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Les Paul vs. SG


crazytrain513

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LP all the way - I own 17 right now and have one SG a faded model set up for slide. Ive never really liked the SG model it's just not for me I don't like the shape and the body is so thin, it just feels wrong plus if I want that sound I can grab a L6-S and be happy. I guess at 6'4" and 260 or more the SG looks and feels too small. I would say I'm a single cut guy all the way around. Even my PRS models are all single cut's and I'll take a Tele over a Statt every time usually, so like most things about guitar it just feels right with a LP.

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4 LPs + 4 SGs here.....i'm blessed.

 

if I HAD to choose only one it would be the SG....my back is such a wreck that 90% of the time I play sitting down, which is really easy w/an SG, but a constant wrestling match w/a LP.(and Strats are the absolute pitts to play sitting, goes from wrestling to playing "chase")

 

actually my favorite geet to play sitting is my Flying-V, because when a wing is jammed between your legs, you can take BOTH hands off it and it stays where it is.....no friction from having to "hold it up" w/my fret hand.

 

those that find the SG too thin/bright, try a bass speaker in your amp cab

those that find a LP too thick/dark, use a lower watt ceramic spkr. in your cab.

 

you may just be amazed at the difference it makes in your tone.........

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Anyone else a little surprised that the vote is so close? I thought the Les Paul would run away with this one. But as one who voted for the venerable SG, I couldn't be more delighted.

 

 

I'm shocked. I really thought so too. But I'm glad to see people are providing so much input. As of now, I'm still not sure which one I would pick though.

 

Yeah it's close... but I think if you ask people with multiple guitars they will tend to have more LPs the SGs, unless you are Angus Young of course...

 

 

Very true. Isn't it true though, that the SG is Gibson's most sold guitar though?

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Personally, I think from everything I think I know about what makes a great guitar, the SG has most if not all of it.

 

Even though it seems like it would be right up my alley, I have never found one I could get next to. What it is, I think it's just too small. Just for reference, I am about 5'11". 190#.

 

One thing I notice, is that those that REALLY seen to connect with it, and use it for a "main" guitar, are poeple with smaller frames. It isn't the rule, but in addition to that, players that seem to look natural playing them are usually those with smaller frames.

 

I think 90% of us, 90% of the time, we will adjust to the guitars design and geometry when getting used to a guitar. Back to me, what I find is that the neck dive is an awkward thing, and the strap button on the back is not what I am used to. So, it INITAILLY feels different, but when attempting to adjust to that, it just feels like there isn't enough to hold onto to feel like I could make the adjustment.

 

I think the size of it is likely right on the cuff to being a disadvantage to larger guys, and being an advantage in ways to smaller guys.

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I have played the SG for about 35 years and have never had the neck dive issue that so many describe here. I suppose each guitar has it's own balance point, even within models, but I have 3 SG's and have played many more and no neck dive for me, ever. Perhaps my straps offer enough friction on my shoulder to counteract any propensity to neck dive.

 

I find the SG to be the 2nd most comfortable guitar to play in my personal inventory (right behind the Strat - gotta love those body contours) with upper fret access clearly second to none. And I'm 6' 3" and right at 200 lbs so I wouldn't be what you would call small framed.

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Personally, I think from everything I think I know about what makes a great guitar, the SG has most if not all of it.

 

Even though it seems like it would be right up my alley, I have never found one I could get next to. What it is, I think it's just too small. Just for reference, I am about 5'11". 190#.

 

One thing I notice, is that those that REALLY seen to connect with it, and use it for a "main" guitar, are poeple with smaller frames. It isn't the rule, but in addition to that, players that seem to look natural playing them are usually those with smaller frames.

 

I think 90% of us, 90% of the time, we will adjust to the guitars design and geometry when getting used to a guitar. Back to me, what I find is that the neck dive is an awkward thing, and the strap button on the back is not what I am used to. So, it INITAILLY feels different, but when attempting to adjust to that, it just feels like there isn't enough to hold onto to feel like I could make the adjustment.

