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 Post subject: I wound up with an SG
PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:08 pm 
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Location: Southern Indiana
So I had a guitar for sale, guy comes over, and wants a cheaper but highly modified epiphone guitar I had on the shelf. He offers me a really low end Gibson SG that recently came out - a 120th anniv. SGJ. I am not a huge SG fan. I wasn't trying to sell that guitar too. But in typical fashion (for me anyway) I put all kinds of work in this Epi, different pickups, locking keys, roller bridge, and bigsby with a vibramate on it. So I figured I could move this SG probably quicker for a bit more money than I could get out of that Epi, and although I REALLY modded and LIKED that epi (a lot), it would not likely sell for what I would get out of that Gibby. The Gibby was one of their cheap models, had that "thin" or "worn" finish, had some funkly new speed knobs - like old electra speed knobs with the notches in them, but about a 1/4 taller - strange. It also had 24 frets (I like 22 more). The frets are medium jumbos, not the large ones. Vintage keys. It has no binding and dot inlays, and a little uglier "Gibson" screened on the headstock. Pickups were uncovered Zebras, but were conventional (not like those dirty fingers or something hot, but good old regular PAF types). It was a very thin cherry finish on the mahogany, and VERY thin - just not much there. There is a little wear in the finish already on the back of the neck, on the side where it rests on your pants leg when you play it, and underneath the strings where a pickguard would be if it had one.

I wasn't going to keep this thing. Hmmm. NICE feeling neck, very fast, chunky but not too big, not too small. Hmmm, these pickups really sound GREAT. darn, this plays fantastic. Setup a little bit, MAN, it plays even better. I had a set of the more traditional Silver dish knobs that they put on most SGs (import replacements, I had to slightly widen the holes for the slightly larger US pot shafts). I put those on and they look like they belong there. I put a PLAIN Gibson style truss rod cover instead of the SGJ one that was kind of UGLY. Looks a lot better. I oiled the fretboard too, nice looking rosewood. This guitar is balanced, it plays and sounds awesome - VERY FAST. It isn't as ugly now too. I ordered a small pickguard for it (an import one to go around the pickup rings, like later SGs). I ordered a cheap one so there may be some trimming/adjusting. I ordered it CHEAP so may take a month to get it. But now it looks like I will keep it. I figured if I can't get $450 out of a real gibson that is this nice, I should keep it. These cheap gibsons are FANTASTIC players. And it is LIGHT too (since these are so thin). I am floored Gibson can make a guitar so cheap and yet be this nice. Tom said that he was impressed with the new gibsons recently. I think he is right. I had a 70s tribute LP for a little while, and it was as nice except it had those dirtyfingers pickups that were really hot and I didn't care for them. A friend bought it put Sheptone Tributes in it, and it is KILLER. A fantastic stage guitar when he does not want to take his $3000 LP out - in fact - I bet it sounds BETTER than his $3000 paul. I had a V that was like that too, and it was nice (sold it though). And I have a white SG with P90s, but now I have Lollar P90s in it. It RAWKS too. So I guess I have another Gibson. Oh, the pots are all on a circuit board and dropped in there. I don't care, still good US pots and they don't move around or become disconnected that way. I won't likely be changing them out for individual CTS pots unless needed. Also the pickups use connectors and are modular too - just like a wiring harness in a car. I have to say it does work. I am surprised more don't do this currently.

If you see these used for about $400-500 you might want to check it out. It is great for that money and is US made. I love electras, but this is a great guitar too. I just like playing it. It is comfortable and sounds good like my Leslie West.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:54 am 
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I had a similar experience with a Tribute:

http://jackbaruth.com/?p=2112

and I managed to play a funny trick on some of the know-nothings in the Heritage Owners Club, too.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:57 am 
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Location: Southern Indiana
That is really excellent! I thought about getting one of those back then because I like goldtops but can't see spending what a normal one would cost me. I really liked the 50s tribute model too because I like chunkier necks on those models. With that thin finish it will be a natural relic sooner rather than later. I can do the fretwork myself, so a lot of effort but no cost. I would probably put Sheptone Tributes in it, so a little cost there (new they'd be a little more than the used set of Gibsons, less than new Gibsons, but these are fantastic PAF reproductions - no relationship but highly recommended to check out if you can). Maybe they learned their lesson, but I think they probably just improved their automation, but this one didn't need ANY fretwork at all. I assume these are as close to 100% automation as they could do. The frets are a little smaller but nicely crowned, rounded, and polished. My LP standard is a killer guitar but it isn't crowned nearly as well as this. When things get better financially I will look for one.

Yeah, they are otherwise a LOT alike - thin finish, nothing really smooth and glossy, but probably easier to play (because gloss can be sticky). On this one, at least for the time being, I can live with the circuit board pots (because the pots used are OK). Yes the wiring is plugged together just like yours. I don't know what pickups are in it, whatever came in it, but they are PAF like output and resistance and don't need any changing. So the funky knobs get replaced with normal looking ones, small pickguard added (I ordered a cheap but correct looking import one, we shall see when it finally arrives), and the ugly SGJ truss rod cover replaced by a plain one like many SGs have had in the past. It won't have binding, and I don't care. It has a slightly homely headstock (Gibson screening looks a little thicker, and no binding). It still will have 24 frets, but you know an SG does not have the neck pickup right at where that 24th fret would be normally anyway. From what I see, it has the pickup in the same place as the 22 fret models. This one has a rosewood board too - not baked liked they did for a while when the EPA kept raiding Gibson. I don't know though, baked fretboards probably sound fine. I'd have to ask you about that. I don't care for vintage style keys, but as long as they don't slip they are probably OK. If they do I'll put grovers on them or something like that.

I thought about possibly putting a Bigsby B5 on this eventually. If I did, I'd get the vibramate too. But right now, lets just see how it turns out. So far all the changes I made to it have been purely cosmetic, to NORMALIZE it. Once I do that, it may be "done."

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:02 am 
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I'm with you on Sheptones. I've bought a dozen sets and installed them in everything from Strats to PRSi.


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