Playing the 2018 SG Standard HP for the 1st time...

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Relic61, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2012
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    Catskill Mountains
    I was down around Poughkeepsie yesterday (aka Po-Town) & dropped in a local Music Store to see what Gibsons were in house & available for a test drive. First choice off the wall was a beautiful looking 2018 SG Standard HP in a gloss 'Mohave Fade' finish.



    First impression upon seeing the guitar & looking it over?..
    Just a stunning looking instrument with superb fit & finish & essentially no noticeable cosmetically flawless.

    Holding the guitar for the first time the first thing that immediately came to mind was that she felt heavy for an SG. Not dramatically heavier, just enough to feel noticeable. She also felt rock solid & very stable by the neck & playing it would bear witness to this particular 24 fret neck design being significantly more stable & less subject to what has become known as typical SG neck flex.

    I must admit I was excited and very interested in this guitar before I even plugged in. So off I went to pick an amp & choose a Paul Reed Smith Sonzera 50


    Plugging in..
    Clean channel first with a touch of Reverb to let those notes hang around in the air a bit for proper tasting.. and away we went. Things sounded beautiful just as the amp & guitar were found already set. Tone was full, rich, resonant, articulate & defined. Noticing both pups were on I switched to the Bridge pup & was happy to find little to no volume drop & what was still a full beautiful sound coming out of the guitar minus some low end that really wasn't missed or needing to be compensated for with tone adjustments. Like Goldilocks tasting the 3rd bowl of porridge, this one was just right! And if this was the only pickup that came on this guitar I could easily have been satisfied enough with only having this one pickup.

    Set up..
    Although the intonation was splendid up & down the neck I will confess to spinning the Bass side height adjustment wheel on the bridge down a turn or two (maybe a turn & 1/2 before I had to stop because the low E was getting too near the pup covers & any lower would require also lowering pickup height) to get the intonation effective with the factory set-up.

    FYI: Pup height adjustment screws are now on the backside of the guitar & the strap button has a different location than usual.


    Once the bridge was lowered lowered, that pitch raise due to added string tension during fretting affect was negated & the intonation was now perfect (ok, perfect enough). And, after re-tuning the strings back up to pitch, warming the guitar up to physical contact & some additional stretching of the G string, the guitar (now with store installed manual locking tuners) held pitch / tune for the duration. I was then off for what quickly became an uplifting journey through some chordal progressions, lead runs & double / triple stop country pulls.

    While adjusting height & re-tuning I couldn't help but take time to appreciate the tapered fret over binding design & notice that the binding has apparently gotten a little thinner than what Gibson had been using on recent model years I had played.


    I really liked the look, feel & functionality of this guitar. There was a definite sense that this Gibson was a serious finely designed beautifully playing stringed instrument & something any player would be proud to own.


    Back to playing...
    The PRS amp with a touch of Reverb was a fortunate choice. I was happy & inspired by what I was hearing & found myself enjoying getting a little crazy & exploring territory seldom visited. Soon enough, I was in hindsight definitely feeling carried away to that special place that almost seems to border on a spiritual & out of body experience where thought & musical expression become one in the same. I'm sure that having the glass enclosed display room to myself might have helped that happen. But there is no denying that this SG quickly let me go & spend time in the place I like living in musically. It really was 'Highly Playable' (HP), inspirational, captivating & supremely rewarding musical instrument to play.

    Three way switch..
    All this joyful guitar happiness and I hadn't even tried to solo the Neck pickup yet! Seriously, I spent 20-25 minutes getting wrapped up & lost in the sound I was getting from just the Bridge pup! But when I did finally flip the toggle it sounded full with additional Bass / Low Mids as expected with no noticeable increase in volume or output with sufficient high end for clarity & cut.

    Switching gears..
    I was off to the 'Drive' side (Gain Channel) of the amp to see waazzup! First impression was that I didn't care for the PRS's coloration that the Gain knob supplied as it (to me) sounded & felt more like a Fuzz effect than simply adding some Tube gain characteristics like compression & even order harmonics, but that's my take on things coming into play here & more amp critique than guitar criticism. I ended up turning the Gain way back to just a little edge & it allowed for a more interactive & responsive playing ying / yang experience. Now things once again sounded lovely & expressive with the added ability to get gritty and complex when digging into notes or slamming power chords. Now once again the guitar was interacting with the amp & was responsive, expressive, dynamic & a joy to play.

