'18 Special vs '08 Robot

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by volktar, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. volktar

    volktar Member

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    Hello gents!
    Long time lurker, first time poster!

    SG is the first guitar I ever fell in love with, yet I've somehow managed to never own one. All that is about to change. I have lined up 2 potential trades for an SG. While they differ in value, the trades will balance out with some cash thrown in. ANYHOW, I come to yall looking for input. The 2 SGs Im currently looking at are an 18 Special with mini humbugglers and a natural finish, and a 2008 Robot in a Silverburst.

    Generally, Im attracted to natrualish guitars (both my Tele and Schecter are natural or natural bursts), but this silver is attractive as hell, as is that ebony board and binding. I also have zero experience with mini buckers.

    What are yalls thoughts on these models?

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  2. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Welcome!

    The SG Special with Mini Humbuckers is a great guitar IMO. I had a couple of 2016 models in the recent past. The pickup cavity routing on these will accept either Mini Humbuckers or P-90s. The satin finish has unfilled grain, so it may feel raw and unfinished if you are used to gloss finishes.
     
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  3. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I'd take the natural special with mini hums...
    But play it first. Personally, I love the tone I get from
    my SG special with mini hums, but not everybody does.

    Here's how I would differentiate the two:

    The silver burst is a lovely thing... and it can be a
    fine guitar, but the 2008 Robot tuner boondoggle is
    not a good thing. You'd want to remove that technology
    immediately and install traditional tuners.

    2008 was Gibson's first attempt to create the NBT
    (Next Big Thing) with 21st century guitarists who didn't
    want to tune their instruments the traditional (analog) way. Trouble is, the traditional way works fine, and it has
    for all of Gibson's history. So most of us don't want to
    try something that might not be dependable.

    That's been the case for Gibson's second and third generation robots as well. The consensus seems to be
    that most of us remove the robot tuners and tune our
    guitars with stomp tuners and clip-ons, and with the
    good ol' human ear. These methods get us through the performance without too much fuss.

    The 2018 special with mini hums is also a lovely thing,
    and you've already stated that you prefer the natural finish over paint. The 2018 SG is likely ready to rock without any messing around. I have the prototype for
    the SG special T, mine is called the 2012 SG special '70s tribute. I bought this guitar because I instantly desired it... as soon as I saw those block inlays, and the mini hum buckers, and the '70s Thick to thin neck carve, I wanted it. It's seven years later and I'm still head over heels for this instrument.

    So you're asking strangers who know nothing about your music to recommend guitars to you. I'll say this:
    If you want a guitar that sounds like other hum bucker guitars, get the 2008. That sports the standard set of hum buckers. It will sound great, like all SGs and Les
    Pauls do.

    If you don't mind getting a flawed guitar, and doing some work to put the flaws right, get the 2008.

    If the price is really good, get the 2008. Spend some money and effort putting back to traditional, and then you'll have a fine Silverburst SG.

    If you like unusual guitars, and you're not trying to sound like some other guitar, but want to work the tone of the mini hums into your music, get the 2018.
    That's part of the reason I did. That's what I wanted, and that's what I got.
    April 2017@100.jpg
    If you want a guitar that's ready to rock without much
    more than professional setup and new strings, get the 2018. Lucky me, I have it all... my 2012 was made in
    Silverburst.
     
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  4. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I don't know much about the '08 Robot but I own a 2018 SG Special and I really like it. Pickups sound great to me. They are somewhat mysterious and Gibson never gave them a part number in any of the literature and they seem to be a bit different from other mini humbuckers they've had in the past. So if mini-humbuckers are their own thing, these are even more so.

    Here's a demo on you tube that has it in clean and crunch sounds, take a listen since you say you aren't famililar with them.

     
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  5. volktar

    volktar Member

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    Thanks for your replies!
    I was ok with both - and to be honest - the mini buckers fill a niche that I dont currently own. While I dont have a Gibson at all, Ive got single coil guitars, hummy guitars, resonators, acoustics, etc. I do not have mini hummys at all, so that does intruige me.

