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SG's: The Devil Is In The Detail

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I'm new here, and this is my first post, so please bare with the length, it's necessary.

 

PART 1:

 

Last year, I purchased a used, 2006 Gibson SG Standard. I had been looking for a solid bodied guitar, that was in a price range I could afford. I'm not a serious player by any means, but can sometimes get obsessive about how an instrument behaves, acoustically. I get so annoyed whenever I go into a store, and a salesperson says, "What? You don't want to plug it in?" If a guitar doesn't respond well acoustically, plugging it in won't make any difference.

 

Pickups, bridges, machine heads, nuts, electronics etc, can always be changed, but the inherent physics and properties of the wood, neck joint, weight of the guitar, straightness of the neck can't. If those traits aren't there to begin with, then it is what is, amp or not.

 

When I first bought the SG, I liked the weight, feel of neck, basic feel in my hands. It did resonate slowly however, and it felt kind of like "plunk" or dulled when I hit the strings, no volume, sustain or snap. However, I knew certain things could be changed to greatly improve the resonance, sustain, and general snap of the guitar.

 

Fast forward a month later. I purchased a Faber Tone Lock bridge, replacing the crappy Gotoh Nashville style cast bride. It's saddles feature retainer wire, not clips. Although it served its basic purpose, it sucked in comparison to the Faber. My link

 

With the new Faber Tone Lock bridge installed, a new bone nut — properly cut, 500K pots all around, and a new bridge pickup, the guitar was considerably better than stock. It now spanks, sustains for days, and produces much better fundamentals and harmonics that just wasn't possible with the stock components.

 

PART 2

 

After having the guitar for well over a year, I still like it very much. But, I've had the opportunity to play a slew of other guitars, Gibson, and non-Gibson.

 

I have several gripes with Gibson about the SG Standards and previous SG 61's reissues. Namely:

construction methods, wood selection and build choices when it comes to the following:

 

Headstock size

Neck straightness

Fretboard Material (ebony VS rosewood VS Richlite

Neck shape (50's rounded, or V shape etc.)

Neck joint & heel construction (length of joint), (shape of heel)

Fret wire size (medium or jumbo)

Body thickness

Type of wood used

 

With that said, after playing other guitars, SG's, LP Standards, LP Traditionals, Gretsch guitars, a Dean USA Z Time Capsule, an Ibanez AR3 25 and a few others, I've come to the conclusion that the Gibson SG Standard and SG 61's re-issue style guitars are in need of some changes, or "alternative" offerings, that aren't "custom" shop offerings.

 

It's one thing to keep something "vintage", or in line with what people perceive as "vintage". I understand it from a marketing point of view. But as someone who plays guitar - even just as a hobbyist, a lot of these newer SG's feel like toys. They are so light, that they can't sustain like a more dense, substantial instrument. The neck joint construction is far too minimal. In my humble opinion, these are guitars that could be so much better if a few areas were revisited and re-tooled, yet in keeping with the vintage look and expectation that people have of these guitars.

 

I find it exceptionally frustrating, that Gibson will typically change the "look" of the SG, but won't ever release a newer or ACTUALLY improved design from a players perspective. The case in point is the new SG SPECIAL: My link The copy title reads:

"Hit The Stage In Style", and "Don't Sell Your Soul"

— Are you kidding? It almost reads like a JC Penny commercial. Butterscotch Vintage Gloss??? I'm terribly suspicious that Gibson has hired someone from Apple to head their marketing team, or maybe Martha Stewart?

 

SG Standard VS Ibanez AR325

 

I recently played a new Ibanez AR325. A guitar at a lower/midrange price compared to a Gibson SG. At a price point of about $599.00, the Ibanez AR 325 is a guitar I probably wouldn't buy. I have no experience with it, no brand devotion, etc. Having said that, I recently played one in a store — acoustically, and despite it not being setup properly, it had an extremely pronounced midrange/upper midrange snap, that eludes even my modified SG standard. The resonance in the body of the AR325 was felt simultaneously in the neck and body, with a very tight SNAP and explosive focus. The feel for a less expensive guitar was phenomenal.

 

Upon closer inspection, I realized that the neck is much straighter on the AR325 than on my SG, yet both guitars use a similar ABR style bridge. The thumbwheels on the AR325 were positioned much closer to the body without significant fret buzz or rattle - hence the straightness of the neck. The genius design of the heel on the AR325 was immediately noticeable when I played it. SEE: My link

 

 

After playing the AR325 for about 10 minutes, I realized its strongest features were:

Straighter neck

Exceptional heel construction

Jumbo frets

 

And yet, it's weight is almost identical to my SG Standard, a little over 7 pounds, and although the body is wider at the tail, the thickness of both bodies is very similar.

 

After playing the AR325, I looked for it online, and found some of the ad copy. It says, "Three-piece neck is ultra-rigid for exceptional performance. Multi-ply necks are ultra-rigid, which means they help transmit string energy to your guitar's body faster and better."

 

That is an extremely accurate description of how the guitar felt when I played it. It had exceptional sustain, an upper midrange snap, you didn't have to dig into the strings to get the guitar to respond. It spanked with resonance and an immediate energy in the body, producing that fantastic elliptical string effect.

 

Immediately after, I also played a newer Gibson SG Standard in the store. The overly light weight of the SG's body, the lack of density and focus in the tone, lack of mid/upper mid snap, and much slower resonance in the neck/body left me feeling disappointed with the feel. And I'm sorry to say that this experience has been repeated many times with the SG line.

 

I really wish Gibson would incorporate some of the design concepts of the other vendors, into their own designs, whether those vendors are considered significant competitors or not. These design concepts make such great sense, in terms of the physics behind them. It would be such an amazing guitar if the SG responded in a similar way to the Ibanez AR 325, or the Dean USA Z Time Capsule series, which although has considerably more wood to the body, a completely different shape, the CONSTRUCTION approach to both guitars is exceptional.

