2015-2018 bankruptcy era SGs

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by slowhand, Jan 13, 2020.

?

Are bankruptcy era guitars up to standard?

  1. Yes

    20 vote(s)
    90.9%
  2. No

    2 vote(s)
    9.1%
  1. slowhand

    slowhand New Member

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    So I want to discuss these, I found a new old stock 2016 SG special for $500 and bought it a few years ago on a whim when I was ready to drop $2k for a nice guitar.

    i had previously spent time with an ES339 which converted me to a Gibson fan from a typical hater. Nothing compares. I don’t know if it’s the scale length or neck profiles or what.

    But this leads to my question: what was going on during the bankruptcy era? Why were these SGs so cheap? They retailed as low as $799.99.
    I look at mine and I can’t figure out why it was cheap, what am i missing?

    The 16 Special has
    -small block inlays
    -Firebird minis (Don’t appear to be Epiphone LP deluxe style)
    >Satin Nitro 2 piece body to my eye
    >Zamak bridge
    >deluxe tuners
    >Maple Neck

    The new SG special starts at $1500, but it has thicker nitro and binding but otherwise seems the same. With the exception of the aluminum bridge and P90s.

    Now many call Zamak pot metal, but in the US Zamak has a legal definition of 97% Zinc plus a few addatives for strength. Don’t belive me? Paul Reed Smith is using Zinc on his guitars these days. Cheaper? Yes, but it’s a good alloy when it’s to spec, doesn’t tarnish, and historically correct.

    did Gibson outsource hardware during these years for the low price point? We’re they eating cost by doing lower mark up? are the tuners and bridge actually chinesium low zinc pot metal or are they up to spec ?

    I will say my SG goes through a daily ‘warm up’ period of going out of tune. Usually after 5 mins or so I need to tune, usually G occasionally more, and then it settles and won’t need tuning again until I’ve set it down for a period. I assumed this was just typical SG ‘lube the nut’ syndrome. But the pricing lately has made me wonder if there is some other manufacturing loop hole they went with that has made them unstable? Smaller Neck tenon or something?

    Anyone have any thoughts or insight on how Gibson met it’s price point during the ‘bankruptcy’ era?

    Also, I’ll just add a few comments, slightly off topic.
    1. Gibson actually gained guitar sales during the bankruptcy era while the rest of the industry lost sales. The bankruptcy stemmed from Gibson’s very poor attempts at diversifying out of the guitar industry. Bad websites, bad Chinese firms and other business ventures fell flat one after the other, the guitar sales were strong and allowed Gibson to survive all the wasted investments. The whole ‘Gibson has bad QA and that’s why they went bankrupt’ is a totally false narrative that emerged from the YouTube e-celeb world. A few low volume high end experimental guitars like the Modern Double cut or Firebird X were hardly factors either.

    2. The 2019 ‘model year zero’ line actually seems to be more ‘cost cut’ focused to me than the previous years. Atleast on first look. Firebird for example doesn’t have the chamfered head stock or banjo tuners. I was about to check out with one in my hand and then I realiZed I was about to pay $1999 for a shortcut Firebird.

    SGs as well have weird bridges that to my eye seem thinner and Less stable than the one on my 16. There are less variety of pickups and less variety of color. I was thinking I should replace my ‘bad’ SG with a new ‘fixed’ one but the SG 61 reissue has a wobbley bridge. I couldn’t believe it.

    Anyway, please discuss, as we approach NAMM and 2020 year two of model year zero. Are these new guitars ‘better’? Why were the Bankrupcy guitars cheaper?

    I’ve been on the verge of selling my ‘16 for a ‘61 standard, a 19 Firebird, and even a Clapton Strat. But as I played all of those I couldn’t actually see anything wrong with mine that those improved on?

    at this point I’ll likely keep the SG special until I find Custom shop model with a Sunburst model I like unless I’m missing something big?
     
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  2. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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    I am very happy with my 2018 SG Standard at least.
     
