I recently bought a brand new SG Futura 2014 in a hideous grey, after being convinced a soapbar pickup in the neck position would be perfect for the music I play in a band, after owning a secondhand Korean JHS Vintage V99 Paul copy.
For those not in the know the SG Futura has these specs:
15db preamp boost
Sidewinder neck soapbar
Humbucker in bridge
Tronical self tuning system
Both pickups coil tapped
Unpacked the SG, came in a lovely tan hardcase with suspiciously cheap and thin gold plating on the metalwork. Not an issue but for a $1100 guitar with "USA" on it expected a little more. To be fair though in 2007 I bought a brand new Ibanez 7VWH for $1800 and the gold plating was that thin on the pick guard screws after an hour of playing I suddenly had two chrome screws!
Took it out of the case (which is nice, sturdy and well lined) and looked for the documentation, noticed first some marks on the pick guard that shouldn't be there on a brand new guitar, took out the documentation and noticed there where no allen key for adjusting the truss rod (??). First time I've had a new guitar minus standard tools, then read through the documentation and noticed something else. This guitar is special because it has a 15db built in preamp and coil tapped pickups the included documentation was a generic manual for all Gibson guitars and as such did not mention little things like the coil tapping and where the battery for the preamp is or the fact the preamp even exists.
For a $1100+ USA guitar I would have expected a manual to be included relevant for that model, imagine if I had just gone into a shop and blindly picked it off the wall without reading the Gibson website first. I could own it for years and never know there was coil tapping on it - thanks Gibson!
Also there is only a very brief leaflet about the self tuning system, for $1100+ surely that warrants giving the whole manual and not expecting the customer to search the internet for it?
Next the guitar came with blurb bragging about it having had a full PLEK setup. Nice, but why was the low E intonation way out above the 12th fret? I had to set it myself with a chromatic tuner. Worst was yet to come as I then discovered the fret ends where sharp! I sold a $300 Korean made Paul copy which had smooth fret ends and no intonation issues despite the previous owner having never changed the strings and it was at least 7 years old, and there I have this brand new $1000+ USA Gibson with sharp fret ends and intonation issues - basic QA on any decent value guitar - Thanks Gibson!
Then I plugged it in and tuned it, bridge humbucker had a nice tone but the neck soapbar pickup had huge amounts of bass far to much to be of use unless you play bass guitar or you like deep woofy notes, after lowering the bass side as far as it would go and adjusting the pole pieces on the treble strings it sounded a lot better.
Flicked the switch for the 15db boost and nothing...silence....having discovered there was no rear battery compartment (?) I took off the pick guard and discovered a clumsily cut hole with the battery crudely stuffed into it (akin to a Chinese strat copy I once owned). Changed the battery, noticeable volume increase without me doing anything, then discovered when the guitar was packed in the factory the 15db boost switch was left on. Why? More puzzling is why that would make the battery run flat as usually in active systems the jack plug needs to be in the socket to form the circuit??
The actual boost gain was minor, only just making the amp overdrive, after some close inspection discovered a trim pot on the 15db boost and found it was set too half way for what purpose? What is the point of saying it has a 15db boost if it comes out the factory with only 7db active??
Adjusted the trim pot - lovely stuff!
The volume knob for the neck pickup was fitted at a jaunty 35 degree angle and the matching tone knob was not pushed on fully. Then there is the body. For some reason the body was not primed like a normal painted body is, that is primer/filler then paint then lacquer. On this guitar the paint is sunk into the grain unevenly and the lacquer is almost non existent as though Gibson just got a can of car spray paint and did a few coats. This raises concerns long term as wood has a tendency for the pores to open over time and that gives images of the paint splitting and falling off....
There are paint spits (not splits) in the finish inside the horns and the inside of the horns are really rough to the touch and there is even what looks like fluff on one of them. The carving for the scallops of the top of the horns is jittery and inconsistent especially when compared to a 1979 SG standard which has a smooth curve. It looks like someone did half of the scallop stopped, then started again the next week and forgot where they finished the first time. The painted neck has a strange wobbly look to it along the base of the fingerboard and I hope this isn't the model with the thicker fingerboard because its thinner than my USA Strat not that this in an issue just an observation.
On the whole really poor workmanship and quality control for a company of that standing and a guitar of this price range, can Gibson not afford sandpaper and decent files, let alone bother to include a relevant manual, appropriate tools and apply basic quality assurance anymore?
Playing wise ignoring the sharp fret ends it plays really well and sounds great, but it is visibly made to a $400-500 import quality level rather than a $1000+ USA standard.
Would I buy another new Gibson? No way, would I buy an older Gibson say pre 2005? Yes!! When a cheap Korean copy has better fretwork, setup and finish than a USA Gibson I consider that a time to get worried about modern Gibson guitars :(
Has anyone else got one of these? Is it just mine or are there deeper issues a foot across the range?