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Following the recent pandemic and being in lockdown and isolation  for nearly 20 weeks I have had to cancel a summer vacation which has resulted in having a small sum of spare cash to acquire, after some 65 years of hobby playing, I am now considering the first purchase of a Gibson electric guitar. I have a fairly large collection of nice instruments including a '43 Epi Zenith ,3 mij pre lawsuit thingies  Arias, Yammies, Rick, PRS, Antoria, Fender, Burns, Ovation. 

I have spent an age looking through the countless preowned Guitars available and have been somewhat perplexed by the apparent wide price gap between LP's and 'similar ' spec, age, condition SG's. Are there any fundamental  differences that I am missing or don't folk like the shape or is it a fashion thing.  Any thoughts welcome

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That's like asking the difference between Apples & Oranges... Both are Fruit but each are different...  

Even LP's are different.. Pickups, Electrical components, Weight a Relief, Etc.. Same with SG's... So many different equipped Models of each.. The question becomes which LP or which SG?

Both are excellent Guitars.. You really need to play some to know what's right for you... Hard to do right now with the Pandemic..

You could Order from a reputable online Dealer that has a 45 day Return Exchange Policy.. If you don't like the first one try another... Once, I had to go thru 3 of the same model Guitars to get the one that was perfect for me.....

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The Les Paul is simply more expensive because there is generally more of it - the body is roughly twice as thick as an SG. 

The SG ("Solid Guitar" I think) was fairly plain to start with - no binding on the body, for instance - and sold at a lower price than the LP.  At one point Gibson named it the SG Les Paul but Les wasn't keen and they stopped, although it features on a Les and Mary LP cover.   But the SG is basically a snarling rock/blues guitar; you don't play jazz on it like you can on a LP.

Later SGs were sometimes blinged up - I saw a beautiful pale violet one with gold fittings in Andertons in the late 80s at what was then a high price, £895 I think.   They can be a bit neck-heavy. 

If you are buying one Gibson it should be a 'proper' Les Paul; not a Studio, Junior or Special.  A good one will cost you more than your other guitars and it will be better - easier to play - than them too.   If you are buying pre-owned, take your time; it is a buyers market so to speak.

Good luck!

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My 2000 Gibson SG Special I bought for $600 used was a killer axe. I've owned LP's and SG's and 2, 335 shaped ones. My BB King Sig Model was probably the best electric I ever owned. A 335 is an amazing guitar. It can do it all. Try what you can and buy what you like and can afford.

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I had a vintage 50's Jr. One of the Guitars I should've kept... Bought it for $75 in a Pawn Shop years ago... One of the best sounding Guitars I've ever played...

SG's are simple in design..  They are less costly to build due to using less Materials & more basic Construction methods. Gibsons version of a fixed Neck Tele if you will.. I believe it was originally the plan to compete with Tele's. 

Both LP's & SG's have xlnt Examples of each.. That said, I wouldn't say all are great Guitars... Mostly due to Pickups... There are at least a 100 different variations of Pickups over the years.. Most, IMO, aren't great... 

USA P90's tend to be quite good Sounding & extremely versatile.. HB's are all over the place... Some original PAF Humbuckers being the best of any Pickup... Although, very rare & very expensive..

The recent MHS Humbuckers are quite good.. As are some others.. Very subjective...

 

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2 hours ago, Larsongs said:

SG's...Gibsons version of a fixed Neck Tele if you will.. I believe it was originally the plan to compete with Tele's. 

 

Th e original plan was sprung upon Gibson quite quickly, and that was to get Les Paul out of his endorsement of guitars because he was expecting an acrimonious divorce from his wife and music partner Mary Ford.  Endorsement money isn't huge, but he was protecting future endorsement money, fully expecting to resume his signature guitar after all was said and done.

SG was a hastily thought up replacement for their flagship solid body Les Paul, which was not doing well when they ended it.

Leo and McCarty and the upper end of Gibson knew they were not actually competing with each other because of the marked differences between their types of guitars.  They also had a good relationship with each other and didn't tread on the toes of the other much at all.

Guitar History Matters.

rct

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True. Common knowledge.. Thought that was a given...

Although, the  OP's question wasn't Why?

But, in the framework of this question & trying to point out the differences be tween SG' & LP's it could help the OP.  

It doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to see the conceptual designs of SG's & Teles following similar ideas... Even their Price points have been similar... I gotta believe Gibson was going after Tele Buyers...

The simplistic design of one could easily lead to the appeal of the other.... Although, the SG is much lighter as a rule... 

The LP is a completely different Guitar...

