Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by slowhand, Jan 13, 2020.
Since you don't seem to have any pics, I'll guess 495T and 495R.
Well I like them, seems many don’t for some reason.
I saw the 2018 Gibson SG with the Mini Humbuckers open box for $595, and was completely skeptical. All I wanted was a guitar that was made in the United States, and to sell the rest. I had a few questions and contacted Gibson. From what I learned about SGs, is that the SG Specials are basically stripped down from its jewels, (i.e. binding, lacquer, etc.) to save cost and make it easier for to care for, but the pups and wood are good quality, so I bought it.
The mini humbuckers sound absolutely fantastic in every situation. I LOVE them.
From the box, two things that are like Gibson-gospel that bothers me a bit are the tuning stability and the static build up at the back of the plate. NO guitar ever should need to be tuned more than twice per night, but with Gibson—every 5 minutes. Sometimes, the static build up produces a popping sound when bending over to tweak the pedals.
After Youtube warrioring it, fixing the problems took only about 10 minutes. Now it’s my only electric guitar. The rest is herstory.
The mini humbuckers in your SG special are a new design. They are NOT the same as the ones in the Firebird, which are hot, and ceramic sounding. Also they are NOT the same as the vintage Gibson style minis that were used in the '70s.
The Epiphone mini hum bucker is the prototype, and Gibson acquired these when they bought Epiphone in 1957. Those pickups were installed in Epiphone designs in the early sixties, and maybe some Gibson build-outs in the seventies, until they were used up. I believe that Gibson wound some of their own during the Norlin years.
These had six pole pieces, just like full size humbuckers.
The Firebird mini hum bucker was always hotter than anything else, that's part of the radical design that the Firebird represents. They are unique with their hot ceramic magnets, and they are in their own tone and output class. There's nothing like them.
The 2012 SG special that I bought, the Silverburst below, has what Gibson describes as "new design" mini hums.
They have alnico magnets and blade sensors instead of pole pieces. In spite of what gets posted about their measured resistance, the new design Alnico mini hums are NOT hot pickups. They seem about the same in output as my '57 Classic and Classic plus p'ups in my other SG. I would classify their output as moderate.
Which means they are excellent. They work well with amps and pedals, they are perfectly capable of overdriving a tube amp, and they sound great at lower levels played through an overdrive pedal. Crystal clear highs with no ice pick, firm and present midrange and a great growl in the low end, a fine punchy tone.
That's my experience with them, since 2013.
I describe the tone of my SG special as unique. It doesn't sound like any other guitar I've ever played.
That's what I wanted when I bought this one, and that's what I got, which is why I'm keeping it.
I like them too... I was a member of this forum when the
SG Special with mini hums was introduced in 2012.
>The response was mostly negative at first... guys were like, WTF Gibson!
Most guitarists didn't know what the minis would sound like, so they
didn't buy them. Some did, but reported that the minis didn't sound
like the old ones, so they rejected them.
That Silverburst I posted has the following innovations:
Oversize '70s style headstock
Baked maple fretboard
'70s style small block inlays
New Design mini humbuckers
Standard Nashville bridge
Gibson branded 500k pots
All this innovation was too much for most closed minded guitarists to
handle in 2012. Not just too much, but way too much. Forum members
here couldn't deal with it, at first. And this is an open minded forum, mostly.
Gibson's original MSRP was about $1100, but nobody was buying them... much.
The concept of the baked maple fretboard used up lots of bandwidth in 2012
with guitarists forming consensus cliques, swearing they'd never buy one.
I never went over to MLP to see what was said over there, but I'm sure it was dire.
Les Paul guys aren't known for acceptance or open minded posts.
I didn't care what anybody on an Internet forum thought, I wanted one of these
instantly. Sometimes when I go to dinner at an excellent restaurant, I'll order something
out of curiosity, and because at a decent restaurant, you can usually trust the chef.
So I wasn't worried about the baked maple. And it turned out to be a fine fretboard
material, hard and smooth, fast and comfortable.