    Balancing act..
    Overall pickup balance was darn near perfect & every position complimented the other. My only bitch would be the initial string height & subsequent lowering adjustment that left the pups needing to be lowered an additional amount to actually be able to get the action perfect! But if you could live with the height as it was, the pup adjustment & output were perfectly balanced & sounded wonderful.
    Combine those tones with the supreme playability (even with slightly high action) & I found a highly playable guitar that was inspirational & rewarding to play on.
    Combine all that with the perfect fit & finish & we have a real winner here boys & girls.

    All that's left to do to achieve musical instrument bliss now is to save up 2 G's & make one of these babies personal property.

    Additional observations:
    Interesting to note, this rather large music store takes ALL the Gibson G-Force / min e-Tune auto tuning devices off their Guitars & actually knocks their prices down a couple hundred dollars from current high volume on-line dealerships. I couldn't help but say "Wow!" out loud when I heard the sales-dude explain that they do this & WHY! Somehow I felt validated on a very functional real life level as my personal evaluation & feelings around these devices on HP guitars was also held by this store's guitar techs & staff and they were actually doing something about it by making a significant meaningful difference for potential Gibson customers, despite Henry J's feelings on the subject! Gotta love that man.
    Fergyuk, AngelDeVille, Dallaz and 7 others like this.
  2. thetabba

    thetabba Member

    Mar 21, 2018
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    That is a thing of beauty.
    arcticsg and Relic61 like this.
  3. Susihukkanen

    Susihukkanen Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2012
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    Thank you for the awesome written review! I almost could hear the sound of the SG from your text!
    arcticsg likes this.
  4. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Catskill Mountains
    And thank you for you kind words there too buddy. I guess it is rather obvious that I was both pleasantly surprised & duly impressed.

    While I'm prone towards liking Gibson 'things' in general & not only enjoy playing their guitars but also collecting their guitars, literature, amplifiers etc etc, I am also brutally honest when it comes to evaluating a guitar by it's playability, functionality, capability & aesthetic value and simply having 'Gibson' inscribed on the headstock has never stopped me from or saying exactly how I feel about a particular guitar or from calling a bad idea a bad idea.

    It was refreshing to see some very positive changes being made by Gibson on the 2018 & late '17 models I played. Now if only they could grasp the sense to understand players needing an HP guitar just don't need or want an auto tuner on a guitar they are going to perform with professionally, well.. that would be real impressive! But on the other hand, if you read the review I did on the 2018 Non-HP SG Standard I tried you might start thinking that they are also a very viable option due to some recent improvements in that design.

    Here's that link Bub.. hopefully you'll enjoy that one & find it useful too.
    Susihukkanen likes this.
  5. SG standard

    SG standard Well-Known Member

    Jun 29, 2014
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    Thanks for taking the time to share your impressions on the 2018 Standard HP. I've been wanting to hear what people think about these, as they've still not arrived in the UK yet, although it seems they're now in Europe, so hopefully we'll get some soon! Sounds like they're well worth checking out. :)

    Did you get a chance to look at the possibilities the DIP switch(es) offer? Looks like the access panel has some info on it, but I've not heard what the possibilities are. (I'm guessing you didn't have time to try any changes, as I assume you'd need to take that panel off).

    I tried a couple of HP Standards in 2016, and they were both beautifully finished and well set up (ended up buying one).
    Relic61 likes this.
  6. GrumpyOldDBA

    GrumpyOldDBA Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2018
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    Great review thanks! That is one bad ass looking SG.
  7. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Catskill Mountains
    Although the guitar I tried had the body, finish & same visual layout as the one I showed pictures of, it did differ in that there was no obvious push-pull switching in the pots nor was there any description of such on the control panel. I actually did try to lift & push the knobs up & down & felt nothing happen.

    Maybe they engage differently than the DIP switches on my '14??
    The SweetWater site describes the 2018 SG HP rather dramaticly as follows..

    "Gibson engineered their 57 Classic and Super 57 Classic humbucker set to capture the warmth, smooth playing dynamics, and overall character of their breakthrough PAF designs. These pickups sport authentic Alnico II magnets and are wound with 42-AWG enamel-coated wire — just like the originals. The coils are wax potted to ward off microphonic squeal, making them perfect for your high-gain excesses. Traditionally routed through independent volume and tone controls, this dynamic duo serves up articulate, warm voicings from the neck position, soaring liquid bridge tones, and a broad range of sweet crunch in between. And for the icing on the cake, both these pickups feature push-pull controls which provide coil splitting for real-deal single-coil spank."

