Recommendations for first/only SG

Ajwain

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I’m a guitar fanatic and have been playing almost 50 years. I have a collection of fine guitars but have never really been drawn to an SG.

Of late, I feel I might be missing something, and would like a classic SG model to supplement my collection.

Any recommendations?
 

Go Nigel Go

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My only recommendation is to try it out in person if at all possible. You might love one SG and hate another even though they are at least theoretically the same. With as many years as you have as a player, you will know when you find the one you want almost as soon as you play it, but if you line up 5 in a row they may all feel quite different even though they are technically the same model and time period.

Best of luck, and don't judge them all based on the first one you pick up. :cheers:
 

Ajwain

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Thanks GNG. I’ve always shyed away from them because the neck extends so far out and they feel out of balance to me - a bit like the feel of a baritone guitar. I thought about one with a heavy vibrola which would go so far towards addressing the balance issue.

Also, I’m not sure what it would add to my tonal palette, but I kind of feel “incomplete” without one, if you know what I mean.
 

Go Nigel Go

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A Vibrola or Bigsbey will definitely help with the balance, and if you like a vibrato on your guitars as a general rule I would definitely go for one. My particular SG is a super light (modified body, so even lighter than normal) hard tail and has just about every strike against it in the "neck dive" department, but I don't care. A nice wide strap with a grippy back (mine are all suede backed) tames the tendency nicely so it is not an issue for me at all.

That neck placement has some real benefits in terms of feel and upper fret access, so it is a knife that cuts both ways.
 
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rabbit

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Hi Ajwain, welcome.

I agree with Go Nigel Go, not all SGs are alike even of the same model from the same manufacturer. Primarily it's the feel of the neck that can vary in thickness (depth) and width quite a bit, so if you have the opportunity to play before you buy you'll know immediately what feels right. Personally I had always played Les Paul style guitars but finally pulled the plug on an SG last year. At first it was awkward just as you mentioned with the seemingly elongated neck. It's the same # of frets and fretboard length as my other guitars but where the joint meets the body and how you hold the instrument is a bit of an adjustment.

I fell in love!, and now I currently own 4 SGs... A Bacchus BSG-CTM (think SG Custom), modified GRECO SG Junior, Gibson SG Classic (P90s), Gibson Special Faded.

The Gibson Classic and GRECO are the most fun to play, they are just comfortable all around. The Bacchus has that elongated feel and the Gibson Special Faded has a super chunky neck that makes it feel like more of a fight when playing, but I actually like it. Each guitar forces me to develop a personal relationship with it based on its quirks.

Have fun, experiment... they really are a different breed but worth the effort to try and relate to.
 

Ajwain

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Thanks guys.
I think playing them though in the first instance will be a challenge to my judgment. They all (as a design) feel so alien to me that I doubt I’ll know a good one even if I do find it. I don’t trust my own hands enough to make a subjective choice. I’ve played many in my time (although not for extended periods) and I was even loaned a USA Standard from a couple of weeks and even several hours with the guitar didn’t begin to feel comfortable.

I’m pretty sure that for me, it will be a “box-ticking” exercise and unless I get a gig or a session which calls for one specifically, it will probably stay in it’s case. Having said that I don’t think I can live with not owning one though… it’s a missing piece of a jigsaw and even though I don’t like them I will probably still end up buying one.
 

MR D

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I’m a guitar fanatic and have been playing almost 50 years. I have a collection of fine guitars but have never really been drawn to an SG.

Of late, I feel I might be missing something, and would like a classic SG model to supplement my collection.

Any recommendations?
You will never go wrong with a properly functioning, well set-up to your specs GIBSON SG Standard. U kno, new or used...... you can't go wrong........pick a year, any year ! AND YOUR SET !

if you want a recommenation for a speific year/model ? The 2017/2018 SG Standard (the 2017 in 'Cherry-Burst' was a one-off colour for that year only and it is pretty AWESOME IIDSSM.... 2018 was an awsome SG Standard too w/only one difference '17 to '18: '57's in 2017 vs '61R&T in 2018)... Stock from the factory the 2017/2018 SG Standard was loaded w/'57 Classic/'61 R/T Pickups/Locking Grover Tuning Machines/White Rolled Neck Binding/Hard-Shell case for $1299-$1399 ! Definitey a better priced and spec'd SG Standard than the current 2020-2022 'Modern' Collection SG Standard, they just are !!!...BUT...BUT...BUT.....the new 'MODERN' SG Standard (2020-2022) is no slouch, no Siree! ! I bought one and I just changed the pickups ('61R & '57 replaced the 490's) and put Locking Kluson Revolution TM's on it, and believe me it is a 100% completely BAD A$$ Guitar !! and some playerz like the 490's too !
 

