Gibson SG.

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Gibson could be really inventive with their guitar naming, if you didn't already know it - SG stands for Solid Guitar!

Originally in three versions, the Junior (one pick up) the Standard (two pickups) and the Special (options for two or three pickups.) They have all been supplied with various bridges, tailpieces and tremolo units. The worst trem unit you can buy is Gibson`s own which consists of a bit of spring metal which raises the strings up or down in varying degrees of discordance and returns the guitar to being not quite in tune. The bridges vary from the solid moulding with a raised ridge on its top for the strings go over, to the (pretty good,) Tunomatic with its individual bridge pieces.

Electrically Gibsons are superb. The pickups are well made and the internal wiring is heavy duty, very tough and the controls and capacitors are high grade. (This description does not apply to all models made in the mid 1970s or to the “Epiphone by Gibson” models.) The wiring I have seen in some Gibsons has been up to military specifications – excellent. The one weak point however is often the jack socket and I would advise replacement of these on any guitar no matter how new. I always use stereo sockets wired for mono as this gives an extra sprung internal contact, which makes for a tighter fit and better durability.

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However, although well made, Gibsons are rather un-inventive, all you have are two volume and tone controls plus a selector switch. The tone controls are nothing more than shunts for the treble so you either have the straight pickup sound or a muffled version of it. The three pickup version is wired with the neck and middle pickup permanently joined together.


SGs generally come with humbuckers but the junior has been supplied with single coil P90 pickups. The resonant frequency of a humbucker is usually about 3000hz which is what gives them their distinctive tone whilst a P90 pickup has a much brighter response with more treble. The P90`s do not have the same noise rejection and are often a little microphonic because the coil is not as tightly packed as those are in the humbucker. Personally I prefer the sound of a P90 but it is all a matter of taste.

Like the Les Paul, the wiring on an SG may be modified to give a tremendous new range of tones by pickup coil splitting and out of phase wiring, all done without changing the outward appearance of the instrument at all. There is a Les Paul version with the pickups already split with various switching options but it retails at about £2500!

What can be done to improve the sounds from an SG? Well, lots actually, the two pickups can both be split and so all the combinations of four pick ups in and out of phase are available. Also, the treble bleed capacitor found on Telecasters may be fitted to give an extra top lift. In fact all the standard Gibson sounds are available with the addition of an “Acoustic” sound plus several new tones usually only available on Fenders. All work carried out without any drilling or alteration to the look of the guitar and no batteries required.