NGD: 1974 SG Standard

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Steve D, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    The finish looks in really good shape on yours. Based on the pickup position you must have an early '74. For some reason they moved the bridge pickup closer to the bridge sometime during the year. I love the classic look of the small pickguard with the ABR-1 but I gotta admit the Harmonica is pretty cool. Goofy looking, yeah. But I find myself doing a lot more palm muting when using it because it's just so easy and natural with that big wide bridge to rest your hand on. Interesting how small gear tweaks can change the way you approach your playing.

    Even so, I'm keeping the ABR-1 on my other SGs!
     
  2. Chuteboxehero

    Chuteboxehero Well-Known Member

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    Mine photographs really well. If you saw it in person you'd see the wear. Not much but it's there. It was definitely a case queen. Not anymore though. I love this guitar. Had it cranking through a 50w HiWatt last night after work. Such a great classic rock tone. Good point on the palm muting with the harmonica bridge. I have fairly large hands and could use the extra room. If I come across one I'll definitely try out a swap and see how it feels. I do like the look of the ABR-1 though. First up is the hunt for an original compensated bridge for my new one. Unfortunately they're asking upwards of $200 on Reverb for one with hardware. That's too rich for my blood.
     
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  3. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    It could be anywhere from mid/late '73 (Ebony boards start appearing) to early/mid '74 (pickup spacing widened).
     
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  4. Colnago

    Colnago Active Member

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    Active charcoal will get rid of the smell for you. Put a bag of it in the case compartment and store the guitar in the case with it. Leave it for a week or so, check on it and it should be good.
     
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  5. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    Good idea. I like that it's not just substituting one smell for another like dryer sheets would do.
     
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  6. brazilnut

    brazilnut Well-Known Member

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    I still have the somewhat beat-up case to my '83 Norlin, if anybody wants it. It works fine. The drummer destroyed the guitar by accident onstage, but the case is still in my garage, all lonely and sh^t.
     
  7. Colnago

    Colnago Active Member

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    It worked on an old truck that I had.
     
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  8. TubeStack

    TubeStack Member

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  9. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    Great special, looks like walnut finish. I see the mini-humbuckers have chrome covers, I've seen others (early ones, I think back to '72 maybe) with black plastic covers. I wonder if they switched to chrome in '74.

    It's kind of funny how the '74 Standard and Special are basically the same guitar. Same inlays and neither had binding so they are cosmetically really similar. An SG junkie can see different pickups, headstock inlays, ebony vs rosewood fretboard, and harmonica vs ABR-1 bridge hardware but to general public it must have been a bit hard to notice a difference, especially with chrome covers on the pickups of a Special.

    Anyway, glad to see another '74 out in the wild! Rock on!
     
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  10. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    By the way, speaking of SGs seperated at birth, compare your '74 SG Special with my '18 SG Special. I never really considered mine a throwback but man, other than the 24 frets and the crown on the headstock they could be twins. My "natural" finish even almost resembles a walnut finish. Cool! If I put on some speed knobs and swapped tuners, it would seal the resemblance to a Norlins era classic!

    j19dmcs0zpnz9fpefnzf.jpg
     
  11. TubeStack

    TubeStack Member

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    Thanks. I started guitar on that SG (my dad’s), so it’s special to me.

    I should have mentioned: the pickups are Seymour Duncan Antiquities. The originals were the black plastic covers and were pretty brittle/harsh (still have them).
     
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  12. TubeStack

    TubeStack Member

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    Also, the walnut-looking finish on mine used to be a lot more cherry/red looking. You can see it when you take off the tailpiece.

    Anyway, your 2018 looks killer, too. Very nice pair of SGs!
     
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  13. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting about the 70s mini humbuckers. I haven't heard them in person but I know a lot of people back in the day didn't care for them. But that's all rumor to me, I was more concerned with what was happening on "Sesame Street" back then. however there is evidence on Les Paul's of the era which were routed out for full size humbuckers by their owners and the old minis tossed. The modern mini-humbuckers seem to use a different recipe, or rather there seem to be several different part numbers (variations in design, it can be assumed) and some with pole pieces (like a 70s Les Paul or SG mini) and some without (like a Firebird) and word is that they sound like neither really. Gibson has basically nothing to say, they just call them all mini-humbuckers and leave it at that even though there are clear differences between different versions of them.
     
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  14. volktar

    volktar Member

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    Them new ones do sound damn sexy though!
     
  15. OldGitGuy

    OldGitGuy New Member

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    I have a 1973 SG Special (?) that is all original. It has the black plastic mini humbuckers and a TOM bridge. I see this model posted on Reverb as both a Special and as Deluxe. Sometimes they show one with dot neck and harmonica as a Special and one like mine, with a block neck and TOM as a Deluxe. It's pretty confusing. The '73 Gibson catalog shoes the Special with dot neck and harmonica and doesn't show a Deluxe but they have Custom model listed. The owner of a local guitar store worked for Gibson, back in those days, and he said that they just put things together with whatever parts they had at the time. So I'm not really sure what a given model is, but my '73 is a real player. Much better that the new SGs I have. IMG_0764.jpg
     
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  16. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful guitar! The finish looks amazing, like you locked it in a vault back in the 70s and only just opened it up today. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the mini humbuckers. I hear they were different in the SG Specials than they were in the Les Paul Deluxe's so honestly I've never heard a real review of what they sound like in a Special.

