SG Standard review by Gibson

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 6
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.6 Neat
  • Users' score: 8.7 (501 votes)
Gibson: SG Standard

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Features — 7
Good day fellow gearheads, today I am reviewing my straight out of Nashville, Tennessee 2012 Gibson SG Standard. This specific SG (Solid Guitar) model features coil-splitting and was part of a dealer's exclusive run for Musician's Friend and Guitar Center retailers. Coil-splitting is made possible through two push/pull volume control knobs, and when either push/pull knob is engaged the corresponding dual coil pickup "splits" to become a single coil pickup. A nifty feature if you are looking for a guitar with an extended range of tones. My SG is equipped with non-covered, black and white Zebra Burstbucker pickups: Burstbucker-1 in the neck position and Burstbucker-3 in the bridge position. It has a 24.75" scale, 12" radius, 1960s slim profile, mahogany neck that is glued-in and set at its mortise and tenon joint with the guitar's mahogany double cutaway body. The rosewood fingerboard has 1-ply white binding along each side, acrylic trapezoid inlays, a 1.695 wide Corian nut, and 22 frets that feel rather large, so the frets size may be "jumbo." The headstock features Mother of Pearl "Gibson" and "crown" logo inlays, a blank 2-ply black and white bell shaped truss rod cover, and 14:1 ratio nickel plated vintage tuners with slightly green Pearloid buttons. My SG has a transparent Vintage Cherry Nitrocellulose finish and a full 3-ply black pickguard. It has a Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge followed by a stop bar tailpiece, a three position pickup selector, and four black top hat style control knobs with silver inserts (2 volume, 2 tone). The stock strap buttons have been replaced with Loxx strap lock buttons and came with a black Gibson hard shell case with white plush lining, a truss rod wrench and Gibson literature (owner's manual, quality assurance card, and warranty).

Sound — 6
This guitar is a great choice for playing any style of rock music. Iconic rockers Angus Young and Tony Iommi are a couple of names that immediately come to mind when thinking about the Gibson SG. I personally prefer punk rock and have seen numerous punks playing SGs. Tim Armstrong reportedly used an SG exclusively when recording the first Rancid album and Mike Ness used an SG throughout the early years of Social Distortion before switching to the Gibson Les Paul. Another guitar hero of mine, Lars Frederiksen from Rancid, is also known to use a Gibson SG in addition to his Epiphone Les Paul Custom. Yes, you read that right, an Epiphone. And it is reported to be completely stock, no upgrades or modifications. Moving on, I have played the SG through my Fender Mustang I V.2 solid state combo amplifier and a half stack consisting of a Peavey 5150 straight cabinet and Crate Excalibur GX-900H solid state head. I do not use many effects and pretty much just use the onboard high gain of the amplifier's overdrive channel. I rarely ever use the clean channel, sometimes I wonder why it is even there, I'm kidding of course. Overall, I find the SG has a full sound favoring the darker side of the spectrum when using the Burstbucker pickups in dual coil mode. The guitar sounds rather empty and thin in comparison when coil-splitting in single coil mode. In either mode the guitar is not very bright like a Stratocaster.

Action, Fit & Finish — 6
In feel the factory did a good job with the guitar's "set-up" as well as adjusting the pickups to the proper height. A "good" job, not "poor" and not "outstanding." In other words, about average. I was not blown away by the action or by it's advertised "fastest neck in the world." Then again, I am not much of a shredder, I am more of a rhythm guitarist who knows a few solos. On the other hand, I did find flaws with the placement of the high E string and the tuners. The high E string appears to have been placed too close to the edge of the fretboard, which causes the string to slide off the fretboard at times when playing D chords. I have not encountered this problem with other guitars and I am quite disappointed to have discovered this flaw on a Gibson guitar, given their reputation for superior craftsmanship (which is often cited to justify their hefty price tags). Also, keeping this guitar in tune is a challenge. Like any good musician, I regularly tune to pitch with a tuner. But I have noticed I have to tune this guitar more frequently than others, almost after every song. I find my SG has a tendency to go sharp, and I will admit my tuning technique can be to blame to a certain extent. Then again, the SG goes sharp considerably, and more frequently than the other guitars in my collection (Epiphone Les Paul Standard, Epiphone Les Paul Black Beauty 3, Epiphone Sheraton II, and Gretsch G5120 Electromatic).

Reliability & Durability — 8
All quirks aside, there remains no doubt in my mind that the Gibson SG Standard can withstand live playing. This is a professional level guitar that is favored by many working musicians who use it as their number one workhorse when playing live and in the studio. Other than the tuning issues I previously mentioned, I found nothing wrong with the remaining hardware. The nitrocellulose finish appears to be flawless and I have to say I have just as much fun cleaning this beautiful guitar as I do playing it. I am confident that both the hardware and finish will go the distance. Now on the subject of performing live, I would never play a gig without a backup, and neither should you. Unless you're a sick freak who likes the kind of attention one gets when something goes wrong: like changing a broken string in the middle of your set for example. Besides, when is the last time you saw [insert your favorite band or musician] perform guitar emergency guitar repair on stage?

Overall Impression — 6
I have been playing guitar for the past twenty plus years and have played a variety of acoustic, classical, and electric guitars. After years of being a loyal Fender Stratocaster guy (Californian born and raised) I discovered I am a Les Paul guy. I flat out do not like the SG. In addition to the problems with the high E string’s placement and tuners, I feel the SG is too light and neck heavy. In other words, when you take both hands off of the guitar gravity annoyingly pulls the neck end down towards the ground. I tried to like the SG but ultimately prefer my Epiphone Les Paul Standard over the Gibson SG Standard in tone, feel, and looks. I do not particularly care for the coil-splitting feature and have no intentions on buying another guitar with such feature. The only thing I love about this guitar is the fact that it is a genuine made in the USA Gibson guitar: way to go Gibson marketing team.

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