The mini humbuckers also used up a lot of pages of internet repartee...
But I wanted a guitar with them because I figured I could use their tone.
And that turned out to be right. I don't want a guitar that sounds just like
someone else's guitar. I want to sound like me. So I like unique instruments
and I can usually put their tone to work.
So I watched while the prices on this model came down. Gibson introduced the baked
maple fretboard because their stocks of black market ebony and rosewood had been
confiscated by government officials. Guitarists staunchly refused to accept this material.
So Gibson marked all the 2012s down and down again, to make room for the 2013 models
which were made with legal rosewood fretboards, just like yours.
Meanwhile, acceptance grew on this forum, as one after another of our members bought
one and put it through its paces and reported good reviews. Prices coming down,
acceptance coming up... I finally could not resist any more and bought one in April of
2013. Mine's a fine guitar, and I'm keeping it. You should too...
Here's Rod Capps playing lead on this song "Holy Ground" using my Silverburst SG with the minis...
I'm playing acoustic and lead vocal:
The only way to find out is next string change, pull them out of the cavity and look at the label underneath them. Some had the 495R / 495T and some had the Lead Tribute and Rhythm Tribute.
Pictured below is what was in the 2016 SG Special T that I had in the past.
The only issues that I have experienced are when buying a second hand SG, the previous owner decks the tailpiece when the strings have a sharp break angle over the bridge causing said bridge to collapse.
well the new SG Special can be considered like a standard just with P90s...so that basically explains the $1500 price tag.
the SG Special 2016 that OP has is similar to the faded range which sold for around $700-800?
i would say that currently the closest model in the line is the "SG tribute" which goes for $1099, as that is the only model now with a satin finish?
2016 got confusing with the finishes.
2016 SG Faded
2016 SG Special T (Satin Cherry)
2016 SG Special T (Satin Ebony)
Faded finishes are Satin finishes.
Faded finishes have UNFILLED grain.
Not all Satin finishes are Faded finishes.
Some Satin finishes have FILLED grain.
I replaced the Mini Humbuckers with P-90's on the Satin Cherry SG pictured below.
Added to that, wasn't there a 2011 (maybe around for a few years?) that was kinda a faded, but had a nitro finish which they called a special 60s tribute?
There's a NOS locally for US$700 (in black), and I've nearly bought it a few times...
Does anyone have the full specs of this guitar or own one; harder to find details since Gibson changed their website.
^ Thanks, CG.
Actually, the P90 one is gone now, but there's a humbucker version left:
US$685, not bad, I'll go and have a look at it... But those new Epiphone specials at $400 look really good too.
for $685 and not playing the asian wood lottery, that’s the way to go. The Epiphone Gibson inspired line looks great, but then I remember they’re all built to last only a few years before they start to fail.
Nice job on 'Holy Ground' Col! Your Silverburst Tribute SG with the redesigned mini-humbuckers truly sounds wonderful!
As some newer(ish) members may not know, I'm the guy that bought a beautiful looking 2012 SG 70's Tribute...
but could not reconcile or come to terms with it's mismatched pickup volume levels & yucky tone. (yes of course I adjusted pickup height). Now being it was a new guitar that I paid full price for, I begrudgingly brought it back to GC for a full refund.
This still bothers me today because the guitar was so beautiful & pleasing to look at. But now it especially bothers me even more after listening to the Col's sweet sounding recording because that SG simply was so beautiful sounding.
But, on the bright side (ya always gotta look for that bright side) I never would have discovered & bought the PRS Santana the day I brought the SG back that I love & use so much which also happens to have a wonderful working Vibrato which I tend to use in my playing style & tend to need to be truly happy when playing.
Anyway, Col, the Silverburst sounds genuinely quite beautiful & your buddy's (Rod Capps) playing style, which is reminiscent of Mark Knopfler, utilizes it perfectly.
