SG Special review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (201 votes)
Gibson: SG Special

Price paid: £ 200

Purchased from: ebay

Sound — 9
In terms of sound I would say that this guitar has a distinctly dark sounds, with that signature prominent mid-range that SG's are known for, which is something that Fender Stratocasters, and even Gibson Les Pauls can lack. I have played it through Marshall JVM amplifiers, my Bogner Alchemist 40 watt head and Bogner cabinet, a Blackstar HT 40 and various other amps that I've used in the past, and I can safely say that modern hard rock, classic rock, heavy metal and blues are very easily achieved with the guitar. Perhaps the surprise of this guitar is actually in it's neck pickups, which is surprisingly natural sounding and quite throaty, which I wasn't expecting on a guitar that was basically designed for overdrive tones. Very flexible in what it can do, and you'd have a hard time finding a guitar that can do more for the same price, let alone for less than this.

Overall Impression — 10
I have been playing for about 5 years now, and I've played to audiences of nearly 1000 people, so I can't afford to sound tacky or tiny. This guitar is one that I almost always use as a backup because I know that it will give me what I need and it won't break when I don't want it to. What would I change? I don't think I could change much without ruining the guitar, as it's made to be simple and reliable. Certainly putting active pickups in this would be a complete waste of time in my opinion, as Seymour Duncan pickups have a nice dark tone to them already. If you haven't tried one of these yet, then do so as soon as possible. Everyone has at least one, or in my case 2 or 3, guitar(s) that they will never sell. This is one of mine, full stop.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Very, very good. I have had minor issues with several guitars, including Gibson guitars, but I can honestly say that apart from a setup issue that I admit I myself caused by accident, I have no problems with this guitar at all. No pickup malfunctions, tuner breakage, bridge issues, broken dials or switches, no paint fading issues, no unduly loose screws including the strap buttons, put simply, because this guitar is so simple there is barely anything on it to go wrong in the first place. I have a Fender Telecaster that sounds terrific, but it's always a while before I can get it in tune and get it to stay there because of the non-locking tremolo system that's on virtually all Fender guitars. With this guitar there are no such problems, and while I've had to fiddle and adjust all of my other guitars at some point before I was happy, I can safely say that this guitar was put together beautifully and had required no such adjustments yet.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The setup when I got it was slightly out, but it was pre-owned, so I can't say whether that was from the factory or not. Pickups were just the right height for me, and I haven't noticed any other major flaws. There has been no tarnish in the paint-job of my guitar in all the time that I've used it, not even on the black scratch-plate. In terms of how it feels to play, this is one of the best feeling guitars I have ever held. Far easier to play than a Gibson Les Paul, and much lighter too. I would probably say that this guitar neck is ideal for my hands; for those of you wandering about how it would feel for you, it's neck is slightly shallower and narrower than the usual Gibson Les Paul neck.

Features — 9
Okay, I really can't say when this guitar was made, as I got it pre-owned, however I can safely say that this guitar is more than capable of standing it's ground against many modern guitars of the same price when new (600). 22 frets, mahogany body and neck with a rosewood finger-board as it Tradition for the Gibson SG, the frets seem to be thinner than jumbo frets, but I would say that they get the job done just as well from experience of using both. The top is simply laminated and jet black for my guitar, because a pitch black SG is about as iconic an image of heavy metal as Black Sabbath. Obviously the SG has the double cutaway, but personally I think this cutaway design works much better for getting to the higher frets than the design on a Fender Stratocaster as there is a shallow groove cut away from the top as well meaning there's less wood in your way. The pickups in my guitar are the same as were installed in it when it was first made, a nice dark-sounding pair of passive Seymour Duncan Hot Rods that work really well for giving this guitar more clarity and bite to it's tone. Personally I've never liked the 'breaking up' type of tone on some Gibson guitars, so I really like these pickups in comparison. 1 tone and 1 volume control for each humbucker pickup, making a total of 4 dials with a 3-way selector switch (bridge, bridge+neck, neck). Non-locking tuners, and they seem to work very well on my guitar, as in the 5 years I've had this guitar, I have had no problems with them.

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