 

Imagine a revamped SG Standard with the following:

 


  •  
  • An alternative wood, black walnut, maple cap. (If keeping the same thickness as current models.)
  • More substantial heel (similar to a Dean Z Time Capsule, or the Ibanez AR325)
  • A 3 piece maple neck
  • Much straighter neck angle - like that of the Dean Z.
  • Oversized Gibson headstock
  • Ebony fretboard (not Ebonized rosewood)
  • Wider body like the early 70's models
  • 50's profile neck with a V, (like a LP Traditional meets a Dean Z Time Capsule neck)
  • Slightly thicker body with mahogany and maple cap,or walnut with maple cap.
  • Guitar jack on SIDE of body, not on front
  • 500K pots, no more 300K

Thanks for reading.

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.

I'm not sure, are you now happy with your SG?

 

A lot of players buy a guitar and play it as is, others make it the way they like it with their own with mods. . The lightness of the SG was an intentional design component. If you want a heavier Gibson "solid-body", try the Les Paul - the Historic models offer solid bodies (and I think the 2013 Traditionals are solid too), while other Les Paul models are either weight-relieved or chambered. These days acoustical sustain isn't necessary. Sustain is a function of the amplification and effects path - with the right electronics path, pluck a string and it'll sustain as long as you want. Not sure what your neck angle complaint is about. Build quality is personal matter and there's a range of tolerance. My view is there are plenty of fine quality SGs available, but I would want to choose an instrument in person - hands on, eyes and ears at attention.

 

Wading through your long list of complaints leads me to think you should have a guitar made the way you want it, if you can find a custom builder who could deliver your list of specs.

 

Despite some design idiosyncrasies, the SG has been in continual production for more than 60 years, which indicates that it's offering something that plenty of guitar players find desirable. . B)

 

 

.

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Hi BigKahuna. I'm happy with it for the most part. And btw, I've played a handful of LP Traditionals, and really liked them. I wouldn't complain about their weight, they're supposed to be heavy. It's that they're weight isn't balanced. All that meat in the rear-end, with a very rounded rear-end to boot. I love the balance of the SG, the curves are spaced evenly, which means it could afford more thickness, and weight.

 

The list wasn't really intended to be a complaint list, but rather appointments that seem to never make their way into these guitars. I totally understand where you're coming from, the SG being a staple of Gibson's for so long. — It's the reason I wanted one in the first place. Some people might retort with, "well then buy a Dean Z, or that guitar etc", but that's not the point.

 

I also wouldn't argue the "acoustical" issue being unimportant. The fact is, the neck construction, wood material used, shape of the neck, size of headstock, tenon, heel etc, play a HUGE role in terms of how quickly the guitar resonates. And this, translates into the resonant qualities of that particular guitar.

 

I play through a Marshall tube amp, and the fact is, different guitars, even with the same pickups will have drastically different tonality from one another, depending on the natural acoustic properties of either guitar. We've done more than a few comparisons, with the same amp, same settings, same strings, same setup - everything except the guitar. The Dean Z for example (and I attribute this to the amount of wood in the body, but also that amazing neck joint, V neck profile, the frets) has a naturally crisp, mid/upper mid resonance in the body - unplugged. Plug it in, and it becomes immediately apparent why it sounds as focused, tight, percussive, crisp, detailed etc. Very similar to how a well setup LP Traditional responds acoustically. Much of the energy is felt in the mid section of the body. They have a similar mid emphasis if setup correctly, a kind of "POWNK" type of tone, very snappy, bright, and midrangey.

 

I just want an SG, with a thicker body, a beefier neck, and more ooomph. If you've ever heard of Gearmandude - he's a guy with a you tube channnel who does really good reviews of guitars, gear, amps, you name it. He did a review of an SG once, and he said, he likes the SG he's got, it's heavy, that he hates light SG's. I guarantee you, if Gibson ran a web poll on their site, asking people if they'd like certain aspects of the SG improved, like the thicker body, more weight, larger headstock, better neck joint, heel etc, and the check boxes had a yes/no option beside each item, you'd find far more yes's than no's. Anyone who's ever pickup my SG has said, "wow, it seems heavy for an SG", and how they don't like the "newer" versions. I think mine actually comes in closer to 8 pounds, or very close to 8.

 

My SG, I had to put some serious work into to get it — close. With that said, I'm not comparing it to the Dean so much as I'm astounded at the construction in the most critical areas of the Dean, which all seem to be centered around a very straight neck, a very dense neck at that, a V profile on the back of the neck, and heel that meets the body like a perfectly joined piece of custom furniture. This area requires improvement on the SG, either by running the neck joint deeper into the body, and/or making the body a bit thicker. Again, that acoustic response I'm talking about is crucial to the tone of the guitar. My SG resonates mainly from the neck joint, directly above the neck pickup - it's the weakest part in the build, the least amount of material being coupled to the body. Compare it with the Ibanez AR325, also a double cutaway, similar thickness, and yet the neck joint and heel are so exceptional, that the tone is much more focused into the center of the body — Yeah that stuff matters!

 

I just find it a poor stance to say that because something has been a fixture in the market for so long, that it doesn't need any kind of review. I'll put it this way, as you've said, "there are plenty of fine quality SGs available" There may be, but they're more hit and miss than consistent. That's one thing I'll say for Dean USA series guitars, the level of consistency and build accuracy is something to be admired. Those SG design idiosyncrasies that seem to be acceptable by some, or most, people at Gibson, whoever, shouldn't be acceptable. That's resting on your laurels, and not feeling the need to improve upon a design, because people simply accept the brand, or really don't know any better. People should ask for better, it's their money.

 

I know many techs who will reiterate this; being baffled at the neck angles on a lot of Gibson guitars, where the neck angles seem to be more of a subtle suggestion, rather than a consistent design approach. My own SG's mid section of the neck with natural relief, only lasts until after the 12th fret, where the neck starts rising again, ramping up like a banana, instead of staying straight. — I'll post a picture next time

 

I'd also want to choose an instrument hand's on, but that's not always possible. Most local vendors won't order in 20-30 SG's to find the ONE. It sounds obsessive, but people pay money for these things, hard earned money at that. I deliberately purchased mine used, because the neck felt good, and it seemed heavier than the other SG's I'd tried, and I knew upgrades like changing the bridge, bone nut, a proper setup etc, would make it respond better.

