My new 2021 Gibson SG Tribute

Citaod33

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After months of lurking, reading, and watching guitar-related YouTube channels, I bought myself a new 2021 Gibson SG Tribute in vintage cherry satin. I thought I'd jot down my thoughts and impressions here, in case any of it is useful to somebody in a similar situation.

I am not an experienced player. Besides a few budget acoustics in the wider family, which mostly serve as ornaments, I own only one other electric guitar - a Yamaha RGX312 from the early 1990s. My memory of how I selected that particular instrument is hazy. It was probably the unadorned basic looks and the reasonable price. At any rate, for most of three decades all I did was pick up the guitar for maybe 30 minutes a month, and strum a few basic chords.

Then COVID hit and I found myself sitting bored and on mute - just like everyone else - during a bunch of work conference calls. One day, out of the corner of my bored eye I spied the RGX just sitting there collecting dust, picked it up, and within a week I was ABSOLUTELY HOOKED on guitar!!! :)

Fast forward about six months with around two hours of structured practice per day, on average. I am still a beginner, but I have learned a lot about what I wanted and did not want from my next guitar. Having developed a gentle loathing for the tremolo on the RGX, my number one requirement was a fixed bridge. With relatively large hands, I also wanted at least average string spacing at both ends, if not greater, as the RGX is relatively narrow at the nut and that felt like an impediment.

A huge AC/DC fan, with a predilection for bluesy hard rock, I always thought the SG looked like the most badass guitar on the planet. Since it has a fixed bridge... it really had to be an SG or I'd be left wondering. Epiphone was out for the same reason, and thought it would be truly ridiculous for a beginner to get a Les Paul or even an SG Standard, so an SG Tribute became the front runner. I eventually saw a 2021 SG Tribute in cherry advertised for AU$1600, which is a very decent price by Australian standards, and ten seconds later I clicked "buy".

Overall, I am thrilled with my new SG Tribute! Some observations, in no particular order:

- The sound is amazing, plugged in or not. There is a massive difference in the amount of resonance and sustain, with the SG sounding to my ears almost like an acoustic compared to the deadened noises of the RGX. When plugged into an amp and cranked up, I can really see what people mean about the SG having a "snarl"! (No, I am not using 30 year old strings on the RGX - they're almost brand new ;))

- The finish on the SG is flawless. I am both pedantic and myopic (it's like always looking through a magnifying glass). There's not a crack, scratch, or dent anywhere on this instrument.

- The rosewood on the neck is a generously thick layer of wood. Combined with the satin neck finish, to me it feels very invitingly playable. Cosmetics are in the eye of the beholder, but I cannot imagine I would be happier with some of the wood removed in favour of two strips of white plastic.

- The setup seems superb. Just the right amount of relief, and a comfortable lowish action with no buzzing anywhere. I do not feel the urge to adjust anything yet, but the guitar came with a truss rod key and those thumb wheels under the bridge should make for relatively simple adjustment compared to the godawful Floyd Rose copy on the RGX.

- E-to-E spacing at the nut is 36.75 mm, which is almost 3 mm wider than my RGX. I was a bit worried about the E-to-E dimension at the nut, because I could not find any data online. At 36.75 mm, it is generously wider than my RGX and it feels great!

- The maple neck looks paler than the mahogany of the guitar body. It's really no big deal, and probably invisible unless looking from behind in relatively good lighting.

- Although they sound great, the pickups look odd. The bridge pickup, in particular, is sitting at a jaunty angle. It is wound down as far away as it can go from the first string, and as close as it can get to the sixth string. Also, the black plastic tape around the pickups looks to have been applied a little clumsily. I can see why people invest in aftermarket pickup covers - to hide that black protective tape.

- There is a little neck dive, but only if I take both hands and arms off the guitar and just try to balance it on the strap. As soon as my right forearm rests on the guitar in the playing position, there is absolutely no more movement. If the forums hadn't made such a big deal out of "SG neck dive" I doubt I ever would have noticed anything.

- The brown instrument case is surprisingly good. The handle and the shoulder strap are both very solid, with excellent padding. I think that soft case is perfectly adequate for anyone who will take reasonably good care of the instrument, even during transport.

- The strap included with the guitar is simply awful. Gibson would have been better off donating the $2 unit cost to charity. Why anyone would hang a guitar like the SG on a strap that looks like it was amateurishly made from second-hand seatbelt is beyond me.

That's all I can think of for now. I want to go and play my new SG again :)
 

Neezduts89

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I just picked mine up a few weeks ago. It’s a beauty and I love it. It is very comparable to my standard except the maple neck makes it a bit faster to play. I love the sound of the pickups on this guitar as well, they’re very biting/crunchy. I also agree with you on the sound of this guitar wether plugged in or unplugged. It is very loud acoustically and is surprisingly satisfying to play unplugged, and I really love that about it. The guitar itself arrived to me with absolutely ZERO cosmetic flaws and was setup perfectly. I didn’t have to change a thing on it. Definitely a good choice! Upload some pics when you get a chance! 92F93EB2-4B8D-4F55-A1E4-F1AAF5515DC5.jpeg
 
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Citaod33

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The first non-trivial problem: the string notches in the saddles of the Nashville TOM are the wrong way round. The biggest, deepest notch is under the first string, and the smallest, shallowest notch is under the sixth string (low E).

