How much farther away is the SG first fret?

Discussion in 'Epiphone SG' started by FoldedWilderness, Dec 22, 2018.

  1. FoldedWilderness

    FoldedWilderness New Member

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    Hello again, I am back this time with an SG question for players who also play other guitars.

    I have some damage in my forearm ligaments that makes it hard to play lower on the neck.

    I can manage single notes for a few minutes but even easy things like the 'Crazy train' opening riff can bring on the pain in a matter of a few runs. Opens chords are almost a no-go, unles it's just a few in a song.
    I can play just fine when I go above the 3rd fret, that is why I dabbled in tuning a full step down and using a capo but, I didn't like it that much.

    When I first, started learning to play, it was on a stratocaster but, I quickly switched to my current SG for it's shorter scale length.

    I didn't know then that the SG is often known to "feel" longer to players because the strap button is located behind the 22nd fret, as to somewhere around the 17th fret for something like a Les Paul.

    Being left-handed makes me some kind of monster and music stores around my area don't carry any stock for my breed; apart for strats and teles, only Squiers at that, let's not waste a fender on filthy lefties. :)

    I am interested to know if it might be worth getting an Epiphone Les Paul or a Gretsch like this one?
    https://www.long-mcquade.com/48244/...Pro_Jet_Electric_Guitar_-_Black_Left_Hand.htm

    [​IMG]

    Do these types guitars feel like fret one is closer to your body by a good margin?


    Sorry for the long post but, I didn't know how to explain in just a few words.
     
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  2. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    I'd say probably yes. The distance feel of the far end of the neck is determined entirely by where the strap button is located. A Les Paul has a much more compact feel to it - offset more than somewhat by the weight. And Epiphone Les Pauls are pretty much an equal to Gibson for quality, although you may fairly soon want to start dabbling in the electrical bits.
     
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  3. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    Someone here did a measurement from the bottom curve of a Les Paul and found almost 3" shorter reach to the first fret than an SG. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
     
  4. fos1

    fos1 Member

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    I am quite interested in this topic as well. My senior citizen arm isn't as flexible as it used to be.
     
  5. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    Of course if you just hold the neck angled up a bit higher, everything gets pretty close.
     
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  6. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I have a couple of suggestions for you:

    First: consider well whether your own posture and hand positions
    are causing you trouble. Without being able to watch you play, that's
    my first suspicion. You can explore this idea by changing positions
    as you play... that's how you know. Get a wide leather strap, and
    stand up straight to play. See if I'm not correct. If it works, keep it up.

    Second: keep your thumb behind the neck when you play. You may find
    that you have to force yourself to do this, but if you can succeed in this,
    not only your hand and arm will feel more relaxed when you play, but
    your style may improve way beyond what you ever thought was possible.

    I had to learn this the hard way, of course.

    Note that my suggestions are all toward changes that are totally in
    your power.
    You don't have to buy anything... (except maybe a strap)
    you just have to work on your style and your posture, and your grip.
    Any work you do on those things will improve your music.

    The assumption is: there is nothing wrong with your guitar.
    The Gibson SG is one of the lightest, handiest, easiest and most comfortable guitars ever designed. My third suggestion is to get
    your SG set up by the best luthier you can find and/or afford.
    A poorly set up guitar is not fun or musical to play, while a well
    set up guitar should be a joy to play, and come alive in your hands.
    Well worth whatever you must pay to get this done properly.

    But the SG is not for everyone. You may find that some other style
    instrument is 'better" in some way. if you pay for setup, and your SG
    still doesn't feel comfortable, the the setup job will make it easier to
    sell, so you can get one you really like. The SG neck is the same
    length as the Les Paul neck (or any other Gibson), and is less than an inch shorter than a Fender neck.

    My suggestion for guitar hunting
    is: PLAY IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT. That's how you know.
    If you can't do this, then order a guitar
    from a reputable company that stocks left hand instruments. I recommend Sweetwater. I believe they ship to Canada, and they
    stock a full range of left hand instruments. So does Long & McWade
    in Canada AFAIK... But Sweetwater will set your instrument up before
    shipping. An important point, and worth a lot.

