Best years for a reliable & quality SG Special?

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Eric Sala, Jul 3, 2020.

  1. Eric Sala

    Eric Sala New Member

    Jul 2, 2020
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    Hi all, I’m new. I am looking for a robust and reliable SG, and after playing several SG Specials I’ve decided I like those the best. What wondering what range of years are best for an SG Special? I know everyone says Les Pauls in the 90s were great, but does this apply to SGs as well? What should I look for? I need a guitar that I can take on the road (once this pandemic is over and it’s safe) to be a workhorse.

    I used to have an SG Classic a few years ago (around 2011) but I could never really gel with it. It had a lot of issues with the nut and had to be replaced, and I felt the overall quality wasn’t impressive. I also wasn’t a fan of the way the neck was so glossy.

    Any recommendations on the SG Special?
  2. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

    Jan 13, 2017
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    No such thing as a best year. You have to evaluate each guitar on an individual basis.

    They are mass produced and as with any other industry manufacturing defects can occur. Sometimes a guitar may require a better setup after leaving the factory.

    I have a 2004 and 2006 SG Classic and they are my favorite guitars to play out of the 18 different SG that I had over the years. Most of them were SG Specials from 1963-2016.
  3. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

    Mar 20, 2012
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    I suppose I’m biased, but I like the mid-70s Norlin SG Specials. I say, “I’m biased,” because I have a 1974 SG Special.

    I like the mini-humbuckers used in those years and the small block inlays versus the much more prevalent dot inlays of most Specials.

    The Norlin years get a lot of hate, but I love mine.

    All this is just my preference. There is no “right” answer.
  4. IanD

    IanD New Member

    Jul 1, 2020
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    I just got a 2020, proper old school rock machine and love it! The neck is glossy, which I normally don’t like and immediately buff down, but the thin nitro on this one feels great and not at all sticky!
  5. Didds

    Didds Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2016
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    Sydney, Australia
    Controversial opinion, but I think the 2015s are some of the best quality gibsons made in recent years. Yes, they aren't everyones cup of tea, and yes, I'm biased since my #1 is a 2015, but as far as quality goes, it is absolutely flawless. Granted, it's just one guitar, but I've only heard good things about them. Beautifully dark rosewood fretboard, real MOP inlays, and in my opinion the best pickups gibson makes these days
    ozraves likes this.
  6. football27

    football27 Active Member

    May 27, 2007
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    I have a 2019 Gibson SG Special, The p90s sound great and the guitar plays wonderfully. I would recommend these guitars. :D
    fishlog likes this.
  7. Les537

    Les537 Member

    Mar 2, 2018
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    If you don't like glossy necks try one of the more recent specials in mat finish. I've got the '18 model which is a bit different than most (see avatar). 24 frets - which all SG should be instead of that plastic plate. Very thin neck. Excellent fret board. The guitar plays itself.

    It comes with firebird minibuckers which some like and I hate. The good news is p90s drop right in those holes. It's got a lot of upper mids in the tone. Very unique, honky tone.

    It's a great guitar (don't buy one blind is all I'll say about gibson QC here), but I'm tempted to trade it for a 2019 blue special with the single piece stop bar because it's absolutely gorgeous and a proper SG special - with rolled binding, big dots, glossy neck and all things wonderful.
  8. Westernrider

    Westernrider Well-Known Member

    Apr 16, 2014
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    Mid South
    Get your hands on some and play.
    Find one that speaks to you and with you.
    You'll know it when it happens.
    Buy it.

    Many of us might have instant bonding stories on first site. Here is my story. In late Jan. of 2014, I walked into a local store to get strings. There were a couple of SG's [ one cherry and one black ] on the wall. Picked up the cherry SG and there was instant bonding. Told the owner I'll buy it withing seconds of picking it up and trying a couple of chords. Bought it without trying it thorough am amp.

    Yes, I know ..... there might be dead spots on the neck ..... there might be gremlins in the neck joint ..... the nut might have been cut off a hair. I trust this dealer. He inspects his incoming Gibsons closely and sends back problem guitars immediately. Yes, there is a reason to support local stores. You learn how they treat their equipment and customers. This merchant is stellar .... Priceless.

    He told me that a couple of internet customers ordered SG's so he ordered a three. When they arrived he picked this one to put in store stock. This guitar was from the last 2013 SG assemly line run.
  9. fishlog

    fishlog New Member

    Apr 16, 2020
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    Just an interesting comparison to show no two guitars are a like even from the same year...

    I happen to have two 2019 Gibson SG Specials in faded Pelham blue. Long story.
    Both excellent guitars but both have strength and weaknesses. One is noticeably thicker by about an 8th of an inch and is also heavier. This one also has a slight larger neck profile. One
    is hand wired one has the PCB board.
    One has noticeably sharper lines... See the pictures.
    Sharper cuts all around:

    Softer edges:
  10. Bad Penguin

    Bad Penguin Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2018
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    I have never understood why people think certain years are better then others. It's a Mass produced item. Some are going to be better then others, but generally the quality will be the same from year to year.

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