'61 Reissue (USA) vs. '61 VOS (Custom Shop)

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by BenTobith, Jun 24, 2020.

?

If you could get a gently used Gibson Custom Shop VOS '61 reissue for ~$1,000 more than a brand new

  1. YES - Go Custom Shop if you can afford it

  2. NO - Save your money, the differences are minor

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  1. BenTobith

    BenTobith Member

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    Curious what the fine folks think: If you could get a gently used Gibson Custom Shop VOS '61 reissue for ~$1,000 more than a brand new 2020 Gibson USA '61 Reissue, is it worth the extra $1,000?

    As far as I can gather, the key differences would be:
    • NUT: Nylon/Bone (CS) vs. Graph Tech (USA)
    • BODY: One-piece Mahogany (CS) vs. Two-piece Mahogany (USA)
    • PICKUPS: Custombucker Alnico-III non-potted (CS) vs. 61R/61T Alnico-V potted (USA)
    • CAPS: Paper in oil Bumblebee (CS) vs. Orange drop (USA)
    • TUNING MACHINES: Vintage push-in bushings (CS) vs. Modern screw bushings (USA)
    • JOINT: Long neck tenon and heel (CS) vs. Short neck tenon (USA)
    • COSMETICS: VOS aging, historic spec pickguard and truss rod cover (CS) vs. No aging, plain truss rod cover (USA)
    • CASE: Custom Shop case (CS) vs. Gibson USA case (USA)
    Anything I'm missing that's key?

    With regards to the pickups, I think that could come down to personal preference for the most part. The caps seem to actually favor USA models, as Orange drops are maintenance-free and more reliable in the long run.

    So unless I'm missing something (which I could be), the main difference is in the body construction and neck joint design.

    What do you think? Obviously, "worth" can be subjective, too. But are there clear, objective advantages that justify the expense? (I'm not trying to knock the CS models, by the way. I'm honestly deliberating internally between these options.)
     
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  2. SG standard

    SG standard Well-Known Member

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    I'll try to stick within the spirt of those words, but obviously the subjective is hugely important in terms of musical instruments, which is why it's ultimately your call, and the content of this thread may not help much... :)

    First, resale values, which may not matter if it's a keeper, but need a mention. If the new USA is regular retail price rather than reduced to clear, and the CS is a fair used price, you'll lose about 30% on the USA's value compared to the CS right from the get go.

    Second, for ages Gibson USA have been using thick binding and thick nibs, which involve removing a tiny fraction of usable fret surface. This annoys me, (obviously more than it annoys most people!, so YMMV). In recent years (sorry, no idea when) CS have reverted to thinner binding, as found on vintage Gibsons. My CS SG has nibs, but I've never noticed them whilst playing, as they don't encroach on the usable fret area at all - which for me is a huge difference compared to the USA SGs I've owned with nibs (which I no longer own). Again, YMMV!

    Lastly, I'm not really up-to-speed on reissues, and quite what USA offer in terms of 'accuracy', etc., or how much that matters. But I noticed my CS has much thinner nitro. I literally thought the SG had 'sharper' carving, but I think it's just that the USA SGs I've owned had thick nitro which softened the lines of the body carve. It's not just visual either, it feels very different, in ways that are hard to describe without sounding like a pretentious corksniffer, so I'll say no more...

    I can't begin tell you how happy I am with my recent CS SG Custom - but I also wouldn't attempt to suggest it represents 'value for money' or that it's higher cost is worth paying; to me, for you, or anyone else! Had the exact same SG been offered by Gibson USA I would've been happy to buy it. I guess it's a bit like buying vintage; either you're going to value what that gives you or not. I'm unlikely to ever buy vintage, and TBH, I'm unlikely to buy CS again. But I hope my CS SG will be with me for as long as I'm playing. ;)

    Hope that helps in some way.
     
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  3. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know, they have always used the thinner binding on CS models, at least for the SG. IDK about Historic LPs because they go back much further than the SG introduced in 2000. But if you have more information, let me know so I can add it to the wiki.

    To the OP: All I can suggest is you find local stores that have them so you can find out for yourself. I love my Historic, but I also got an excellent deal for about the same price as a USA model. I've only ever played USA models at Guitar Center for a few minutes, none of which were set up to my liking anyway, so I can't really compare fairly. What I will say is that it's not proportionally better according to the price premium. All luxury goods have diminishing returns. But I'm also a sucker for those bevels and historic details in general. It's a tough call. I do feel like it would bother me though to spend so much for a USA model and always have it in the back of my head that it's still not a real "reissue". I guess I would recommend what I did; wait around for a good deal on a Historic. But that will require patience. And I haven't seen one go for under $2k in years at this point, so the best you may hope for is the low $2k range.
     