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  3. skelt101

    skelt101 Active Member

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    I'm not a marketing strategist, but the bean-counters know what they're doing. Product is priced at what formulas determine to be the maximum profit margin. What the market will bear is the overriding factor, regardless of "bang for the buck". I have two "bankruptcy era" guitars and think they are great! A good instrument is a good instrument, regardless of what year/serial number is stamped on the back of the headstock. :dude:
     
  4. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    I don't have an answer for you, but I'm curious from this comment to know if you come from a typical Fender type player background.

    " Bankruptcy Era SG ", that's the first time I hear that one :rofl: Sounds to me like another tag for corksniffers.


    And oh ... welcome here slowhand. Would you mind posting more about you and show us that marvelous SG of yours in that thread ? I'm sure a lot of members appreciate that kind of intro.
    http://www.everythingsg.com/forums/welcome-wagon.67/
     
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  5. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Their outlay over ran their income.
    Welcome. We're more of a guitar forum than a financial discussion group so don't feel bad if no one here cares about the 'bankruptcy" issues.
     
  6. slowhand

    slowhand New Member

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    Well, gents, it’s more a curiosity about what was actually going on with the guitars rather than discussing Gibson’s acquisition of Phillips or whatever.


    I actually think these bankruptcy era guitars will age very well. Half the fun of the 50s and 60s stuff is the story and history is somewhat well known. Gibson’s bankruptcy era saw very expensive and then relatively affordable stuff.
    Right now I can sell my SG for a small profit if I chose to, but like I said, I normally trade guitars around for fun, but this one is far too good looking and easy to play.
    They are all somewhat unique year to year meaning you can pretty much find the guitar you want.
    I’m just curious *why* it was so cheap. Did they even cost cut at all on it? It almost seems like they just wanted see what would happen if they sold the SG for $799.00 instead of $1500.

    Could it be the lack of binding and satin nitro are enough to make up the $500?
     
  7. slowhand

    slowhand New Member

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    I’ve owned my share of Fenders and Cort/WMIC/Samick stuff.

    They usually end with disappointment as the wood and wiring and pots end up revealing their cheap was. Warped unplayable necks, shotty failing electronics. Etc.

    Mexican Fenders are the biggest let down. Everyone raves about them but they were all short lived and low quality beaters at best. Schecter as well.

    high end Fenders are better but the only one I’ve ever played that really clicked was the new Ultra.
     
  8. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I've owned a few SG Specials over the years.
    My first SG was a 1969 SG Special.
    SG Classics are my favorite.
    I don't buy guitars as financial investments.
    I just play them.

    Past:

    1969 SG Special - brown
    2004 SG Special - ebony
    2010 SG '61 Reissue - cherry
    2016 SG Special Faded - cherry
    2007 SG3 Standard with Single Coils - natural
    2004 SG Special - ebony
    2003 SG Special Faded (moons)
    2003 SG Special Faded (dots)
    1963 SG Special - cherry
    2000 SG Special - creme
    2016 SG Special T - cherry
    2016 SG Special T - ebony
    2005 SG Special Faded - ebony
    1970 SG Junior - cherry
    2001 SG Standard Korina - natural

    Present:

    2004 SG Classic - ebony
    2006 SG Classic - cherry
    2004 SG Special - TV White
     
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  9. Voxman

    Voxman Moderator Staff Member

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    There are always " Diamonds In The Rough " and that's what one has to keep trying to find. When you find it you buy it and then keep looking for another since it's the nature of GAS! That's how I got my 61'SGLP Special, I noticed/realized the auction was going to end at 3:30 Thanksgiving afternoon so I glued myself to the " puter " as I knew everybody on Ebait would/could/might be partaking in food and drink. My hunch was correct and so was the $1900 w/shipping. You must know that every member of my entire family was screaming and cursing me out to come downstairs, they were really pissed off too, They hollered up for an hour n all I kept saying, "When I'm ready" , after I won it, then I was ready! I then went downstairs and admitted to everybody I was a total A$$hole ….. with a smirk on my face and ear to ear grin.
    That's just an example of one Strategy, there are thousands. I wasn't a hound dog, by any means, as my average was about 3000 to 1 …. nothing to brag about. But the strategy of the strategy was to get through the next 2999 as fast as I could and then grab that 1 " Diamond in the Rough" x126.gif DSCN2468.jpg
     