    Good luck with this. I'm 70 now, and suffer from arthritis and maybe
    carpal tunnel. I take pain killers before a gig now... and before practice.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2018
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  7. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    I'll second the Colonel's advice on setup. My niece got a new guitar and was unable to do anything with it until I had done a fret level and crown - and mostly file down the nut so the strings were not so high off the lower frets - that alone was her main cause of difficulty.
     
  8. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah, and Welcome to ETSG!
    Keep us posted on how you fare with this.
    And let's see a few photos of your backwards monster SG.
     
  9. Worblehat

    Worblehat Active Member

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    A Les Paul might be more comfortable to you. The only way to find out is to try one at a store. Everyone feels different about what is comfortable to play. So its hard for anyone to tell if it will help you.
    Anyway...another suggestion based on my limited experience:
    When I tried an SG for the first time it felt quite awkward due to the "long neck" feeling you described. After some time practicing on my SG I found out that its most comfortable when placing the guitar body more on the right side of my body (left side in your case) instead of centered in front of me. Its also bit angled forward...hard to describe. The SG-shape somehow lends itself to this position naturally. This way the first fret is closer to the center of your body. Actually it even feels closer than on my Strat-style guitar now which I hold more centered.
    So maybe experiment with the playing position if you haven't already done this...
     
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  10. FoldedWilderness

    FoldedWilderness New Member

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    Thank for the replies. It looks like there is a difference in the 'reach' needed
    between an SG and other guitars to play at lower frets.

    Col Mustard has offered several bits of advice and I want to go over some
    because I can vouch for two from my (limited) personal experience.

    "First: consider well whether your own posture and hand positions are causing you trouble."
    - I have tried standing / sitting, long strap / short strap, classical centered position / guitar on lap off center,
    parallel to floor / angled upwards etc.. and all of the different positions bring some new dynamics.
    It feels different to play each way and depending the notes and techniques used,
    some positions will feel more comfortable than others.
    In the end, playing ergonomically is important to be able to last without pain.

    "Second: keep your thumb behind the neck when you play."
    When first starting, I had seen many videos and one of them was showing how
    to mute the sixth string with the thumb wrapping around the neck.
    It was very uncomfortable but, I played with my thumb often wrapping around,
    ready to go touch that sixth string.
    Luckily, I found the same suggestion that Col Mustard just made and tried it early enough
    in my playing that it was easy to switch. I mute the bottom strings when needed with
    my picking hand instead and it works well enough. I am sure that a player with larger hands
    could more comfortably play with a wrap-around thumb but, it was not for me and helped me
    a lot in being more at ease and relaxed.

    "My third suggestion is to get
    your SG set up by the best luthier you can find and/or afford."

    I have not done that part. I know I should but, I have tried to learn to do adjustments myself.
    Although I know a good setup would improve my guitar since I cannot expect to have done
    a good job with so little experience; I also know my problem is not related to a setup either.
    I have tried lowering the action to where there was horrible buzz on every note, just to see whether
    a super-low action might help and it did not. I don't see anything else a setup could possibly do
    to physically change anything to help my main problem.
    That being said, if I decide to keep the SG, I REALLY should get it set by a luthier to improve it's
    playability and sound where I am sure to have done many things wrong. So, this still stands as
    great advice in general for everyone.

    Worblehat suggested to move the guitar off-center and have it angled away from the body.
    I have tried before and the forward angle puts even more strain on my arm and wrist when I try
    to play a chord, but it kinda feels ok for single notes. If I could at least do power chords like this
    it might just be good enough but I can't even finish playing 'smells like teen spirit' before burning up.

    There is one position that seems to have promise, I found it from a bass player on youtube yesterday.
    It might not work with the SG because of the strap button location, but worth a try anyway.

    I'll give is a spin later today when I play and let you know if it did anything to help.
     
  11. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    A little heresy here, but the Fender Jaguar's 24" scale might suit your hands a bit better.
     
  12. FoldedWilderness

    FoldedWilderness New Member

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    Ah yes the jaguar is a guitar I would love to try.

    However, squier doesn't make any lefty and neither does Fender make any 'mainline' left-handed model.