 

Having said all of that, there's no way I could ever afford to buy a custom built guitar, and I'm not nearly good enough to even justify considering owning that type of instrument. I think a big part of the success of the SG you're referring to can be attributed in part, by it's affordability, and it's iconic nature. The SG would be an afterthought if it hadn't been for players like Tony Iommi, and Angus Young. I'm certain SG sales went through the roof after the release of Back In Black. Those are the first 2 players that come to mind when you see that guitar - at least for me, and most of the guys in my age group.

 

As a buyer or potential buyer of these instruments, I think Gibson should at least recognize that the points of contention above are worthy of review. They want my money, and I want a better product than what they're offering in the SG line. I mean, in the past few years, the bulk of what I've seen for these guitars are color changes, or re-marketing, re-branding them like when the first colored imacs were rolled out by Apple.

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you have some very interesting concepts and could probably build some fine guitars.

 

oddly, my SG Std. (7/'10) is one of very few guitars I HAVEN'T modded in any way, it still even has the PCB board in it.....it took a while to get the p'ups balanced just right for my playing, but i've found no reason/excuse to change anything about it (except straplocks of course".

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Well, you get what you buy, i got a recent SG and an old es120t, and they are what they are, the all mahogany construction yields the little slower and bassier respons compared to Ibanez artist, Gibson tried the sturdy 3-piece maple neck construction in the 70s, but the customers craved the mahogany neck, that´s it.

 

That said, i got a bunch of Ibanez artists, semis and hollows, and i really like the multi-piece neck construction, nowadays Ibanez mix the woods, so i have i variety of solutions, but the common denominator is that the neck is very rigid and fast responding with a midrangey tone, great for what it is.

 

Gibson have their heritage to take in count, the customers do not want anything but the traditional solutions it seems and i have nothing to complain on about that, i love my Gibsons and my Ibanezs, they just chose a little different routes, Ibanez had the freedon to chose while Gibson had their traditional customers craving the all mahogany neck, and we as customers can choose what suite us, fabolous :-)

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Thanks for your input guys.

 

Bender 4 Life: I'm not into "modding" guitars. I only learned this stuff along the way, more out of interest, and trying to understand why they behave the way they do. I think I'm so adamant about the changes, or revamping of the SG, because I absolutely love them. Their classic shape, comfort playing in the sitting or standing position. The upgrades I did came about because I wanted more mids, and a faster reaction of resonance in the body, the Faber Tone Lock bridge I installed is an absolute work of genius. It'll take a mediocre guitar, and make it spank and sustain for days. That and the bone nut, changed the guitar into an SG that people pickup and say' OMFG, that thing just rings forever. There's more muscle, snap, midrange, upper mids, I always go back to the elliptical effect of striking the strings with a proper action - you can see the strings oscillate back and forth until the chord decays. It's truly amazing. I don't think every guitar should be modded, but that Faber Tone Lock bridge is simply outstanding in what it does for any guitar. — Like hitting the loudness button on an old stereo, everything goes from PLUNK, to KERRANGGGG! If you ever wanted to replace the bridge on your SG with a Faber, it would blow your mind. You'll want it on every guitar.

 

Holmis: Funny you should mention the mahogany issue... "mahogany construction yields the little slower and bassier respons compared to Ibanez artist" what you said is SO accurate and true of how they feel, sound, respond etc. I love the warmth of mahogany, but I think in a thinner body like an SG, it doesn't work as well as it should. Case in point, I recently played a local builder's own design he calls the The Spaltecaster It's a black walnut body, with a spalted maple top. It has a bolt on neck, very well coupled to the body. I played this thing, and it absolutely kills. He chambered it slightly or rather "weight relieved" it somewhat. Despite this, it feels MUCH heavier and dense than an SG, and this thing absolutely rocks. Spank, mids, upper mids, snap, bite, sustain, for DAYS. But, it's not "classic" looking enough for me. And if I wanted him to make a custom SG for me, I probably wouldn't be able to afford it.

 

Back to the Dean USA Z Time Capsule - which also incorporates a mahogany neck, ebony fret board, and jumbo frets. It's neck material is the same as the SG's, minus the ebony fretboard, and jumbo frets. And yet, it's everything the SG SHOULD have, particularly because the SG is such a thin bodied guitar. The Dean is upper mid warm, but the resonance transfer speed is explosive, instantaneous, and felt simultaneously in the neck, and body, as if the guitar is all 1 piece. I think that "feel" and response in an SG form factor would be very popular, and a real hit.

 

It's too bad about the AR325, I don't like their styling, that south western feel of the inlays, gold hardware, it's not understated enough. I wish it was plain maple grain on top, nickel hardware, and plain pearl block in lays.

 

It would be very cool too, if Gibson had a tone chart on their site, ex: If you want a warm, slow resonating guitar, try THESE, or if you like mids and upper mids with a very fast resonance in the neck and body, try THESE.

 

It just seems like there's nothing in the middle of the Gibson line, that isn't as thick and rear end heavy as a Les Paul, yet thicker and heavier than an SG. The only 1 I can think of is the Nighthawk, 20th Anniversary Standard. But, again, don't like the styling, cutaway, pickup positioning. Yet, the thickness of the body, flat top VS arch, string through body is cool. Like a flat Les Paul, but not quite.

 

I like the idea of the SG Supra, but they lost me with the addition of the added middle pickup, the 60's Neck Profile and the unnecessary Grade-AAA flame top, and at that price? That price point is absurd for that instrument, if compared to say a LP Traditional. But, I love the antique natural finish, the larger headstock, but wish they could revamp that damn heel, with a rounded, contoured heel - similar to the AR325, and a 50's neck, WITH a soft V, or I'd take just the 50's profile neck.