Go Nigel Go

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As Rabbit says, it is amazing how small a difference in one dimension can make a major difference such that a different dimmension you thought was a deal breaker suddenly becomes very pallettable. For example, I find a slightly tighter fret board radius can make a much thicker neck than I would normally play suddenly very comfortable.

I bought my first SG thinking it would be like my Les Paul. It was not... It took me a little while to adjust since it was over 30 years ago now, and closer to the beginning of my playing career before I learned that I could tolerate and even come to embrace a wider range of dimensions and features than I first thought.

I would also consider getting P90 pickupss if I was looking to expand my range of options. I have plenty of Humbucker guitars in my stable now. :D
 

Ajwain

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You will never go wrong with a properly functioning, well set-up to your specs GIBSON SG Standard. U kno, new or used...... you can't go wrong........pick a year, any year ! AND YOUR SET !

if you want a recommenation for a speific year/model ? The 2017/2018 SG Standard (the 2017 in 'Cherry-Burst' was a one-off colour for that year only and it is pretty AWESOME IIDSSM.... 2018 was an awsome SG Standard too w/only one difference '17 to '18: '57's in 2017 vs '61R&T in 2018)... Stock from the factory the 2017/2018 SG Standard was loaded w/'57 Classic/'61 R/T Pickups/Locking Grover Tuning Machines/White Rolled Neck Binding/Hard-Shell case for $1299-$1399 ! Definitey a better priced and spec'd SG Standard than the current 2020-2022 'Modern' Collection SG Standard, they just are !!!...BUT...BUT...BUT.....the new 'MODERN' SG Standard (2020-2022) is no slouch, no Siree! ! I bought one and I just changed the pickups ('61R & '57 replaced the 490's) and put Locking Kluson Revolution TM's on it, and believe me it is a 100% completely BAD A$$ Guitar !! and some playerz like the 490's too !
Thanks Mr D.

That’s very good advice and exactly the sort of opinion I’d hoped to get in response to my post.

I have to confess a hatred for Grover Rotomatics and particularly on a guitar with neck dive, I want to avoid those at all costs. My OCD wouldn’t be able to tolerate the change of screw holes if I were to replace them, so it’s Kluson “tulip” tuners for me, which narrows the choice.

I’m not a massive fan of slim taper necks, but given the weight relief they offer, maybe a ‘61 Re-issue with the Maestro vibrola might be the most tolerable model for me. Do you have any experience of those?
 

Ajwain

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As Rabbit says, it is amazing how small a difference in one dimension can make a major difference such that a different dimmension you thought was a deal breaker suddenly becomes very pallettable. For example, I find a slightly tighter fret board radius can make a much thicker neck than I would normally play suddenly very comfortable.

I bought my first SG thinking it would be like my Les Paul. It was not... It took me a little while to adjust since it was over 30 years ago now, and closer to the beginning of my playing career before I learned that I could tolerate and even come to embrace a wider range of dimensions and features than I first thought.

I would also consider getting P90 pickupss if I was looking to expand my range of options. I have plenty of Humbucker guitars in my stable now. :D
Thanks GNG, but if I am to get my one and only SG, I’d want pretty much a classic spec. I have a gold-top LP with P90s and since a lot of my gigs are in orchestra pits (for amateur theatre) I’d very much appreciate the hum-cancelling nature of PAF style pickups.
 

Westernrider

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One word about the balance: A wider strap can do wonders by helping your outlook when playing a SG and fighting the dreaded neck dive. Please consider this sometime overlooked piece of equipment. Do you have short arms and fingers? Yes, the neck sticking out can be a problem. The strap can assist here also. It may help give you a different playing position to help compensate for the neck sticking out from the body.

The necks: While the SG's have the same style neck shape, please remember that they are hand finished. So the term unit by unit variation was invented for situations like this.

Play as many as you can. When you try the right one, it'll speak to you.

Many years ago, Jan 2014, I walked into a music store to get strings and saw a beautiful SG on the wall - it was made in the last 2013 SG run. Picked it up and sat down on a stool to give it a try. Literally, within 2 minutes, and I hadn't plugged it in yet, I decided to buy it.
 

Ajwain

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One word about the balance: A wider strap can do wonders by helping your outlook when playing a SG and fighting the dreaded neck dive. Please consider this sometime overlooked piece of equipment. Do you have short arms and fingers? Yes, the neck sticking out can be a problem. The strap can assist here also. It may help give you a different playing position to help compensate for the neck sticking out from the body.

The necks: While the SG's have the same style neck shape, please remember that they are hand finished. So the term unit by unit variation was invented for situations like this.

Play as many as you can. When you try the right one, it'll speak to you.

