Sonex 180 Custom review by Gibson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.6 (56 votes)
Gibson: Sonex 180 Custom
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Price paid: $ 250

Purchased from: used on Craigs List

Sound — 10
These are exceptionally great sounding guitars overall and they fit my style perfectly, as well as pretty much anything I could imagine, with the exception of jazz due to the fact that these pickups are so hot. I play dirty electric blues with my Sonex 180 Deluxes. I am playing either through a modded 68 Fender Bassman, Orange Dual Terror, or if I want to get heavier, a Splawn Nitro or Splawn Promod. I generally don't use much effects wise with these guitars except for maybe a little bit of reverb. The pickups are very bright and extremely hot (actually the hottest pickups I have ran accross to date). They are very dynamic and you can go from sparkling clean to mild dirt OD by just your picking, or the volume knob for a more dramatic effect. I typically give nothing a 10, but this for this section, it is truely deserving.

Overall Impression — 10
I play hard driven dirty electric blues with these guitars and it is a great match. I have played around eight years, and these guitars are quickly making it to the top of my list of most played guitars. If it were stolen or lost I would definitely search out more of them, in fact I like them so much I am currently searching out more of them. I may actually start some form of collection of them. I like them because they are great, solid guitars, and something you don't see everyday, and they all have a story. There isn't anything I wish it had per say, but a P90 would be cool, but I won't be modding either one of my sonex's.

Reliability & Durability — 7
These guitars are survivors, both have had rough lives prior to my acquisition. I have to ding Gibson a little bit for the broken headstock a little bit, but in reality it was because it was knocked over or dropped. The hardware is solid as can be (with the exception of the tuners, they are at about 75%), Gibsons are finished in nitro, so the finish is pretty worn on both of them, but that is due to the nitro, not the quality.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
As far as the action fit and finish go, I can not really say, being that they are both 31 years old, but construction wise, the routing was done very well, the electronics are still good (not even a scratchy pot, and yes they are origional). As forementioned the tuning pegs haven't held up the best, but they both hold tune excellently. The nut wasn't cut the best on one of them from the factory (I am not 100% positive it is the origional nut, but I am pretty sure it is).

Features — 9
I own two of these, and this review is going to be a summation of the two. They are 100% identical even down to the color, both 1980 models, they were made in the good ol' USA, although I do not know in what factory. The body is listed as Rosinwood (yes rosinwood, not rosewood), and I believe the neck is mahogany, although am not positive. They sport beauitiful rosewood fretboards (you can't find rosewood like this any more). They are dual humbucker, with a tuneomatic and stoptail. The pickups are Gibson's Dirty Fingers (my new favorite pickup), two volume, two tone, and a three way Switch (just like a Les Paul). The tuners are not branded, so I am assuming they are Gibson tuners, and have weathered the last 31 years quite well, but defintely aren't as smooth as when they came from the factory. One of the two had a fractured headstock that was professionally repaired. In case you are unaware, that is a relatively common thing with Gibsons, due to the fact that they only use one piece of wood for the neck and the pitch backward to put just the right amount of tension on the strings.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    gunninks
    I have a metal flake blue 1980 Gibson Sonex 180 Standard I purchased in 1997 for $250usd. I replaced the original pickups with chrome DiMarzio PAF classic's, a custom made mirrored pickguard and chrome knurled knobs. I absolutely love the guitar. I can play anything from blues, rock, punk and metal. it sounds great clean and is very harmonic and full with the gain all the way up. I play it through a pre gibson trace eliot super tramp half stack and boss effects.
    mike.mooney.37
    I've had my Sonex 180 custom since 1983, and I love it. Only downside is the weight, really hard on the shoulder on a long gig. But it's built like the proverbial brick shithouse, stays in tune in all conditions, and sustains like a mother****er. It's like a cross between a Les Paul and a Telecaster, with the best features of both. If you've got one, hang on to it. If you haven't - start hunting!
    acmemetal
    It's funny that you frequently see negative comments about these guitars on the internet, but never from by someone who actually owns one.Usually by some les Paul snob, or Gibby hater. By the way I think they are just so funky cool looking, but I own a GGC-700.
    acmemetal
    It's funny that you frequently see negative comments about these guitars on the internet, but never from by someone who actually owns one.Usually by some les Paul snob, or Gibby hater. By the way I think they are just so funky cool looking, but I own a GGC-700.
    acmemetal
    It's funny that you frequently see negative comments about these guitars on the internet, but never from by someone who actually owns one.Usually by some les Paul snob, or Gibby hater. By the way I think they are just so funky cool looking, but I own a GGC-700.