I noticed it when checking intonation. The low E (sixth string) was way off, and after I decreased tension I realised that the notch under the string is tiny (blue oval in the photo). The saddle notches then get progressively deeper, until the biggest notch which is under the first string (yellow oval).

It may partly explain why my bridge pickup is at that jaunty slanted angle - whoever did the pickup adjustment was compensating for the first string sitting lower than it should, and the sixth sitting higher than it should.

I could turn the TOM bridge around, but then the saddles would be slanted the wrong way. That would bug me on a brand new guitar.

The thought of giving the guitar back does not thrill me, because I might find a few scratches and dents by the time I get it back. I am relatively handy and I wouldn't mind disassembling the TOM and rearranging the saddles, but that retaining wire looks like it would be a bugger of a thing to put back together.

I am thinking I may ask the dealer for a brand new TOM, and in return I can extract this one myself and give it to them. Does that sound reasonable to you guys, under the circumstances?



20210314_135606 - emphasis.jpg
 

Go Nigel Go

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You can also back the screws all the way out and remove the saddles to rearrange them or flip them as well. Some will tell you the bridge is already backwards because the screws re facing the wrong way. Personally I prefer them facing the way you have it. I would just switch the saddles to the correct positions and call it done. the screws are easier to adjust facing towards the tail stop IMO.
 
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Col Mustard

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Welcome to ETSG! Thank you for an excellent review.
We always love to read about when someone becomes aware
of the virtues of the SG.
That's why we are members of this forum.

The bridge is simply backwards. Not a problem, they fall off
when you remove the strings.
Simply loosen the strings, lift it off the studs,
flip it around and perform the intonation adjustments again.
I would measure the height of the thumb screws, and write that down
before you move your bridge. Then you have a point of reference.
This happens all the time, nothing to worry about,
nothing is wrong with your new guitar.

The tuna matic bridge works perfectly well with the screws facing
forward or back.
Having the widest and deepest notch under the bass E string
is more important than fussing about which way the screws face.
Also, it doesn't really matter which way the saddles face either.
Many players turn them around, trying to get a bit more intonation travel
from an obsolete ABR-1 bridge.
The more modern Nashville bridge usually has enough travel
to accommodate many different string gauges.
But if it doesn't, we turn our saddles around instead of buying a costly new bridge.

Here's my SG special Silverburst, showing the bridge saddles after intonation.
This is a stock tuna matic bridge, with the adjustment screws facing astern.
But it works just as well if the screws face for'ard.
Bridge & tail 3 topwrap@100.jpg
From this you'll see that the tailpiece works just as well with the strings wrapped
over the top as it does with the strings running straight through. Some players
prefer one way of doing things, some players prefer another. The SG makes
great music for all of us.
 
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semka

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- The maple neck looks paler than the mahogany of the guitar body. It's really no big deal, and probably invisible unless looking from behind in relatively good lighting.
You'll be happy to know that the maple neck makes your guitar more robust than one with a traditional mahogany neck which is a relatively weak point of SG (and Les Paul) design. You will still want to baby it, but it's more likely to survive an accident than mahogany necks.
 

cerebral gasket

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Someone at the factory must have grabbed a Nashville that had the saddles configured for a left-handed guitar.

I would rearrange the saddles under the correct strings keeping the flat side of the saddles facing the neck as was originally intended by the manufacturer.
 
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Citaod33

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Thank you everyone for your guidance. It gave me confidence to switch the saddles around myself, and the result is great, I think. Before: 20210315_120757 (Medium).jpg

It is hard to see in my phone photos, but pressure from the incorrectly placed wound strings had created signs of an indented and burred spiral pattern in the thin slots. I expect that would be worn away after a few sets of strings, but I decided I might as well use various grades of fret polishing microfibre cloths to smooth the slots while I was working on the bridge.

After:
20210316_000033 (Medium) (1).jpg

In case it helps anyone, backing out the screws is not sufficient to remove anything in this particular bridge design. There are six spring steel retaining clips that each sit in a machined groove near the head of the screw and prevent forward or backward movement of the screw itself. Again, hard to photograph with a phone, but the two outside clips are perhaps easiest to see:

20210316_000116 (Medium).jpg

Removing and replacing those six retaining clips is by far the hardest part of the job. They are strong but relatively small and fiddly - hard to handle for those with sausage fingers. Removing and putting them back took a bit of practice and finesse. I found that twisting them laterally was the best approach. Too much force in any direction will deform the clip. They can be bent back into shape, but patience is important.

Thanks again for the great advice, everyone!

Oh, and each of the saddles has the string name molded into the metal, only visible when viewed from below, so they are easy to arrange correctly without having to guess the order. (Capital 'E' versus small 'e', but those two are visually very different anyway.)
 
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Neezduts89

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NICE ONE!

