SG Special review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (201 votes)
Gibson: SG Special

Price paid: £ 500

Purchased from: Soho Soundhouse

Sound — 10
I play in a progressive/experimental hardcore band right now. But I've used this for a few bands and a few different styles. It handles all these just great really, from heavy chuggy parts to ambient post-hardcore sections. I chose to use an SG because whilst it can handle enough gain for the heavy parts (admittedly I have to tune down to drop C# and I use 12-54 gauge strings) but it isn't too high gain and has a really warm tone for clean parts and a bright crisp tone when slightly overdriven for quick punk rock type powerchords. So for me this guitar is perfect, but if you're looking for a guitar to play really heavy stuff on this isn't what you want, no amount of gain is gonna make this sound as heavy as an ESP or some other EMG-loaded beast. I've always played this through Marshalls and well, it gives you a pretty cool, Gibson-Marshall tone. Personally I like to crack up the gain, kill off the reverb and boost my mids. All in all I get the tone I want.

Overall Impression — 9
This guitar is my baby, it's always done me right and it's exceptionally well suited to my sound, but that's why I chose it. It can be adaptedly to most styles of rock music, bar country and death metal. This guitar isn't perfect, the finish wont last forever and it will need servicing over the years as all guitars do, but it'll last, it's well made and sounds good if you know what you want!

Reliability & Durability — 7
As I said in the previous section, this guitar will last, but it'll look like hell. I do beat mine up though, so I can't really say how it would fair with a more considerate owner (we base our Live show on bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan and The Fall Of Troy). I changed the strap buttons for strap locks the day I got the guitar because the guy at the shop offered to do it for free, so why would I decline? but in any case, I can't say if the originals were any good. The bridge has been a bit of a problem. The saddles have burred a lot and have broken dozens of strings, so I have changed them, but that's the only real complaint I have.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The neck on this guitar is pretty thick, it's certainly not for any lightning fast shred, and so I had to lower the action when I got it, also the fact that I put very heavy strings on it meant it wasn't as quick as I could have been, but I sacrificed some playability for sound, you don't have to and it was pretty well set up really, just not to my specifications. This guitar is a work horse, it's lasted me a number of high-octane gigs and it will last years more, having said that, you do have to look after it and the finish isn't very thick, so it'll take a lot of cosmetic damage. Personally I think an SG should look a bit beaten up and look like a road-guitar, so I'm not overly fussed at belt scratches or cracks in my finish, however, if you're looking for a guitar that won't sustain this damange, then keep looking.

Features — 9
Made 2003 or 2004 in the USA. It's a stripped down version of the SG Standard and it's fitted with everything you would expect from an SG. 2 Alnico humbuckers, 22 frets, 3-way pickup selector, rosewood fretboard, mahogany body, nothing that you didn't know already. Mine is Ebony, one of 3? colours I think Gibson offered that year (the others being wine red and a ghastly platinum). When buying an SG, I'm pretty sure 9/10 guitarists know what features the guitar's going to have, and this has everything you'd expect.

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