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  4. Derald

    Derald Member

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    In my opinion, none of the items you listed would hand any tangible effect on how the guitar sounds except the pickups. You could get the Standard and some custom buckers or Burstbuckers for $150 and save the rest of the money. The bumblebee caps are not the old style. When taken apart they have been shown to be simple caps with a fancy covering. The one piece body? No effect whatsoever, but I have personally seen 2019 and 2020 Standard 61’s with one piece bodies if that is important. The binding? Doubt there’s any practical difference.
    Ascetics? Well that’s totally subjective.
     
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  5. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Neither.
    For me it's all about the neck profile.
     
  6. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Just last year they moved to real PIO caps in Historics.
     
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  7. kongssund

    kongssund New Member

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    I dont think a 61 reissue, or a 61 anything has "short" tenon, would be nothing to hold the neck with :)
    But for choosing, choose the one that you connect to the most.
     
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  8. Corporal Scratchy

    Corporal Scratchy Active Member

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    Custom Historic v Gibson USA came up for discussion in a slightly different context about a year ago in this thread:

    http://www.everythingsg.com/threads/can-you-offer-any-information-about-this-one.35714/

    Borrowing from my contribution there (my experiences/opinions being based on previously owning 4 vintage SG Standards (1961, 2x1963 & 1965) and 2 Custom Historic SG Standard ’61 RIs (2000 & 2007), I’ll repeat some points here in the hope they might prove helpful.

    So, are Custom Shop guitars better than their standard production line equivalents?

    In my experience, no. But they are different.

    Skilful marketing has very much to do with this, but I think in a positive way.

    The fad for reissue instruments kicked off in the 1980’s when manufacturers recognised a growing demand from traditionalist die-hards (like me) for original designed/built guitars. By then the vintage guitar market had grown and prices were getting silly.

    The policy of buying up quantities of their own vintage instruments to reproduce newly manufactured equivalents was manna from heaven to the marketing teams, who were able to start selling ideas like “bodies/necks cut to original specifications”, “electronic components sourced from original 1950s/60s suppliers” etc. thereby capturing attention and creating a desire to own such guitars. They gave us what we wanted and sales took off!

    Moreover, the marketeers at Gibson and Fender were able to use this “new direction – back to basics” philosophy to help dig themselves out of the holes of negative perception both had fallen into during the Norlin/CBS years.

    As time went by and many core customers got older, the manufacturers then recognised a slightly different buyer, those ones with spare money and an inherent liking of expensive things on which to spend it. These people perceive high cost equals highest quality; they buy Rolex watches and BMW cars instead of Timex/Ford etc.

    In particular, many lapsed rock-wannabees, having given up music to raise families/set out on careers, found themselves reaching middle age with spare cash and spare time and what better way to revive youthful joys than to splash out on a dream guitar/amp rig that was previously out of reach? By focussing on the high cost = better quality idea and working to awaken latent feelings of one-upmanship/snobbery/cork sniffery/OCD in the target audience, the manufacturers have created a boutique market with buyers wanting to spend big.*

    So the Custom Historic guitars are produced primarily (but I guess not exclusively) for these rich buyers and must therefore be presented in marketing terms as “special”, “better” or whatever, to maintain value in the perception that the additional cost is justified. They need to give these customers exactly what they want; instruments with a craftsman built/best materials qualities vibe, that some owners will be able to feel superior through ownership. And why not? It’s their money. :smile:

    Indeed, both my Custom Historics were superbly put together, obviously created with skill, love and incredible attention to detail. Through trading up over the years, I had the available cash and I thought I was buying the best. Wrong!

    Did they sound better than existing/previous SGs? No, possibly as good as, but not better.

    Did they play better than existing/previous SGs? No, possibly as good as, but not better.

    Do they stand up to on the road bashing/wear and tear better? No.

    Are they a better financial investment? I don’t know, could be… I sold my 2000 to a collector offering stupid money which I wasn’t prepared to refuse. I good a good trade in price for the 2007.

    The Custom Historic people do offer a number of unusual, non-run of the mill SGs from time to time and I’m sure these appeal to many customers, but this thread is about comparing the Custom Historic SG ’61 to the SG Standard 61 from the Originals Collection.

    Finally, with regard to the supposed accuracy of reissues compared to originals, none of my reissues, Custom Historic or Gibson USA, were anywhere near 100% accurate; they all differed in numerous slight but noticeable details. Having said that, none one my 4 originals were the same, they too were different to each other in numerous slight but noticeable details.

    Oh Lordy, another epic post. Sorry and congratulations/thanks to those of you who’ve read this far.

    * Apologies if you're a happy Custom Historic user that does not fit this metric! :smile::smile:
     
  9. SG standard

    SG standard Well-Known Member

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    OUCH! Why does the truth always hurt? And that truth cuts regardless of Custom Shop, USA, or cheap and cheerful Chibson! They all serve the same desire :)

    That's an important point people tend to forget - even though vintage guitars were mass produced, there isn't really a single exact design specification to reproduce in the first place. I have to admit I don't have much interest in vintage, so probably even less interest in replicas. My recent CS fits the "unusual, non-run of the mill SGs" category. I sort of wish Gibson USA did more of that, though obviously public opinion runs contrary to my taste, and Gibson's new management are clearly focused on the past - that's where the money is.
     