 

If money was no object, and even though I'm just a hobby player, I'd have their custom shop make me an SG with those specs, and a significantly beefed up neck joint, heel. Hell, there aren't even any SG Supras around here for me to even try. No store would order one for you unless you put a deposit on it — to buy. It would almost require going to Gibson in Nashville, and trying them out in person - road/guitar trip.

 

I should add, that I changed the bride pickup in my SG over the holidays. Originally had a 498T - I hate them considerably. Last year put in a DiMarzio super distortion, liked it a lot, didn't love it, and wanted more upper mid snap, or detail. On a whim just before Christmas, my wife offered to get me a Gibson BB3, open coil, in cream/black zebra I had seen online. — WOW! This pickup kicks ***! So much so, I think Gibson should ship their SG line with them stock. It is definitely "THAT SOUND" in terms of the classic rock tones of the 70's and 80's. It has exceptional detail and crispness for its output and bite. Yet, the mids/upper mids have a very prominent peak, that's cutting, yet warm and biting, and an edge to the notes, chords that isn't offensive. LOVE this pickup.

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.... The list wasn't really intended to be a complaint list ....

 

Sorry to characterize it that way. . You do make some good points, but I don't think Gibson is going to change the design much - they do put out a carved top SG now and then. The solution is probably just as you have done - carefully picking out the SG that comes closest to what you're looking for. BTW, have you ever tried a Les Paul DC? Not sure it would be heavier on average than your 8 pound SG, but maybe.

 

An interesting topic. Hoping to see more comments. . B)

 

 

.

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I've had 4 SGs in the last year. I tried to like them. It didn't work out. It was mainly the long neck and the fact I felt like I was reaching an arm's length to play in the first position. No fault of the guitar, it just didn't work for us.

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Way overthought. If you can't pick up a decent guitar made by the handful or so decent guitar makers left, Gibson included, and make decent sounds come out of it, yer in trouble. A mahongany bodied guitar with humbuckers in it will only make so many sounds, the guitar player does the rest. If you have to think this hard about tenon lengths and wood densities you have the wrong hobby.

 

Just my grouchy opinion. Overthinking is usually what kills most things.

 

rct

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Yes I have seen them, but never in person or in a store. How interesting that you pointed out that model. I've always wanted to try one. I REALLY dig the look of them, the thickness of the body, a plain maple top over flame etc. My only hope would be that they have a 50's profile neck - just like on the LP TRAD.

 

Damn fine looking instrument. Reminds me in way, of this Gretsch Amber Jet, release from 2001-2003. What a shame, they're some of the nicest Gretsch guitars ever built in my opinion. Almost like a LP TRAD, but not as much if that makes any sense. It was one of the nicest I'd ever seen.

 

http://www.sheltonsguitars.com/2009/10-15-09/gretsch-new-jet-10-15-09.html

 

 

Sorry to characterize it that way. . You do make some good points, but I don't think Gibson is going to change the design much - they do put out a carved top SG now and then. The solution is probably just as you have done - carefully picking out the SG that comes closest to what you're looking for. BTW, have you ever tried a Les Paul DC? Not sure it would be heavier on average than your 8 pound SG, but maybe.

 

An interesting topic. Hoping to see more comments. . B)

 

 

.

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"I just want an SG, with a thicker body, a beefier neck, and more ooomph."

You should try to find a 50th anniversary standard 24......50's neck with 57 classics....haven't weighed them, but, its much heavier than my 1977 sg standard. I call her my Les G....... beefy feel and tone for sure....

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You should try to find a 50th anniversary standard 24......50's neck with 57 classics....haven't weighed them, but, its much heavier than my 1977 sg standard. I call her my Les G....... beefy feel and tone for sure....

 

I have one of those. Them. Mine is lighter than my pick. Righteous sounds one would expect from a Gibson made of mahogany with those pickups in it. That particular guitar, if you can't make it sound good, the only answer is practice, because all the wood in the world won't make it any better, it's a great guitar already.

 

rct

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I now own 4 SG's ('61 Satin finish, "SG Original", Kirk Douglas SG Custom, and '61 SG Les Paul Tribute),

all are excellent guitars, with a good weight (hefty, but not LP heavy), balanced (not neck heavy),

and amazing tone and sustain. ALL have had the stock plastic nut replaced (as All my Gibson's do,

by my dealer, at time of purchase), with a bone nut. And, I will say, that I got to "cherry pick"

all my SG's, from among several, at my dealer's, at the time of purchase. You are quite right, about

some having a lot of natural resonance, and some not! I've even played some Custom Shop SG's with

more "brick" like unplugged tone. But, all mine are very resonant! You will just need to play as

many as you can, and find "your" favorite! [thumbup]

 

I didn't own, and wasn't interested in SG's, for 4 decades, because of the lack of horn tapering,

and the deeper beveling of the original SG's, that was the norm, for too many years. This past year

has seen a welcomed return, to the original style bevels, and horn tapering, so...I went "crazy" and

bought 4! (I'm not prone to that kind of "Frenzy" without just cause!) My only hope, as I've stated

here, repeatedly, is that Gibson will keep making SG's (ALL models) with those original bevels, and

horn tapers. I'd even like to see them do that, on the Epiphones, as well. If you're going to make

Gibson version guitars, in the Epiphone line, why not make them "right?!"

 

Other than that, I'm delighted with Gibson's latest SG offerings. Even the budget priced, SGJ has

wonderful bevels, and tapering, now. Way to go, Gibson!! [thumbup][biggrin]

 

With your very specific wants, I think you'll need to either have a "one of a kind" custom made,

by the Gibson Custom shop, or an independent luthier. But that, of course, will be priced accordingly! [scared]

 

CB

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Hello 06sg, and welcome here.

 

What made me think first was your term slow resonance. You also talked about the contrary, the snap when hitting the strings. This made me wonder if it was about a guitar or about the strings on it. I got to know all these troubles mainly around strings, not guitars. When I bought new instruments, I tended to correct their behaviour for myself, depending on the strings they came stock with. The only factory strings to my favour were those on Epiphone guitars, that's no lie. I don't like nickel wounds, there were weird inconsistencies like a .010" E1st and a .011" B2nd stock on my - SG Supra, and most D4th on brand-new Fenders had rattling windings and so an impure intonation as well as bad sustain.

