When it comes to classic rock guitars, the Gibson SG has a history that is hard to beat. Any guitar that has been played by Jimmy Page in the Led Zeppelin era will carry a mystique about it and the Gibson SG is one of the most-loved instruments in rock. Alongside Led Zeppelin, some of the greatest riffs in rock music from AC/DC or Eric Clapton have flowed from a Gibson SG.
Besides that, the first heavy metal songs were written on this guitar. Tommy Iommi, the guitarists of the Black Sabbath, used Gibson SG to play some of the most popular metal riffs of all time. Without the Gibson SG, maybe we would never hear the “Iron Man”, “Paranoid”, or “War Pigs”. Although he did start on the Fender, after trying the Gibson SG, Tommy remained faithful to it until today.
It is, therefore, no surprise to learn that Noel Gallagher, no stranger to walking down the memory lane of music, is a big fan of the instrument. The Gibson SG features extensively on the Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds album and in his live shows.
Gibson SG represents a legend among electric guitars. From its introduction in 1961 until today, it stayed one of the most popular guitars. You might not know this, but the production of this guitar has never been discontinued! As the matter of fact, this is the best-selling Gibson guitar of all time! This fact can serve as a great illustration of the Gibson SG’s popularity.
The instrument is freely available to buy and if you are looking for a guitar that will allow you to live out your rock n roll dreams, the Gibson SG provides everything you could need.
Some guitarists overlook the guitar visual aspect and focus solely on its sound quality. I never had that kind of attitude, for me, the way that the guitar looks is almost as important as how it sounds. Why is that? Well, imagine that you have the best sounding guitar that looks like this. I bet you wouldn’t spend a lot of time with it and that you surely wouldn’t carry it on the stage.
This is why the guitar visual appearance is important. The Devils Horn design of the Gibson SG immediately gives it an edge so it is easy to see why so many guitarists who flirt with the occult and the darker side of life have been drawn to the instrument. If you believe that image and presentation is an important factor in making music, this is one guitar that will add something to any performance.
With respect to the basic features of the Gibson SG, you are looking at:
- 22 frets
- A mahogany neck and body
- Three-way switch
- Two volume dials
- Two-tone dials
Sound / Tones
While the sound or tone of any guitar can be heavily influenced by effects pedals, most guitarists find that the Gibson SG provides plenty of self-contained tonal options. The versatility provided by the three-way switch and the tone dials should ensure you can get the sound you want, which is why you will see many reviews stating that the Gibson SG is ideal for clean sounds and heavy sounds. It is not too often that you get a guitar that is ideal for almost opposite musical genres. Whether you are looking to play power chord riffs, melodious solos, finger-picking or punky thrash along numbers, this is an instrument that lets you obtain a good sound straight from the off.
In order to illustrate just how versatile the Gibson SG really is, I will mention three guitarists – Clapton, Tommy and Robby Krieger (he played the guitar in The Doors). Each one of these musicians come from different music genres and used different playing techniques. Clapton is a blues genius, known as a “Slowhand”; he plays in a tender manner and usually doesn’t use a lot of drive. On the other hand, Tommy is the father of the metal genre, so his tone is full of distortion; obviously, he likes to rock hard and often plays fast and dirty solos. Finally, Robby has a totally different approach – he plays with his fingers! Besides that, his signal is almost completely clean. Despite their uniqueness, all three of them played Gibson SG.
Playability / Action / Ease of Use:
The Gibson SG comes with a fairly wide neck, which can be a blessing or a hindrance depending on your hand size and comfort in playing guitar. Many guitarists like the size of the neck and frets, finding it provides ample scope for soloing with ease. It has to be said that the Gibson SG is an easy guitar to just pick up and play with the switches and dials providing a simple way to take control of your sound very quickly. In the beginning, this guitar was advertised as the “guitar with the fastest neck” as you can see here on the list of the 50 interesting things about Gibson SG. The fact that there is no need for an array of effects pedals to conjure up a range of sounds from the Gibson SG makes it a very attractive guitar for many guitarists.
It may be a guitar that is found in the hands of some of the most talented guitarists of all time but there is no reason why a newcomer cannot pick up a Gibson SG and create some great sounds in no time at all.
Build / Reliability
The Gibson brand is one of the most respected in the guitar playing community and this reputation is very much deserved. The Gibson SG, like many other Gibson instruments, is a guitar that can last you for a great number of years, as long as you look after it. It is perfectly suited for playing live and as long as you have a sturdy travel case to protect it, there is no real reason for the instrument to let you down, which makes it a perfect number one instrument in your collection. There also appears to be widespread agreement that the tuners on the Gibson SG do a great job with regards to staying in tune.
The finish is sturdy while looking great and the dials and switches can take a fair amount of abuse when playing hard and fast too. Unless you are planning on doing something stupid, the Gibson SG is a guitar that you can bank on. A lot of guitarists forget that taking care of the instrument is a serious job. It takes more than just keeping it in a safe place and carrying it in a solid bag.
Almost all of us prefer to stand while playing. Of course, that implies that we have to attach our guitar to a guitar strap. This way it can hang on our back while our hands are free for playing. However, there is one problem with some of the straps – after a while, the whole becomes too big so the guitar can accidentally fall off the strap. Needless to say that this can seriously damage your guitar. I had this kind of accident myself and my headstock was broken in half! It took quite some time, money, and reparation until I played my guitar again. This is especially dangerous during live performances when we tend to move a lot or even jump on stage.
