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early '70s gibson SG


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Hi

 

I recently purchased an early '70s SG standard with a gibson brand bigsby style tailpiece, serial number 134224. the shop date it as 1973 based on the pot codes.

 

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v724/blompcube/Gibson%20SG%20Standard%201973/ here's a link to some pictures.

 

it's a great guitar, it plays like a dream and sounds very thick and full with some pretty good sustain. it's in very good working condition despite the somewhat worn cosmetic condition - the fretboard and frets are still pretty much intact.

 

there are just a few things i need to ask about:

 

1. the pickups seem different to all other pictures of SGs from this era in that the height adjustment screws are phillips, and the covers are dulled and tarnished like old worn nickel and have an almost brassy tint to them, whereas every picture of every other SG i've seen have shiny chrome covers and flat screws. the seller told me that these are the original pickups, but based on the 1973 catalogue the SG standard had the "superhumbuckers" which had chrome covers and were potted and sealed in epoxy. they have the right sort of moderate/high output and thick, chunky sound of the superhumbuckers, however. is this just a weird norlin inconsistency?

 

it's just a bit suspicious the way the small details of the pickups don't look quite right, and the whole guitar is wired up wrong so the controls work with the opposite pickup to what they should (it's not a problem, i'm actually getting used to it!), but a lot of guitar collectors have told me that that sort of thing happened a lot during the norlin era and often if they ran out of the usual parts they'd just use whatever else they had lying around, and the wiring was a common issue (i've seen a few other gibsons from this era with the same sort of problems - seems people used to wire the switches up backwards quite a lot)

 

2. it looks like an ebony fretboard, and is unbound - it's very dark with a few subtle brown streaks in it. most gibson rosewood fretboards of this era look very light and red (indian rosewood if i remember correctly). i know this is quite common but it's not specified in the 1973 catalogue, and most 1974 SGs seem to have unbound dark fretboards, but also have the bridge pickup moved down closer to the bridge.

 

3. seems like the type of tuners the SGs had were pretty random in this era - the only thing consistent seems to be the silver tulip handle things (the word escapes me for one moment!)

 

i have no doubts that it is a legitimate vintage SG, i'm just wondering if anyone knows a bit more info about the little details and why they changed or why there are weird inconsistencies. if anyone has any info about these things, i'd really appreciate it :)

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Welcome to the forum, Blomp!

The first set of pics are kind of blurry to see much detail. From what I saw,your SG looks to be 'straight-up' and Norlin-era.

Inspect the control cavity and pull the pickups. The backs of the pickups should give you clues to the originality. Also, if there is evidence of soldering and re-soldering in the control cavity then chances are the pickups may have been changed out at some point in its life. Someone, probably didn't wire the pickups/controls back properly, if that is the case. No big deal,that is an easy fix. You can also get proper screws and make it 'look right'

I am willing to bet that if there is anything more than 'factory solder' in the control cavity, the pickups have been changed.

Rod

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Welcome to the forum, Blomp!

The first set of pics are kind of blurry to see much detail. From what I saw,your SG looks to be 'straight-up' and Norlin-era.

Inspect the control cavity and pull the pickups. The backs of the pickups should give you clues to the originality. Also, if there is evidence of soldering and re-soldering in the control cavity then chances are the pickups may have been changed out at some point in its life. Someone, probably didn't wire the pickups/controls back properly, if that is the case. No big deal,that is an easy fix. You can also get proper screws and make it 'look right'

I am willing to bet that if there is anything more than 'factory solder' in the control cavity, the pickups have been changed.

Rod

hi - thanks for the reply.

 

yes sorry about the blurry pictures, i forgot to set my camera for close up photos.

 

the shop i bought it from told me that it was all original and i presume they would've checked, of course there is the possibility i forgot to take into consideration which is that at some point someone could've swapped the pickups and kept the originals, and then re-installed the originals again (perhaps they lost the original screws, too?).

 

from what i gather, the original pickups should be covered in black epoxy, hence the nickname "tarback"?

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hi - thanks for the reply.

 

yes sorry about the blurry pictures, i forgot to set my camera for close up photos.

 

the shop i bought it from told me that it was all original and i presume they would've checked, of course there is the possibility i forgot to take into consideration which is that at some point someone could've swapped the pickups and kept the originals, and then re-installed the originals again (perhaps they lost the original screws, too?).

 

from what i gather, the original pickups should be covered in black epoxy, hence the nickname "tarback"?

My SG book references these pickups beginning in late 1972... Bill Lawrence designed Super Humbucking P'ups with one ceramic magnet, epoxy mounted to prevent microphonics.

Have you examined the pickups and control cavity?

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Have you examined the pickups and control cavity?

 

....I didn't think so.... [wink]

i only just got round to it about half an hour ago, and that was only because the pickup selector was playing up, giving me the bridge pickup in the middle position, and both pickups somewhere between the middle and neck position where it wouldn't stay - just a loose connection - all sorted now.

 

the control cavity did seem to have some extra solder (mostly on the bridge pickup volume pot, which as i mentioned is wired up to the neck pickup at the moment). the cavity was lined with tin-foil as well (except around the sides), which i'm not 100% sure would be original or not.

 

i took out the bridge pickup and had a brief look, definitely a 'tarback', and the screws holding the mount-ring in place were quite loose and easy to take out and one was not original - the neck pickup screws were practically locked in place as though they've not been touched for 38 years so i decided against taking that one out and having a look.

 

my guess is that the bridge pickup has been swapped out for something else at some point, only for the original to be put back in.

 

edit: there were 2 codes on each pot - they all seemed to say 1377331 (though only one had this clear, i could see portions of the same code written on all of them), and they also had another code, which was only clear on the bridge tone pot (usually the neck) that said 70 028 - one volume pot looked like it said 71 028 but it had a blob of solder in the middle so it could've been the same. any idea what the other numbers mean?

 

i checked the 1377331 code with a pot code reader which says they are CTS pots from the 31st week of 1973, which would make this either a mid-late '73 or an early '74 SG (they moved the bridge pickup closer to the bridge at some point in '74).

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