 

I don't think the guitars you compared were strung with same brand and gauge, so any comparison will lack. I experienced over thirty-three years that the very things fouling up fast transient response are bad or badly mounted strings. Those will never provide a distinctive snap and always cause a muddy tone with fast decay since the impurities will kill the tone.

 

I don't have to deal with lack of response to attack on any of my guitars. Using piezos on hybrid guitars will show how fast a specific guitar or guitar model can be. When playing my SG Supra which is 3.8 kilograms or 8 lbs 6 oz using the piezos through an acoustic amp, it even beats my three Fender Nashville Power Telecasters and my Floyd Rose piezo guitars, one Gibson Alex Lifeson Les Paul and two modded Fender FR Stratocasters, for fast response to attack. When it is about magnetic pickups, my Frank Zappa "Roxy" SGs, either 3.1 kgs or 6 lbs 13 oz, are very fast, too, and my 1978 S-G Standard weighing 3.4 kgs or 7 lbs 8 oz lacks nothing but the dead F4 and the dull F#4. It does so although it has a three-piece neck. In contrary, my 1973 Gibson L6-S has a three-piece maple neck and no obvious dull notes whereas both of my 2011 Gibson L6S with a single piece maple neck under the glued-on maple fretboards have a dull G4 respectively G#4. These are the typical dull notes on Fender Strats, Fender FMT HH Teles and Epiphone Les Pauls, too, whereas Gibson Les Pauls and typical Fender Telecasters with bolt-on neck tend to have a dull A4 or A#4.

 

A distinctive compression after string attack will appear when using a lightweight aluminum tailpiece which also allows for lower string action this way. I do have retrofitted several bridges on my guitars, like Schaller Floyd Rose systems instead of the originals on two Strats, and two Graph Tech Ghost piezo bridges on two more Strats. However, the only Tune-O-Matic bridges I ever replaced were those of the FZ "Roxy" SGs since I prefer Schaller roller bridges with the Lyre tailpiece. I never had trouble with my two Harmonica long-travel 1970s bridges, my single ABR-1 and my seven Nashville Tune-O-Matics.

 

I also wonder what makes you complain about guitar necks. It never has been a problem for me adjusting them absolutely straight. If pre-owners lack care and maintenance, this might happen, and in one case it took one and a half years for a five-piece through neck of a bandmate's bass to recover. He gave this bass twenty years ago to a pal for trading it but got it back later, with the neck bent but luckily not warped.

 

So I come to the conclusion that your 2006 SG has to be adjusted correctly.

 

Finally, every guitar model requires its own playing attitude. That's why I love them. I think that RCT is right here. There's no sense in overthinking something. Every player should decide to play what one likes, and to get the best out of it for one's own taste. Gibson SG guitars are a vital part of the variety provided by the multitude of guitar models on the market. I don't think that SGs are accidentally valued being one of the Big Four solidbody guitars, in order of appearance Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, and Gibson SG.

 

That's just my two cents on this topic.

 

Happy 2014 to you all!

 

capmaster

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If you don't like the guitar that you hold in your hands at the guitar store (be it a gibby, fenny or iby), I am sure no one has a gun to your head to buy it, just put it down and walk away.

Hmmm... that's why I wrote a bit more comprehensively about the string issue. If I had rated all guitars in shops as a package including strings, I would have bought Epiphones only. OK, I also would have saved some money... :rolleyes:

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Excellent point RCT, and yes, I often do overthink things. It could be due to my obsessive compulsive nature — not in the clinical way. But I tend to get really nit picky over things like this. I was expressing some frustration I think, at not being able to get some of the benefits and traits of certain guitars - in another brand - that being a Gibson SG.

 

I get fixated on the neck because it's such a crucial element in the way it shapes a guitar's tone, expressiveness etc. I know that I don't like slim necks. I REALLY dig the LP TRAD necks, they seem to feel the beefiest and pounding out rock n' roll riffs and chords on that guitar is a very satisfying experience. I mean, if necks weren't that important, why would Dean Zelinsky have spent so much time building his first prototypes and subsequent production models with that V neck profile? Or, the Gibson LP TRADS, with that beefy baseball bat like neck. I've found a similar feel and snap (when properly setup) in both of them, and I think a big part of that focus in the tone is because of the neck. It's construction, shape, heel joint etc, can make or break how it feels. I've found that thicker necks, or necks with V's tend to focus the tone, or transfer the energy into the body faster.

 

So without going into it all over again, I'll simply reiterate, that it would be very refreshing for Gibson to offer SG's in another format, than the typical "Standard" or SG 61' reissue neck shape and size. Why not put a 50's neck on an SG with a thicker body? It just seems that most of the SG models don't vary in their physical construction. I really can't say that offering an SG with a slightly thicker body, and beefed up heel with an over-sized headstock would be such a drastic departure from what people are used to. It would simply be a beefier version of the icon everyone knows and loves.

 

Capmaster, I do know exactly what you mean with the strings. In my case, we've AB'd a Dean Z TC, along side my SG, same bridge pickup, identical strings, very similar setup, same pot values, same amp, same settings, same room, same players. — We basically do this stuff for fun, and to learn why this guitar sounds this way or that way. I'm actually glad you replied, because I had no idea that there was an actual term "string compression". NOW, I understand that I'm not nuts. — My tech setup my guitar once, according to Gibson specs, X height from the 12th fret to the wound E, and a bit lower for the plain E, based on a "proper" setup. Of course, that was with 10 guage strings. Over time, I played with the setup, screwing it up, then figuring out on my own what felt the best.

 

As it turns out, I absolutely LOVE that string compression you speak of from 9 guage D'addario's. If I adjust the truss rod to keep the neck as straight as possible, with a hair of relief, and lower the bridge thumbwheels — just slightly above the point of fret rattle - not buzz, but even rattle across all the frets, I get this very springy, even kind of give in the strings. If I hit the strings too hard, I still get all the tone, but some fret kiss off across the frets, I call it rattle, but in a way, it adds a percussive feel to the strings, like WHAAP!