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  10. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Well-Known Member

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    The feeling with Gibsons was always that the quality varied greatly from instrument to instrument. However, I've gt a 2016 Gibson SG Standard '61 Reissue Limited Edition (commissioned by Dave's Guitar Shop) and a 2018 Les Paul Standard that was built a month after the bankruptcy. Both are the finest Gibson instruments I've encountered. I own four Gibsons from the years 1974 to 2018 and have owned three more. The fit and finish of the two listed above is the best, bar none, of all of them. Don't know why.

    [​IMG]

    Bob
     
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  11. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    OK ... but you couldn't know for sure that it wasn't a Charcoal In The Rough ? Could well have been a super nice looking dud.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
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  12. Didds

    Didds Well-Known Member

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    My 2015 is the best SG I've ever played. And I play at least one at every guitar shop I visit
     
  13. slowhand

    slowhand New Member

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    So anyone had any issues with the Zamak bridges? Some claim they’re trash? Mine seems very nice.
    Potential issues:
    Warping
    dechroming
    Cracking
    Corroding

    proper Zamak is fine. Cheap Zamak will corrode under the chrome and one day it will fail.
     
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  14. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to ETSG!

    My first suggestion to you is to listen to your own
    guitar, played through your own signal chain...

    The only person whose opinion is important is you.
    Gibson bashers on internet fora are mostly blowing smoke
    and raking doo-doo. Listen to your guitar instead. If it sounds
    good to you, then it is good. That's how you know.

    To me, having read your posts... this humble Gibson SG special that
    you bought sounds like one you should not sell. We see posts all
    the time where guys say: 'Yeah, I used to own one like that, it was
    really an excellent instrument. But I sold it and bought something I
    thought I'd like better, and now I wish I had that one back again.
    I've tried other SGs, but they just don't have the same feeling or
    tone."

    Don't fall into that trap. When you find a guitar (of any kind)
    that sounds great and plays well, keep it. Those are rare.
    Don't sell it because you read something from some stranger
    on some forum.

    To answer your questions:

    >$500 is a fair price for an SG special, you see them often at this
    price or lower. So that's not unusual, and it's not "cheap."

    The Gibson SG special is the less expensive version of this guitar model.
    The Flagship is the SG standard, The '61 RI was usually priced a little
    higher, and then there's the SG Supreme and the Custom shop models
    which go through the roof.

    But the SG special with the satin finish, or the faded finish, is what we call
    the Workingman's SG... It's got all the rawk and Kerang,but none of the bling.
    Gibson doesn't 'cost cut" the parts on any of their guitars. They use excellent quality parts
    and usually put them together very well, sometimes flawlessly, sometimes not.

    So there's nothing wrong with your Nashville bridge. Plenty of members of this
    forum will say that you got to have this bridge or that bridge for one arcane
    reason or another, but very few will try to claim that something's actually defective
    about the Nashville bridge. There isn't. It's been in production for decades, and
    thousands of fine guitars of every Gibson type have been built with them...
    ES models, 'birds, Explorers, Lesters, SGs... they all use the same bridge.
    Lots of great music has been played on them. Nashville works great, don't
    worry about it IMHO...

    I think you figured out the answer to your own question when you asked:
    "Does the lack of the Deep Gibson Gloss finish and binding and inlays make up $500 of savings?"

    The answer is: Yes, it does. Those decorative features are very expensive and time
    consuming to produce right, so they actually do add about $500 to the cost of a
    guitar, sometimes more.

    Also, the SG specials usually came with a gig bag, and the
    more expensive ones usually came with a hard case, which also adds expense.

