as B. the Special 60s Tribute models, accompanied by a dealer policy, which means that the instruments are only available in large music stores. In addition, Gibson does not have country-specific sales partners in Europe and manages its business from a headquarters in Rotterdam.

Gibson insisted on celebrating the 50th birthday of the SG, and it was quite spectacular: The manufacturer brings a new SG model onto the market every month! These models are not listed in our table, we did not want to and could not go beyond the editorial framework for an even larger table. The table assumes the known features that make up a typical SG. These are:-

- Mahogany body

- mahogany neck

- Rosewood fingerboard with a 12 "radius

- 22 medium jumbo frets

- Tune-o-matic / stop tailpiece

- 628 mm scale length

- 17 ° headstock angle

- 4 ° neck / body angle

- Vol regulator: 300 kOhm

- Tone control: 500 kOhm plus .0223 mf resistor

the prices quoted are so-called "street" prices, which may differ slightly from the ones given here depending on the retailer.

You can find more about the Gibson SG and other Gibson guitars in our Gibson special edition!

From guitar & bass 10/2011


The ultimate rock board: Gibson SG Standard

Some time ago I saw an ancient rerun of Ilja Richter's “Disco 72” on ZDFkultur. Aside from the weird hairstyles, I noticed that almost all of the guitarists in the pop bands that performed there played Gibson SG models. You searched in vain for a Les Paul.

At the time, Les Pauls weren't that popular either. They were considered heavy and unwieldy. A SG was more modern, lighter and, above all, cheaper. The model name SG simply stood for solid body guitar. Not quite as witty and creative as Stratocaster or Telecaster. But after Les Paul resigned as the most important endorser and namesake in 1962, a new name had to be found quickly, and that's how the simple letter abbreviation came about.

Les Paul was on trial with his divorce from Mary Ford and wanted to earn as little as possible. So he retired from Gibson. Allegedly, he was also not so satisfied with the successor model to the Les Paul named after him. Nevertheless, he and Mary Ford both played a white Les Paul (SG) Custom in white with three pickups right after the new solid body guitar was released.

The Les Paul was a flop for Gibson's order books. The shape with a vaulted ceiling and a single cutaway was not enough to withstand the strong competition from Fender. The Fender guitars were modern and futuristic. They went better with the tail fins of the street cruisers and the surfboards of the California youth. For most guitarists, it was simply a too small jazz guitar with no f-holes. It really didn't look really new and innovative. So a complete overhaul or a relaunch had to be found.

And this became the SG, which was initially called Les Paul in the first two years of production in 1961 and 1962. This guitar did a better job than its predecessor. We know that George Harrison, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend played these models. Later Dickie Betts, Duane Allman, Mick Taylor, Frank Zappa, Tony Iommi, Derek Trucks and of course Angus Young. Eric Clapton had his 65 SG Standard painted in bright colors. With this guitar he played, for example, 'Crossroads' or 'Sleepy Time Time' at the Winterland Live recordings in 1968. In the studio he played this guitar on 'Sunshine Of Your Love'.

If you think about it for a while, you'll find more legendary SG recordings than Les Paul titles. And yet the Les Paul became the most expensive vintage guitar of all time. A Gibson SG Standard has a chic that looks incredibly elegant. The proportions are consistent, the cherry-red color, the elegant vibrato and the contour of the body give it that special flair. In the first two years of production it was equipped with a rather heavy and indeed incredibly complicated Sideways vibrola. Heavy as a knight's armor, awkward to use and rickety in the truest sense of the word. In 1963 this strange construct was replaced by a lyre or meastro vibrola.

Some SGs also came with bigsbys. Despite their optical attractiveness, these tremolos could not keep up with the Stratocaster. Hardly any player used these old-fashioned lever constructs. Most of them were quickly exchanged for stop-tail holders. They all had one major disadvantage: The string guide was so high that there was hardly an angle and thus a contact pressure in the direction of the bridge.

The strings could jump out of the rider notches while playing, which often happened. In addition, the small angle behind the bridge costs a lot of sustain. Eric Clapton has therefore modified his SG. He unscrewed the "sheet metal cover" of the Lyre vibrato including the lever construction and from then on fastened the strings in newly drilled holes in the frame of the vibrato. This gave it a larger angle and consequently more sustain and stability.