 

I think the size of it is likely right on the cuff to being a disadvantage to larger guys, and being an advantage in ways to smaller guys.

 

Interesting thought. I personally love the looks of the SG, but playing it for SOME REASON (not hating on them in any way) is just very awkward for me. I come from playing super strats and flying v's and for some reason, I just can't sit and play one comfortable. It almost feels too thin in the body, and the neck feels too disproportional. It BITES and sounds great, but playability has always been an issue for me. Standing, I get the neck-dive issue and I'm 5'7 but that may just be a poor strap.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As the title suggests.

 

If you had to pick one, would it be a Les Paul or an SG?

 

Why?

 

Aside from the whole "it's all a matter of preference", what are the pros and cons of each?

 

They're two incarnations of the same guitar, the Les Paul model. The single cutaway was introduced in the fifties and production didn't sell well, either people didn't like them or they were too expensive. Also, consider the whole 'electric' guitar craze hadn't quite taken hold. The reasons those old flame top standards are so prized is by who played/owned them, BIG STARS (and the fact that there are only so many left)! The SG (solidbody guitar) was the sixties model of the les paul, in other words, Gibson tried another design, the double cutaway devil horns to replace the single cutaway. The single cutaway model was reintroduced late sixties again due to demand. So either/or isn't fair because they are two different versions of the Les Paul model. BTW: I don't think Les Paul liked the devil horn design at all, his specs were more present on the single cutaway model. Don't forget Les Paul designed the model as a jazz guitar.

 

Better question is to debate the differences between the two model designs. The Les Paul single cutaway has the arched maple cap, the SG has the slab mahogany body. The double cutaway on the SG definitely allows greater access to the upper frets, but at the cost of a less stable neck. They can break. There's variations you can debate within the question of which design is preferred, like the pickups, early p90s or later humbuckers, fixed tailpiece or floating tail. Interesting bit of fact is that the colour 'TV Yellow' was made because when black and white television was king, other colours didn't show up as well on the screen, tv yellow came through better on b and w tv. Huh, who'd a thunk? I didn't think yellow was a great aesthetic colour choice but it served a purpose.

I think the whole desirablitity of which model of Les Paul is subjective depending on who owned and played the guitar, better yet who popularized it. Jimmy Page's 59' standard, or Robby Krieger's SG with maestro? They're both cool. Value is added to a particular guitar based on how the owner takes care of it and uses it. Give it some love and it won't let you down. Even more superficial is the attraction to the guitarist's guitar based on how much money he's made with it.

The provenance of a particular guitar at resale would affect it's price. If it's just another Les Paul standard, market price, but if it was owned by JP omg it could be a million dollars! Yeah I think there were lucky mistakes in early production that we associate with 'better' than the rest. Does it matter if the body is one piece? Some of the flame tops were absolutely more beautiful than others. The paf pickups were mistakes, some got overwound or mismatched alnico V and II magnets. Some hold those guitars more desirable. I think it is a part in choosing a guitar, but more about the love you give it that makes it a great instrument.

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MY LP is the best playing guitar I have ever played, hands down.I have gigged with it and last year an SG. No comparison, although the SG, to be fair, wasn't set up too well.

I love the 60's slim neck of my LP. When I picked it up after trying a 59 re-issue I just couldn't believe it. I said, "That's it".

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They're two incarnations of the same guitar, the Les Paul model. The single cutaway was introduced in the fifties and production didn't sell well, either people didn't like them or they were too expensive. Also, consider the whole 'electric' guitar craze hadn't quite taken hold. The reasons those old flame top standards are so prized is by who played/owned them, BIG STARS (and the fact that there are only so many left)! The SG (solidbody guitar) was the sixties model of the les paul, in other words, Gibson tried another design, the double cutaway devil horns to replace the single cutaway. The single cutaway model was reintroduced late sixties again due to demand. So either/or isn't fair because they are two different versions of the Les Paul model. BTW: I don't think Les Paul liked the devil horn design at all, his specs were more present on the single cutaway model. Don't forget Les Paul designed the model as a jazz guitar.