Now I wish that there had been a second SG 70's Tribute at GC for me to A-B & compare! I knew mine sounded 'different' but it also just didn't sound right. The fact is Col, it sounded nothing like your guitar! Nothing. Now there is little doubt in my mind that something was wrong with the pickup(s) or circuitry there in on that beautiful looking plinky sounding bitc#.
And like I've said, I just couldn't buy a new guitar that sounded like something was wrong with it.
Thanks for sharing Col.
Well, thanks for the good word sir...
And there is absolutely NO FLIES on the Santana...
If you gave up your SG for that, you didn't lose anything
IMHO. Those make me drool on my keyboard.
If you regret giving up on the 2012 SG special,
you may already know that Gibson re-issued these
You weren't the only guy who didn't care for the 2012
model, with the '70s tribute name tacked on, and the
baked maple fretboard. I was one of the few, the proud,
who bought one and never looked back. But this model
was slow to be accepted by the guitar buying public, and
Gibson discontinued them after only one year of production.
But the re-issues are cool. They have a normal rosewood
fretboard instead of the baked maple. Here's one on
reverb for like $700... hard to beat IMHO.
Lots of guys on this forum have bought and reviewed the newer models of SG with mini hums. So they are better accepted now.
Here's another track, with Rod playing lead on my
silver burst. He's a tele man, and you can hear it in his style.
TL/DR: I bought a really weird bankruptcy-era SG that Gibson disowned. After changing almost everything, I love it.
I purchased (on a whim cuz purdy) a 2016 SG Special Faded HP. The specs coincide to the 2017 SG Special HP in some respects, but mostly, it is almost identical to the 2016 SG Special Faded T.... which Gibson actually admits to having made. Gibson has decided the HP variants don't exist... which is... odd.
Gibson scrubbed its page from the historical sites for some reason. It was on the Spanish version of their site for a while, but it's not there anymore, either... not a clue as to why. I suspect some manner of felonious action involving spies, attorneys, and cigar-chomping despots in foreign countries because... well... Henry J. (cue Miami Vice soundtrack and speedboats full of machine guns)
I honestly think they were finding a way to move some leftover bits from other models and special editions off their shelves because it's a mish-mash of options. Every time I see something weird from Gibson, I'm sure someone sat there figuring what disposable materials they could contribute to a cohesive model made to clear shelf space. Fender was great at that... Gibson, not so much. With this one, I think they managed to use up some odd stuff that never panned out by stuffing it into some SG Special Pete Townshend body blanks and cutting a new guard to make it work...
The color of mine is Faded Ebony with a cream pickguard. 22-fret maple big-headstock neck on a 61RI body, one-piece half-face pickguard/tenon cover with both P90 routs in slightly different positions than anything historical or recent (closer to the bridge and further from the neck on both routs). It will need a custom pickguard cut to change it to something other than the poorly beveled creme thing it has now. Single-ply creme on the ebony and VS versions, while a black variant was available on the Heritage Cherry version. I'm getting a B/W/B/W version made eventually. I just need to track down the material and send it to my guy with the original and some instructions. I played with the guard off for a while, but the tenon is typical Gibson-y rough. Can't get over it.
