SG Special review by Gibson

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.1 (201 votes)
Gibson: SG Special

Price paid: $ 700

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features — 9
I picked up this guitar as a closeout at Guitar Center. It's a 2015 Gibson USA SG Special. It has quite a few new features for 2015. It has a 24 fret mahogany neck that has a wider and thicker rosewood fingerboard than in previous years. The neck has a brass adjustable nut, which is cut with a PLEK machine along with smaller frets. It has a Les Paul 100 signature on the front of the headstock and a cheezy hologram on the back. Zebra 61 pickups with 2 volume 2 tone knobs, non coil splitting. It originally came with G Force tuners that according to the guy at GC were recalled and replaced with Gibson Kluson tuners (fine by me). This one has a gloss fireburst finish with no pick guard. It also includes a really nice gold fitted Gibson USA hard case. I gave it a 9 because of the hologram, dot inlays, and lack of a pickguard.

Sound — 8
I play mostly rock and the various genres of metal and play rhythm in a prog metalcore band. The only amps I've played it through was a Marshall DSL at GC, and my Mesa 550+ with an OCD in front along with an EQ and noisegate in the loop. Overall I'm impressed with the sound but not blown away, the bridge pickup does rock and thrash metal pretty well as an SG should. I haven't messed with drop tunings, just standard and drop D so I can't say how it would handle that yet. The clean channel sounds inspiring, the pickups blend well together and give off a rather dark melodic tone. Nice sustain as well. I'll give it an 8 for my style of playing, not sure at this point if pickups will end up swapped or not.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
This section is the reason I bought the guitar in the first place. The neck, nut and fretboard are superb. The frets are perfectly crowned, polished, and rounded on the edges, it really is butter to play. At GC the action was a touch high for my liking but not bad at all, I adjusted it when I re-strung it as soon as it came home and it is now easily the best playing guitar I own. Feels great when playing standing like I do 90% of the time, it balances well (no neck dive) and is light and comfortable.

Every bit of hardware on this guitar seems tight and right. The gloss fireburst finish is beautiful, and would be perfect EXCEPT for the stupid hologram on the back of the headstock is bubbled a little bit and it's under the finish! I noticed it when I was re-stringing it. If I didn't really like how well this guitar plays it would likely be going back just because of that. If they would have went without the hologram, this would be a 10. Because of the stupid little sticker under the finish behind the headstock, it get's an 8.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar would definitely stand live playing and will probably see a lot of it. Strap buttons are solid and large enough that you have to force a strap onto them which is good because with the position of the neck strap button I don't think strap-locks would work very well. I'd happily take it as my main. The case that came with it seems roadworthy if not bulletproof. The finish seems durable like it would hold up as well as any guitar. It is in my opinion a professional level guitar. I cant think of a reason not to give it a 10 because I cant think of a reason the hologram could make it less reliable or durable. I have not played out with it yet.

Overall Impression — 8
Like I said before I'm mainly a rock/metal player and look at guitars from that point of view. For that I would say it's a good match. The playability of the neck is where this guitar really shines. I own a few comparable guitars including a 97 Gibson Les Paul Studio with Duncan Distortion pups, an Ibanez RGT with stock pups, and a Dean Hardtail with EMGs. They are all setup to my specs but this guitar has the best feel I can't get over it. I dig the les paul sig on an SG headstock, they haven't done that since the sixtys! I'm glad I didn't have to deal with the robot tuners, and for the price I got it for I feel like it was a steal. If it was stolen I'd be looking for another one. The only thing I don't like about it is the hologram. For a 10 it would need trapezoid inlays, a full pickguard, maybe a hotter set of pups with nickel covers, and no hologram.

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