 

Better question is to debate the differences between the two model designs. The Les Paul single cutaway has the arched maple cap, the SG has the slab mahogany body. The double cutaway on the SG definitely allows greater access to the upper frets, but at the cost of a less stable neck. They can break. There's variations you can debate within the question of which design is preferred, like the pickups, early p90s or later humbuckers, fixed tailpiece or floating tail. Interesting bit of fact is that the colour 'TV Yellow' was made because when black and white television was king, other colours didn't show up as well on the screen, tv yellow came through better on b and w tv. Huh, who'd a thunk? I didn't think yellow was a great aesthetic colour choice but it served a purpose.

I think the whole desirablitity of which model of Les Paul is subjective depending on who owned and played the guitar, better yet who popularized it. Jimmy Page's 59' standard, or Robby Krieger's SG with maestro? They're both cool. Value is added to a particular guitar based on how the owner takes care of it and uses it. Give it some love and it won't let you down. Even more superficial is the attraction to the guitarist's guitar based on how much money he's made with it.

The provenance of a particular guitar at resale would affect it's price. If it's just another Les Paul standard, market price, but if it was owned by JP omg it could be a million dollars! Yeah I think there were lucky mistakes in early production that we associate with 'better' than the rest. Does it matter if the body is one piece? Some of the flame tops were absolutely more beautiful than others. The paf pickups were mistakes, some got overwound or mismatched alnico V and II magnets. Some hold those guitars more desirable. I think it is a part in choosing a guitar, but more about the love you give it that makes it a great instrument.

 

Very valid and well-thought out information. But the question was, if you had to pick ONE, which one would you pick> Just a question of interest is all but what you said is very true, nevertheless.

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In a bit of history... Les as far as I can tell wanted a feedback-proof guitar that also would be more "pure" then in what it put into not just an amp, but through whatever wildness his mind invented for pre-amplification or post-amplification recording.

 

Gotta remember that back then the amps were just beginning to be something you'd recognize for rock and much else beyond light enhancement of volume to be heard at the volume, say, of a trumpet or sax. The rhythm guitar archtop style was barely heard in swing and as amps came into development post WWII with lots of leftover electronics of the era and lots of production somebody wanted to use to keep from closing factories.

 

The Les didn't go over that well at the time, in ways because it did pretty much what Les Paul wanted. A heavy chunk of wood - a "log" if you will - with pickups, tone and volume dials. It'd sustain thanks to the solid wood, but it also was heavy, chunky and wasn't that much better sounding that something that looked like a real guitar - e.g., an archtop.

 

Don't forget that with time out for the war and a cupla years of deep breathing, the electric guitar and guitar amp functionally were just getting going circa 1950-1960. A lot of our standard stuff, such and the 1/4 inch jack, already were standards for WWII and prior electronics rather than redesigned for guitar.

 

The LP didn't sell for a cupla reasons both in terms of what players wanted and for cost.

 

The SG was simpler to make and frankly sits on some folks laps and from a strap more comfortably - but still wasn't "it" for a lotta music styles. Apparently Les didn't like it and Gibbie removed the "Les" name from it. IMHO the original SGs could be a bit warmer 'cuz they didn't have the extra maple. Then in the '60s the LP got to be a rock popular thing even as amps got bigger and sustain got to be more of a "thing" a lotta folks looked for.

 

Personally I'm still convinced that except for the folks looking for 1 percent tone differences and/or to emulate a "hero," the SG is a more practical instrument to make and play. Comfort with one or another should be a matter of the individual's physical geometry - and there's more difference there if one were to look at the same picker using both than one might imagine.

 

One frustrating thing with both is in the way some neck changes have arisen, but it kinda comes back to what HenryJ said of Gibbies in general, that each is enough of an individual thanks to the handwork that even two "identical" guitars from the same lot won't be the same to play.

 

I get a kick out of "us" often wanting this or that guitar when functionally no individual instrument even mass produced is identical to another, and there have been lots of intentional changes in factory specks over the past 50+ years.

