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Gibson SG standard, a versatile guitar?
Old 1st September 2011
  #1
Gibson SG standard, a versatile guitar?

I am on the verge of upgrading my electric guitar rig. I'm mostly a recording artist/composer. I play mostly lighter, rock/folk type stuff. Usually play a fake strat, hence, upgrade. Paul Simon, Magnetic Fields, Wilco type stuff.
I love the way an SG feels and sounds when I play it at guitar center, but what I want to know is, can you use it for a variety of stuff?

I'd like to get a lot out of the main guitar I own, and I hop around into different genres all the time. Anyone own an SG standard for a long time? I ask because the only dimension of this guitar you hear is heavy rock, blues, or people trying to replicate Jimmy Page/ACDC solos. Do most people buy these things for novelty? Looks like a lot of 13 yr old kids that worship ACDC, and middle aged hobbyists.

I am still open to get a different guitar, but I want something in that exact price point. 1k - 1200. This guitar would sometimes be gigged with.
I'd appreciate any thoughts you'd like to share, or SG stories.

Last edited by Baroque; 1st September 2011 at 12:33 AM.. Reason: forgot something
Old 1st September 2011
  #2
It's different than a strat. It's got a stronger midrange presence, where a strat sounds more scooped and sparkly (for lack of better words). I love the sound of 'clean Gibson'...its complementary to Fender, not better or worse.
Old 1st September 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
Gibson SG standard, a versatile guitar?

I had an SG back in the '70s. Now whenever I play one I wonder why. Besides a lot of high gain stuff, they seem okay for folks with a really light touch. But nowadays I find them really dynamically and tonally limited.

For most of my life I couldn't stand Strats. An avowed Gibson humbucking man. Then about 5 years ago I had to get a Strat for a corporate band I was playing with. I needed those other tones to cover the variety of songs on that gig. I still have a very good mid '80s 335 but the Strat seems to be the first thing I grab.

I have a buddy who is fairly well known as a 335 player but has been using a Strat more and more. When not doing gigs around Vegas he's touring with Americas Got Talent winner Michael Grimm. A gig that covers some ground musically. His Strats are made in the Bay Area by Keith Holland and are the equal of most boutique Strats but right in your price range.
Old 1st September 2011
  #4
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Space Station's Avatar
it's a really trendy guitar to own at the moment, very popular with indie kids and bands like the ones you mention.

Neck heavy and unbalanced, hence why a lot of people don't like them.

Les Paul hated the design.

Sounds like a Les Paul, which is a very disinct. You either like it or you don't.

You'll never get it to sound like a strat and vice versa.
Old 1st September 2011
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
I had an SG back in the '70s. Now whenever I play one I wonder why. Besides a lot of high gain stuff, they seem okay for folks with a really light touch. But nowadays I find them really dynamically and tonally limited.

For most of my life I couldn't stand Strats. An avowed Gibson humbucking man. Then about 5 years ago I had to get a Strat for a corporate band I was playing with. I needed those other tones to cover the variety of songs on that gig. I still have a very good mid '80s 335 but the Strat seems to be the first thing I grab.

I have a buddy who is fairly well known as a 335 player but has been using a Strat more and more. When not doing gigs around Vegas he's touring with Americas Got Talent winner Michael Grimm. A gig that covers some ground musically. His Strats are made in the Bay Area by Keith Holland and are the equal of most boutique Strats but right in your price range.
Thanks for the insight! I checked out Keith Holland, those are some amazing guitars! Beauties!
If I had the money, I would get a 335! I call that my dream guitar. For my music, that would be the all-in-one.
I'm also really in love with Rickenbacker 330s. Again, price.
Strats are tempting, because I know for 1k I could get a standard american. I worry that somedays I will just want a different tone. My current electric is a strat type, and while recording, I sometimes just get sick of the scoopiness, as the above comment described. I'm not ruling out strats entirely though. What do you think of American standards?
Old 1st September 2011
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Station View Post
it's a really trendy guitar to own at the moment, very popular with indie kids and bands like the ones you mention.

Neck heavy and unbalanced, hence why a lot of people don't like them.

Les Paul hated the design.

Sounds like a Les Paul, which is a very disinct. You either like it or you don't.

