In which year did the SG width at the nut get slightly more narrow?

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by SG Champagne, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I have a 1999 Custom Shop SG and the width of the fretboard at the nut is noticeably more wide than the same place on my 1979 SG Standard.

    Do we know in which year Gibson made this change?

    Thanks.
     
  2. DCCable

    DCCable Active Member

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    Just out of curiosity what is the width of that nut? I have measured a 1985 Special at 1.695", or 43.053mm for the metric part of the world. That's the widest one I've found.
     
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  3. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    early '70s I believe... like '71 or '70

    In those days, Gibson's marketeering geniuses claimed that what guitarists
    wanted was "new and "Improved" models, not stodgy old fifties or sixties
    guitars. So they made changes to the SG design, trying to develop the
    "next big thing..." in the guitar world. They made these:
    212.jpg
    Some of the necks were made out of layers of wood, laminated crosswise to each
    other. Gibson was trying to keep the headstocks from snapping off when guys leaned them
    against brick tavern walls or tossed their SG in the back of some pickup truck.
    It didn't work.

    They also made the the headstocks bigger for some reason, and made the necks narrower,
    and installed the "Volute" at the back of the headstock joint... trying to keep the headstocks from snapping off. The volute is actually a good idea, but nobody liked it.

    They also made early '70s guitars with the strings parallel to the body, elminating the
    famous Gibson 4 degree back angle to the neck. Guitarists hated that. Gibson made the SG body larger and left off the elegant beveling at the cutaways for some arcane reason.

    Then they came up with the Les Paul style pick guard and routed the SGs from the front, attaching the wiring harness to the "half Moon" plastic plate in the picture above.

    No one wanted any of those "improvements." It took Gibson a long time to get it through
    their thick skulls that what guitarists wanted was fifties style Les Pauls and Sixties style SGs.
    The '70s Harmonica bridge was actually a good idea, giving players more travel in the bridge saddles. But Gibson bashers criticized it as too big and ugly... they couldn't wait to yank them off their guitars and install the BadAss...

    By the time your 1979 Gibson was made, the factory was trying to make SGs the way they
    used to be. But I'll say one more thing about Gibson necks. Especially old ones: It's all hand work.

    So no one can make a valid general statement about old Gibson neck dimensions.

    Each one was individually hand cut on a band saw using a template, and then
    each one was individually hand shaped and sanded by a factory worker. People talk about the "Sixties Slim" neck as if they were all the same, but they were not. '70s necks were likely all over the place as Gibson shifted production from Kalamazoo to Nashville and
    hired a bunch of new non-union guys. Your '79 could have been made by an inexperienced guy in Nashville or by an experienced Kalamazoo worker with a bad attitude. *shrugs
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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  4. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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  5. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    yeah, 1-11/16 is pretty much Gibson standard nut width for SGs and Les Pauls and
    Hummingbirds and J-45s and ES series and all...

    Dunno why the narrow one was introduced, but there must have been some reason at the
    time. I've never played one of those.
     
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  6. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I used to have a 1969 SG Special with the narrow nut width (1-9/16”) for a few years.
    Bought it used in the 1980’s before they were considered vintage.
    At the time, I had no idea what dimensions the nut width was.
    All I knew was that the neck profile was fat like a baseball bat.

    Sold all my gear and stopped playing for about a decade.
    Recently got back into playing and IMO the modern nut width of 1-11/16” is just perfect.

    These days if I pick up a vintage neck with the narrow nut width it feels like a shovel handle.
     
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  7. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    The 1979 SG Standard is one and one half inches wide at the nut.
     
  8. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    I had a 1967 SG Special with the narrow nut, so before 1967?

    P.
     
  9. Wildeman

    Wildeman Active Member

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    Hmmm, i got a '61 and a '78 and can switch between them easily. I've never measured them but they both play like butter......or lard, pick your poison.
     
  10. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Yes that is interesting. But, isn't the 61 just a little bit more wide at the nut?
     
  11. Wildeman

    Wildeman Active Member

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    I will measure them when i get home.
     
  12. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    The reason I started this thread is because I wish that both of my SGs had the same width so that it would be more easy to switch back and forth between the two guitars. I don't know if the narrowing of the neck was motivated by player preference or saving production costs or maybe it happened as a function of making the neck/headstock joint stronger.
     
  13. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

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    Yep, 1965 was the transition year. Apparently some early 65s still had the regular nut width while other have the narrow nut width.
     
  14. Wildeman

    Wildeman Active Member

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    Well this explains nothing!:thumb:haha. First two pics are a '61, second are a '78........almost the same width but the '78 has a much thicker profile. 20170225_110224.jpg 20170225_110250.jpg 20170225_110115.jpg 20170225_110144.jpg
     
  15. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn’t it be great if a database was created that contained the specifications of every SG model by year?
    This would be beneficial to people searching for used SG’s that already know what features they want, but unsure what year or model has those offerings.

    If you don't prefer the narrow nut, you could filter your search in the database to find out what years to avoid in your online searches.

    Same thing with pickup types.
    In the past only the Juniors and Specials had P-90's.
    Now the modern Specials have HB's and modern Standards are available with P-90's.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017

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