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folks. Here’s my attempt at a review of my Gibson SG.
I bought the SG new in November 2015 for £599 from Guitar Guitar in Glasgow. I tried out a fair few guitars between £300 and £1000 including a few PRS SE models - the 2016 Les Paul Faded (which I very nearly bought) and a full fat 2016 SG Standard were some of the guitars I tried but the SG Faded was the one I settled on as it instantly felt comfortable and just what I was after.
I much preferred the satin finish on the Faded model compared to the gloss on the Standard that I had played a couple of weeks prior and although I was prepared to spend the extra and get the Standard, I clearly preferred the feel of the Faded model and it was £400 less, so it was entering no-brainer territory. The SG feels light and comfortable and when I was playing the PRS SE 245 back to back with the SG, the PRS felt more solid and beefy and the tone was likewise, but I still preferred the feel and tone from the SG. The sales guy described the SG as having more “bite” and he was spot on. It just sounded cooler to me. I knew it was the right guitar and now after 4 months of owning it and playing it most days, I still love it. My Epiphone feels noticeably cheaper by comparison.
I’ve only been playing since January 2015 and play at home, generally on my own and am now taking weekly lessons. At this point, I can only see my playing time increasing as I just keep wanting to play it more and more.
It’s a much simpler looking finish than the SG Standard with the satin finish, dot fret markers and the uncovered pickups, but I really like it. I read lots about SGs having issues with balance / weight distribution but mine is spot on, there’s no neck dive or feeling that the neck is really long, it just feels very comfortable and balanced. The controls are the usual Gibson / Epiphone layout that I’ve got used to but on the SG they make a much more noticeable difference, even a small movement makes a difference to the tone and I find the neck pickup much more useful than on the Epiphone. There’s a nice variety of tones available from the two humbuckers and where I play the bridge pickup almost exclusively on the Les Paul, I find I can make use of both pickups equally on the SG and also the middle setting, which I never really do on the Les Paul.
Overall I find the SG much more easy to play than any other guitar I’ve tried so far, which for a beginner / intermediate (at best!) is really confidence-inspiring. Things like string bends seem much easier on the SG, even after I re-strung it with 10-46 strings in place of the hybrid 9-46 standard strings. I opted for D’Addario NYXL and love them, they seem to work very well with the SG. The only other thing I’ve changed on the guitar from it being bog standard off the shelf was to add some Schaller strap locks that I asked to have thrown in with it.
Neck-wise, the Gibson website describes the neck profile as “historic original” and I genuinely don’t know if the neck is skinny or fat, but I think someone commented that it’s pretty chunky – whatever it is on paper it feels perfect for me. I don’t like the skinny Ibanez type necks and the Les Paul Faded felt really large, which I did like too. The PRS models I tried just didn’t feel quite right. To me, the SG seems to be somewhere in the middle of the Gibson neck shapes I’ve tried but I think it is rounder / chunkier than my Epiphone Les Paul.
In terms of flaws / bad points, there are a couple - but nothing major so far. It seems to have a buzz sometimes which I will need to get looked at, but it’s only noticeable on my Dad’s big valve amp. On the small valve amp that I normally use it’s not there so I’ll need to investigate that. The G string tuning stability seems odd and the tuners seem to do nothing then too much but I think this is down to the nut needing lubricated after asking on here what might be causing this. The Fret edges are a little bit sharp but only if you go out of your way to notice it. The pickups look a little rough around the edges too but I prefer the uncovered look to the chrome covers on the Standard and my LP. The finish of the body and neck is spot on, no issues there at all. The standard gig bag that came with the SG is crap though, it barely fits the guitar and I couldn’t fit anything other than a sheet of paper in the outer pocket – even my strap was a real squeeze to get in. It’s near useless as a carrying bag so I opted to replace it with a Mono gig bag for taking it to my lessons, which was very expensive in comparison to the standard one, but it was a good move. Thanks to the advice on here for aiming at the Mono bags! To be honest, I’d rather save the money on the purchase price and then do what I’ve done and get the bag / case that suits my needs best.
Overall, after 4 months I still love the SG and want to pick it up all the time and play it at every opportunity. I’m still learning lots about playing on a day-to-day basis but the SG is proving very versatile and the more I play it the more I bond with it. In terms of modifications I think I’d like to try and sort the tuning issue, but that could be a very simple maintenance type item. I would imagine I’ll want to do one or two other things, but nothing springs to mind right now – which is a good sign!
It really feels like a keeper, I’m delighted with it and on reflection I think it offers superb value at this price point, it certainly doesn’t feel overpriced.