Attention Guitar-tectives! What is this?

Discussion in 'Vintage SG' started by Steve D, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    Hello all. I made a stop at my local Guitar Center today to buy some picks and look what was hanging in the rafters? It was far away but I took a phone snapshot just so I could zoom in on some detail. They claim it's a '64 SG Special but that seems unlikely to me. I didnt have time to wait for them to bring in a crane that could reach all the way up to where it was so I didn't get to look it over in-hand but maybe tomorrow I'll go back when I have some more time. In the meantime, this is what I noticed from a distance:

    What's right:
    • The finish looks period correct to '60s or early '70s.
    • The truss rod cover is blank but what you can't see in the photo is that the white edges are very yellowed.
    • The photo makes the selector switch look black, it is not. It is that very deep amber you see on some old guitars. And not a fake like I have on my Custom House '61 reisssue. It has that crystallized / translucent look to it that only the real ones get.
    • Gibson inlay is a bit hard to see but it appears to have the dot over the i (at some point in the 70s they didn't)
    • It has a wraparound bridge with the 4+2 config (i.e. the top four strings stepping in a predictable manner then a jump back up for the bottom 2) which is more in line with 60s when you would expect the G-string to be wound and more hence like the E, A, and D than the B/E as we'd see today.
    • Also regarding the bridge, it doesn't have that poor-mans ABR-1 sort of thing you see in ones from '69 on with wraparounds. But really it seems after 1970 or so you just don't see the wraparound bridge much at all. So I'd say it's prior to '69.
    What's not:
    • The control knobs don't fit the period for an SG. Probably replacements.
    • The tuners look to be replaced too.
    • The pickups, obviously, don't fit a 60s SG. Replaced at some point.
    • Batwing makes no sense for '64. More like '65 or later. Either that or they routed out the body for the humbuckers and then slapped a batwing on to cover their sins up. But seems more likely it's just a native batwing model.
    My spider sense tells me that its a '66-'67 era model with lots of unoriginal parts. The price is hence I reckon it's a bit high for it given the parts issues. A real, all-original '66 seems to go for around $3K based on the few comparables I can find. But replaced pickups, tuners, knobs, maybe electronics, etc shred a lot of that value. I think to get it back to original it would take nearly a grand (I've seen vintage knob sets run $150, piguard loaded with original P90s for $550, tuners probably another $200 if you really wanted them original too). I'd think something a bit under $2,000 is probably fair price but what do I know?

    But I wonder if I'm missing something obvious that makes this (1) more desirable and (2) how can you really date these things other than the things I mentioned and the pots, whcih I hope to look at later? I mean I've seen someone mention placement of knobs and switches being different from year to year, is there a fingerprint that say "that's a '74" or something?
     

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  2. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    The bound neck and spacing between the 12th fret dots indicates it is a 60's era SG Special. The dots are closer to the edge of the fingerboard on the 60's era SG Specials compared to the modern SG Classics.

    Pictured below
    left: 1963 SG Special
    right: 2006 SG Classic

    [​IMG]

    P-90's were removed and pickup cavities were routed for humbuckers. Batwing indicates late 60's, but an early 60's model with small guard could have been converted to batwing to hide the enlarged pickup cavity routing necessary for the humbuckers.

    The knobs and tuners were obviously changed.

    The headstock logo on this one is 60's era. By 1970 they switched to the block style font with closed "b" and "o" which this one clearly does not have.

    I don't see the three holes left behind from a short vibrola being removed which was common back then. I see more early to mid 60's SG Specials without the short vibrola compared to ones from the late 60's for some reason.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  3. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    Thanks cerebral gasket. My instinct is that it strongly reesembles the '67 Pete Townshend played at Leeds (and which they reissued for a while) so I'm sort of assuming '67.

    Here are a couple more pics I got from the Guitar Center webpage. Some are unsable (do they even own lights when they take these pics?) but these two are okay.

    I'm going to check it out again tomorrow. My wife will disown me if I buy it but ....

    Must ... fight ... urge .... to ... buy ...
     

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    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  4. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I agree that guitar resembles the one from Leeds except for the Humbuckers which can be changed back to P-90's.

    It cannot be a 1967 model.
    Narrow control cavity shape is the giveaway.

    Pictured below
    left: early to mid 60's cavity shape
    right: late 60's cavity shape

    [​IMG]

    In addition, the neck heel joint looks more early to mid 60's than late 60's. By 1966, the neck heel joint started to become more elongated from the step similar to the Custom Shop Korina pictured above right. Having owned a '63 and '69 SG Special in the past I remember the differences. I would wager that they converted a small guard to batwing to hide the enlarged pickup cavity routing that was necessary for the Humbuckers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  5. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I never compared control cavities between years, good insight. Thanks!

    Early 60s ... hmmm. maybe it's underpriced rather than slightly over. Probably not though, too many non-original parts. It's interesting to see a guitar like this pop up in my local Guitar Center though. When I was in there and staring at it (waaaay up there) the guy at the register, who was older and looked to be the manager, asked if I needed anything. I asked what that was up there and he said "uh, looks 70s to me. It's a really recent acquisition." Online it says '64. Clearly they don't even really know what it is. I'll bet whoever brought it to them got a terrible deal from them.
     
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  6. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    Just looked at lots of pics at '60s SG backs. It seems that 1966 was the year you see the bigger rounded cavity with five screws. Wow, I never noticed that change and once you see it, well, all I can say is "how could I have not noticed that before!"
     
