NGD: 2015 Gibson SGS3 w/Sideways Vibrola

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by hi13ts, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. hi13ts

    hi13ts New Member

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    Hi friends, I haven't been here in a hot minute, but just bought a new SG and would like share some observations.

    I had a 2013 SG Original that was, for all intents and purposes, and great guitar. It wasn't particularly special, but it sounded like an SG and held tune. I've been playing Les Pauls as my main guitars for the past 10 years or so, and even after a detour to SGs and ES's about three years ago, I've kinda fallen back home to the Les Pauls. The 2013 Original was more or less a backup guitar and only saw stage lights every six months or so. The reason being is because it directly competed with my Les Pauls, being a solid body electric with two humbuckers. For my personal tastes, I always preferred the Les Pauls. That was the impetus in me trying to find a guitar that has its unique stamp, that could be used alongside the LPs instead just being a backup guitar. I looked around and saw an SGS3 at Dave's Guitar on Reverb. I remember these back in 2015 and how classy they looked. In essence, it's born out of the idea of an SG Custom, except of course different fretboard material and less decor, also made on the line as opposed to the custom shop. Really pretty guitar, so I sold the Original and pulled the trigger on the one at Dave's.

    First impressions: lightest guitar I've ever owned, more so than my Strat. The 60's slim taper neck is also one of the thinner examples I've played. The bevels and overall body of the guitar is exquisite and eye-catching. Such class.

    Other impressions: the sideways vibrola is more or less decoration. I pride myself in being able to get all the trem systems I've ever owned to be useable and stay in tune. I have a Bigsby that stays in tune like a champ and I was able to get the Maestro on the Original to stay in tune as well, without switching to roller bridges or anything else. Just need to have a good setup, with a well cut nut and clean saddles. A bit of lube does wonders too. However, after meticulous sanding and cleaning of the nut and saddles to ensure little to no friction, the sideways trem is still more or less unusable. I blocked it the other day and it performed well, but I just couldn't keep it that way. I really wanted it to be set up the way it was designed, which is to be used. Although I totally respect the practical reason for blocking it, I'm still holding out hope to get it usable. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm totally open. A roller bridge is on my mind, but I'm unsure if that's all there is to it. I'm thinking that the mechanism of the sideways trem forces it to kinda move side to side as well as pushing the strings to lower pitch. All that movement brings in a lot of variables that guitars probably weren't designed to deal with and so something like this happens.

    The pickup situation is a bit odd, too. It has the neck tone knob as a volume knob for the middle pickup to blend in and out. I expected it to sound sort of out-of-phasey to an extent. I assume when the middle pickup is utilized, the pickups are all running parallel or something. However, one thing that I'm certain is a problem is that the bridge pickup sounds like it's out-of-phase by itself. I know that sounds odd, but it sounds a bit like coil tap. I've hit both the slugs and screws and both are active. I've also tested with a multimeter and it read 7.8k (neck was 7.5), so it's reading correctly for a 57 classic. I looked at the wiring and I can't really see anything out of the ordinary, so I'm a bit unsure. I usually start out my pickup heights at about 2 mm with the last fret depressed on both sides, but I've raised the bridge pickup and bit and although it does get louder and gainier has expected, it still sounds kinda out-of-phase. Can anyone confirm they have the same experience? I'll take it to my tech in the next few weeks to get his insight, but any info on this would be appreciated!

    I will be using it for a blues gig I have a few days and that will be the true litmus test. Overall, it's a really cool guitar that plays well. I'm just hoping I get the vibrola somewhat usable and that I get some answers for the bridge pickup situation.

    Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/aeTnUosFTiUfS51R8
    Video/tone demo
    Pickup config: neck/middle, neck/middle/bridge, bridge/middle, and then bridge only, neck and bridge, neck only:
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  2. RhinestoneStrat

    RhinestoneStrat Active Member

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    Nice playing...it sounds very Stratty.:)
     
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  3. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations! I like that SG, simply beautiful!

    Been wanting one of those 2015's with the 3 '57s. Almost bought one a few times after they dropped the price on closeout. The sideways vibrola was the only thing that stopped me.

    It sounds like you have the 3 volumes with the master tone figured out. I wasn't sure if the Gary Clarks with 3 P-90s were the only ones like that or not. Pretty simple stuff. Switch works like normal 2 pickup setup (neck/neck+bridge/bridge) and just blend the middle in as wanted. I will say, your bridge pup did sound a little off. The bridge in my GCJrs sound like they have more beef than that humbucker. Maybe the tone might not be working right? I'm sure you messed with it plenty ;)

    Hope you get it worked out! Good luck! :smile:

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    JJ Cale / Dire Straits inspired [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  5. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

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    Very cool. Congrats.