 

Through an over-driven Marshall, if you lay into the A chord with your pick, directly over the bridge pickup, the strings as you say, compresses, or go just slightly sharp, then returns to normal pitch. The sound is basically this if you word it out loud: PEEE-OWWNG! It's a glorious sound, basically the same PEEE-OWWNG tone that Angus gets when the A chord is played in the intro riff on Shoot To Thrill. With thicker strings, it doesn't respond the same way. If the string feel/action is too firm, then you don't get that WOWWW of the string. But there's a point where it really sings, and I've found that point on my SG. That same expression on a LP TRAD, setup the same way, is THE S*IT. Even with the bridge upgrade, bone nut, pots, this fantastic BB3 bridge pickup (which I've fallen in love with — mids and upper mids forever), I feel like I want more OOMPH in the body, more girth, solidness, which means more mass, neck and body. I've played a few TRADS setup properly, and they have that same honk in the bridge, but it's thicker, firmer, more... beefy I suppose, like my SG's feel, but on steroids.

 

Capmaster, I'm currently loving the D'ddario EXL120 Nickel Wound, Super Light, 9-42. I came from 10's with a wound 3rd on the SG, moved down to the EXL 120+, 9.5—44, then even further down to 9's. For some reason, I'm getting more of this cut, or presence, upper mid zing with the 9-42's. Crunchy and snappy through the amp is a good way to explain it. They just seem to nail that Shoot To Thrill PEEE-OWNG tone so easily. Very classic sounding. And that BB3 is so absolutely amazing, which helps a great deal.

 

I wish Gibson could make a 10 pound SG, black walnut and maple capped. 2 pickups, 1 tone, string through body, 50's neck. Almost a TRAD, but not quite.

 

Hello 06sg, and welcome here.

 

What made me think first was your term slow resonance. You also talked about the contrary, the snap when hitting the strings. This made me wonder if it was about a guitar or about the strings on it. I got to know all these troubles mainly around strings, not guitars. When I bought new instruments, I tended to correct their behaviour for myself, depending on the strings they came stock with. The only factory strings to my favour were those on Epiphone guitars, that's no lie. I don't like nickel wounds, there were weird inconsistencies like a .010" E1st and a .011" B2nd stock on my - SG Supra, and most D4th on brand-new Fenders had rattling windings and so an impure intonation as well as bad sustain.

 

I don't think the guitars you compared were strung with same brand and gauge, so any comparison will lack. I experienced over thirty-three years that the very things fouling up fast transient response are bad or badly mounted strings. Those will never provide a distinctive snap and always cause a muddy tone with fast decay since the impurities will kill the tone.

 

I don't have to deal with lack of response to attack on any of my guitars. Using piezos on hybrid guitars will show how fast a specific guitar or guitar model can be. When playing my SG Supra which is 3.8 kilograms or 8 lbs 6 oz using the piezos through an acoustic amp, it even beats my three Fender Nashville Power Telecasters and my Floyd Rose piezo guitars, one Gibson Alex Lifeson Les Paul and two modded Fender FR Stratocasters, for fast response to attack. When it is about magnetic pickups, my Frank Zappa "Roxy" SGs, either 3.1 kgs or 6 lbs 13 oz, are very fast, too, and my 1978 S-G Standard weighing 3.4 kgs or 7 lbs 8 oz lacks nothing but the dead F4 and the dull F#4. It does so although it has a three-piece neck. In contrary, my 1973 Gibson L6-S has a three-piece maple neck and no obvious dull notes whereas both of my 2011 Gibson L6S with a single piece maple neck under the glued-on maple fretboards have a dull G4 respectively G#4. These are the typical dull notes on Fender Strats, Fender FMT HH Teles and Epiphone Les Pauls, too, whereas Gibson Les Pauls and typical Fender Telecasters with bolt-on neck tend to have a dull A4 or A#4.

 

A distinctive compression after string attack will appear when using a lightweight aluminum tailpiece which also allows for lower string action this way. I do have retrofitted several bridges on my guitars, like Schaller Floyd Rose systems instead of the originals on two Strats, and two Graph Tech Ghost piezo bridges on two more Strats. However, the only Tune-O-Matic bridges I ever replaced were those of the FZ "Roxy" SGs since I prefer Schaller roller bridges with the Lyre tailpiece. I never had trouble with my two Harmonica long-travel 1970s bridges, my single ABR-1 and my seven Nashville Tune-O-Matics.

 

I also wonder what makes you complain about guitar necks. It never has been a problem for me adjusting them absolutely straight. If pre-owners lack care and maintenance, this might happen, and in one case it took one and a half years for a five-piece through neck of a bandmate's bass to recover. He gave this bass twenty years ago to a pal for trading it but got it back later, with the neck bent but luckily not warped.

 

So I come to the conclusion that your 2006 SG has to be adjusted correctly.

 

Finally, every guitar model requires its own playing attitude. That's why I love them. I think that RCT is right here. There's no sense in overthinking something. Every player should decide to play what one likes, and to get the best out of it for one's own taste. Gibson SG guitars are a vital part of the variety provided by the multitude of guitar models on the market. I don't think that SGs are accidentally valued being one of the Big Four solidbody guitars, in order of appearance Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, and Gibson SG.

 

That's just my two cents on this topic.

 

Happy 2014 to you all!

 

capmaster

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This thread is ridiculous. 06SG is not happy with his SG because it's an SG. Move along. If Gibson changed the SG to be thicker with different frets and different wood and different neck joint, it wouldn't be an SG, would it?

 

I know! Why not make it a single cutaway? And drill it out for weight relief? uff.

 

You might have luck with a Fender with humbuckers. If it's not heavy enough for you (it won't be), you can bolt some washers to it. Want a thick, 10lb Gibson? Try a Paul.

