The Gibson SG


What do Derek Trucks, Duane Allman, Robben Ford, Michael Landau, Pete Townsend, Robbie Kreiger, Gary Rossington, Nancy Wilson, Eric Clapton, Angus Young and George Harrison have in common?

Besides being incredible guitarists, they play or played a Gibson SG.

It came into being with Les Paul, the father (besides Leo Fender) of the electric guitar. It was invented and conceived by Ted McCarty and popularized by Les.

Introduced to replace the single cutaway LP Standard, as sales were lagging between 1958 and 60, in its’ first 3 years of manufacture, it far outsold the LP. It was officially named the SG (solid guitar) in 1963, when Les Paul signature truss rod covers were used up and Les’ contract with Gibson expired.

It was a lot lighter than the Paul, had easier access to the higher frets, and in Gibson’s words, had the ‘fastest’ neck available.

Gibson introduced 4 models originally; the Standard, Junior (with one pickup), the Special, and the top of the line Custom. The Custom was the ‘bling’ axe, white with an ebony fretboard, 3 pickups, and gold hardware.

Though the Les Paul has certainly made a comeback over the years, the SG is still Gibson’s biggest selling solid-body guitar.

A bit of personal history on my relationship to the SG. When I moved to Boston in 1984, I was playing an archtop electric. There was a local music store where I lived north of Boston that was a Gibson dealer. I bought strings, picks, etc. from them. One day, just out of boredom, I tried out an SG Special, a rather stripped-down version of either the Standard or the Custom. And I was immediately attracted to the midrange it had; as close as a solid body got to the midrange of an archtop. At that time, it was a relatively inexpensive price; I think it was $450 with a Gibson gig bag. Needless to say, it was a bit of a migration from an essentially acoustic guitar to a solid body. But the transition was a welcome and needed one for me, as I was listening to a lot of different music.
I’ve used the SG for virtually everything. And I continue to be struck by how well it sits sonically, regardless of amp preference. I’ve  used it with a Mesa-Boogie Mark 3, a Marshall Jubilee 2×12, a Vox AC30, a Fender Super, a Fender ML DeVille, a Mesa-Boogie TA30, a Fender Bassman Reissue, and a Marshall 50 watt Plexi.

Recently, I did a recording with jazz saxophonist Richie Cole; I used a VOS SG, in my opinion, the pinnacle of a great Gibson. One of the guys on the session thought I was playing an archtop. That is how well they sit in a mix. So my thought about the correlation between the midrange of an archtop and the midrange of an SG is not just my opinion. The gentleman who told this to me is one of the bassists in an internationally known symphony.

N Stuff Music has been an authorized Gibson dealer for many years. For more info, just log onto www.nstuffmusic.com or call 412.828.1003.

-Mark Lucas

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