    That's why the faded specials and the satin specials are cheaper... Gibson does cut cost on
    the finishing and decorating part, and gives you a dynamite guitar for a lot less money.
    There are cork sniffers who can't stand to play a Gibson unless it has the Deep Gloss,
    and all the inlay work, and all the binding and froo-froo... and those guys can dig deep
    to pay for it.

    Then there are those of us who only care what it feels like, or what it sounds like, and
    we are very happy to buy the less decorated models, and spend some of the savings on
    a hard case and professional setup, and maybe a pedal or two. *grins

    The Satin finish looks great. I bought a 2012 SG special, the first one with the mini hums
    and the '70s style block inlays. Mine has a "silver burst finish" making up a combination
    I could NOT resist. I still have the 2012, and I still love it and play it. I was forced to sell
    a lot of my stuff last year, but I didn't sell either one of my SGs. I am keeping them until
    they pry my dead cold hands off 'em...
    April 06 polished@100.jpg
    I used Meguiar's Ultimate Compound to buff my satin finish and make it a little more
    glossy. You have take all the hardware off it, and then set it up again when you're done
    buffing, but I like the result. And it's almost seven years later, and I'm still head over
    heels for this guitar. Love the minis, the Nashville bridge is stock and has given no trouble.

    I spent about $600 for this one brand new, in like April of 2013. At that time
    Gibson would mark their guitars down when it was time for the new models to come out,
    and that's another reason for the low price. Smart buyers would watch for the mark down
    period, and then pounce, which is what I did.
     
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  15. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    A few more responses to more of your statements or questions

    >The term "New Old Stock" refers to special limited run models that are built out of the
    same materials used during Gibson's "golden age" in the 1950s. Those are what I would
    consider boondoggles, because the materials used 65 years ago don't really exist.
    So the buyer pays a lot extra for something that really can't be produced.
    It's sales guy jargon, and meaningless. Maybe some very expensive Les Pauls are made
    this way, I dunno. But I wouldn't consider buying one, I woudn't believe it, and I wouldn't pay.

    The term does NOT apply to a humble SG special, with satin finish. Those are made of
    normal Gibon mahogany, probably a maple neck, and if it's painted, as many as four pieces
    of wood.

    >The number of pieces of wood the body is made of has no effect on tone.
    Just more sales guy jargon, it touts the "one piece body" as something to pay extra for.
    Gibsons from the auld days were made with one piece bodies because large logs of
    mahogany were common, nobody thought much about it. Now that there are very few
    large logs, guitar makers build guitars out of smaller pieces, and this works fine.

    Leo Fender built guitars out of multiple pieces from the beginning. And some of those
    old Fenders command high prices, and the multiple piece bodies were never a problem.

    >I don't know if Gibson outsources parts for their U.S. made guitars, but I wouldn't be
    surprised if they did. I own three Gibsons, and all their parts have been usable. I love
    to mod my guitars, so I've replaced many of the parts, but not for quality reasons.
    Mostly because I wanted black.

    >When it comes to tuning stability, ETSG wisdom recommends several remedies:

    First: new strings. Old dead strings will not stay in tune. That's how you know it's
    time to change them. If you can't remember how old they are, then they are too old.

    Second: Use the self locking method of installing strings. You can google this, or someone
    else on this forum will post a diagram or an illustration. Use the pressure of each string to
    lock it on the post and tuning stability will improve.

    Third: I lube the nut slots and the slots on the bridge with a mixture of vaseline and powdered
    graphite. A tiny dot of this on the end of a toothpick is enough for each point. This also works
    well under the string trees on a Fender. Not all of our members agree that this does any
    good, but it works for me.

    Good luck
     
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  16. Bettyboo

    Bettyboo Well-Known Member

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    The 2015-2108 guitars contain loads of fantastic guitars. The RRPs were often high, but many were sold off at lower prices when the next year models came out. So a 2016 SG special may have had a RRP of $1000, dropped in a sale to $800, been advertised at $650 in 2017 then finally sold for $500 in 2018... Many folks have bought guitars such as a LP junior, 2015, with a great case for $500 a few years later...