You'll never get it to sound like a strat and vice versa.
SG was originally called a Les Paul after the original Les Paul was discontinued in 1960. Was it 61 or 62 was the first ? not sure

but great gtrs. nice warm tone from the mahogany slab. Just listen to 'Into the Void' or 'Young man blues'

holy carp that's an awesome gtr
Old 1st September 2011
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Station View Post
it's a really trendy guitar to own at the moment, very popular with indie kids and bands like the ones you mention.

Neck heavy and unbalanced, hence why a lot of people don't like them.

Les Paul hated the design.

Sounds like a Les Paul, which is a very disinct. You either like it or you don't.

You'll never get it to sound like a strat and vice versa.
Very well said. Trendiness actually keeps me away from certain things. As far as that goes, it has kept me (sort of) away from getting a jazzmaster. every indie kid plays one of those, and over saturation cheapens the beautiful design.
Old 1st September 2011
  #8
I think Gibsons are among The most versatile of all guitars. They just smoke!
Old 1st September 2011
  #9
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Space Station's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
SG was originally called a Les Paul after the original Les Paul was discontinued in 1960.
correct..Les Paul had his name removed because of his distaste for the guitar..or so i've read.
Old 1st September 2011
  #10
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Space Station's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baroque View Post
Very well said. Trendiness actually keeps me away from certain things. As far as that goes, it has kept me (sort of) away from getting a jazzmaster. every indie kid plays one of those, and over saturation cheapens the beautiful design.
Tell me about it. As a '59 Jazzmaster player of over 20 years, i almost feel embarrassed to play it nowadays, such is the stigma..which is annoying because they really are great guitars.

I'm using a Yamaha SG1000 at the moment a lot..they are really great guitars..and you have coil tapping..so you can go from a single coil to humbucker sound.
Old 1st September 2011
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Station View Post
Tell me about it. As a '59 Jazzmaster player of over 20 years, i almost feel embarrassed to play it nowadays, such is the stigma..which is annoying because they really are great guitars.

I'm using a Yamaha SG1000 at the moment a lot..they are really great guitars..and you have coil tapping..so you can go from a single coil to humbucker sound.
Haha, yeah I can imagine the frustration. That's an amazing guitar. I was able to borrow an original 62' Jazzmaster from a studio I was recording at, and make an album with it. I've never love a guitar so much.
I actually think it's a very versatile guitar, too. Some may disagree, but I got the best cleans, great rhythm, and the best gritty leads.
Old 1st September 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
They can be quite flexible-you'd want one with a stable neck joint, and fairly low output or tappable pickups (many are set up with high output, hard rock pickups). That said, in your situation, I'd definitely go a different direction:

You can find very nice strat style guitars for less than $200. One of my favorite brands is the Peavey mid-range offerings. They're well built, decent hardware, the biggest problem is the pickups. You can drop in the Acme Tone Shaper pickguard or get a set of Seymour Duncans and have great sounds for less than another $200. Now you've got $600 left from your $1k to spend on a Les Paul Studio with some wear to cover the LP side of the equation. When you can save a little more you can upgrade the pickups to Duncans or WGS and have two great guitars for less than an SG.
Old 1st September 2011
  #13
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You can't buy Gibsons anymore because the wood comes from India, so India wants to make your guitar.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-...d-illegal.html
Old 1st September 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baroque View Post
I am still open to get a different guitar, but I want something in that exact price point. 1k - 1200. This guitar would sometimes be gigged with.
I'd appreciate any thoughts you'd like to share, or SG stories.
Fender comes first to my mind as a good allround tone guitar.

I can say I was impressed by yamaha's low-mid price range guitars, though I didn't like the feel, a RGX I played had plenty of tone but besides that I serious consider to buy a semi-hollow guitar for warm tones just to complement my...

Ibanez RG3120 if you find one at a guitar store, go ahead and try it. I don't consider it as a metal guitar (like most ibanez's) and can even dare to say it has something "les paul'ish" to it.
Old 1st September 2011
  #15
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Boogaju's Avatar
 

Hey i have a sg i bought in 2006. It's a cool guitar, with attitude, it's fun to play. It has a character, is well built, has a fantastic neck, a great sound and sustain.
The sounds you can get from it just using the controls on the guitar and a good amp can cover a lot of styles, though the guitar always retain that sg flair and tone.

