Price paid: $ 1100
Purchased from: alltime.ru
Sound — 10
The sound is just fine, so concentrated and it hits outright like Mike Tyson's right jab. I use a tube amp and Maxon tube stampboxes with some Vintage boosters. Well, let's see what contributes to this sound in general. The mahogany body and the pickups. I don't like to turn on both pickups at a time, so I can tell you about each one separately. The neck pickup is very good for blues, very fat and compliant, you can hear it clearly and it has very good sustain. However, it does not sound like a Strat or something. I mean it's no crystal sound. It has its own massive tone, very expressive and defined, but for crystal tone you may want to put P-90's or some other singles. The bridge pickup gives more brightness, but still one may find it be a bit too dull, because a 498T has less treble. However, it's not an obstacle for it at all to be as crunching as a rosined bow. I'd say this guitar is a sort of Baritone or viola instruments; a cello, not a violin. So if you want some squesky tone, you perhaps don't have deal with Mahogany. The clean sound is also massive and thick and it does not ring like a bell, but it sings like a bird. Again, you can find it a bit coarse and harsh, but wait, the modern tone is not as tender, I must say. I even tried to put a Seymour Duncan SH-4 in place of my 498T, but it definitely lost in tone.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing over 20 years and I don't know what inspired me to buy this SG Standard, since the SG was the last type I might take a glance at. When my guitar arrived, my first impression was strongly negative; its tone seemed too dark for me, opaque and stupid, after an LP and Jackson Soloist Standard I owned; but the longer I played, the less upset I was. It IS very balanced. I owned a Japanese Jackson as well, and a custom LP, and some other manually crafted guitars and my SG beats them all. Many people complain this model sounds messy, soapy, dark, no clarity, but that depends on what you mean by this. What's wrong with it, if your chords sound powerfully like one monolithic instrument or if your tone doesn't scratch the air? You know, it may be like the Ugly Duckling, the better your gear is, the nicer your guitar will sound. Yes, I was forced to get rid of my old gear and buy a tube amp with tube stamp-boxes and boosters. From what experts told me, the range of 490 pickups will show its worth only on an excellent gear. Besides, the better way is to go to a store and select one guitar after checking out a bunch of similar ones. Well, now I have an impression that it will be more difficult for me to pick up the similar guitar than it used to be. I have had time to come to love with this tone. For some heavy stuff I will get maybe a Flying V once upon a time, but for blues and rock I may install P-90's in place the 490s, but only on a new SG. If it were stolen I think I'd considered an SG Supreme or another Standard.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Too early to draw a conclusion. I would not dare drop it on the floor. The switch works softly. No backup is needed. It also has some protection pellicle on the upper deck. The time will show. Seems rather reliable.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
It came too unadjusted: the neck was too sagged and the strings were too far away form the fingerboard, somewhere about 7 mm. If I came across such an rough instrument in a store, I would definitely past it by. A guy Who brought my SG to me said that it was just Gibson, so they didn't even check those guitars. So I needed to use the Tool and manual that they provided with the guitar in order to adjust it. Fortunately, with the Tone-o-Matic it was a kid's play to put it to order, though it took me some time to tune the strings' lengths. It stays in tune very well, but the first string sometimes gets lower. The neck. The neck is my cup of tea, no words to add. As for the rest it's ok, may be I'd have bought a sunburst model, had they been in the same price. Anyway, whatever guitar I've owned in my life, they have always proved to be black colored. That's becoming a litle funny, isn't it? I like it when a plughole for a jack is on the upper deck, you can use an angle jack then. It will be more reliable. Another thing is this: when you play standing upright, an SG seems not as comfortable as a Les Paul, because the distance between the ends of the belt is much shorter and you feel a bit confined. So it will take you some while to get used to an SG after your Les Paul. In this nomination, alas, shapes like Jackson dinky-soloists or Ibanez RG's win totally.
Features — 10
Gibson SG Standard, Ebony, 2004, Nashville, USA, 22 frets, mahogany, Tune-O-Matic, a pair of Gibson Modern Classic pickups - 498T/490R, the Brite Wire strings (10-46). I came in a proprietary Vintage case labeled with a "Gibson" and had still kept the smell of wood or a workshop. I also found a small holdfast wrench and a short manual in the case and they both came in useful for me, yes! As for the rest, you can find it at Gibson.com.