Price paid: $ 400
Sound — 10
I play classic rock, blues, metal, and jazz. The sound from this SG is pure '57 Classic and as expected, can get very warm and dark-sounding. The neck pickup can play very clean, close to bell-like, while the bridge pickup can easily get the Clapton woman-tone when rolled to 0. I play this guitar on several tube amps, Fender Hotrod, H&K TriAmp MK II + H&K CC 412 A/B 30 and another friend's Mesa Road King. I can get almost all of the tones I need from this guitar in combination with those 3 tube/valve amps. The neck pickup is excellent for Jazz and Shred while the bridge pickup won't disappoint for Classic stuff like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, etc. I specially like it for nailing Cream's Tales of Brave Ulysses with a Vox Wah all the way to Allman Brothers' Derek Trucks.
Overall Impression — 9
This is a solid guitar and is easily the equivalent of the Gibson '61 RI or even the Gibsons made in 1981. It will not disappoint regardless of your musical tastes. It defines Rock and Roll and can easily hang with my MIJ Fender '62 RI Stratocasters, various MIJ Les Pauls (Epiphone Custom LP, '80 Burny FLG-150, etc.), and my dad's various Gibsons and MIA Fenders. Although the Burnys from the '80s are commanding premium prices in the US and Europe, there are still some nicely-priced ones in Japan. It's perfect as it is for my needs.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar was manufactured and assembled with great care and the solid feel reflects this. For a 27-year old guitar, it's in excellent shape! I've used this guitar for school Jazz Band shows and birthday parties without any incident. I always have a back-up guitar just in case, but haven't resorted to using the backups: a MIJ Epiphone SG '61 RI or my dad's Gibson '61 RI. I usually replace the stock strap buttons with straplocks; but, I'm not replacing anything on this beast. With regular maintenance and clean-up, this guitar will last indefinitely and can become one of my future grandchildren's main guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I bought this used SG copy from a university student/guitar instructor while visiting Tokai University for a Judo clinic/seminar so it was set up perfect. It kept up with my continuing perception of superior Japanese craftsmanship: although it had some minor almost invisible scratches, the beast can slay right off the bat, great intonation, correct pickup heights, nicely-dressed frets, buffed/polished beautifully. The Switch was quiet and didn't make any noises through fast PU switches.
Features — 9
This is a copy of the infamous Gibson '61 SG. It was Made in Japan (MIJ) in 1981 by Fernandes under the brand name Burny and was acquired as NOS (new old stock) by the original owner around 1990. It has been maintained well and so appears in mint condition. Like the original SG, it has 22 frets, a mahogany set neck with Indian Rosewood fretboard and Mahogany body, trapezoid MOP fret inlays and MOP headstock logo. The hardware is nickel-plated, it has 2 tone and 2 volume pots, 3-way switch, and the same neck profile as the Gibson '61, slightly slimmer than the SG Standard, but still rounded. The famous VH1 and VH2 passive pick-ups were introduced around this time and was available as an option on this model.