|1961 Gibson SG Custom|
In my opinion, the SG shape has to be one of the most original guitar designs. It was shaped like no other guitar at the time. Gibson gave it the designation SG which stood for solid guitar.
Sales of Les Pauls were on the wane and Gibson wanted a new flashy guitar that would attract players.
Ted McCarty. He was head of the company at the time and is credited with designing a number of Gibson's other instruments.
Les Paul body slab which a designer cut with an extra cutaway. To me the SG looks like a totally different guitar that is very unique and original. The SG is very different in size and shape from the single cutaway Les Paul.
Paul states the first time he saw the new guitar he was passing a music store window and there was this new instrument with his name on it.
Les Paul asked Gibson to remove his name from the guitar.
In 1963 Gibson renamed the guitar the SG Standard. The new SG's outsold the Les Paul single cutaway. In the first three years it was introduced it sold on average 6,000 units each year, while the LP only sold 1700 units during 1958 through 1960, its final three years.
the neck had a very slender profile with no heel. The neck joins the SG’s body at the 22nd fret. This makes playing an ease. However some luthiers claim it is a bit of a problem when the guitar falls down, it generally breaks at the neck or head joint.
|1963 SG Standard|
Gibson also offered the beautiful SG Custom. This was the guitar that caught my eye at the music store. This beauty had a clear white finish and three gold plated Gibson PAF Humbuckers. The Custom came entirely with gold plated hardware. Some early SG Customs came with a short Gibson Vibrola instead of the one with the full cover. There are also some SG Standards and Customs that feature with Gibson’s Maestro Vibrola that have a white plastic handle on the tip of the arm. This option was introduced as a option in 1963. The Kluson knobs had white molded plastic buttons.
Bigsby vibratos on some SG Customs a few came with pearl inlaid ebony at the base of the vibrato. This was offered in 1962.
In 1961 the Gibson SG Standard (Les Paul) sold for $310, which was a substantial price in that era.
SG bodies were all made of solid mahogany. The SG Standard came with twin humbucking pickups, a mahogany neck with an ebony fretboard that was inlaid with pearloid trapezoidal makers.
the SG Junior and SG Special came with Gibson's wrap-around bridge.
the SG Junior and the SG Special. The SG Junior came with one P-90 single coil pickup in the bridge position, while the SG Special came with twin P-90 pickups. The pickups came with a black plastic cover.
By 1964 Gibson decided to use six screw to anchor the pickguard instead of four.
By 1966 Gibson gave its budget Melody Maker guitar the SG shape and offered it with a Pelham Blue or Fire Engine Red finish. Gibson also offered SG’s in the Pelham Blue finish, however they never caught on.
In 1966 Gibson redesigned the SG’s neckset and heel and enlarged the pickguard. Models sold from 1961 through early 1966 came with a small pickguard. The new pickguard was nicknamed the Batwing.
SG Pro. This was a cherry red model with twin P-90 pickups, a Tune-O-Matic bridge and a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.
The neck was unbound with a rosewood fretboard. The markers were white dots and the logo was silk screened on the headstock. The unusual feature was the triangular shaped black pickguard and the semi-circular black plastic panel that held the controls and input.
The other Gibson offerings were the SG 100, SG 200 and SG 250. These were really odd instruments that were offered around late 1970 or 1971. All had the SG style body, but this time it was made out of maple, however there are examples made of mahogany.
The necks were set maple with 22 frets on a rosewood fretboard and dot inlays. The headstock was black with the Gibson logo silk screened in gold ink.
The control plate was made of a rectangular piece of nickel plated metal and slanted at the lower bout.
This housed the volume, tone controls and an input. This guitar also came with a nickel plated hand rest adorned with the Gibson logo that fit over the guitars redesign Tune-O-Matic bridge. This bridge was different from Gibson’s normal one. It was more like a Fender hardtail bridge.
The SG 200 was also available with a Maestro Vibrola. Some of the SG 200 came with a trapezoidal pickguard.
|SG 250 and SG 200|
Perhaps the reason these guitars were not popular had to do with the design. The neck, fretboard, and strings were parallel to the top of the guitars body. This resulted in the guitar having a high action for all of the SG 100 line up. Plus the SG 100 series single coil pickups all sounded tinny.
As I stated, this line only lasted a year and was replaced in 1972 by the SG I, SG II and SG III.
The SG I appeared to look like the SG Junior. However it came with one mini humbucking pickup in the bridge position that had a black plastic cover. It had a trapezoidal shaped pickguard and a semi-circular black plastic control panel on the lower bout, similar to the SG Pro. This housed the volume, tone controls and the guitars input. Most players at some point, discard the pickguard.
Once again the SG III was the same guitar as the SG II, except once again it had a cherry sunburst finish. All guitars in this series were made of mahogany. Gibson used Kluson tuners and a wrap-around bridge.
You will find a lot of examples of this guitar with the bridge changed out to one that is adjustable. The SG I and II came with cherry or walnut finishes.
In 2007 Gibson issued a new SG III guitar, but this one was quite different from the original. This guitar had a white pickguard that covered most of the bodies’ upper section. Housed in the pickguard were three single coil pickups. The single volume and tone control was on the guitars lower bout. Additionally a 6 was rotary knob was placed near the other controls. This control allowed the player to select all pickup combinations.
The hardware was nickel plated. Tuners were by Kluson. The tail piece was a stop unit with a Tune-O-Matic bridge.
|Steve Moore's SG|
It had two chromed humbucking pickups and nickel plated hardware including the Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop tailpiece.
I know Guild made a guitar with carving that looked like an SG.
Guitarist Steve Moore also owned and played one, but his was heavily customized with an extra pickup, additional controls and a gold plated Gibson Vibrola
SG was Gibson’s Robot Guitar. This SG comes with an auto tuning system developed by the German company Trionical.
The Tune-O-Matic bridge houses individual piezo units that are connected to a micro processor. The computer then analyses the signal and commands each of the guitar's Powerhead Locking Tuners which automatically pull the strings into tune. These tuners operate by means of small servo motors.
The Robot guitar contains a small lithium rechargeable battery to power the motors. Gibson offers this technology to several of its models.
One guitar that is mistaken for an SG is the redesigned Melody Maker. This guitar was first produced in 1969 as a replacement for the double cutaway Melody Maker. The newer version was given the SG shaped body with one, two or three pickups.
There were differences between the Melody Maker and the SG starting with the Melody Makers narrow headstock, single coil pickups with white plastic covers, cheaper tuning pegs with plastic white buttons and a large white pickguard.
However there was only one three position slider switch. The instrument came with two volume and two tone controls.
The biggest complaint about this era’s Melody Maker with the cast saddle bridge and the cheap tuners. This along with the vibrato made tuning difficult. I am told the pickups are great and sound warmer than Fender pickups.
The original models came in Fire Engine Red or Pelham Blue. A burgundy version was added a year later as was Inverness Green.
Some old Pelham Blue models are mistaken for green. This also happens with old Pelham Blue Fenders as the yellowing effect of the clear coat lacquer seems to fade to a greenish hue through the years.
Actually it was the Cream’s manager, Robert Stigwood, who contacted Koger to do artwork for the band.
Clapton referred to this guitar as The Fool, after the artists.
©UniqueGuitar Publishing (text only)
I had to post this video of Gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was one of the first to make
the Gibson SG Custom her trademark guitar.