Many years ago, Jan 2014, I walked into a music store to get strings and saw a beautiful SG on the wall - it was made in the last 2013 SG run. Picked it up and sat down on a stool to give it a try. Literally, within 2 minutes, and I hadn't plugged it in yet, I decided to buy it.
Thanks Westernrider.

I don’t have particularly short arms, and it’s not that I strain to reach the tuners or the first few frets… it’s just that it feels oddly positioned and I just don’t enjoy the feel of it. My “muscle memory” won’t let me play it without looking down, because I’d land on the wrong frets!

Secondly, in a gig situation, I’m usually toting a Strat, a Les Paul and a 12-string Dano, so I’d be unlikely to wear an SG on a strap. The times I’m likely to want to play it is either in an orchestra pit or a recording studio, and in both situations I’d be in a seated position. If I take my hands off the guitar sitting across my knee, it will neck dive and that makes me extremely uncomfortable. I often need to turn pages in a score or annotate my music; reach for a slide or even swap instruments in an extremely tight space. I never use a strap when seated as I need to be free to switch guitars mid number (some scores call for acoustic or even banjo just for 16 bars in a number and then switch back to electric). Believe me, the balance is critical.

I know a number of pros whose guitar of choice is an SG, so they must manage it okay, but the neck dive would drive me nuts!
 

Go Nigel Go

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I know a number of pros whose guitar of choice is an SG, so they must manage it okay, but the neck dive would drive me nuts!
They do, and you should be able to do the same. The neck dive thing is something to consider, but is much less of an issue than most who fixate on it would have you believe.

I don't trust any of my guitars to stay in my lap without 3 points of contact, and the SG is no different in that regard. Be aware, but don't sweat it. You have been at it long enough to know how to hold onto your guitar and should have no trouble adapting.
 

cerebral gasket

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SG Classic

Neck: stock Gibson P-90
Bridge: Kinman Hx Nasty 90 Heavy

Single coil P-90 neck pup for cleans.
Stacked Humbucker under a P-90 cover bridge pup for hi gain use.

Classic.jpg
 

Ajwain

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They do, and you should be able to do the same. The neck dive thing is something to consider, but is much less of an issue than most who fixate on it would have you believe.

I don't trust any of my guitars to stay in my lap without 3 points of contact, and the SG is no different in that regard. Be aware, but don't sweat it. You have been at it long enough to know how to hold onto your guitar and should have no trouble adapting.
Yes, you’re right GNG; I am indeed fixating on it…. It’s a bit like the top frets access on a Les Paul, or bends choking on a 7.25” fretboard radius. All of these so called “problems” are only problems if you let them be. I’m sure I’d get used to virtually any guitar if it was well maintained and we’ll set up.

I suppose I’m trying to convince myself that I can’t cope with them because I just plain don’t like SGs. I don’t like the feel of them and I don’t like the look of them. At the end of the day though, it’s a tool and if I need one (or whoever hires me thinks I need one), then I ought to have one for completeness. I could say the same thing about a banjo or a 12-string guitar… I hate the things, but they’re a means to an end and they do the job!

I still think I could minimise my pain though by getting a 61 re-issue with a heavy vibrola. I’m just going to have to play some of them and see.

I thank you all for your advice though… lots of food for thought.
 

MR D

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Thanks Mr D.

That’s very good advice and exactly the sort of opinion I’d hoped to get in response to my post.

I have to confess a hatred for Grover Rotomatics and particularly on a guitar with neck dive, I want to avoid those at all costs. My OCD wouldn’t be able to tolerate the change of screw holes if I were to replace them, so it’s Kluson “tulip” tuners for me, which narrows the choice.

I’m not a massive fan of slim taper necks, but given the weight relief they offer, maybe a ‘61 Re-issue with the Maestro vibrola might be the most tolerable model for me. Do you have any experience of those?
Yeah, I got a 2019 SG 'Original' w /Maestro (itssa Standard) and its AWESOME..Mine has no neck dive and I bought it coz it was the only SG made that year w/'57's out of the factory....it was a limited run for Zzounds and CME...only difference between it and the SG Standard '61 is Pickups ('61 R&T instead of '57's) and the '61 Standard havin 22nd fret neck joint and my SG 'Original' havin 19TH Fret NJ... U C, I won't buy an SG w/22nd fret Neck Joint, just won't....but that's just me and my thinking that GIBSON deemed it a design flaw in 1964...so I do too.... just all these years later.

IF YOUR THINKING ABOUT A SG STANARD '61 w/MAESTRO ? and u don't care about the 22nd fret Neck Joint......I SAY GO FOR IT ! I'd bet my boots its BAD-A$$ ! Mine is...
 

