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2018 Gibson SG Standard vs 2017 Gibson SG Standard T


Little Jerry
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Hello and Happy New Year! My son and I were in GC the other day and had the opportunity to play a 2018 Gibson SG Standard. It felt great in my hands and I especially liked the easy access to the upper frets on the neck (as opposed to my Gibson Les Paul Standard). I liked the tone of the SG, but it was hard to hear it clearly over a guy in the room playing the same four notes in an endless loop on a bass at full blast. He literally did this for at least 15 minutes before we moved to the acoustic guitar room.

 

I didn’t pull the trigger on it, but have thinking a lot about the SG. In looking at GC’s website, they are selling the 2017 Gibson SG Standard T model for about $400 less than the 2018. The 2017 and 2018 models look to have very similar specs and seem to be essentially the same guitars, but for the pickups which are 57 Classics in the 2017 model and 61R/61T in the 2018 model.

 

Gibson’s website says the 57 Classics use Alnico II magnets and the 1961 pickups use Alnico V magnets. Gibson also describes Alnico V magnets as being a bit hotter and more edgy than Alnico II magnets, which Gibson describes as more soft, clear and sweet.

 

I did a Google search to see if anyone compared the two models, but not much info came up. GC did not have the 2017 SG Standard T in store, so I was unable to play them back to back, not that I would have been able to hear much over the guy playing the bass.

 

I was wondering if anyone here has played both the 2017 and 2018 SG Standards, and if so, how much different do they actually sound given the 57 Classic pickups versus the 1961 pickups? Would the Alnico V magnets in the 1961 pickups make that guitar better suited for some that typically plays class rock and occasionally uses distortion?

 

Thanks!

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Well I dont own an SG. Nor have I (knowingly) tried a guitar fitted with 61 pickups.

 

But pickups can make a lot of difference to a guitar sound. I have 57 classics on 2 Gibsons, one of which I chose in preference to a Burstbucker equipped model.

 

Of course another player would prefer Burstbuckers over 57s (or 61s), so the only way for you to be sure is to listen/play both yourself. If that's too difficult to arrange, why not just go with the one you've tried and liked?

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Well I dont own an SG. Nor have I (knowingly) tried a guitar fitted with 61 pickups.

 

But pickups can make a lot of difference to a guitar sound. I have 57 classics on 2 Gibsons, one of which I chose in preference to a Burstbucker equipped model.

 

Of course another player would prefer Burstbuckers over 57s (or 61s), so the only way for you to be sure is to listen/play both yourself. If that's too difficult to arrange, why not just go with the one you've tried and liked?

The 2018 Gibson SG Standard costs approximately $400 more than the 2017 Gibson SG Standard T (approximately 25%), both brand new, with the primary difference as best that I can tell being the pickups. I wasn't necessarily asking which was better, as much as I was trying to understand the tonal differences between the guitars/pickups. I can read about the differences on Gibson's website, but hearing about it from musicians that have played both gives me another perspective. It would seem that in this decade, Gibson has alternated between pickups with each year's model in the SG Standard guitars. While the 2018 model uses the 1961 pickups, 2017 2015 and 2013 models used the 57 classics, 2016 and 2014 models used the 490R/498T pickups. I'm thinking the tonal differences are subtle, because I haven't really noticed people commenting on the tonal qualities on Gibson SG Standard guitars from year to year.

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The Gibson 1961s were used in 2014 and 2015 on some SGs and Les Paul Peace guitars. I have a SGM with them in it and I think they sound great clean but really muddy distorted. On the flip side, I think the 1957 Classics in my 2017 SG Standard sound great both clean and distorted. The 1961s definitely are a bit brighter clean. I tend to play with a lot of gain usually so the articulation under gain is very important to me.

 

I have 2015, 2016 and 2017 SG Standards however in all honesty will skip the 2018 Standard T because of the pickups. This is just my opinion so take it for what it is worth, YMMV.

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Yup, play them overdriven with chords, next to each other. Play some moveable chords like the Kinks-all day and all of the night, see how the note separation is on the chords mildy overdriven for you and then to clean note -leads. I like the 57s better in such situations but those 61s scream clean too.

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The 2018 Gibson SG Standard costs approximately $400 more than the 2017 Gibson SG Standard T (approximately 25%), both brand new, with the primary difference as best that I can tell being the pickups. I wasn't necessarily asking which was better, as much as I was trying to understand the tonal differences between the guitars/pickups. I can read about the differences on Gibson's website, but hearing about it from musicians that have played both gives me another perspective. It would seem that in this decade, Gibson has alternated between pickups with each year's model in the SG Standard guitars. While the 2018 model uses the 1961 pickups, 2017 2015 and 2013 models used the 57 classics, 2016 and 2014 models used the 490R/498T pickups. I'm thinking the tonal differences are subtle, because I haven't really noticed people commenting on the tonal qualities on Gibson SG Standard guitars from year to year.