A lot of great players had an sg at some point in their careers, Jerry garcia, john mc laughlin, robby krieger (the doors) clapton, hendrix...

But if you are primarily looking for variety of sounds and styles, I wouldn't recommend the sg first. l personally find other guitars more versatile. I got a mexican baja telecaster last year that gets all the attention now, great guitar. I got it after a long quest searching for a really versatile guitar, actually.

You can check some guitars with 2 single coils + humbucker (like some strat), or some g&l (comanche...) if you want a broader palette of sounds.

Last note, if u get the sg, you will still have some use for the 'strat' you own now. They will complement each other nicely
Good luck with your search
Old 1st September 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
Love it!! You can can get a lot of sounds out of that guitar. I put a dual mode active pickup EMI in the bridge on one of mine and it sounds awesome.
Old 1st September 2011
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogaju View Post
Hey i have a sg i bought in 2006. It's a cool guitar, with attitude, it's fun to play. It has a character, is well built, has a fantastic neck, a great sound and sustain.
The sounds you can get from it just using the controls on the guitar and a good amp can cover a lot of styles, though the guitar always retain that sg flair and tone.

A lot of great players had an sg at some point in their careers, Jerry garcia, john mc laughlin, robby krieger (the doors) clapton, hendrix...

But if you are primarily looking for variety of sounds and styles, I wouldn't recommend the sg first. l personally find other guitars more versatile. I got a mexican baja telecaster last year that gets all the attention now, great guitar. I got it after a long quest searching for a really versatile guitar, actually.

You can check some guitars with 2 single coils + humbucker (like some strat), or some g&l (comanche...) if you want a broader palette of sounds.

Last note, if u get the sg, you will still have some use for the 'strat' you own now. They will complement each other nicely
Good luck with your search
Thanks a lot! very helpful thoughts!
I imagine I will use the strat to contrast the gibson (no matter what model I go to)
I have been considering teles, but it's hard to find an american one I can get.

Now, I am looking into used 335s. I don't know how versatile they are, but I know playing one, for me, is heaven! If I could find one at a good price, that'd be the dream.
Old 1st September 2011
  #18
Gear Head
 

SG's were the Les Paul Standard Model from '61 to '63. After that, SG's were a separate line from the Les Paul models.

For ultmate versitility, makers like Grosh, Suhr, and Tom Anderson make guitars that meld the design aspects of fenders and gibsons to verying degree (neck design, wood choice, pickup selection, coil taps for single and humbucking ect...). That being said, I tend to not be so fond of guitars that try to be "all things to all players" for whatever reason.

An SG is an all mahogany set neck guitar. it will have sustaing similar to a Les paul, but will have a more mid forward raunchy midrange becuase it lacks the maple top of the LP standard wiich gives the LP extended highs and lows. SG's can be sassy or sweet. The key is to get good pickups. SG standards have 57 classics and the 62' reissue and Historic models have burstbuckers I believe. All are decent, but You'd do well to replace them with WCR's or wolftones. For my taste, Low output pickups give you alot more tonal options than the higher output models. This difference is not understated. Also good things to do are replace the wiring harnes with RS guitarworks or Dr. Vintage. This will give you much more usable tone and volume controls and this is where its at with a lower output dual humbucking guitars. By using the pickup toggle and volume/tone controls, you can dials in a wide range of tones from thick to thin, fat, sweet, clean, dirty, rauchy, singing etc....

As far as necks go, get one that's comfortable. I prefer the SG standards becuase they have a thicker '59 style neck as oppose to the '62 reissues or Historic models which have the faster '60's neck. The Standards are still good guitars, you just might have to play a few to find one that's as good as a '62 reissue or Historic. Some will disagree with me on this I'm sure. YMMV.

The 335 is also a good bet for versitility. Its got hollow wings and solid maple centerline with a maple top. More highs and lows with elements of hollow body guitars but the sustain and feedback resistance of a solidbody. Same stuff applies to pickups and tone controls.

I play a historic les paul now, but I use to play an original '64 SG.
Old 1st September 2011
  #19
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jjboogie's Avatar
First of all I say get what ever feels best too you! You want something that feels so good that it inspires you!

The tone and stuff can be tweaked with your knobs and amp settings and pick up selection.