    Very nice playing. Loving the tones.
     
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  6. semka

    semka Member

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    The only reason the sideways vibrola is there is to make sure this SG has no neck dive and it looks cool, too... Yeah, nice playing...
     
  7. hi13ts

    hi13ts New Member

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    Just an update:

    Played two shows with it. First show was rough, but that was due to the fact that my amp tubes were acting up. It has been rectified now. Regarding the guitar, however, had a hard time with balance between all the pickups and that middle pickup got in the way of my picking technique.

    Second show went great. Before I played it, I did a few things:

    I changed the three volume pots. The stock pots were reading around 450k or so, so within tolerances, however, I replaced them with CTS pots reading 500 and up. In my ears, it opened up just a bit, some more much needed presence.

    I replaced the bridge 57 Classic with a 498T I pulled from a LPC. I set the pickup screw pieces a little higher up and I screwed the middle pickup flush to the mounting ring. The 498T balances A LOT better in the guitar with the 57 neck instead of another 57 in the bridge. The middle pickup, although screwed lower, is still usable and does good phase-y things when blended in. Also, with the middle pickup low, it wasn't hindering my picking, so it feels good now.

    Another thing in regards to that is I felt the middle pickup, just by being so close to the other two, had some weird effect on the overall tone of the guitar. It seemed to have sucked a lot of power from all of my pickup positions, not out of phase, but that's the closest term I can come up with. By lowering it, I heard a distinct difference, like the other pickups weren't choked anymore. I don't know how factual all of this is or what technical aspects follow this, but it was my observation.

    Tuning is okay. Still slips, but not so bad. The vibrato mechanism is still very temperamental when used. Would not rely on it, only use end of set/show.

    Overall, I'm glad I got it to a point where it plays very well and it sounds like what I know an SG should. It will serve as an excellent backup guitar and good gigging guitar every few gigs or so, or just a good SG when one is needed. Still can't get over how classy it looks, though. Just oozes high society class. Black Beauty.
     
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  8. Logan

    Logan Well-Known Member

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    I absolutely love these guitars. I love to see when people get these, but I'm biased because I'm an owner myself. I like to think I started a trend here :D
    And I agree. I blocked mine off because I tried, and tried, but I couldn't get it to work. But, I've heard rumors of a third redesign in the works for 2021, so watch out for that :wow:

    [​IMG]

    You know we have to see pictures of yours, and while you did provide sound samples (with phenomenal guitar work), we need something to drool over :dude:

    Also, I made a very detailed thread on how to block off the sideways vibrola and make it height adjustable like a stoptail, available here if you're interested in it.
     
  9. hi13ts

    hi13ts New Member

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    Hello, I'm sorry for resurrecting an old thread but I've done some modifications to the guitar and would like to share an update.

    I'm a huge fan of the 3 pickup Custom in oxblood but haven't been able to run into one in the wild. They seem to be hard to find and prices have just bloated the past few years (especially the last year), so I switched out the main plastics and replaced the sideways trem with the Maestro to get the looks. I also put a roller bridge, bone nut, and locking grovers to assist with tuning stability.

    The trem swap was more than just cosmetics though, as the sideways trem is incredibly unintuitive and because of its float and angle, the feel and tone is affected in a way that was not to my preference. I bought a Maestro from Joe's Vintage guitar and it was built well and looked great, but the spring angle was too stiff and the comb was touching the back of the strings. I know vibrola angles haven't been consistent and it seems to depend on preference, but the best one I've had was on my '13 Original, where it was parallel to the body and laid right on top of it. Stayed in tune and sounded great. After some experimenting with my Firebird, I settled on the Allparts vibrola, and it worked wonderfully. I proceeded to buy an Allparts version in gold for the SG and indeed it had the angle I wanted. The spring still doesn't touch the body of the guitar like the '13 Original's did (which I think contributes to a more preferred tone), so I put a small strip of black foam and it's working as I intended. Staying in tune and sounding great!

    I also switched out all the pots to CTS 500k, installed an Orange drop cap on the master tone, and replaced the volume pots with push-pull for coil splitting all the pickups (since the guitar came with four-conductor 57 classics), similar to the new Kirk Douglas SG. I also wired the middle pickup and the bridge pickup be like satellite pickups, so when the toggle is on the bridge position, I can isolate the middle pickup or the bridge as well as blending the two, something that couldn't be done with the stock wiring. This has opened an entire world of versatility.