 

Subtle? Well, I've offered my opinion. So has Metafrog. Its up to you what to think. Hopefully a few more people will chime in here later.

 

It seems that the potential for cost savings is making the decision harder. I understand that, though personally I would let my ears make the decision.

 

Can you ask GC to bring in the other SG (from another shop or warehouse) so you can compare them personally? Its really the only way to be sure of making the right decision.

 

You may know this already, but the tone will sound different at gigging volume than when playing at domestic levels. At higher volume, treble seems to increase and any FX seem magnified.

 

Good luck

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The Gibson 1961s were used in 2014 and 2015 on some SGs and Les Paul Peace guitars. I have a SGM with them in it and I think they sound great clean but really muddy distorted. On the flip side, I think the 1957 Classics in my 2017 SG Standard sound great both clean and distorted. The 1961s definitely are a bit brighter clean. I tend to play with a lot of gain usually so the articulation under gain is very important to me.

 

I have 2015, 2016 and 2017 SG Standards however in all honesty will skip the 2018 Standard T because of the pickups. This is just my opinion so take it for what it is worth, YMMV.

 

 

Yup, play them overdriven with chords, next to each other. Play some moveable chords like the Kinks-all day and all of the night, see how the note separation is on the chords mildy overdriven for you and then to clean note -leads. I like the 57s better in such situations but those 61s scream clean too.

 

This info is helpful. Sounds like the 57 Classics are a bit more versatile handling both clean and distortion well. GC no longer lists the 2017 models as new, so I guess I'll have to wait for a used 2017 Gibson SG Standard T to surface somewhere near home if I am going to get a chance to try one. Thanks!

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I think 57 Classics sound really good in SGs. I've got one of the 2017 Standard Ts, and the stock pickups are perfectly fine, both clean and dirty. I did decide to go to a 498T in the bridge on mine, because I wanted something a little hotter to match the output of my Les Pauls that have Suhr Doug Aldrich pickups. Remember, you can always change pickups.

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I am a big fan of Gibson pickups, as a general rule. My guess is -- with all other things being mostly equal -- you would be happy with both guitars. And $400 is a chunk of change ... Are the cases the same for each guitar?

My son and I finally got a chance to play both the 2017 and 2018 models back to back at a local store through the same amp that we have at home (and without some dude banging away on a bass at full blast). I agree when you said we would be happy with both and we were. However, we both liked the 2017 model with the 57 classics better than the 2018 model with the 61's. Unfortunately, the store we were in did not have the color we want and other stores in the area seem to be sold out of the 2017 model. I was hoping to see some type of clearance sale to make room for the 2018 models, but sadly that was not the case. I guess we'll just wait for a used one to surface in our area at a reasonable price. BTW, both years come with the same Gibson USA brown case.

Edited by Little Jerry
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I have played both the 2017 and 2018 Gibson SG Standards. The only differences are the finishes and the pickups. I went with the 2017 and Classic 57s. There was something about the 61's that just didn't sounds right. Can't put a finger on it. Just missing .. something, that the 57's had.

 

I bought a used set of 61' for a Les Paul Traditional. Same problem, the 61's just missed something that I was listening for. Don't know what it was but the 57's immediately spoke to me in a way the 61's didn't. I sold off the 61's about a week after I had them.

 

I am particular to Burstbucker pickups but the 57's sounds great in their own voice. The 61's just didn't have it. So I went with the 2017 Std for the pickups. I liked the Cherry Burst finish too. The 2018 SG had the Autumn Burst which looked great in pictures and on-line, but the physical guitar I had kinda just looked like stained mahogany wood with little of the burst. If it was painted a little different I'd have kept the '18 and changed the pickups.

 

BTW if you didn't know the 2017 with the Classic 57s have 4-conductor pickups installed from the factory (although the actual guitar didn't have push pulls or wiring supporting coil taps). I installed a pair of CTS short frame push pulls and re-wired the guitar for coil taps. The short CTS pots (the ones with the side-mounted 'pcb') fit in the Gibson SG std guitar with no problem. I can install the back plate without it bowing out. The back of the CTS pots are plastic and might touch the back cover plate but it causes no problems. Now I have coil taps! I replaced the whole Gibson PCB with point-to-point wiring and PIO caps because I wanted the coil taps. If I was not interested in the coil taps I'd have left the PCB in place - it worked just fine and I had no issue with it other than the lack of coil tapping. The 2017 SG sounds amazing.

Edited by Derald
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I can confirm the 2017 and 2018 SG Standards have quick connects and PCB boards with a separate input jack that attaches to the PCB via quick connect. The SJG and 50’s Tribute I had have PCB boards with the jack built into the board.

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