NGD: 2015 Gibson SGS3 w/Sideways Vibrola

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by hi13ts, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. hi13ts

    hi13ts New Member

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    Hi friends, I haven't been here in a hot minute, but just bought a new SG and would like share some observations.

    I had a 2013 SG Original that was, for all intents and purposes, and great guitar. It wasn't particularly special, but it sounded like an SG and held tune. I've been playing Les Pauls as my main guitars for the past 10 years or so, and even after a detour to SGs and ES's about three years ago, I've kinda fallen back home to the Les Pauls. The 2013 Original was more or less a backup guitar and only saw stage lights every six months or so. The reason being is because it directly competed with my Les Pauls, being a solid body electric with two humbuckers. For my personal tastes, I always preferred the Les Pauls. That was the impetus in me trying to find a guitar that has its unique stamp, that could be used alongside the LPs instead just being a backup guitar. I looked around and saw an SGS3 at Dave's Guitar on Reverb. I remember these back in 2015 and how classy they looked. In essence, it's born out of the idea of an SG Custom, except of course different fretboard material and less decor, also made on the line as opposed to the custom shop. Really pretty guitar, so I sold the Original and pulled the trigger on the one at Dave's.

    First impressions: lightest guitar I've ever owned, more so than my Strat. The 60's slim taper neck is also one of the thinner examples I've played. The bevels and overall body of the guitar is exquisite and eye-catching. Such class.

    Other impressions: the sideways vibrola is more or less decoration. I pride myself in being able to get all the trem systems I've ever owned to be useable and stay in tune. I have a Bigsby that stays in tune like a champ and I was able to get the Maestro on the Original to stay in tune as well, without switching to roller bridges or anything else. Just need to have a good setup, with a well cut nut and clean saddles. A bit of lube does wonders too. However, after meticulous sanding and cleaning of the nut and saddles to ensure little to no friction, the sideways trem is still more or less unusable. I blocked it the other day and it performed well, but I just couldn't keep it that way. I really wanted it to be set up the way it was designed, which is to be used. Although I totally respect the practical reason for blocking it, I'm still holding out hope to get it usable. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm totally open. A roller bridge is on my mind, but I'm unsure if that's all there is to it. I'm thinking that the mechanism of the sideways trem forces it to kinda move side to side as well as pushing the strings to lower pitch. All that movement brings in a lot of variables that guitars probably weren't designed to deal with and so something like this happens.

    The pickup situation is a bit odd, too. It has the neck tone knob as a volume knob for the middle pickup to blend in and out. I expected it to sound sort of out-of-phasey to an extent. I assume when the middle pickup is utilized, the pickups are all running parallel or something. However, one thing that I'm certain is a problem is that the bridge pickup sounds like it's out-of-phase by itself. I know that sounds odd, but it sounds a bit like coil tap. I've hit both the slugs and screws and both are active. I've also tested with a multimeter and it read 7.8k (neck was 7.5), so it's reading correctly for a 57 classic. I looked at the wiring and I can't really see anything out of the ordinary, so I'm a bit unsure. I usually start out my pickup heights at about 2 mm with the last fret depressed on both sides, but I've raised the bridge pickup and bit and although it does get louder and gainier has expected, it still sounds kinda out-of-phase. Can anyone confirm they have the same experience? I'll take it to my tech in the next few weeks to get his insight, but any info on this would be appreciated!

    I will be using it for a blues gig I have a few days and that will be the true litmus test. Overall, it's a really cool guitar that plays well. I'm just hoping I get the vibrola somewhat usable and that I get some answers for the bridge pickup situation.

    Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/aeTnUosFTiUfS51R8
    Video/tone demo
    Pickup config: neck/middle, neck/middle/bridge, bridge/middle, and then bridge only, neck and bridge, neck only:
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  2. RhinestoneStrat

    RhinestoneStrat New Member

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    Nice playing...it sounds very Stratty.:)
     
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  3. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations! I like that SG, simply beautiful!

    Been wanting one of those 2015's with the 3 '57s. Almost bought one a few times after they dropped the price on closeout. The sideways vibrola was the only thing that stopped me.

    It sounds like you have the 3 volumes with the master tone figured out. I wasn't sure if the Gary Clarks with 3 P-90s were the only ones like that or not. Pretty simple stuff. Switch works like normal 2 pickup setup (neck/neck+bridge/bridge) and just blend the middle in as wanted. I will say, your bridge pup did sound a little off. The bridge in my GCJrs sound like they have more beef than that humbucker. Maybe the tone might not be working right? I'm sure you messed with it plenty ;)

    Hope you get it worked out! Good luck! :smile:

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    JJ Cale / Dire Straits inspired [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  5. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

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    Very cool. Congrats.

    Very nice playing. Loving the tones.
     
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  6. semka

    semka New Member

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    The only reason the sideways vibrola is there is to make sure this SG has no neck dive and it looks cool, too... Yeah, nice playing...
     
  7. hi13ts

    hi13ts New Member

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    Just an update:

    Played two shows with it. First show was rough, but that was due to the fact that my amp tubes were acting up. It has been rectified now. Regarding the guitar, however, had a hard time with balance between all the pickups and that middle pickup got in the way of my picking technique.

    Second show went great. Before I played it, I did a few things:

    I changed the three volume pots. The stock pots were reading around 450k or so, so within tolerances, however, I replaced them with CTS pots reading 500 and up. In my ears, it opened up just a bit, some more much needed presence.

    I replaced the bridge 57 Classic with a 498T I pulled from a LPC. I set the pickup screw pieces a little higher up and I screwed the middle pickup flush to the mounting ring. The 498T balances A LOT better in the guitar with the 57 neck instead of another 57 in the bridge. The middle pickup, although screwed lower, is still usable and does good phase-y things when blended in. Also, with the middle pickup low, it wasn't hindering my picking, so it feels good now.

    Another thing in regards to that is I felt the middle pickup, just by being so close to the other two, had some weird effect on the overall tone of the guitar. It seemed to have sucked a lot of power from all of my pickup positions, not out of phase, but that's the closest term I can come up with. By lowering it, I heard a distinct difference, like the other pickups weren't choked anymore. I don't know how factual all of this is or what technical aspects follow this, but it was my observation.

    Tuning is okay. Still slips, but not so bad. The vibrato mechanism is still very temperamental when used. Would not rely on it, only use end of set/show.

    Overall, I'm glad I got it to a point where it plays very well and it sounds like what I know an SG should. It will serve as an excellent backup guitar and good gigging guitar every few gigs or so, or just a good SG when one is needed. Still can't get over how classy it looks, though. Just oozes high society class. Black Beauty.
     
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  8. Logan

    Logan Well-Known Member

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    I absolutely love these guitars. I love to see when people get these, but I'm biased because I'm an owner myself. I like to think I started a trend here :D
    And I agree. I blocked mine off because I tried, and tried, but I couldn't get it to work. But, I've heard rumors of a third redesign in the works for 2021, so watch out for that :wow:

    [​IMG]

    You know we have to see pictures of yours, and while you did provide sound samples (with phenomenal guitar work), we need something to drool over :dude:

    Also, I made a very detailed thread on how to block off the sideways vibrola and make it height adjustable like a stoptail, available here if you're interested in it.
     
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