An Abiding Dude

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Yes, you’re right GNG; I am indeed fixating on it…. It’s a bit like the top frets access on a Les Paul, or bends choking on a 7.25” fretboard radius. All of these so called “problems” are only problems if you let them be. I’m sure I’d get used to virtually any guitar if it was well maintained and we’ll set up.

I suppose I’m trying to convince myself that I can’t cope with them because I just plain don’t like SGs. I don’t like the feel of them and I don’t like the look of them. At the end of the day though, it’s a tool and if I need one (or whoever hires me thinks I need one), then I ought to have one for completeness. I could say the same thing about a banjo or a 12-string guitar… I hate the things, but they’re a means to an end and they do the job!

I still think I could minimise my pain though by getting a 61 re-issue with a heavy vibrola. I’m just going to have to play some of them and see.

I thank you all for your advice though… lots of food for thought.
You make it sound as if you're putting a gun to your own head to force yourself to buy an SG. There is certainly a specific aesthetic to an SG, but it is a wonderful instrument. I've been playing them off and on for 35-odd years and they've never let me down or disappointed me. Maybe a toe-dip via an Epiphone would suit you rather than laying down well over a grand for an American? That being said, I love my 2021 '61 Standard (access the 22nd fret without touching the neck heel! I was fortunate to get mine before Gibson's recent price hikes though, but you can always search for a deal on Reverb, Craigslist, etc.) and my '08 Classic that I've just finished modding with new pickups. The neck dive issue is a bit overblown, easily compensated with a leather strap with a textured underside, but if your a nylon strap guy, then it could be annoying. For such a thin bodied, light guitar they are fantastically resonant. With the right set of pickups, it's a monster. But Nigel's advice is the best: if you can find a guitar shop with SG's in stock, go play them and see if there is anything about them that might directly appeal to you, if not, then save your money and buy something you'd truly love.

FYI, this is sitting in the Gibson Demo Shop right now:

 

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Col Mustard

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Ajwain said:
"I suppose I’m trying to convince myself that I can’t cope with them because I just plain don’t like SGs. I don’t like the feel of them and I don’t like the look of them. At the end of the day though, it’s a tool and if I need one (or whoever hires me thinks I need one), then I ought to have one for completeness."

Welcome to ETSG... although you seem like a reluctant guest at the party.
We are a group of SG enthusiasts here. I am too, so think that your comment
above is kind of puzzling. Really?
If you don't like the feel of an SG and you don't like the look of an SG
then for gawd's sake don't buy one. That would be silly IMHO.
Play the guitars you already own and like. Do yourself a favor.
Completeness is an illusion. I have a hard time imagining any gig where the
music director insists you use an SG. That doesn't sound likely.

The ONLY reason to buy an SG is if you LOVE the feel of the SG neck.
It's fast and comfortable. That's the only way to describe it. An SG will never
feel like a Lester, or any other Gibson. It will never sound like one either, although
there is kinship and some overlap of tones.
The only reason to buy an SG is if you LOVE the double cutaways with the crescent moon shape AND if you hanker for a guitar that only weighs 6 3/4 lb, or maybe 7 lb.

That notion about the neck feeling longer is nonsense. The neck is the same as any other Gibbie or Epi. Guitarists who feel that the neck is a long stretch are probably
holding the guitar incorrectly for its design. Stand up to practice, practice a lot,
and then stand up to play it. Suddenly it's one of the most comfortable designs ever made. But if you don't want to stand up and play it, don't buy one.

Me... I absolutely love the feel of both my SGs... both of mine balance just fine.
Of course I always stand to perform, so I always stand when I practice.
I never recommend anyone buy an SG that has Grover Rotomatic tuners on it
because those are too heavy for an SG. They're fine on other guitars.

I'll also say that you'll NEVER use an SG at some gig where you're supposed to sit down and play. Use the instruments you already are used to. The SG guitar was designed as a Rocker, so it's designed to be played standing up.
Boots on the front monitor optional.

If you don't ever play standing up then you probably don't need an SG.
Don't buy one and leave it in the case.
You'd do better with a Gibson ES-339, which will fit on your lap comfortably
and sound beautiful. If you don't have one of those, then you need one for
completeness.... *grins
I love mine (the Epi version).
Caledonia 10-01-16@100.jpg
 
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3bolt79

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Well I have a 2022 SG Standard with Grover tuners.

I have no problem with neck-dive because I use a locking leather strap, and as I have a belly that protrudes a bit, I wear it somewhat off to my right side a bit, and my right arm is always in contact with the body.

As far as sitting goes, I never sit on a raised bar stool. If I sit in a normal chair, or Indian style on the floor, it never slips.
 


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