Edited by Larsongs
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19 hours ago, Larsongs said:

SG's are simple in design..  They are less costly to build due to using less Materials & more basic Construction methods. Gibsons version of a fixed Neck Tele if you will.. I believe it was originally the plan to compete with Tele's.

actually....

the SG was intended to be the modernized update to the Les Paul. However when they delivered it to Les, he wasn't a huge fan of the changes. 

Eventually he had Gibson remove his name entirely,  based on legal advice while he and his wife Mary Ford were in the midst of a divorce.  

Gibson chose to forge ahead with the "new" les paul regardless, and the SG was coined (aka: soild guitar) and the reset of the SG Story is history...

One of the take aways from this era is that no "Les Pauls" were made from the years 60, thru about (I think) 68.  SGs were..

If you ever get a chance, see if you can find Tony Bacon's Les Paul book.  It's a great reference on the life cycle of the Les Paul models, and historically quite informative.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, kidblast said:

 

the SG was intended to be the modernized update to the Les Paul. 

 

Since the Les Paul (then) sold so poorly. I think the perception was that it looked old & pedestrian. The Les Paul design was essentially the same 'look' that Gibson had produced for decades. 

The SG had a (perceived) more modern & sexier look about it. 

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37 minutes ago, merciful-evans said:

 

Since the Les Paul (then) sold so poorly. I think the perception was that it looked old & pedestrian. The Les Paul design was essentially the same 'look' that Gibson had produced for decades. 

The SG had a (perceived) more modern & sexier look about it. 

yes indeed, for sure that was part of the plan with the SG..

and adding more pressure to update was the fact that Leo Fender was by then pushing the Stratocaster very hard... The bright new shiny object of every heart's desire. 

Lighter, cheaper, had 3 pickups, (Which Leo thought was going to gas everyone) plus the strat looked very hip!  Giving it gravitational pull to players that Gibson at the time did not have. Couple that with the amps Fender was pumping out.

The war was on and Gibson was loosing the battle. 

Edited by kidblast
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3 hours ago, kidblast said:

actually....

the SG was intended to be the modernized update to the Les Paul. However when they delivered it to Les, he wasn't a huge fan of the changes. 

Eventually he had Gibson remove his name entirely,  based on legal advice while he and his wife Mary Ford were in the midst of a divorce.  

Gibson chose to forge ahead with the "new" les paul regardless, and the SG was coined (aka: soild guitar) and the reset of the SG Story is history...

One of the take aways from this era is that no "Les Pauls" were made from the years 60, thru about (I think) 68.  SGs were..

If you ever get a chance, see if you can find Tony Bacon's Les Paul book.  It's a great reference on the life cycle of the Les Paul models, and historically quite informative.

 

 

 

Yes, that is well known.. Common knowledge in the Guitar world... But, at the time Fender Tele's & Strat's were selling like Hotcakes. Gibson surely wanted to compete & needed a Contender.. The SG being a more simple less costly slab of wood & a neck constructed Guitar in the same Price range as Tele's & Strat's.. It's a no brainer to see what Gibson was going after.. And with Les Paul's name on it should've been a Rocket for Sales...

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Just now, Larsongs said:

Yes, that is well known.. Common knowledge in the Guitar world... But, at the time Fender Tele's & Strat's were selling like Hotcakes. Gibson surely wanted to compete & needed a Contender.. The SG being a more simple less costly slab of wood & a neck constructed Guitar in the same Price range as Tele's & Strat's.. It's a no brainer to see what Gibson was going after.. And with Les Paul's name on it should've been a Rocket for Sales...

yes,, it was a pure case of shoulda coulda woulda   times were about to change, gibson was trying to ride the wave, I think Leo got a head of that one.

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4 hours ago, kidblast said:

Stratocaster...Lighter, cheaper, had 3 pickups, (Which Leo thought was going to gas everyone) plus the strat looked very hip!

 

Fun Fact:  Leo wanted 4 pickups.  Doubled from Esquire to Telecaster, thought he'd double from Telecaster to the next one.  The cooler heads of George and Bill Carson prevailed, as they actually played the guitar.

rct

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I hand it to Gibson...I think the SG (particularly the Standard and Jr in cherry) look fantastic, like they absolutely nailed it visually straight out of the box. To me it's probably the best looking body design along with the Strat and the doublecut LP Jr where I think 'yep, you couldn't have really made that look any better' which is borne out when mimicking makers try to tweak the body design slightly. 

Edited by 'Scales
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  • 2 months later...

For decades, Les Pauls were always more expensive then SGs.  That seemed to make sense as Les Pauls were a more involved guitar with the carved maple top, body binding, more wood, etc.  I bought my '79 SG Standard back in the day because I could not afford a Les Paul.  Even now, a SG Standard is $1000 less than a Les Paul standard.  Les Pauls and SGs are totally different animals though -- both are AWESOME, but very different.

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