 

The bottom line, I guess is if you find a guitar you find enjoyable to play and that helps you play as opposed to making you attempt to force the thing to play what and how you play.

 

Oh, what do I have? Never had an LP. When I got my Guild SG clone it felt so "perfect" that you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands. If it were destroyed somehow? It'd be a Gibson SG with a thin neck from fingerboard to back. Either P90 or HB would be fine. Plain would be fine. No whammy thanks. I've about concluded some good things about a roller bridge on this type of guitar, even without the whammy...

 

m

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Very valid and well-thought out information. But the question was, if you had to pick ONE, which one would you pick> Just a question of interest is all but what you said is very true, nevertheless.

 

Oh, the Les Paul single cutaway. For my tastes the single cutaway, arched top is the classic guitar shape. I do like the SG too! :)

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Sgt...

 

I'd agree on the archtop kinda - I love 'em.

 

But not in the LP shrunken formula. Which is why I've never had one.

 

The SG frankly feels to me more like a parlor guitar in ways; and that tends to be how I play it nowadays. It's also done a lot of country and country rock in its day with a lot younger version of "me."

 

Others' will have different opinions in at least part because they play differently.

 

m

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I'm shocked. I really thought so too. But I'm glad to see people are providing so much input. As of now, I'm still not sure which one I would pick though.

 

 

 

 

Very true. Isn't it true though, that the SG is Gibson's most sold guitar though?

 

Hmmmm I find that hard to beleive but it may be true... Where did you get that statistic?

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Hmmmm I find that hard to beleive but it may be true... Where did you get that statistic?

I've read that too, Dave.

 

I pretty sure it was posted here on the Forum last year by Gibson themselves.

 

In terms of total numbers of instruments sold from '62 - present day the SG in all it's variants came out as the biggest seller.

 

P.

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Hmmmm I find that hard to beleive but it may be true... Where did you get that statistic?

 

 

I've read that too, Dave.

 

I pretty sure it was posted here on the Forum last year by Gibson themselves.

 

In terms of total numbers of instruments sold from '62 - present day the SG in all it's variants came out as the biggest seller.

 

P.

 

 

"This trend eventually made the SG Gibson’s most popular model – a distinction that still holds true today." Source: http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/SG/Gibson-Custom/SG-Standard-Reissue.aspx. Cheers... Bence

 

 

This is from 2009 but I think this is where I read it:

 

http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/the-sg-standard-414.aspx

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I was looking for a post I made where I commented on the "feel" of an LP and said I would get back...wasn't this thread, but as good a place as any. Perhaps it applies.

 

The origonal jist was how the LP seems to be in a very good proportion as far as angles. The bridge/tailpiece make great rest for the right hand playing position, and the arched top brings them higher up in relation to where the right arm is on the body. Also, the neck angle the way it comes off the body pulls it back closer, making it not as far a reach. Standing up with it, it seems like the whole thing just rest where the hands want to be.

 

In contrast, a Strat sorta achieves the same thing by the contour on the top of the body and the contour taken out of the back. The right hand usually anchors on the body itself where the bridge is, and the tendancy for the right arm to pull the body back and make the neck stick out away from the left hand is alleviated by the body contours being cut out. I think all 'refined' guitar designs have some consideration for playing position, and right/left had position, etc.

 

Moving on...Personally, I usually play electrics in the standing position, and when I am not, when I am "lounging", I don't usually play electrics in a proper sitting position. I might be laying prone with the guitar flat on me, or I will rest the back of the body on the couch or between my legs, etc. Sitting, my only real complaint of the LP is the body digging into the ribs (a complaint I have heard from others as well). I thought next time I had a chance and sat "prpoer" with the LP, I would note how it sits compared to other guitars.

 

Anyway, did that, and here is what I found: I seem to have a tendancy to "flatten" the LP, as in, rather than want to tuck it in closer like a flat-top or larger archtop, it seems to end up lower and away. Also, the neck seems to want to poke out toward the left more, and down as well. It isn't like a fight, but more so that if I sit for a moment naturally, I will bring the guitar back to me to play. There doesn't seem to be any natural "anchors" to make me want to hold it more upright. Also, I notice it seems it would be more "natural" to strap it on and let the back of the body down a bit...sorta like the way LP himself does when he sits. On the whole, when sitting proper with it and no strap, the whole guitar just seems to cruise to the left and down.