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  10. skelt101

    skelt101 Active Member

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    This is my understanding too. However, I think the heel design looks to be slightly different between these models, as well as the all-important glue (hide vs. titebond). Also, the neck might be higher off the body on the Custom Shop version...
     
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  11. BenTobith

    BenTobith Member

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    I think I get what you're both saying. From an external perspective, the "heel" on the outside of the neck where it meets the body definitely looks different between a '61 Standard reissue and the originals/Custom Shop versions. There's less wood there.
     
  12. BenTobith

    BenTobith Member

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    I'm fairly certain the new Gibson regime versions use actual bumblebee/paper in oil caps in the Custom Shop models. I don't necessarily view this as a positive, as stated in the OP. Feels a bit too much like vintage for vintage's sake vs. what's best or practical.

    I don't know of any one-piece body SGs outside of the Custom Shop. I know they can do a pretty good job of masking the seam with the wood grain, but I'm under the impression they are all two-piece. But on an electric guitar, I don't know that this matters much, as you say.
     
  13. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    While it is indeed true that there was noticeable variation in 1960s SGs, that doesn't mean the USA '61 is not less accurate and could just be like another variation. No real 1961 SG left the factory with the narrow headstock shape of the new Std '61, or the fiberboard veneer over it. It's theoretically possible there are some real '61s out there with beveling like that, but I've never seen one.

    Here's a Historic next to a real '61:
    61 vs CS.jpg
    61 vs CS 4.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

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  14. Corporal Scratchy

    Corporal Scratchy Active Member

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    Good observation - Thanks. I think you have illustrated the point SG standard made: "....even though vintage guitars were mass produced, there isn't really a single exact design specification to reproduce in the first place."

    There can be no such thing as a "100% accurate" replica if, as I agree with you both, the originals all varied slightly. Maybe I put a little too much emphasis on this in my previous post and maybe I should highlight and applaud the sterling efforts made over the years by Gibson craftsmen (Custom Historic and USA) to produce and improve their reissue offerings.
     
  15. Corporal Scratchy

    Corporal Scratchy Active Member

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    "OUCH! Why does the truth always hurt?"

    Sorry!! Hurts me too - was a wannabe once.... These days more of a "has been" :smile:

    "Gibson's new management are clearly focused on the past - that's where the money is."

    Agreed. And not just Gibson. The ongoing demand for replica vintage guitars might be seen as a fitting tribute to the USA manufacturers (inc. Fender, Gretsch, Rickenbacker et al.) of the 1950s/1960s who managed to get so much of their initial design/production "right first time".
     
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  16. Pageburst

    Pageburst Member

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    I don’t know what Rolex, Timex, BMW and Ford have to do with Custom Shop guitars. It doesn’t strike me that custom shop owners are a bunch of well heeled Gucci wearing posers lording their expensive guitars over “common folk” anymore than I would think USA or Epiphone buyers are a bunch of resentful gap wearing, Ford drivers who hate on those alleged posers and their expensive guitars.

    Generalizations and stereotypes about human beings are typically narrow minded, judgment filled, inaccurate assumptions.

    Here’s my 1962 SGLP Standard, 61 Custom Shop and 61 Standard. (The 61 Standard I upgraded with OX4 PAF style pickups, non PCB pots and caps and a faber ABR-1). With talented fingers and a bit of passion each of them will sing and each has its unique voice.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, forums still tend to be places where people love to make mountains out of minutiae mole hills. I bought a vintage SG because I wanted a period original PAF or early PAT# solid body Gibson and Bursts are priced beyond what I would be comfortable spending on a guitar. Not because I think old growth wood contains Eric Clapton’s Beano magic fairy dust. And for the record I strongly dislike BMWs. Don’t particularly care for Fords either except for that badass Ford GT40.

    this is a guitar forum, Let’s leave the generalizations and stereotypes to the marketeers and politicians.
     
  17. Steve D

    Steve D Well-Known Member

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    For me, buy what you like based on what you are looking for and what you can afford. To the OPs question if, all things being equal, would you pay $1,000 more for a custom shop historic reissue, for me the answer is no. But when I saw an older one - 2006 - for just $200 more than a comparable brand new '61 reissue I jumped. That was a small enough gap that it was worth it to me to get the historical details. Everyone else will have a different answer on what level of premium they'd be willing to pay, if any at all.

    If I really wanted one and had time to wait, used historic reissues in great condition that are well under $1,000 higher than a brand new '61 reissue do come up for sale in the usual places. All you need is time, patience, and a number you're willing to pop on.
     
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  18. macdog

    macdog Member

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    Wow, did a work experience student fit that CS pickguard?
     
  19. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Glue makes them all one piece.

    PIO = Placebo In Oil.
     
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  20. koaguilds

    koaguilds Well-Known Member

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    :rofl:
     
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