    The one option I have is the kurt Cobain signature, which would run me about $1800 Canadian.

    If squier had left-handed jaguars, I would jump on one immediately, but there are none that I know of.

    I have heard about some MiJ versions and how they cost a lot to import, so it's not looking likely as a possibility.
    Even the Kurt Cobain model is not in stock in any store, so I couldn't even try one at all.
     
  13. chrisoldroyd

    chrisoldroyd New Member

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    I posted about this exact topic a couple of weeks ago. I was having shoulder pain in my fretting arm and had been playing an SG for about 5 months. I compared it to a strat and a les Paul and the difference is strangely exactly the length of the last three frets. The Strat and the Les Paul’s nut is at the the third fret of the SG when sitting with the guitar on your right leg (if you’re right handed).

    I have since gone out and picked up an Epiphone Les Paul Standard and where it is now an easier reach, damn it’s heavy compared to the SG. Best advice I had was to play standing up and also bring the SG body close to your right hip (left in your case) so the neck is actually much less of a reach this way.

    Too early to say if it works yet but I don’t want to give up on my SG as it’s so light and sounds freaking awesome too!
     
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  14. chrisoldroyd

    chrisoldroyd New Member

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    Oh and my next project is to move the strap post onto the horn to give a better standing position.
     
  15. Lynurd Fireburd

    Lynurd Fireburd Active Member

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    Stay away from Firebirds. ;)
     
  16. Beery Swine

    Beery Swine Member

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    Thank you FoldedWilderness, very cool!
    What's your range of motion like? Is it difficult to stretch your arm outwards, but not difficult to pull your arm up? Do you mostly play standing or sitting? Are you used to guitars with necks that point higher at a sharper angle with a strap, like a flying V, or ones that lie flatter, like the SG?

    Something to keep in mind is where the bridge is in relation to the bottom strap button and what fret lines up with the top strat button, as well as the angle the guitar rests at when wearing it.
    Pic-11042015-001.jpg
    You see how the bridge is fairly close to the bottom of the guitar here, and the top strap button lines up with the 11th fret? This is a 25.5" scale length guitar, but I'll bet it'd be easier to play for you than a 24.6" Gretsche just because of the button locations, looks like it only goes to the 15th fret on the Gretsche. Aside: I want to get that shaped Gretsche at some point, but I'd like to find it in mint green, I think that'd look cool.

    Also, I have an SG, some superstrat types, a McCarty, and a V, so I'll strap those on so it's fresh in my memory what they're like and get back to you once I know your range of motion.
     
  17. FoldedWilderness

    FoldedWilderness New Member

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    I always play sitting and probably will never play on a stage, so I might not need to learn to get comfortable standing.
    As for range, my problem is in my forearm and it limits rotation as I stretch out.
    Which means playing at an angle like a classical guitar helps a lot, until I reach the 4th to 1st fret;
    which forces a rotation again and kills my arm in a few minutes, every time.
    I find that throwing my elbow way up can help but, it's trading one discomfort for another
    since I have to have it almost above my fretting hand.

    When I play in the more middle of the neck (say between the 5th and 17th fret)
    I can go on without pain for an hour and sometimes more.

    This is something very interesting. Having the bridge close to the end of the body could be very beneficial since
    I play sitting and it would maybe let me stand it on my leg without reaching too close to the ceiling.
    Thanks, that is something worth looking into as well.

    Good luck on finding yourself a mint green Gretsch, it WOULD look cool. It's not something I can even dream about.
    Just for fun look at these links:
    https://www.long-mcquade.com/departments/184/Guitars/Electric/Electric_6_String.htm
    https://www.long-mcquade.com/departments/185/Guitars/Electric/Electric_6_String_Left.htm

    Both from the same store are guitars on offer:
    Right-handed electric 6 strings
    Products 1 to 32 of 1756
    Left-handed electric 6 strings
    Products 1 to 32 of 104

    lucky me, I like red and black. :)
     
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  18. Beery Swine

    Beery Swine Member

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  19. UTGrad

    UTGrad Member

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    I tend to slide the SG toward my right hip and it brings everything close in to my body.
     

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