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Late 60s California


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What was up with the late 60s and SGs as far as popular bands using them? Was this the height of the SG's popularity. I rented the Monterey Pop Fest and Woodstock DVDs tonight and SGs are EVERYWHERE! Almost like how today when you see gatherings of rock guitarists they all seem to be playing Strats. I wonder if Clapton was a direct influence or not.

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Back then it was "how beefy does your Guitar sound straight into the Amp" - 90% of the bands back then had no FX -and Hendrix was considered this real anomaly - in the 1960's few guitarists could wrap their head around his FX chain.

It was all in your fingers. It was a narrow market of choices - Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker, Gretsch, Guild.

The recently revitalized Les Paul line was only a year old when Woodstock arrived in summer 1969, and there has always been a limited number of genuine 1950s Les Pauls.


Early 1960s - everyone wanted to play Duane Eddy, The Ventures, or Surf - clean was in. the popular models were Gretsch, Fender, Rickenbacker. By the late 1960s - things heated up and distortion was in. Most guitarist felt floor FX were a gimmick. The loudest guitars that could overdrive the input of a Fender, Sunn, or Marshall Amp were the popular ones - The Gibson SG Special with P90's was perhaps the loudest mass production guitar, as the P90's were about 10-15% hotter output than the stock Humbucker PU in the SG Standard. This is one reason Santana played a SG Special - and Leslie West (Mountain) played a '57 LP Junior. But its true, Gibson SGs were everywhere in the late 1960's - Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, Blue Cheer, Duane Allman, MC5, Alice Cooper, even Robin Trower with Procol Harem were playing Gibson SG's.


Alvin Lee played a ES335 - and many 1960's artists played those too.

And Byrdland with its short 23.5" scale length(Ted Nugent, Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder "Devil in a Blue Dress") allowed for extreme string bends. Even Jimmy Page used one in the studio.



Many popular guitar Brands we know today simply did not exist in the 1960's. It would be a few years before Dimarzio, Seymour Duncan, Bill Lawrence offered "hot" pickups as aftermarket models. it would be the 1970s before other guitar brands arrived ( B.C. Rich, Hammer, Charvel/Jackson, Ibanez, Yamaha, ) Peavey, Musicman , PRS didn't arrive in numbers until the 1980's ,


Pro Amp choices were Fender, Sunn, Acoustic,Vox, Kustom, Traynor, Jordan, EMC, Bogan, Wilder,Heathkit Risson




. - it would be the 1970s before USA was aware of Marshall, Sound City, Orange, Laney, HiWatt, Peavey, Roland Jazz Chorus. And 1974 for the Mesa Boogie. Soldano, and Dumble, VHT amps weren't known until 1980s. Matchless, Bogner, and a host of others in the 1990's




And MXR pedals did not arrive until 1972, Roland / Boss arrived in 1978.


It would be the decade of the 1970s that saw largest growth in the full signal chain for the guitarist - with glowing examples of artists who harnessed all the FX processing power in a live situation. With enough stomp boxes - you could almost get a decent tone playing any guitar - - just watch Prince play.

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Great summarization. I would only add that until the original Les Paul was reintroduced the SG and a few Guilds & (the US made) Epis were about the only solid body choices with humbuckers. After years of squeaky clean Beach Boy Strats into Fender's being the benchmark tone, Clapton's Beano & Cream tone using a Les Paul or SG (or 335) into Marshalls just knocked everyones' weiners into the dirt, and there was a big scramble to catch up. Marshall was an almost unheard of brand in the USA then, and there were few Les Pauls to be had before '68, but SGs were easily obtained. The science of tone production as we now know it was, as mentioned, in it's infancy and guys were doing a lot of experimenting with some (often pretty dreadful) pedals trying to get their Fenders to sound like Marshalls. (A few of us...ahem...were using Fender Bassman and other tweed amps in the studio and keeping it a closely guarded secret. Guess the word got out...)


When the Les Paul was reintroduced in '68 it was as a goldtop standard with P90s and a 2 humbucker Custom. Unfortunately, until the mid-70s (IIRC) the Custom was equipped with "fretless wonder" frets (often referred to as "the fretless blunder") that made bending very difficult. A lot of guys didn't realize how sweet the P90s were on the goldtop, so they stuck with their SGs. One performance I'll always remember fondly was hearing Robin Trower with Procol Harum at the Fillmore, Nov '67, using an SG through a Marshall stack. Goosebumps ain't the word.

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In 1970, I was playing my SG Special thru a '65 Bassman head and a 2x12 cab - then my bandmates convinced me I should trade it for a fender twin clone - a Plush 100watt all tube amp.


I was upset to discover my Tone was destroyed, because the 100 watt Twin type amp was not reacting like my 50 watt Bassman. Thats when I went on a tone quest to understand electronics, adding master volumes,pulling the center two tubes and re-biasing the amp into a 50 watt. and basically teaching myself electronics which led to a career in Amp design and NASA robotic control systems.


Who would a thunk?

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