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Build quality and other concerns - SG Futura 2014 review


mrfrisky330
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Bonjour!

 

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

24 frets

Sidewinder neck soapbar

Humbucker in bridge

PLEK setup

Tronical self tuning system

Both pickups coil tapped

 

REVIEW

======

 

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?

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Hello and welcome here.

 

From your lines I read out the finish is Champagne Fade Vintage Gloss. Considering the six Gibsons of mine with non-high-gloss finishes, my experiences are similar, but that's the nature of the beasts I think. Moreover, the eleven high-gloss Gibsons of mine also have orange peel, wavy surfaces, and finish ripple alongside the fretboard/top joints. There are colour overbleed and ridges along the bindings, too. Anyway, it doesn't matter to me. I had rework done on an Axcess neck joint where glue had swollen through the finish, but that's it.

 

The battery switch thing seems strange to me. Gibson specifies a stereo jack - what else should it be good for if not for switching power? Perhaps there's a connection mistakingly shorted.

 

The battery compartment of my SG Supra has lots of space for the battery, and rumbling noises are even worse in a piezo'd guitar since they are transduced together with the acoustic sound. I put two felt stripes between battery and housing, and now it's quiet.

 

When about switching options, I'm the kind of guy who tends to try pulling and pushing pot knobs by nature. [biggrin] Push/pull pots usually have some sort of idling when rotated, and in this case I check if the pot may offer vertical operating options, too. :)

 

When about manuals, Gibson omitted in the short manual of my Alex Lifeson Les Paul Axcess that it is also playable stereo using just one of the two output jacks. I found it out by trying and already had bought the now useless 2xTSm > TRSf adaptor cable. Anyway, all of my hybrids feed the magnetic signals to the tip, the piezo signals to the ring, so there's a one-for-all solution applying to seven hybrid guitars of mine although Gibson kept and still keeps quiet about that.

 

The Gibson tool thing is a mystery to me since many years. The two of my Gibson Custom and some of my Gibson USA instruments came without truss-rod key, and two of the basses lacked a 2 mm hex key for adjusting string action and intonation on the stock Babicz bridges.

 

However, PLEK has neither to do with fret-end treatment nor with intonation adjustment. The first has to be done by a worker by hand, and it's simply poor they didn't do that. On the other hand, intonation adjustments on a brand-new guitar with brand-new strings can be just a guess. Afterwork is next to always required here, same as with truss-rod adjustment.

 

My only guitar with mediocre fret-end treatment is an Indonesian Fender. Ripples on finish surfaces occur on lots of guitars for different reasons. It can be the wood grain as such like with mahogany, but on some timbers, in particular alder, maple, and pine, there can be resin streaks, and sometimes mineral streaks, too. All of them are visible on some guitars and basses of mine with transparent finishes. None of them has ever annoyed me, and a Gibson Les Paul Standard Plus of mine was circa 13% discounted by Gibson themselves because of streaks on the maple top that became visible through carving the top. From more than two steps distance they aren't obvious anymore, and just the gorgeous flame remains. I can live with that. The dealer, Thomann, included the discount in the asked price, and finally gave me some more.

 

All in all, if you're still within the return period, you may consider Rct's advice quoted below. Good luck on your decision!

 

Send it back if it is that bad.

 

rct

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It is the first guitar I have bought with intonation issues. Mind you I usually buy Japanese Ibanez and USA Fenders....!

 

Sorted the sharp fret ends out with a fret levelling file, now it feels like butter, over the weekend I had a nose in a local music shop it had the same model but in Gold and was marked at $1025 (ambitious!)

 

It too had sharp fret ends and dodgy paint work along the fingerboard but the intonation was fine and 15b boost only came out at 7db (ah memories!), so it would appears its these special one off models that suffer most, maybe they are making them from obsolete bits in a hurry????

 

Was impressed by the new 2016 HP SG's I like zero frets,my dads 1960's Hofner Colorama has one and it really makes a big difference to the sound of D and A chords they sound less out of tune, but Titanium ones? Is Gibson trying too hard and replacing quality with gimmicry?

 

Amused nobody from Gibson commented on this thread, snooping around other forums quality seems to be a recurring issue in recent years, but it won't stop be buying another Gibson as long as its not less than 5 years old !

 

But send back the SG? Now I've seen another with similar issues I will keep it, and maybe one day someone will look at it and give me $4000 ;D

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But send back the SG? Now I've seen another with similar issues I will keep it, and maybe one day someone will look at it and give me $4000 ;D

 

Of course, because everyone else is too stupid to see the long list of things you saw wrong with it.

 

rct

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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

 

so...

 

you do know what PLEK is right?

 

This has absolutely nothing to do with the setting of intonation.

 

not uncommon to have to adjust the intonation, that's why there are screws that we can access with a simple screw driver.

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  • 1 year later...

Resurrecting a dead thread here, I bought one of these in the plum insane finish and it was a defect monster. The guitar tech at guitar center said it should be sent back due to a warped neck and it had a ton of cosmetic issues. They sent me a replacement that was not much better so that one went back too. Those were both in March of 2014. Scroll forward three years here, I saw Amazon Warehouse Deals have one of these on sale for $531, way less than the $1134 I paid back in 2014. The description indicated it had surface damage but I figured that I would give it a try anyways and I am glad I did. This one was set up nicely out of the box. The neck is in great shape. The finish is spotless except for a scratch on the pick guard. I love the tone of the Sidewinder, especially split with the boost on. The Burstbucker 3 also sounds great to me. Having one of these sans flaws is pretty cool because it is very dynamic. This is a nice add to my collection and a very pleasant surprise.

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Sharp fret ends could be due to a dry fretboard. (again, sitting in a box for 4 years) Hose it down with Old English furniture polish with almond oil... you can get that a Target and such. Lay it thick so the whole fretboard is covered in foam. let it soak in a few minutes before removing. That's some good stuff...

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JerseyRay, mine was a customer return from Amazon Warehouse Deals. I was shocked that I don't have humidity issues and the setup is good. The strings are fresh and even the two batteries, the Min-e tune and the boost, were good. I think someone bought it, got work done on it, determined it wasn't for them and sent it back. I am enjoying it quite a bit. This is sooooo much better than my last foray with a SG Futura. This is a keeper and I am looking forward to playing out with it. For $531, it was a steal.

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  • 2 months later...

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