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I hear you SG 50, sounds like whining. You're entitled to your opinion. I won't go into it all over again, no point. And actually, I LOVE the SG, just not everything about it. I've tried Traditionals, I really like them, particularly the necks and the density in their tone. But, A** end heavy. Heavy is one thing, but it's all in the rear end. I sit when I'm playing (just a hack btw).

 

I think despite the changes I'm suggesting, it would still be an SG. Look at the styling, vibe, etc of the SG Supra. Everyone gets so caught up in the "vintage" thing, as if there's no room for improvement. There are old school guys who rebuild muscle cars, and are ONLY concerned with keeping all the parts stock, and original, because anything that deviates from that doesn't make it all original or as "classic". Those are $30K-$50K or more... classic cars. We're talking modern production guitars here. The only thing that keeps them classic really, is the way they look.

 

I'm pretty sure that if Grover Locking Rotomatics had been available to Jimmy Page in the late 60's, early 70's, and his tech at the time put them on his beloved 59' LP to help tuning stability and faster string changes, I doubt very much that Jimmy Page would have resisted. Certain approaches are better to building guitars than others, same with drums, amps, etc, and there's nothing wrong with keeping the style, look of a given instrument, while improving areas of the design. I call that progress, rather than just maintaining the status quo or filling orders.

 

If it was a true "vintage" SG, then of course I'd understand. But they're current production guitars. I'm not alone here. I know tons of guys who identify with it's classic iconic looks, who've played them, but most of those guys all say the same thing - "they're too light, and too thin". I actually love mine, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be improved in some areas.

 

I just think it makes sense to offer them in a production model (not custom shop) with a fatter neck, and thicker body, that's all. Look at the LP Studios and Standards, none of them are offered with a 59 neck — why not? It's reserved exclusively for the Traditionals. What if someone wanted the full weight of a TRAD, but a 60's slim neck? They're stuck with choosing only a weight relieved standard? That's a crap choice.

 

This industry like many others, often suffers from inflated pricing. I'd love that SG SUPRA, not even in a high grade flame top, give me a plain maple grain top, 2 pickups, a fatter neck, and the guitar jack on the side. I'd be ecstatic with that. Do you really think the Supra's price at about $2374.00 is justifiable because it has 1 extra pickup, a bit more weight, and a AAA Grade maple top? You could get a 2013 LP TRAD for about $2150.00 with considerably more wood, binding and appointments. — It's absurd. The SUPRA, despite it's flamed top, 3 pickups is FAR then from being a typical "SG". But show it to someone who hasn't seen it yet, and they'll say, "yeah, that's an SG".

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Interestingly I don't like D'Addario guitar strings for the plain ones feeling relatively hard with respect to gauge. I found out that a .009" D'Addario plain feels like .010"s of GHS, Rotosound or Optima Chrome Wounds, the small brand of my choice. As for necks, I am also the guy who likes just a hair of relief, but prefer a slightly higher string action.

 

I get a killer "Shoot To Thrill" open A chord, open G chord and open D chord with an A in the bass on my Les Paul Traditional 2013 with .011" to .050" strings, too. I get it on all my hardtail guitars except for a Custom Shop Les Paul Standard which compresses a bit too much with its lightweight tailpiece. Floyd Rose equipped instruments have a bit more of an airy tone which also is compressed a little too much, and the Frank Zappa "Roxy" SGs are less airy but even more compressed, I think due to the missing string locks and the lower masses of the string suspensions. All of my vibrato guitars are strung using .010" to .046" sets.

 

Compression is not a personal imagination but result of the natural reaction of the entire guitar to vibration. Depending on sizes, masses and elasticities, a big part of the string energy is either eaten up, in particular at dull frequencies, or reflected, in particular at long sustaining frequencies. However, there is a mainly noisy, non-harmonic content in the attack, and this part of the string energy may become eaten up or reflected, too. The first is common for most of the attack noise on wooden guitars, especially very low frequencies, the latter causes extreme string buzz on certain notes. However, there is a third thing which can happen and will result in that compression effect. The inertia and elasticity between string suspensions, nut and bridges make up a mechanical band-pass, also depending on the speed of sound within all the materials. This may "transform" attack noise to tone. Different guitars react at different frequencies as any band-pass will. Some don't only sustain very nicely or seem to grow louder after the attack transient has gone, they DO IN FACT grow louder. In case of my Les Paul with aluminum lightweight tailpiece, this is absolutely stunning in the low and middle frequency ranges. Blown absolutely clean through an acoustic instrument amp, the effect seems definitely unreal, but it's clearly there and can be seen on level meters, too. When adding a chorus, it seems you're listening to an organ for a few seconds.

 

Aluminum lightweight tailpieces are common for modifying hardtail Gibsons. However, I like TP-6 fine tuning tailpieces, and so I sacrificed the stock aluminum tailpiece of my 1973 L6-S, although I had to increase string action significantly. If it fitted my CS Les Paul, I would use it there, too.

 

Does anyone know what tailpieces Angus Young uses? Perhaps he also digs the low string action and high compression provided by aluminum...

 

By the way, steel guitars don't have strong or weak notes usually, and their compression is the most even among all guitars, without a chance for wooden ones to compete. This is a result of the steel guitar's superior rigidity, density and speed of sound.

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Capmaster, man, you really know your stuff. I only understand bits and pieces of what you're saying - only because my friends call me the idiot savant. I can feel, listen, touch my way to a tone, on a guitar/amp by dialing things in or out by ear — I mean, that's what it's all about anyway right? — Using our ears. But I can't understand how to always get there. I think a lot of guys on forums, whether it's here, or My Les Paul, may not care, or even be interested in why this aluminum TP or that steel TP would affect the tone. I still don't quite understand why, I only understand what I can hear.

 

My friends thought I was nuts when I started talking about all this speed of vibration transfer, fundamentals and harmonics, but the evidence is very clear. My "stock" SG felt like the strings were made of rubber or something other than metal strings. The bone nut, and the Faber bridge magically transformed that guitar into a very ballsy, punchy, midrange rock machine. Despite my whining and griping, I really do love this SG, and I'll never sell it.