Fortunately, there is a solution. It is a very simple and a very effective one. You can get an auto lock guitar strap. This is probably the easiest and the most practical way. In the video below, you can see how it looks like and how to properly attach your guitar on it. You can also get strap lockers – these are little plastic elements that you attach on the strap. As their name suggests, their function is to lock the guitar strap so that it basically can’t fall off.
Another very important thing is to keep your guitar clean. First of all, you should clean the strings every time before and after you play it. By doing this, you will not just prolong your string life but also take care of your fretboard. There are a lot of products available; take a look and choose the one that suits your needs. Even if you don’t have any product for cleaning your strings you can do it with the rubbing alcohol. Just put some alcohol on a clean cloth and wipe your strings up and down. Now, although this is a quick and easy way to clean the strings, you shouldn’t do it very often.
It is true that alcohol does a very good job at cleaning; however, there is one huge drawback. The problem is that alcohol is drying your fretboard – when you clean the strings, a certain amount of alcohol will inevitably end up on the fretboard. If you do this often, your fretboard will become very dry, which is a very bad thing. Wood needs a certain amount of humidity in order to remain in a good shape. This is why we use products such as the lemon oil in order to moisture the fretboard. A good idea is to put some lemon oil on the fretboard after you clean it and change your strings.
There are many other products and accessories that will help you to take care of your guitar, but I believe that these are the “must-have” products for every serious guitarist.
Price / Value
Having in mind all of these characteristics and, basically, the renown of the Gibson SG, you probably won’t be surprised by its higher price. The standard Gibson SG may carry a factory price of around $2,500 but you can also find one at a much affordable price. There are a number of online retailers who have the same model that Noel Gallagher uses on sale for around $1,199 but there are a number of different SG’s to choose from.
Now, I am completely aware that even this lower price is a lot of money. However, when you plan to buy the guitar, you should have in mind one thing – although it can be a big expense, in a long-term, it is actually a great investment. The guitar such as the Gibson SG is a very high-quality instrument, so you can basically play it forever! If you take care of it, there will probably be no reason for reparations (except maybe some minor interventions). This is why these guitars still sound perfect, despite the fact that they are much older than a lot of you!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that there are no new models that you can buy! Younger Gibson SGs also sound great as their older brothers! For example, Gibson SG Standard from 2015 is a great choice. You can hear how it sounds in the video below. The great thing about this model is that it has a built-in tuning system. On the back of the headstock, there is a tuner that is remarkably precise and is very easy to use. Besides the tuner, you can recognize this guitar by the Les Paul signature and his hologram.
Despite the fact that these guitars are among the best ones available, some of you probably just can’t afford to spend so much money on the guitar. Again, I agree that this is not a small amount of money. But don’t worry, I have a great news! You don’t have to spend a few thousand dollars in order to buy the Gibson SG, as there are more affordable models.
For example, this Gibson SG Special 2016T can serve as a great replacement for the expensive Gibson SG. You can choose between three cool finishes – standard red, black, and sunburst. On this video, you can hear how it sounds. Another excellent model is the Gibson SG Faded 2016T – “faded” comes from its finish which looks great! As you can hear here, this guitar rocks well.
The cool thing about these two models is that they are made from the same material as the more expensive SGs. Of course, you can’t expect the same quality from the guitar that costs around $700 and the one for which you have to pay $2500. However, you will be surprised how good these affordable Gibson SGs sound. After all, these are Gibson guitars, not some kinds of cheap copies.
There is an even cheaper version of the Gibson SG. The Gibson Melody Maker SG can be found for around $600, which makes it a lot more palatable for players.
So, as you can see, there are very expensive Gibson SGs and more affordable ones. When someone asks me which one they should buy I always have the same answer: “It depends”. If you are an experienced player that wants a reliable guitar or if you are a professional musician than I would suggest you to go with the more expensive guitar. Although you will pay more, you won’t have to worry about your instrument and spend additional money and time on reparations.
On the other hand, if you are a novice, I would advise you to buy the more affordable version of Gibson SG. The reason is a very simple one – a lot of young people start playing the electric guitar only to found out that they are more prone to some other instrument, or that they prefer the acoustic guitar, or simply, that playing music is not something that they really enjoy. This is why I believe that every beginner should start with the cheaper guitar. If you decide that the electric guitar is indeed your instrument of choice, you can always buy a better instrument.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should just go and buy the cheapest guitar possible. Very low-price guitars are often not made from the optimal material and don’t have good hardware and sound. Some of them even get out of tune very easily. So, even if you really like the electric guitar, this kind of a low-quality instrument can compromise your interest and motivation. This is why the best idea is to find a good, tested, and reliable instrument that doesn’t cost a lot of money, such is the case with these Gibson SGs.
So, if you are a budding guitarist keen to get the Noel Gallagher sound, this could be a better entry level guitar but if you are a serious guitarist who intends to use the instrument extensively, the higher end of the market is likely to provide value. At all prices, Gibson guitars have a reputation to be trusted so you are buying with confidence, it all depends on how much you can justify paying.
The Verdict / Impression
With so many great guitarists over the years opting for the Gibson SG, this is always going to be an instrument that appeals to budding guitarists. The great thing is though, the Gibson SG doesn’t have to rely on the image or who has played it, as it is a guitar that stands up for itself. In fact, the real reason why so many guitarists over the years have opted for this guitar is down to the reliability and great range of sounds that can be conjured up on the instrument.
It is fair to say that there are cheaper guitars available than the Gibson SG but when it comes to variety, reliability and being a rock n roll guitar that everyone wants to get their hands on, it is easy to see why the Gibson SG is one of the most popular instruments around. If you can justify the price, you will not be let down by the Gibson SG.