    Regarding the dating of it: I know in '74 specials had the ABR-1, the minis, and the block inlays and that by '75 the serial numbers changed format (numerical format as well as going to a decal). I haven't seen your serial but since you say it's a '73 I'd assume it's the old format. I have always assumed '73s had the dots so I would have said "yours is a 1974 model" based on inlays and assuming serial format was correct. I'm not an authenticator or appraiser and I may have details wrong, that's just what I would have said based on the info I've gathered from potentially unreliable sources.

    But as you say, there was never some line in the sand where they said "no more dots, starting today Jan 1 1974 we use blocks! That way people on the internet in 45 years will have it easier!" In fact it's quite feasible to think that when they had the bright idea to use the same inlays as the SG Standard (probably to save some coin) they'd have said "oh good idea, start that right away" even though it was still 1973. Or just as likely it could be early '75 before they changed serial number formats for that matter.

    How do you know it's '73? If there's a way to definitively date it I'd love to know. Pot codes?
     
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  17. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    By the way, I am really glad people are popping in to show off their Norlins guitars here. I'm just discovering this era and finding that I really really appreciate it. They say there are those who love Norlins era or hate it and few in between. I think I'm leaning towards "love it!" Not the five part bodies and sandwiches and crap like that though. But harmonica bridges? So cool! Volutes? Can't see why they bug people. Walnut? Oooh, that's nice! Tarbacks? Actually, they sound really good. You get the idea.

    So keep showing off your Norlins axes here everyone! This is a Norlin friendly thread.
     
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  18. OldGitGuy

    OldGitGuy New Member

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    Hey Steve, this SG is in pretty good shape, but not perfect by a long way. The serial (below) and the pot codes are good for 73. The block neck with the mother-of-pearl "Gibson" and no crown headstock is not shown in any Gibson catalogs of the period. I think there was a transition period when the factory was using up stock and weren't too concerned about what was shown in the catalogs.

    Interestingly, the higher priced models came with the harmonica bridge, but could be special ordered with a stop tail piece and TOM bridge, for a lower price. I also have an L6-S from that period and it has a harmonica bridge (with a spare) and I looked at putting it on the SG but found that this SG could never have had a harmonica bridge because the stud holes are drilled in the wrong place.
    SG-73.jpg
    I also found it interesting that the guitars didn't come with a case and there were four optional cases that could be purchased.
     
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  19. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    The options like the case being extra weren't unusual at all in the early 60s, I believe the original SG Standard in '61 didn't come with a case, you had to buy it. I'm not sure if that persisted through the 60s or if Norlin just brought it back. I also can see why they'd consider the harmonica an upgrade over an ABR-1. The ABR-1 has two big problems: it doesn't have a lot of range to adjust because it's narrow and it is prone to leaning forward over time due to it having string tension pulling it towards the neck all the time and only having two thin screws holding it in place. The harmonica solved both of those problems. it's kind of goofy looking but from an engineering perspective it's a better design. (Tone ...? Well I don't know but mine with the harmonica sounds great and has fine resonance).

    In 1969 Gibson sold more SGs - by far - than any other year up to then. I think 1965 had been their biggest year prior to that, and they blew it out of the water in 1969. The SG was crushing it and so of course Norlin thought to themselves "Whatever we do let's not mess with a winning formula!" Errr, actually they said to themselves "Let's come up with strange variants of the SG and try to replace the one everyone is buying with those because they are cheaper for us to make." So we got the SG-I and the SG-II and even weirder stuff for a while. In my view a lot of what was going on in Gibson was driven by the need to cut costs to be more competitive with places like Fender. Gibson was still hand making everything while Fender was basically an assembly line (think prewired pickguards in a strat as opposed to hand wiring the electronics on the guitar itself). Gibson needed to get more efficient and automate more so they could produce in higher volumes with greater profits. But the stuff they came up with generated more laughs that sales.

    So by 1973 they figured out that they were turning the SG cash cow into a turd and flipped the script back to more traditional models, albeit with money saving features. Money saving for them, in that they required less labor or cheaper materials. Hence three piece necks, multi piece bodies, stuff like that. But with all that came the "Norlin sucked" that a lot of people think.

    But ebony fretboards standard on the SG standard? And not just some one off but for years? Well that was part of Norlin too. And yeah, they stopped using PAF derivatives and introduced new designs but they did that because amps were changing and hotter pickups were desired. You might think "were they crazy? PAFs rule!" but they had a real music reason for trying something different. So it wasn't just a case of every decision being made by some bureaucrat in corporate HQ aiming to save $0.05 per guitar manufactured.

    Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox. I just love this sort of thing.
     
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  20. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    I had to cut the '74 loose, it was just too heavy on my shoulder and the smoke smell was not going away. I came across a '73 SG Special in walnut finish and took a chance as a replacement. This one has the mini humbuckers and I wasn't sure what to expect but wow, they also sound great. I plugged it in to an amp with a little gain and no effects and played a little riff from Hell's Bells (because ... SG. of course I did) and good heavens, it was closer to the Angus tone than I've ever gotten really. Wow, he doesn't even use these pickups but there it was.

    I was a bit wary about the walnut because it's not really that dark and I wondered if it was just that cherry faded to brown thing. But taking off the pickguard told the tale, absolutely the same color underneath as you can see in the pic below. Same with the bridge and tailpiece, color match is perfect. Also hit it with black light to see if it was refinished, nope, that's old nitro on there. So it's genuine walnut finish, albeit a lighter shade. Happy about that.

    The pots all date this thing to the 44th week of 1973. Everything is original except probably the tuners, though there are no exposed screw holes showing on the back of the headstock so the kluson style ones are either a 100% drop in or they are original after all.

    She looks good with the rest of my SG harem.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019

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