    In the end, the guy with the robot backed out, so he made my decision easy! Looks like Ill have that 2018 Special when I make the trip north on the 4th. Wish me luck ;)
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
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  6. volktar

    volktar Member

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    @Steve D - cool video. Thanks for sharing that. I had looked up a few videos, but that is a good one. I tried looking at some for the robot too, but it seems people only wanted to show the stupid tuners.

    @Col Mustard - Yea, had I got the Robot, I would have gutted the stupid machines and put some "working man" tuners on there. Moot point now though. It was really the aestetics of that guitar that drew me too it. Loved the Silver burst, ebony board, and binding on it. Still, I know Ill be happy with the Special assuming it FEELS good to play. I tend to put that over everything else these days. Ive purchased enough guitars that I ended up disliking later just cause they didnt feel good to play.
     
  7. brazilnut

    brazilnut Active Member

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    You're gonna like that Special, minis sound good, especially with a 12" or two tens in you're amp. or you can switch em out with one or two P-90s, just for a change of pace. Harmonic Design makes a VP-90 that's just an awesome pickup. Like, one kind in the neck, and the other in the bridge. Nice-looking guitar, too.
     
  8. poppunk

    poppunk Member

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    Sounds like OP has already made a decision, but I have opinions, man.

    For me the neck profile is the biggest factor on any guitar once I get pass cosmetics (body style/color). If I remember correctly, that 2018 special should have a Slim Taper neck on it; it will be something on the order of 0.90" at the 12th fret. That Robot will likely be on the order of 1.00" at the first fret. That's a massive difference in feel, even though it's only 1/10th of an inch. That's what I'd be the most concerned about between these two.

    I like thicker necks. I have a 2008 Robot Les Paul (one of those Craigslists "why am I not buying this??? at $450 including case). The neck is too much for me sometimes. It seems like it has high shoulders on top of the thickness.

    The Powertune system on my LP functions, but not well enough to where I'd use it at a show. And if that MCK knob breaks, you can't change the tone on your bridge pickup. It's just stuck wherever it broke and there are no replacements. And you're not just gonna swap in a regular potentiometer easily because there's a PCB in the way. I pretty much use disengage the tuners and use them like regular ones. If mine breaks I'll just refit the guts and put snot green tulips on it, because that's what I prefer anyway.

    I might pick up one of the Green 2008 SG Robots one day just because of the ebony and binding through the headstock. But I have two SGs and and I don't really need another one with the other guitars I have.
     
  9. Fumble fingers

    Fumble fingers Member

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    On my 08 Robot I just switched to Grover’s and that was it , reused the original screw holes too ! Fabulous guitar that’s going to its first gig next week. Congrats on NGD , I want to get some mini’s in future myself. I wished I would have jumped on the Musician Friends “ stupid deal of the day “ when the SG Special was 649.00
     
  10. Kabrijj

    Kabrijj Well-Known Member

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    My first instinct is "get both!" :cheers:


    ...but I see that's no longer an option. So then I'd recommend the Special, play the hell out of it, and enjoy it for what it is: a badass SG!

    For perspective, I've occasionally thought about an 08 Robot SG when they pop up on Reverb. They do look very nice. But then the reality of new tuners, new electronics, and possibly a few other things I'd need to convert it to a "normal" guitar set in, and I never buy it.

    I do, however, really like my 18 Special!

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    Ultimately the pickup difference isn't a deal breaker for me, in either direction. Humbuckers have their place, so do minis -- they both sound good. Really, it's not so much what you play but how you play it.

    Bonus: not currently having a guitar with minis = easy excuse to buy one! :h5:
     
  11. volktar

    volktar Member

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    Sooooo, the guy had something pop up when I was in town. He still wants to do the trade, but it will have to wait until I'm back up there in a few weeks :(
     

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