    That sounds like a similar push-pull as the ones used in the past.
    Although the longtime guitar tech employee didn't mention them changing the pots or ordering their HP's without them. I mean they did have HP's without the G-Farce tuners so... they were either ordered, came that way (most likely) or they changed them out on purpose but the later makes little sense to me.


    If we read the cover plate like you did, the information suggests that there are 5 other switches beyond the Push/Pull Volume Pots.
    Here's a flipped around & enhanced view of that plat that's easier to read..


    I can only assume (ya, hate doing that) that those 5 switchable variables are under that control panel.

    Well, feeling stupidly uninformed I went & found this to clarify these switching options & explain what they do & how to engage them..
    I got this below from It's 2017 info but probably still applies for '18.


    5 controls, numerous tones

    Even at its most complex on HP guitars, Gibson’s tone-switching layout remains simple. 2 volume knobs – but they are both push-pull and 2 tone knobs – but again, both push-pull.

    On selected HP models, there is also the added DIP switch (5 on/off sliders) within the body’s rear cavity that offers huge further flexibility.

    DIP switches 1 and 3 further modify your neck pickup.

    DIP switches 2 and 4 further modify your bridge pickup.

    DIP switch 5 further controls all output.

    The modified options? Let’s go!

    For the 4 rotary volume and tone controls – in the usual place! - down is traditional humbucker, and up is modified. We assume you’re familiar with how the sweeping volume and tone controls work on a Gibson in a traditional manner, so let’s look at each modified option in turn.


    Volume knobs

    Neck Volume knob : Pull up to Tap or Split the neck humbucker.
    Tap or Split is determined by DIP Switch 1 location.
    DIP 1 off = neck tap.
    DIP 1 on = neck split.

    Bridge Volume knob : Pull up to Tap or Split the bridge humbucker.
    Tap or Split is determined by DIP Switch 2 location.
    DIP 2 off = bridge tap.
    DIP 2 on = bridge split.

    What Do You Hear? Tap vs Split Explained

    Tap = Accesses the pickup coils through a filter. Effectively accents a particular frequency range for a “tuned tap”.

    Result = Fatter, P-90 style voice with balanced output. Also offers lower noise and hum than true single-coil.

    Split = Isolates one coil in the humbucker pair. Effectively changes a humbucker into a single-coil pickup.

    Result = Brighter single-coil sound with lower output than humbucking.

    NOTE: The pickups are Reverse Wind/Reverse Polarity to retain hum-canceling operation when both pickups are combined.

    Tone knobs

    Neck Tone knob: Pull up for Out of Phase pickups.

    Out of phase = r everses the electronic phase of the Neck pickup to be opposite of Bridge pickup. Result = when both pickups are combined, a thinner, hollow-type tone with a distinctive mid-range character.

    Bridge Tone knob: Pull up for Outer Coils/Down for Inner Coils

    This determines which coil is active during coil-splitting and tapping.

    Results = The Outer coil of the bridge pickup has a brighter and thinner tone than the inner coil. The Outer coil of theneck pickup will have a deeper and warmer tone than the inner coil. When both pickups are combined, the inner coils will have a distinctive mid-range character while the outer coils offer more balanced highs and lows.

    Further DIP Switch Functions

    DIP Switch 3 is Neck Volume High Pass Filter (Treble Bleed)
    DIP 3 off = out of circuit.
    DIP 3 on = in circuit.

    DIP switch 3 further controls your neck pickup. As a volume control is turned down, high frequencies tend to be attenuated. The resulting sound is darker as the volume is lowered due to the interaction of the coil inductance and the volume pot. The High Pass (Treble Bleed) circuit effectively offsets these losses by passing higher frequencies as the volume is lowered.

    Result = a cleaner, “crisper” sound at lower volumes

    DIP Switch 4 = Bridge Volume High Pass Filter (Treble Bleed)
    DIP 4 off = out of circuit.
    DIP 4 on = in circuit.

    DIP switch 4 further controls your bridge pickup, as above.

    Result = a cleaner, “crisper” sound at lower volumes.


    DIP Switch 5 = Transient Suppression
    5 off = out of circuit.
    5 on = in circuit.

    DIP switch 5 is a further option for recording. “Transients” = A sudden, loud spike from the initial attack phase of sound, pick attack or “noise” for example. Result = Turning switch 5 on suppresses harsh transient noise or spikes which A/D convertors can sometimes pass when recording directly into the high impedance input of a DAW interface or digital mixer. It is virtually transparent when turned on so, bottom line, if you use any digital equipment, flip it on.