 

I'd love to understand more of what you're talking about. I always assumed, that a steel tailpiece, like a Callaham would give me more sustain, that the mass of steel, provided the tailpiece was screwed all the way down On my own SG, the TP is all the way down - completely, and I run the strings through the front holes of the TP, out the back, and over the TP again, over the saddles. It's not uncommon for LP players to do that too. I found that it kind of anchored everything a bit better, and I did notice a better kind of snap, or sustain after this was done, maybe a more uniform feel in the strings? Not sure.

 

The only similar feeling I can explain I get with the SG now, is once I played a Les Paul Studio. It was older, didn't seem weight relieved, seemed very heavy. It had a very low action, similar to mine, just enough relief above rattle, and light strings, probably 9's. I can attest to the extra weight in the rear end attributing to this feel I experienced. It was like the feeling you get when you hit a baseball with a fat bat – DEAD center. That kind of PUCK sound, like you hit everything dead on, dead center. Only here we're talking string energy. I noticed that when picking over the bridge pickup, or just slightly in front of it, (you get that AWWW or TONG kind of tone from that place on the string) the same way I get it on my SG now, but on the LP Studio, it came MUCH more easily. Just a bit of weight behind the pick yielded this awesome PEEE—OWNWG sound in the strings - almost like a natural acoustic overdrive. I'm sure this is very similar to what you could expect on a TRAD with a similar setup, similar strings. I REALLY love that feel on a meaty guitar, and that through a Marshall, even at moderate volume, a hint of gain, just past clipping, is so....WOW!

 

It's very likely that despite the heavy A** end, I'll end up with a used TRAD, full weight, which means a used 2013 model. I'll still love the SG, and I really only want 1 other guitar to have. It only makes sense that it should be a LP TRAD. There's just something about that neck, that weight, with a BB3 in the bridge, it has a meaty, midrangey honk that just blows my mind. Though I feel a bit stupid even considering making a purchase like that, I'm a hack, and don't feel like I deserve, or can justify an instrument of that caliber just to pound out chords and rock n' roll riffs. But it sure does feel good to do it! I got my used SG at a steal - a few nicks and dings, but I knew a few hundred dollars of the right upgrades would improve it drastically. It made much more sense than buying a brand new guitar, that I simply couldn't justify buying, given my limited playing ability. Like the guy who buys a Mazzerati, but has to live with his mom and keep 3 jobs, just to pay the insurance. HA.

 

I have to say for Gibson, since installing this zebra BB3 in the bridge of the SG the other day, I keep running downstairs to plug in about every 2 hours or so, I can't put it down! I LOVE this pickup.

 

they DO IN FACT grow louder. In case of my Les Paul with aluminum lightweight tailpiece, this is absolutely stunning in the low and middle frequency ranges.

 

I really dig that, big time. So, if I get my hands on a TRAD, and install say a Faber aluminum TP, I'll get a similar response because of the lighter aluminum? And what would be the effect of having say a steel TP, very rigid, dense, hard, screwed all the way down?

 

The inertia and elasticity between string suspensions, nut and bridges make up a mechanical band-pass, also depending on the speed of sound within all the materials. This may "transform" attack noise to tone. Different guitars react at different frequencies as any band-pass will.

 

— Very interesting stuff. Inertia is the word I often use to describe the FEEL of the Dean Z TC, compared to my SG. That oversized headstock, nut width in ratio to it, and the V countour on the back of the neck, an exceptionally well designed heel, and all that mass in the rear end etc, is similar to the LP STUDIO experience I had, but on steroids, and more of it. His Dean behaves acoustically like a tight snare drum. Play an open A chord, and it's like playing the same thing on my SG, but underneath the chord and that honk is a kind of "PUNK" tone, like hitting a tight snare drum in the center of the head, with the snares off. It's a loud guitar (acoustically speaking), and really spanks, some would call it bright, but it sounds amazing. It's as if the body wood itself, is tuned to a given resonant peak, not unlike a pickup. It's truly an amazing guitar. I find with my friend's Z TC, you can pick much more lightly, and get more energy return out of the strings, I fret more lightly with my fingers (maybe the jumbo frets?) it just responds by giving you much more than what you put into it. HYPER dynamic and responsive is how I would describe his Z. We always joke, "that Z plays itself".

 

This you tube video

(and I know it's you tube) but this German guy produces the best demos of guitars, amps etc I've ever seen/heard. Better than the vendors themselves, like Marshall etc. If you give this a quick listen - unless you want to invest the full 13 minutes, fast fwd and just listen to this part: From 6:40 on the timeline, to 6:55. Hear those punchy, whappy midrange chords? I can get that with the SG, only with a less body, sounds more upper mid and less focused on mine. Imagine that vibe now, but significantly beefier, on the Z TC, (it has a DiMarzio super distortion) in the bridge. It's tighter, more focused than that, immediate, with very little "give" - almost too much. But I think the Z with a BB3, or something similar, an A2 mag in a PAF would be fantastic.

 

Aluminum lightweight tailpieces are common for modifying hardtail Gibsons. However, I like TP-6 fine tuning tailpieces, and so I sacrificed the stock aluminum tailpiece of my 1973 L6-S, although I had to increase string action significantly. If it fitted my CS Les Paul, I would use it there, too.

— Just took a look at one of those TP-6's. That is some serious hardware. Capmaster, what's the added benefit of having that? I've never even seen one.

 

Does anyone know what tailpieces Angus Young uses? Perhaps he also digs the low string action and high compression provided by aluminum...

That's a great question, and I have no idea about his gear. Unless you already know, and you probably do, this guy: Solo Dallas is a master of all things AC/DC, a true scientist of tone, and a MONSTER player.

 

Just for fun, here's the 2006 SG, a month after purchase: original everything, except the bridge pickup - a DiMarzio DP100, which replaced the 498T 2006 SG Standard Before Upgrades.

 

SG now after upgrades:

SG BODY 1

 

SG BODY 2

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