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Review: The Gibson SG

12 Nov

My Gibson SG is a black 2005 Standard that I bought used in 2012. It was in pretty bad shape when I got it: the intonation appeared to have been set according to rough description rather than listening to actual pitches, the fretboard was caked with grime and the body all dusty. It required such little effort to talk it down from the listed price that it occurs to me that maybe I should have gone for 500 crowns more. Well, for some people, the haggling is the thing, whereas for me, I prefer looking at it as getting a good deal, and I really did.

The really annoying thing was only evident after a week or so, namely that this was the second Gibson in a row where the backs of the tuners were coming off. On my Les Paul, I had to get a new set of tuners. This time, some superglue seems to have sufficed. But what are they doing in Nashville? Or is it the dry Swedish winter that does the guitars in?

As far as I know, the SG originated in an attempt to rejuvenate the Les Paul model and/or take up direct competition with the Fender Stratocaster. In the latter case, I think that it is quite disappointing that it has never occurred to Gibson to pimp their SG:s in more interesting colors. It seems like you can always get them in black and some form of brown. Sometimes a splash of white. Maybe I’ve seen a blue one. But wouldn’t it be cool with red or green metallic?

But okay, let’s put away the negative waves for a moment and instead concentrate on the positive ones. For there are many! I like to think of the SG as the younger ballet-dancing cousin of the Les Paul. The family resemblance is right there, it has most of the attitude of the Les Paul but in a thinner, nimbler package that is a hell of a lot easier to throw around on stage. The ergonomics are simply fantastic. Not Stratocaster-class, but pretty darned close. All the controls are right next to the picking hand and there is even a top-mounted jack socket. About the only thing that knocks it down from full marks is that the neck pickup tone control is a bit too close to the jack socket, but that’s it. It is a light body that is a delight to strap on, almost to the point where it gets neck-heavy, but never uncomfortable. Still, it is surprisingly resonant: mine just booms right across the room even when it’s not even close to being plugged in. Some of this might be the neck, which is thick and almost club-like. It is a considerable adjustment from my other guitars, but I haven’t played enough SG:s to tell whether it is a design feature or something unique to my guitar or the 2005 Standard.

However, the main selling point of the SG for me is the unparalleled access to all frets across all strings. Seriously, they could easily have extended the 22-fret fretboard to 24 without compromising access in any way. (They actually did on the 50th anniversary model!) I had to reprogram my muscle memory when I got my SG, because I had got used to jamming my hand into the cutaways of my three other electrics and then reaching a bit for the 22nd fret. On the SG, I can easily reach it without even being close to the cutaway. This guitar is built for shred, and has the sound for it as well. You get the same drive and crunch as with a Les Paul. The difference is that the tone just isn’t as fat, and doesn’t have the hour-long sustain. But I can live without that. The neck humbucker has an almost single coil-like transparency that contrasts nicely with the force of the bridge pickup. It is also very nice to have the standard Gibson wiring where you can set the volume and tone of the two pickups separately. Clean and crunch, or lead and woman tone.

The only really sad part is that I bought this guitar more than two years ago, and I have yet to use it on stage.

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Posted by on 12 November, 2014 in gear, review

 

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