Price paid: $ 799.99
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 8
This guitar sounds great. I use this guitar tuned in D Standard and play mostly metal. I play through a Blackheart BH15H with two 1x12 cabs, and my effects chain consists of a Korg Pitchblack tuner, MXR Fullbore Metal, MXR 6 Band EQ, and MXR Carbon Copy. The Bridge pickup is awesome when distorted, has tons of bite and still retains clarity. Nice and punchy. The neck pickup is better for clean tones as one could assume, and sounds very rich and full, with just a bit of high end sparkle. I haven't had any trouble finding good tones with this thing, but I notice it does sound a bit better if you roll the volume and tone back to about 7 as opposed to having them cranked full blast, it can get a little muddy then.
Overall Impression — 9
This guitar was exactly what I needed. It contrasts my Les Paul Studionicely, having both of them gives me tons of options in how I choose to sculpt a sound and find the tone I am looking for at a given moment. I would buy this guitar again, without a doubt. I love everything about it. It is basically the SG Special Faded with an upgraded finish plus a hard case. I was very, VERY satisfied.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This thing feels solid. It all was built to last. I would use it without a backup (but I would bring my other guitar to save myself the hassle of changing tuning between songs). The finish shows no signs of wear yet, but I have a feeling that when it does it will only add to the character of the guitar. It doesn't chip easily, but you can put a dent in the wood if you are careless. I love this guitar, definitely a workhorse.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
It seemed to have a good factory setup but to be honest I changed it to my preferences almost right away. I didn't have to change much, lowered the action and in turn had to lower the Bridge pickup a bit. The Bridge pickup is high up there but it is supposed to be, I only lowered it so that my strings have clearance and don't buzz on it. I fine tuned the intonation after switching to heavier strings. No glaring mistakes in the setup or finish presented themselves, and I was looking. Electronics all seem to be in good shape as well. I am going to say here that the satin ebony finish is beautiful, and very comfortable to move around the neck. I prefer it over the feeling of the glossy finish on my Les Paul Studio, but don't get me wrong I love the Studio as well.
Features — 8
This is a review about the SG Special in a Satin Ebony finish, not quite "faded", but not the Standard glossy finish. It isn't a matte finish either, it's a really nice deep black that you can see and feel the woodgrain through. It was made in the USA in 2011, 22 frets. Mahogany body, rosewood fingerboard, tune-o-matic bridge, Kluson tuners. 490R in the neck position and a 490T in the Bridge position, 2 tone and 2 volume pots, 3 way selector. Also includes a hard case, a plus over the faded versions.