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  7. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    SG Specials and SG Classics are my favorite. Features like the dot spacing at the 12th fret always catch my eye as well as the control cavity shapes.

    Look at the batwing near the horns. It follows the path of the bevels very close which is unusual for a batwing-equipped SG. It's probably due to the fact that the bevels are cut deeper which is typical of early to mid 60's SG.

    The fact it was listed as a '64 may suggest it could be the original owner brought it in which indicates that they would know what year if purchased new.

    I still think it is an awesome guitar and would be hard-pressed to not buy it if I saw it for sale locally.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  8. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    you're right, the pickguard looks like custom work but darn good custom work. It cuts the value though I imagine, sadly. Here are the pros / cons as I see them:

    Pros:
    • Heel and cavity positively date it to no later than 1965. It's old and they aren't making original early '60s ones anymore!
    • No obvious breaks or repairs (From poor pics available, I'll look closer later)
    • Original switch tip (or at least vintage)
    • Original finish (looks like it to me, based on owning one of that era for many years) in good repair
    • Probably original bridge and posts
    • No vibrato scars
    Cons:
    • Replaced pickguard, batwings weren't a thing so it automatically makes it look later
    • Replaced pickups. Not great, very different pickups of uknown origin. That said, I bought an SG Special in the 80s and it had humbuckers in it that looked a lot like these. So it's not unheard of. In mine they didn't seem to route the body though, just sort of took off the casing and crammed them in and so it looked like a amateurish kludge but the body was intact and the pickgard was still original. This looks very well done but also looks irreversible. It's always gonna be a batwing now!
    • Replaced tuners. Look to be grovers I guess. May not be as bad as it seems, lots of people did that. But these look pretty shiny, might not be old. If they are new, maybe swap in some of the replica klusons with the white botton knobs (not the tuliip shaped ones!) to make it a little closer.
    • Replaced control knobs (look at the aging though, they were replaced a long time ago). Can get some replicas of the old reflectors easy enough, maybe even sell the speed knobs to someone else.
    Unknowns: state of the internal electronics. Original? If not this is an old body with everything else replaced. Too expensive. If still original, it's probably priced about right I think.
     
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  9. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    By the way this is a 1964 SG Special that Pete Townshend owned and probably is the one he played on the 1968 Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus TV Show. The batwing was an added on after purchase for some reason, maybe Pete just liked them because it still has the P90s in it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Note there are no pickup height adjustment screws for the P-90's on that PT 1964 SG Special. That indicates that the P-90's are still mounted directly to wood at the bottom of the pickup cavity as found on early to mid 60's SG Specials with small guards.

    A late 60's SG Special with batwing will have pickup height adjustment screws for the P-90's. The P-90's are attached to removable baseplates and hung from the batwing instead of being anchored to the wood. Pictured below is a batwing with P-90's from an SG Classic which uses the same mounting method as a late 60's SG Special.

    [​IMG]

    Something else to consider is the nut width. A 1964 model is going to have the 1-11/16 nut width as opposed to the 1-9/16 nut width found on a late 60's model.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  11. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    You are like the Sherlock Holmes of SGs! Thanks for more great insights! When my wife asks me "well how do you know it's what you think it is?" about some bit of gear I'm interested in from now if it's an SG I'll say "because cerebral gasket knows everything and taught me enough to get by on my own, mostly!"
     
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  12. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    By the way, I just checked out the Pet Townshend signature SG (speaking of Townshend) which is based on his '67 SG Special (According the Christie's, who auctioned it off) and it also has no PUP adjustment screws and a little control cavity (indiciating 1965 or earlier instead of 1967 based on discussion above) but it does have aged up grover or schaller tuners. Here's the special edition ad:

    [​IMG]

    Note that in the Christie's catalog, the original did have pickup adjustment screws but the back is not shown. So Gibson just sort of made stuff up I guess or based it on a different guitar.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  13. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I was able to confirm that the electronics were also replaced, all of them. So replaced pickguard, replaced pickups, replaced pots and caps, replaced tuners, replaced bridge, replaced knobs, replaced tuners. Basically this is a vintage body with an original switch tip and a bunch of new parts. If it were like $1,000 less I'd think about it. At this price, not for me. But if they lower the price it's probably a great guitar.
     
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  14. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    While that vintage SG Special is very cool indeed, I'm happy owning TWO SG Classics for the cost of that ONE vintage SG Special and still have change left over to install zero-hum P-90's.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    Very nice guitars, love the P90s. I'm not a batwing guy but I could be coaxed for something like that!

    And as a parting thought on the $2,300 frankenstein 1964 SG Special, here is a non-frankenstein 1964 SG Special in almost all original condition for $2,725.

    https://reverb.com/item/22825452-gibson-sg-special-1964-cherry-red

    That seems like a really good deal. The one at Guitar Center, not so much.

    EDIT: That reverb listing sold in about an hour. Yeah, that was a great deal.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  16. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    '64 sounds right. The heel is really the best guide we have left, and that is the most common style seen on '64s (although some have the step omitted and are just smooth). The small cavity helps, too. Pickguard is a shoddy aftermarket job, the whole shape is wrong. Probably done to cover up the humbucker routing job.

    [​IMG]

    Steve: The two Townshend SGs you posted are indeed different guitars. The first was pieced back together (badly, it's missing a whole chunk and they just glued it back and sanded it smooth, look at how fucked up the whole control area is!) and is the aforementioned '64 with a batwing added. The second you posted is a '70 or '71 Special. Notice the blocky '70s font Gibson logo, the witch hat knobs, the beveling and the narrower headstock.
     
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