It has the "New Design" minihum/Firebird no-polepiece rail humbucker things. -23K- bridge! 17K neck... they aren't 'hot', though. Very throaty... clean up VERY nicely... slightly compressed at 6-7, full on squished at 10 and will push an amp easily into OD. I LOVE them. They honestly remind me of an old Bill Lawrence L500 for some reason. I swapped the soapbar surrounds from creme to black anticipating an eventual pickguard swap. I dunno whose job it was at Gibson to assemble those setups, but that had to be one of the more frustrating aspects of the guitar and they should get a raise if they did NOT design it, but fired if they did. The plastic spacers, tiny nylock 3-48 nuts, and the mounting plates in the routs... ugh. Did that once and will NOT do that again. I thought about dropping some P90s in, and I might try that someday later one, but I love these. Really love them. They required approaching them with the notion that your volume control isn't a "On/Off" knob. They change character in different impedance circuits established by the volume pot, and that makes for a VERY flexible instrument with a lot more gusto than one would need all the time. It's nice to know that I can roll it from 7 to 10 and go from a rather PAF-y bell to a straight up gainy mid-boosted growl. The top end does roll off at full tilt. I suspect a fairly high inductance. The Neck is FAR more calm than the bridge, but slight variations in height make for a lot of difference. I have the neck pretty much pinned down into the rout to the limits of the mounting method and the bridge is the opposite: a little closer than one would normally want unless they're really chugging away. I fiddle with knobs and you can feel the EQ shift around with some volume twiddling in the middle position on the switch. This wasn't anywhere near as usable a technique with the PCB version and I suspect hat to be because of a treble bleed circuit they built into the board. I don't like those on humbuckers. Fine for a tele, but not for a humbucker. This way, I can -almost- get some in-betweeny single-coil sounds if I take the time to 'match' the volumes around their respective resonances. Thems big words fer fiddlin' wit em til they fit together somethin purdy.
I swapped in some CTS 500k audio-taper pots and some Mallory .022 and .015 caps, neck and bridge respectively. They don't 'muffle', but they do trim sprakle and sizzle perfectly. I used a Puretone jack (These should be in everything, ain't gonna lie...), and a traditional sideways Switchcraft switch. I scored some Molex connectors so the Gibbie pickups can be swapped/restored without need for a soldering iron... even though I personally would only ever put everything back if somehow a collector wanted it. Mainly, I just didn't want to cut into the leads for the stock pickups. These connectors allow me to mess with series/parallel/coil-splitting stuff later should I want to and I won't have to modify the pickups at all. As they are, they're just '50s wiring on basic controls. I made sure to match the values of the pots to each respective pickup's circuit, which can make a big difference to those who've trained their ears to be so picky. That is a fancy way of saying "I put the ones that were a little above spec together and the ones that were a little below spec together, making sure the higher value was in the volume control and the lesser was in the tone's RC circuit for each pair."
It has the Titanium adjustable zero fret (LOVE). It was admittedly a tuning issue until I added a String Butler. It stays stable with Albert King style wide bends and pedal-steel sham country licks. It being adjustable allows for more experimentation, which allowed me to pin down my exact setup specs which I was able to apply to my other instruments precisely, improving the feel of most of my other guitars simply by being a Guinea Pig, of sorts. I rarely touch it, but I still love it and mine is the latest iteration with the central fixing screw. I doesn't fall out at all, nor does it rattle or shift until I WANT it to.
It has the "Soloist" 1.74" fingerboard width (LOVE... don't care what anybody else thinks). The fingerboard has the only example I've ever seen on a Gibson of an UNbound rosewood fingerboard with 'Blind' fret slots... the slots themselves are routed -into- the board, rather than sawed -across- the board, so the frets are undercut and sculpted like you'd see on a bound fingerboard from anybody other than Gibson (IE, with the frets over the binding and without nibs). The frets are the 'cryogenic' treated alloy. Despite this being a 'lower tier' unbound instrument, it looks extremely well-finished with the white side dots in an uninterrupted swath of rosewood on the edge of the neck.
It has genuine MOP small block inlays, arranged in two sizes. The large size at 1,3,5,7,9,12, and 15; the small size at 17, 19, and 21.
It has a quartersawn maple neck (you can see the ghosts of the grain through the finish on the back of the headstock), with both the large headstock and a volute. It feels slightly asymmetrical; definitely skinny near the nut, fattening up to a decent size by the octave. Gibson called it a "SG70" shape.
It HAD the robot tuners for a whopping hour before I swapped them out. Most of the hour was me trying to find out how to loosen strings on them without shelling the stepper motors. The instruction manual failed to mention any aspect of that. At all. It now has Hipshot open back locking tuners on a UMP. Great option and excellent tuners.
It HAD a relocated strap button on the upper horn from the neck joint.