 

Kinda a surprise to me that a guitar that feels so "natural" standing and had no real wierd "oddities" to the design the way it feels would be so different. I would,'t have likely noticed had I not saw to check it out.

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...

I don't usually play electrics in a proper sitting position. I might be laying prone with the guitar flat on me, or I will rest the back of the body on the couch or between my legs, etc. Sitting, my only real complaint of the LP is the body digging into the ribs (a complaint I have heard from others as well). I thought next time I had a chance and sat "prpoer" with the LP, I would note how it sits compared to other guitars.

...

 

Hello! My only complaint that the - heavier - Les Paul stops the blood circulation in my right leg after a while when I play seated - which is the way I mostly play. (That is why I switch seating positions very often during playing). [biggrin] Cheers... Bence

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From what I understand about LP/SG history, Les having his name removed had as much to do with personal circumstance as anything. Times were a little different in that dirty laundry wasn't as appealing to the public, and he was in the middle of what seems to be a nasty divorce. So, when his contract with Gibson was up, he thought better not to make any more until his divorce was final.

 

And yea, the LP was origonally meant as a "Jazz" guitar, and it didn't sell all that well. (1700 origonal sunburst in 3 years...what does that say?). Sales were dropping a bit, and the change to the SG might have been more just change for changes sake, just to spice things up a bit and make more interest, which it did. The change from gold to sunburst was the same thing, and had the same results, picked up sales a bit. Rock and Roll as we know it now, the MARSHALL amp, etc., was yet to happen.

 

Of corse, Les would have prefered the more "traditional" shape and sound of the LP, he was a Jazz guy. But, really, don't think he cared much. The LP as a guitar and an endorsement wasn't quite the cash cow it became, and he was along for the ride. If Gibson was going to make money and he got a little, he would be fine either way. He had the guitar he wanted anyway. He was a recording artist first.

 

Les didn't actually DESIGN the thing, but the whole deal is kind of a "told you so". In fact, a lot of things he did. Multitrack recording, loops, etc. Even guitar electronics, low impedence pickups. I seems everything we have now, he did it first. To spite the fact he was a SUCCESFUL recording artist, and the things he did WORKED, no one picked up on what he did to make it that way, and no none of these things became popular until someone else "invented" them.

 

With the LP, he came to them MUCH earlier and said, "you guys need to make a solid guitar", and they were like, "why?". Then later when Fender did it and they decided they needed to make one, and designed it, and looked for a SUCCESFUL guy to put a name to it, there he was. He didn't design it, but it was pretty much exactly what he told them to make long before others got the "idea".

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I've read that too, Dave.

 

I pretty sure it was posted here on the Forum last year by Gibson themselves.

 

In terms of total numbers of instruments sold from '62 - present day the SG in all it's variants came out as the biggest seller.

 

P.

 

That is probably due to price more than preference. I would bet that most of those SG buyers would have preferred a LP but they cost too much.

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That is probably due to price more than preference. I would bet that most of those SG would have preferred a LP but they cost too much.

Whilst I'm sure price might have played some part as far as initial sales goes - first 'proper' guitar sort of thing - I'm not so sure about the longer term implications re; preference.

After all, Zappa, Young, Iommi and many others could easily have chosen to ditch the SG once the money started to roll in but they stayed (mostly) true.

 

At present the poll reads 55% LP against 45% SG. This is hardly the landslide victory in favour of the Les Paul amongst the players here which some might have expected to see.

 

Furthermore from several of the posts it can also be seen that many members have examples of each and there are those who have stated they favour their SG over their LP.

 

And one Crusty Old Forumite highly regarded, greatly experienced and very-well-liked member has stated on more than a few occasions he wouldn't take an LP as gift. No names, no pack drill.......lol!

 

P.

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