    Take control of your tone

    As you can see, these options massively expand the tonal palette of your Gibson Les Paul. From traditional thick humbucking tone, to fat P-90-style single-coils to pure single-coils to out-of-phase and recording options, it’s all here. And that’s without considering the characteristics of the pickups on each different model, or using the volume/tones in the usual rotary way.

    “Chasing sound” was one of Les Paul’s favorite phrases to describe his quest for tone, and Les would surely love what a 2017 Gibson Les Paul can do. Right now, you can be the leader in that chase. Here’s what’s featured on the 2017 Les Pauls.

    4 push-pull volume /tones + DIP switch featured on:

    2017 Gibson Les Paul Classic HP ● 2017 Gibson Les Paul Standard HP ● 2017 Gibson Les Paul Traditional HP

    2 push-pull volume /tones + DIP switch featured on:

    2017 Gibson Les Paul Studio

    Push-pull knobs (but NO DIP switch) featured on:

    2017 Gibson Les Paul Standard T (push-pull on all 4 volume/control knobs offer coil tapping on both pickups, a pure bypass, and phase reverse) ● 2017 Gibson Les Paul Studio T (push-pull tone controls for coil tap)

    Traditional volume and tone controls featured on: 2017 Gibson Les Paul Faded HP, Tribute HP and all T models (except noted above)


    And just in case that is hard to see...



    But the short answer to the question would be, No, I didn't get to try the Switching options & so I can not comment on how they sound. But, I'm sure the new info more than explains it all in adequate detail.
    SG standard likes this.
  8. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2015
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    Bergen, Norway
    Holy Hell, you really need to go to engineering school to operate that stuff... :D
    rotorhead and SG standard like this.
  9. SG standard

    SG standard Well-Known Member

    Jun 29, 2014
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    Ha! Really appreciate all the info! Cheers, thanks for taking the time to dig that up & share it.

    I know the Les Paul Standard HP benefited from DIP switches already, but the SG only got them in 2018. So your '14, like mine, has the coil splitters, but that's all they do. The DIP switches allow you to change what your controls actually do so you can set the guitar up to do what you want - then leave it and just use the push/pulls. All I'd found so far suggested that the SG was getting fewer options than the LP did. I'll read through all you've posted and see if I can grasp the full implications....! I suspect the 2017 info might only apply to the LP which has 4 push pulls, whereas the 2018 SG HP seems to only have 2 - so I assume (yup, I hate doing that too!) there are fewer options than the LP. Nothing new for SG lovers there... :(

    PS Love that Sweetwater quote - you'd think you were buying an orgasmatron. Hey, perhaps you are... :shock:
    Relic61 likes this.
  10. SG standard

    SG standard Well-Known Member

    Jun 29, 2014
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    OK, so it looks like the LP has two extra functions, using the push/pull on the tone controls:

    1) Out of phase when using both pickups
    2) Switches whether the inner or outer coils as used when set to tap or split.

    When I've had (1) available, I've found it very useful, but I've never had the option to do (2), so I've no idea how valuable it would be. And I'm not going to be buying a LP just to find out. :)

    Thanks again for the info, I hadn't been able to find this when I looked.
    Relic61 likes this.
  11. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2012
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    Catskill Mountains
    After playing & hearing that HP SG it just may be the orgasmatron's musical equivalent!

    OK, confession time. The day I played this HP SG I actually looked at a whole lot of guitars, which literally included every Gibson in the store, all in only an hours time prior to the store closing & being asked to bring any purchases to the front check-out & get out!
    So, that's my set-up for my excuse for what I'm going to come clean on.


    I made a mistake. GASP !!! Let me splain sumting to yoos.

    It was driving me crazy thinking about that HP & those switches / push pull pots. It was also bothering me that I seen a Marshall MG50FX (50 watt Solid State 12" Combo w/ channel switching & on board effects) going for just under $120.oo that I wanted to snag before leaving that night but in the rush of it all that didn't happen.

    That meant I officially had 2 good reasons (ok, excuses) to go back down to Po-Town & hit up that music store, and that's just what I did Friday night. First thing I did was get lucky on a haggle deal for that SS Marshall for the 100 dollar bill I had in a rainy day cash-stash spot inside my wallet. He shoots and he SCORES !!