    I'm much more of a Les Paul guy but after all these modifications, the SG has consistently found its way on stage with me the majority of the time. It doesn't sound quite as good as my Les Pauls, but it does it's own thing well and is so incredibly comfortable, versatile, and classy. I've included links to pictures and a new video with the mods (I was still using the Joe's Vintage vibrola at the time, but tone is quite similar with the new Allparts vibrola I have on it). Thanks for following along and checking it out. Hope this year's a better year and that we can get back on stage.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/KdwmuDuQhMpCEwW57

     
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  10. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    Cool SG3 with the Vibrola, nice !
     
  11. JACK N HILL

    JACK N HILL Member

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    CONGRATULATIONS on your new Axe, Bro. WOW, you got rid of the SG 'Original'.......if it had a Maestro, OOOH I mighta kept that..Toss-Up ? ...but thats just me.

    I even got one of those 3 Pup SG Sideaways tremolo's, 2 in fact, in 2019 but both guitars had to go back....the 1st had a rotted fret-board (ICFBI !) and on the 2nd one the Vibrola handle would not fold down when not in use as it hit the cable, FFS !

    Too bad too, as the 2nd one was the Bomber I was looking for Tone-Wise, w/3 '57's, it flatout screamed (All Gibson SG's do but this one was an almost unique sounding Guitar !)...it was a shame it had to go back, but I just could not keep it like that as it was right out of the factory...... For my $$$$ the Guitar just has to work correctly as designed and have as few flaws as possible....So, I got a 2019 SG 'Original' w/Maestro instead, IGTY....... I have been over the Moon with that Guitar ever since, was perfect right out the box !.Gave it a good beating today AAMOF ! BUT, I did want to keep both of the 3 Pup Sideway Vibrola SG's because it looks so BAD-A$$, WOW they are really GREAT looking. Like many players, I wanted that Billy G look, and with the Gold Hardware and Black Beauty paint job, it was sensational. I would have pinstriped the guitar like Rev Willie as well, too bad the handle was badly placed as I would have kept it no doubt.

    BUT, I ended up with the '19 SG 'Original' w/Maestro that has 2 '57's in it and it SCREAMS ! it is a very close 2nd to my 2017 SG Standard w/'57's.........and that is saying something as that Guitar is, WOD, the best Non-Les Paul USA Line Gibson I have ever owned/played.

    Anyway, I am glad you got a good one, they are soo classy they are Bad To The Damn Bone !!! and w/'57's in any SG.....you just cant lose !Again, CONGRATS !
     
  12. semka

    semka Member

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    Mine had that too, but it was an easy 30 sec fix with adjusting two screws a little bit. You should have kept it, it was just a "usual" Gibson's slip-up during setup.
     
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  13. hi13ts

    hi13ts New Member

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    Yes, indeed. Jack N Hill, the sideways trem is adjustable. All you had to do was tighten the the nuts under the cover. As you would adjust the trem claw in the back of a Strat to your preference, you can do the same with the sideways trem.
     
  14. Huntroll

    Huntroll Active Member

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    See if you can find a vest to wear for your gig, like the one Carlos S. wore at Woodstock.

    Matches the guitar IMO.
     
  15. JACK N HILL

    JACK N HILL Member

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    OW-OWO-OUCH, IDK about this website back then.....BUT, I took the guitar to a Gibson Authorized Service Center and the Guy told me to send it back...DANG ! I wanted to keep it too ! But with a defect like that, I was torn up !
    I thought about maybe putting washers in the joint where the handle folds into playing position to develop some space....BUT NO !

    Excuse me while I go kick myself in the A$$ AGAIN !! OMG !
     
  16. JACK N HILL

    JACK N HILL Member

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    OW-OWO-OUCH, IDK about this website back then.....BUT, I took the guitar to a Gibson Authorized Service Center and the Guy told me to send it back...DANG ! I wanted to keep it too ! But with a defect like that, I was torn up !
    I thought about maybe putting washers in the joint where the handle folds into playing position to develop some space....BUT NO !

    Excuse me while I go kick myself in the A$$ AGAIN !! OMG !
     
  17. JACK N HILL

    JACK N HILL Member

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    WOW, I cant get that one back now either.....I took off the Tremolo cover as I wanted to Block/lock the Tremolo, it looks sooo BAD=A$$ !!!!...and I called Gibson too and they said the tremolo could not be moved..I figured if I could move the entire piece 1/4" towards the input jack it would be workable.IDK If I asked the wrong question or the Guy on the phone just did not know..or both and then some....FFS !

    The Authorized Gibson SVC Center I took it too couldn't do anything and said 'Send it back', and after getting 2, that had problems I decided to not get a 3rd and I got the SG Original w/Maestro, really COOL chromed guitar, and have nothing but praise for the li'l Cannon......but that Black Beauty SIdeways Tremolo w/3 '57's in it? It will forever be 'The ONE that got away', till maybe I get one used...DANG !

    I actually feel sick to my stomach right now.......
     

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