    It looks like Gibson are trying to stop this practice by taking off the year numbers and consistently sticking to the Original and Modern series - this way, a guitar made in 2019, 2020 or 2021 would be current so no need for dealers to discount. It's gonna be harder for us to get Gibson bargains new from now on in, imho. Good business by Gibson, not so great for the consumer...

    Bob Womack mentioned about quality, and I agree with him. Gibson quality goes up and down, but in recent years there have been some superb guitars coming off the Gibson production line; for example, my 2018 SG junior is the nicest guitar I've ever played - perfect in every way. At the same time, I reckon at least half the Gibsons coming off the production line could be considered B-stock; poor nitro finishes, ugly binding scrape scars and poorly set neck angles with bridge/intonation problems are common issues which cannot be fixed (although they can be ignored or played around); my 2019 SG special is a nice guitar, but a bit more care at production time (applying the nitro and binding) would have made it excellent... never mind the faulty bridge which I'm now in a battle to get replaced and will probably end up buying an aftermarket MojoAxe bridge anyways.

    Is your 2016 special as good as my 2019 which cost three times more - of course it is. Do I prefer mine with the binding, tuners, other small bits and pieces - yes. As a value proposition yours is obviously far better, no question. But, all guitars are perfect if they do their magic for you. SGs are SGs, a $600 faded really isn't that much different from a $4000 CS, imho; the core of the gitar is very similar if not the same. The satin finishes can be great, lovely to play.

    Hope that answered some of your questions. Different folks have their loves and hates, so likely will 100% disagree with me (and probably be right to...). :dude:

    Edit to add:Col Mustard is right: don't sell your SG special.
     
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  17. fredlw

    fredlw New Member

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    I really like the look of the specials from those years with mini humbuckers. Probably #1 on my GAS list.
     
  18. slowhand

    slowhand New Member

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    Well, they initially sold for $739. I bought mine a few years late for $500. It seems too good to be true. But apparently I’m not the only person who thinks so. Several have sold for $850 or so on reverb and eBay. They’re going up in value. Who would have thought? Gibson must have simply underpriced these from the start.
    Initially I wanted a firebird, but the $500 Firebird style SG with minis was too good to pass up. It turns out I love SGs and mini Humbuckers. Though apparently nobody has any clue what pickups are actually in here. The website says 495t and 495r, but it also says Alnico 5 instead of Ceramic. Yet both the Alnico 5 and ceramic are rated by Gibson at 14/25k ohms. Seems unlikely that they would use two magnets with different Windings to make them match. I emailed Gibson but have yet to hear back with an answer, I’m told it can take a while.

    Also, it doesn’t feel like a scorching hot ceramic magnet to me. The neck pick up does have a noticeable boost in volume over the bridge which maybe is explained by the 14k to 25k jump?

    I’ll compare with a Dirty fingers when I find the time and try to get a good guess as to what these pick ups are. They seem to respond very well to tone knob and very well to volume.

    Anyone actually taken them apart? Are they Firebird minis truly or Epiphone l/Deluxe PAF style minis? Would a Firebird pickup fit in the SG? I’ll likely keep it stock because I’m very fond of this guitar but wouldn’t mind a proper historical Firebird pickup copy.
    Seems like Gibson can’t even figure that out though. In the $7,999.99 Clapton bird they didn’t do a vintage copy but a new one.

    Anyone have shots of a LP standard from the era? I’d like to compare the tuners and see if there are any differences?
     
  19. Bettyboo

    Bettyboo Well-Known Member

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    Your posts seem rather eclectic, Sir Slowhand...

    It's a great guitar, not over or under priced just good value. Enjoy it and play it, and don't worry about the other stuff - you got a good one, so enjoy! :dude:
     
  20. slowhand

    slowhand New Member

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    Just trying to figure out exactly what it is friend. Seems too good to be true.
    Still thinking I’ll grab a custom shop down the road but even then, I’m not sure what exactly would be different.
    I would like to know wtf these pick ups are.
     
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