    Then I rolled right back into that money room with all the Gibsons hanging on the wall. Grabbed that Mohave Fade HP down off it's neck stretcher & sumbitch! It did have that sticker on the control cover! I also had 2 Volume pots that lifted up! (but no tone P/P action just as you suspected) Now how the Hell I missed it when I know damn near tugged on every frik'n pot I had gotten my hands on is simply beyond me.

    My sincere apologies for any confusion I may have set down here.

    As mentioned prior, this HP also had the switching descriptions / instructions on the control cover. It also had a diagram that showed 5 internal DIP switches. Those switches however are behind that control cover plate which is held on by 4 Philips head screws. That does not make for easy access & means they are more intended to be left set the way you want things to be for a while.

    So I did plug the HP back into the same PRS amp & tried the push pull pots. Having the bridge pup selected & sounding great I pulled UP the volume pot only to hear things loose treble & bite & sound pretty horrible in comparison for a bridge pup. Did the same thing to a soloed neck pup & got the same mud sounding results. I can only guess what those internal DIP switches are set at.

    Well, there ya go Bud. I hope this additional info helps answer some questions. Honestly, I think it's going to take anyone interested being able to go out to see & feel this guitar in person and actually hear these pups & what they do. Maybe even finding a cool sales person that will let ya access those DIP switches would be something to strive for too.

    One more cool feature that is hard to see in stock file photos of the HP SG's that's worthy of mentioning is that the body consisted of the back half being made of Mahogany & the top half was 2 split pieces of Maple. The Maple cap literally made up half of the body & it looked very cool in person.

    Here's the best I could muster. If you look on the side of the guitar body you should be able to make out a line where the top Maple joins with the back Mahogany.


    That's a pretty big 'n thick Maple cap and something we don't get to see too much on an SG.
    syscokid and SG standard like this.
  12. DFLCC

    DFLCC Well-Known Member

    Sep 2, 2012
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    Las Vegas
    This guitars are awesome; one simple flaw on mine, neck dive like crazy. So much I feel I am fighting it while playing standing and takes all the fun of playing in five minutes flat. While seating it is unnoticeable.
  13. AngelDeVille

    AngelDeVille Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2017
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    That looks like an awesome guitar, when do you bring it home?

    I was looking at the HP SG”s when I decided I had enough SG’s....:wow:

    I haven’t taken the control cover off my 2017 HPV (sounds like a disease), I hope I don’t have dip switches!

    I did ditch the etune for Kluson type tuners. And the shiny metal trc and slippery knobs were too much.


  14. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

    Sep 29, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Tucson AZ
    excellent writeup and review.
    it seems you have been assimilated. Resistance is futile.

    I'm happy with my earlier model SGs with no coil split options,
    and no hidden switches and more traditional wiring.

    For some weird reason, I like the sound of real single coil p'ups
    and I have no desire or need to try and make a hum bucker sound like one.

    I also like the sound of hum bucking p'ups, and I have no desire to try and
    get some 'other' sound out of one. I like the sound.

    When I want the single coil boogie, I play my Epi ES-339 P-90 pro, and get all
    the rawk and kerang the P-90s are known for. Epiphone built a great guitar with
    this model IMHO. I don't own a Telecaster any more, but am gassing for one....
    ... a blonde tele with a black p/g. Tele tone isn't P-90 tone unless the player
    mods it that way, but I like both. For me, the ES with P-90s does most all I

    When I want the hum bucker tone, I play my Gibson SG special that I've modded
    with '57 classic and '57 classic plus, and this guitar gives me everything from traddie
    SG "bell-like tones' to classic SG snarl and shriek, and everything in between.
    SGs and '57s are made for each other IMHO. One of the world's most rebellious tones.
    Which is what it's all about. IMHO of course.

    When I want something unique, I play my Gibson SG special with the mini hum buckers,
    and this one renders UNIQUE TONE in spades. I know the tones of the new mini hums
    are not for everyone, but I'm a fan.

    I'd love to buy one of these modernistic SGs and see how I could utilize its tone
    into my style and my music. But alas, my days of acquiring new guitars on a whim
    are gone. I'm in the turtle-shell phase, like our economy and the state of our
    republic. I've sold off several, and "fostered' a couple with friends, and am now
    trying to learn (again) how to live simply and use a basic minimum of "stuff"
    to do what's really important: to make music and live a good life, and take good
    care of my ailing lady.
    turtle retracted.jpg

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