I hav yet to see a 2021 GIBSON......IDK where they are hiding but now I know they are out there.

My tribute is a 2021 and I’ve waited quite awhile to get it. I was on a waiting list for months until I received the call that they came in stock, and I got it a month earlier than expected. I’m still waiting on my SG modern to come in, and I’m hoping it gets here soon
 

Wild Bill212

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SWEET ! May I ask who you purchased it from ? The SG MODERN is what I was thinking of, the Burst-Bucker Pro's are SICK ! I have those P-Up's in a 2017 Les Paul Standard and it is the best sounding USA line GIBSON I have ever heard.

the GC's/Sam Ash's in my area have a few left over 2020's that have been there for months getting beat-up in the store, the on-line retailers I have checked are all out-of-stock on the 2020's and have zero new 2021 guitars save the ultra-expensive 'Murphy-Lab' Aged Custom Shop series. Personally If I am spending over $5,000.00 on a guitar...I will make it look used all by my own doing..

LMK Bro?
 

FIREpunkMEDIC

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Bumping an old(ish thread)...longtime SG lover and player, new member (Hello Everyone!). How is the neckdive on these? Eyeing one but the neck dive on my 2018 standard was SO bad I didn't keep it.

Cheers!
J.P.
 

Col Mustard

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Welcome to ETSG!

The ETSG approved answer is of course: Play it before you buy it.
That's how you know. General statements about one type of SG or one
year class of SG are normally doo-doo. If you go where they sell them
and play as many as they'll let you, you can find one you like.

if you order one unplayed, unseen, online, following advice from people
(like me) who know nothing about your music or your style or your stature
you can go way wrong. That's like gambling. I don't like gambling.
I like a sure thing.

Also, there are pages and pages of opinions on this forum concerning neck dive.
Lots of it is just opinion of course, and useless to someone seeking a fine guitar.
In my humble opinion, neck dive is usually caused by heavy tuners (such as Grover
Rotomatics or the "Robot" tuners) on the headstock. The Gibson SG was designed
to be equipped with Kluson style tuners which weigh less than half what
the Rotomatics weigh.

Consequently I would never buy any SG with Grover Rotomatics on it.
(or any SG with heavy locking tuners on it)...
There are plenty of other better alternatives that weigh less.
Grover makes a fine version of the original Kluson style tuner, and these weigh
lightly enough to keep the balance on a delicate SG. I own two SGs with
tuners like this on, and they both balance fine for me.
IMG_1104@100.jpg
It's not that hard, once you get it about the weight. My other SG has a maple neck and an oversize "70s style"
headstock, and that one has a very slight tendency to neck dive. Not enough to disturb my playing. Maple neck + large headstock = more weight

But many SGs are now made with maple necks, and the virtues of the maple neck are so great they should overcome any reluctance on the part of closed minded guitarists. Maple necks are more rigid, more stable tuning wise,
and more durable. I like them. I have one on my Gibson Acoustic too.
guitar neck back@100.jpg
Good luck in your quest. Be sure to take some pictures of your SG when you find the one that comes alive in your hands. It's out there.
You have to get up and go out on a quest to find it.
 

Rusty Chops

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Had LP & SG Tributes with meaty maple necks. Great idea!
My ol’ Telecaster was SUPPOSED to be thrown in the truck bed in a bag, where an SVT can fall on it!
So what? You might have to tune one string?

664E94E9-45BD-48F4-A7EC-41E1251FDACF.jpeg
 

cerebral gasket

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I heard someone hammered a wheel cover back in place with a Tele and it was still in tune afterwards.
 
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papagayo

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Welcome to ETSG! Thank you for an excellent review.
We always love to read about when someone becomes aware
of the virtues of the SG.
That's why we are members of this forum.

The bridge is simply backwards. Not a problem, they fall off
when you remove the strings.
Simply loosen the strings, lift it off the studs,
flip it around and perform the intonation adjustments again.
I would measure the height of the thumb screws, and write that down
before you move your bridge. Then you have a point of reference.
This happens all the time, nothing to worry about,
nothing is wrong with your new guitar.

The tuna matic bridge works perfectly well with the screws facing
forward or back.
Having the widest and deepest notch under the bass E string
is more important than fussing about which way the screws face.
Also, it doesn't really matter which way the saddles face either.
Many players turn them around, trying to get a bit more intonation travel
from an obsolete ABR-1 bridge.
The more modern Nashville bridge usually has enough travel
to accommodate many different string gauges.
But if it doesn't, we turn our saddles around instead of buying a costly new bridge.

Here's my SG special Silverburst, showing the bridge saddles after intonation.
This is a stock tuna matic bridge, with the adjustment screws facing astern.
But it works just as well if the screws face for'ard.
View attachment 44268
From this you'll see that the tailpiece works just as well with the strings wrapped
over the top as it does with the strings running straight through. Some players
prefer one way of doing things, some players prefer another. The SG makes
great music for all of us.

The Gibson ABR-1 bridge have the same setting amplitude, flip the saddles is very easy.


SG Faded 112.jpg
 


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