It has the smooth-sanded neck heel.
It has the Titanium saddles. I swapped them into a TonePros locking bridge and it's seriously the best of all of the TOM bridges I've used.
It HAD a full-weight tailpiece, which I swapped for a solid brass unit.
I made a .120" steel version of the control cavity cover. That static-y plastic was/is just a sh*t idea... I shielded the cavity with copper tape like one does. No more static ever.
Added a WD black painted brass switch tip. These are like eight bucks and make a surprisingly HUGE difference in the feel of the switch.
Added black reflector knobs... simply a must for a black SG. The gold speed knobs were far too large for an SG layout, and they were also VERY tall, having the notched upper edge seemingly cast on top of the usual speed knob. They were big and chunky and, on that guitar, rather cheap-looking. On a LP, I imagine they'd be fine, but not on an SG. Again, black reflector knobs for the win.
The Faded finish buffed fairly easily to an organic gloss... no sealer, so the grain is open and the body was NOT perfectly sanded before finishing, so there's some tactile funky spots near both horns.
This guitar came in the single worst fitting gig bag I have ever used for a professional instrument. It was padded ok... it was stitched ok... it was made from decent materials...
AND IT DID NOT F**KING FIT.
The guitar has to be -squeezed- into the bag before it's even zipped. I suspect it is because of the oversized 70's headstock and left-shifted 61RI neck joint, but the original gig bag is something that I would refuse to use simply because of the additional stress it places on the guitar just to get it in the damned bag. I bought a low-priced import hardshell case for it and that has been perfectly fine. I'm not touring, so it works.
Still have the baby picture, which looks completely different from the way it looks now... Unused warranty card, a thing extolling the virtues of Gibson's in-house brand of strings, and an inspection card signed by someone I'm assuming to be a physician due to their illegible handwriting.
Holy moly, those are a lot of assumptions.
The new SG Special is completely different from yours. The biggest difference is that it uses the '61 Reissue body design. There's an upcharge for that because the early '60s style is generally seen as more desirable, with deeper beveling and better upper fret access, among other smaller changes. Another big difference is the paint. A glossy finish is time and labor intensive and therefore more costly to build. The same goes for binding on the neck. The new one also has the Slim Taper neck, which is generally seen as more desirable on an SG. The neck is also Honduran Mahogany, which is more expensive than Maple. It's also offered in two finishes that used to be available by custom order only (and are historical throwbacks).
The hardware is fine. Where did you get the idea it's not? Even Epiphones have quality hardware these days, you think Gibson wouldn't care what they put on their prestige brand name's guitars?
Neck tenons do not affect tuning stability. Whoever told you that was smoking some good dope. Stretch your strings when you put them on, lube the nut and you'll be fine. The only thing approaching "lack of tuning stability" I've ever experienced on Gibsons has been incredibly minor after properly stretching strings, and is a result of the way they're designed, not cheaping out in the manufacturing process. 99% of the time you go out of tune, it's not the tuner slipping, it's the string stretching out. It's just more pronounced on Gibsons because the tuners angle the strings past the nut, which causes them to bind at the nut. It's a result of an artistic design choice and just a fact of life if you like the Gibson headstock.
Also, there is no "bankruptcy era". The guitar manufacturing business was always profitable, it was the consumer electronics and other ventures that were losing money. So there was no need to "meet the price point", the guitars were just as profitable as ever, and only the most incompetent accountant on Earth would suggest cheaping out on tuners could stem losses in the millions.
The "cheaper and thinner bridges" you're referring to are ABR-1s. Which are considered more desirable because of their historical accuracy, not less.
Closer to a '61 Reissue/'61 Standard with P90s, actually.
That's an absurd statement. Epiphones built in Asia are now 50 years old and you can find them easily all over the place, still working perfectly. There's really nothing much that can even go wrong with a guitar to the point where it couldn't be easily fixed. They're dead simple technology.
I think you therefore just answered the opening post!
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