That being said a Tele is probably one of the most versatile guitars you could own. If you are going to just have one you can't go wrong with one.

Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, Metal!

It does everything! Not to mention it doesn't have a tilted head stock like Gibsons do!

The neck on my Les Paul has been broken twice!

Anyways I have three electrics I bring to studio sessions.

Tele, Strat & Les Paul!!!
Old 1st September 2011
  #20
yes they're great, a bit flatter response than a les paul which can tend to be more pointy sounding. USA Sg Standards tend to have 498T/r pickups which are a hair agressive/modern fir my taste, but I like the necks on the Gibson SG Standards better than the non custom shop reissues. They also seem better balanced to me, and worth the effort of putting a couple hundred bucks worth of handwound pickups in it. if you go for an underwound pickup (7k5 ish) or a good old vintage Ttop it will be brighter and more open in the mids and overlap your strat nicely.
Old 1st September 2011
  #21
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FireMoon's Avatar
SG + Standard Guitar....and the best SGs come with P90s unless you are seeking a very specific sort of tone. Probably shatter all my illusions to find it was something totally different, but *Don't fear the reaper* always comes to mind as THE classic SG sound.

The double cut Les Paul series with flat bodies were the forerunner to the SG, obvious really when you look at them, I added the caveat about Don't fear the Reaper as I use to think Mother Goose by Tull was a classic SG sound and it turns out Barre was using a Les Paul double cut.
Old 1st September 2011
  #22
Lives for gear
a great SG is the SG supreme. It has a maple top. It's not as dark as the standard. It's cool since it can get a smooth brighter sound like a LP. Plus the ebony finger board has a sound of it's own. Also the flame tops on the fireburst and lavaburst models are incredible to look at if that matters
Old 1st September 2011
  #23
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AbsoluteSpirit's Avatar
 

I've been searching for a new guitar for a while and versatility is one of the most important things for me too.

I wholeheartedly second the Baja telecaster recommendation - I own one and I'm never parting with it.

The two guitars I'm closest to pulling the trigger on at the moment are the fender roadworn telecaster player with a single coil at the bridge and a Seymour duncan 59 humbucker at the neck and a Gibson 2011 nighthawk H/S/H

I think both are much more versatile than the SG with a mix of single/hum and split coil sounds etc...

In some ways they're quite similar as the nighthawk is 'fender' scale with a maple neck and the SD59 is based on a Gibson pickup

I think both should fall into your price range
Old 1st September 2011
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjboogie View Post
First of all I say get what ever feels best too you! You want something that feels so good that it inspires you!

The tone and stuff can be tweaked with your knobs and amp settings and pick up selection.

That being said a Tele is probably one of the most versatile guitars you could own. If you are going to just have one you can't go wrong with one.

Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, Metal!

It does everything! Not to mention it doesn't have a tilted head stock like Gibsons do!

The neck on my Les Paul has been broken twice!

Anyways I have three electrics I bring to studio sessions.

Tele, Strat & Les Paul!!!
^^^^^ What he said...

SG is a great guitar; however, I would never call it versatile.
Old 1st September 2011
  #25
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TurboJets's Avatar
I love my Strat and I love my double cutaway copy (a '79 Epi). My most versatile guitar right now I feel is a '62 Harmony Meteor.

But in the past the most versatile guitar I played and gigged with was a Tele with a Duncan Little '59 at the bridge and tapped, and a Bill Lawrence K-TN at the neck. If I did that again I think I'd bolt a nice round Warmoth neck on it with a '59 profile.
Old 1st September 2011
  #26
Lives for gear
I love my 335. For years I thought of it as my desert island guitar. If the house were burning, it would be the first thing I grabbed. etc Because finding a good one is so hard, I still might go for it first. They are the most variable guitars I've ever played. The year means little. Something about the construction makes them really sensitive to the wood and so they'll all have a different sound and dynamic capability. The one I have now is one of the rare bottomless ones. The more you dig in, the more you get. It never plunks out. Although you can play it softly and it will sound great as well. I've played others that only worked in one way. Either soft or hard. Some have a really woody sound, almost like the narrow sound of an SG. Others, like the one Chris Cain has, have the dynamics with a great chirp to the attack. Mine's just a hair darker than his. Keith Holland (him again) put Tusq saddles and a Larry Carlton mixed fretwire fret job on both of ours (actually Wedemeyer convinced me to have Keith do the mixed fret job and Keith convinced me to do the same saddle replacement as Chris).