Angus Young switched to a stop tail, as did Dicky Betts, Santana and currently Derek Trucks, who plays an SG Standard Reissue. Of course, a lyre vibrato looks insanely attractive in my opinion. It kind of belongs to the aura or the symmetry of the guitar. But it is not practical.

This month I have a beautiful late 1964 SG standard in front of the photo lens and of course in my music room. I've always wanted a guitar like this, just because of its unmistakable sound. It lacks the maple top of a Les Paul, it is also significantly flatter and allows effortless access up to the 22nd fret without any obstacles. That alone may have been the reason for Santana and Clapton to use this guitar for long solos. The most important difference - and this is often overlooked - lies in the different position of the pickups. Both the front and bridge pickups are significantly further back than a Les Paul, so their sound is slimmer and more contoured than its predecessor.

An SG is an ideal rock riff guitar. Not only Angus Young knows this all too well. Anyone who tries to imitate the sound of 'Sunshine Of Your Love' on a Les Paul will fail miserably. The position of the neck pickup on a Les Paul just doesn't allow this slightly nasal and sweetish tone. If you try the riff on the neck PU of an SG, you immediately have this typical sound. The neck pickup of a SG is shifted a good 1.5 centimeters towards the bridge. This makes the sound brighter and crisper.

That was a really good idea from the Gibson engineers, although it was actually born out of necessity. With the SG, the neck sits so far outside the body ‘that the neck pickup did not fit directly to the lower edge of the neck. It had to be moved backwards. And since the proportions between the two pickups were no longer correct, the bridge pickup was moved back about an inch. This is how the SG sound was born.

Since Derek Trucks almost exclusively uses the neck pickup for his fabulous slide solos, he has a little hard time on a Les Paul. Here the sound is usually too soft and too dark. Only at the SG is the balance perfect for his tone. The front pole piece row of the SG neck pickup is roughly in the same position as on a Fender Telecaster. Interesting, isn't it? The neck-body transition, which is extremely comfortable for the player, also has disadvantages. Many SGs had a break at this fragile point. The neck has only a small contact surface for stable gluing. Since the guitar is very flat, the typical neck heel is missing.

From around 1963 there is a small disadvantage for the SG sound. The riders on the bridge were made of nylon. That really took a good portion of sustain from the SG. Therefore, the bridge is exchanged by many guitarists immediately after purchasing an SG. I also compared that here at home. Although the sound was really crisper, more direct and faster with another ABR-1 bridge with brass riders, I was also able to gain something from the sound of the nylon riders. This tone snap, which is typical for an SG, is somewhat defused. The guitar sounds a bit milder and softer. Not bad either. By the way, Clapton never parted with his nylon riders, and who would say that the live recording of 'Crossroads' had no sustain?

Compared to my Les Paul, the SG sounded a bit quieter, tamer and thinner. However, the aforementioned “snap” produced a sharpness of image, especially with rock riffs, that simply cannot be achieved with a Les Paul. The bridge pickup sounds sharper on the SG and sometimes a little harsh. The neck pick-up, however, shows a quality that the Les Paul simply cannot keep up with. Suddenly you can not only recreate 'Sunshine Of Your Love' convincingly, but also Santana's 'Treat' or 'Jingo'.

The neck, which protrudes far from the body, is said to give the guitar a slight top-heaviness. Admittedly, it doesn't hang on the belt as comfortably and compactly as a Les Paul or ES-335. But I didn't think the guitar was top-heavy. You automatically hold them a little more diagonally on the body (like Clapton or Angus Young). Then she plays really first class. I've literally fallen in love with the SG sound over the past few days.

After days of Les Paul abstinence, it initially sounded sluggish and heavy like a sandbag. The combination of a Gibson humbucker and this quick and crisp response from the SG is simply fantastic. My Les Paul is really getting serious competition. I especially like this slim and crisp neck pickup ... See you next time! [1994]

You can find more about the Gibson SG and other Gibson guitars in our Gibson special edition!

From guitar & bass 02/15


G&B Classics

Often looked up, critically questioned, hotly debated - the G&B Classics are the most popular articles of the Guitar & bass-History. As they keep reaching new readers and sparking lively debates, we regularly take them out of the archive for you.