The Heritage 335 like thing (can't remember the model number) is more consistent. I've never played a plunky or choked off one, and I've played plenty of horrid 335s. You can get them for a bit less.

The Korean Epiphone dot isn't half bad. Every one I've picked up has been better than the mediocre older 335s and miles beyond the bad ones.

I did get my hands on one of the initial 100 piece run of the Mr. 335 Carlton model. It wouldn't hold up under heavy playing like mine, but it had the sweetest tone if you held back a bit. Larry doesn't play very hard and it responds to being played like that.

All that said, I pull out the 335 when it's going to be a blues or rock trio and I want to fill up all the space with one instrument. Sometimes for quiet jazz things as it's sweeter and warmer than my archtop (better sustain too).

But if there's another midrange instrument involved, I've found the Strat fits in the mix better. What sounds warm and full by itself often sounds like mud with more people playing. People think of Robben Ford as a humbucker player (I also had one of his signature humbucker equipped Fenders for a few years). But the vast majority of his work is either a Tele or a P90 equipped '54 Les Paul. He has a couple of 355's which have ebony fretboards and varitones. Every humbucker guitar you've ever seen him with has a coil tap which is almost always engaged. The solidness of tone comes from the way he plays.

My Strat is a USA Ultra with the humbucker in the bridge. It cost a bit under $1000. I put on Callaham vintage type saddles and his trem block, swapped the humbucker for a Duncan 59 and recently swapped the noiseless single coils (which were great for playing in hotel ballrooms with funky dimmers) for Suhr Landaus which are the most amazing Strat pickups I've played (compared to Lollars, Fralins, Van Zandts, etc). The stock Holland guitars (he calls them Los Gatos) are in a similar price range. There is also a basic line that Suhr puts out at a more reasonable price point. Haven't played those but the standard Suhrs are my favorite boutique Strat.

If you get a good piece of wood with a well fit neck joint, you can mess with the hardware for pretty reasonable money and get probably the most versatile sounding guitar possible. Roll off the tone just a hair and play softly and mine is as warm as most 335s while sounding clearer and taking up less sonic space. Thus making the guitar parts stand out better.

An SG will sound nice and soft and warm in the store. But can disappear in a dense mix unless it's really mixed louder or run into an aggressive distorted amp like a Hiwatt or VHT. There are the occasional magic ones. But they're rarer than good 335s.

Again, this is my personal experience. But it seems to be pretty common. Some folks resist for years, but eventually end up playing Strats.
Old 1st September 2011
  #27
Gear Addict
 

Get Telecaster and time to play it. It's a simple guitar: it only sounds great.
Old 1st September 2011
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjboogie View Post
First of all I say get what ever feels best too you! You want something that feels so good that it inspires you!

The tone and stuff can be tweaked with your knobs and amp settings and pick up selection.

That being said a Tele is probably one of the most versatile guitars you could own. If you are going to just have one you can't go wrong with one.

Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, Metal!

It does everything! Not to mention it doesn't have a tilted head stock like Gibsons do!

The neck on my Les Paul has been broken twice!

Anyways I have three electrics I bring to studio sessions.

Tele, Strat & Les Paul!!!
You make a great case for the Tele. Actually turned me around, just thinking about it... Because, I used a tele for my first two albums, borrowed it from a studio I was recording at. It was a california series, and I loved it. That think had my back, even when I was hopping into country-ish stuff, and heavy baroque rock. However, today, my requirements would be a tele with at least one humbucker, and american made.

Anyone have a suggestion?
Old 1st September 2011
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naindurth View Post
Get Telecaster and time to play it. It's a simple guitar: it only sounds great.
Any model suggestions? I played a vintage 52 the other day, as well as a Jim Adkins sig. Both sounded great, but I hated the neck, and general feel of both.

I want something with at least one humbucker, and american built.
Old 1st September 2011
  #30
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thepilgrimsdream's Avatar
 

I have a thinline telecaster with humbuckers. Its very diverse.

A gibson 339 may give you this diversity as well.
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