SGs from the 1970s Norlin Era. Pros and Cons.

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by SG Champagne, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Hello, all. I own only one Gibson guitar: June 1979 Standard SG with Cherry finish and stop tailpiece. I bought it used in 1980 for $300. It has no mods whatsoever and is in completely stock condition. The finish is in fine condition with no belt buckle wear on the back. I've played the guitar very little, really, even though I like it a lot. I started playing Fenders about 12 years ago and I forgot how much I like my 79 SG.

    So here we are in 2010 and I've been reading on-line about this era of SGs. This is not a very highly regarded era for SGs. I'm not sure why. My SG is a fine instrument. The pickups are the Super Humbucking pups that the great Bill Lawrence had a hand in designing, and, Mr. Lawrence is a total GURU when it comes to electric guitar electric components. The tuners are Grover. The Schaller bridge and the pups are both made in West Germany, I think.
    These are top notch components!

    What are some of the thoughts of the groups with regard to Norlin Gibsons: Why the "bad rap"? Aren't they in fact excellent guitars? Any other musings on this issue?

    Thanks.
     
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  2. Zeppelin Rules

    Zeppelin Rules Active Member

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    I think a lot of it has to do with the period in the mid 70s, by the later years they had gotten a bit better.

    There were numerous reports of bad quality control, and guitars made out of 3, 4, and even 5 slabs of wood.

    They also made some unpopular looking design changes.
     
  3. njpaulc

    njpaulc Well-Known Member

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    Look at Guitars like the SG1 and SG2. The SG models that were front routed and had the controls mounted on a plastic plate. The tendency to remove as much carving and contouring from the SG body, turning it into a slab. The BIG head. Pancake Les Pauls. Just a lot of bad decisions.
     
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  4. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Bill Lawrence in 1988 stated that he was at Gibson throughout the Norlin period and after. He said that the quality in the early 1980s was worse than the quality in the late 1970s, FWIW.

    My Norlin 1979 SG looks just like the picture of the cherry SG Standard in the 1978 catalog. The big head does not adversely affect playability. The tuners are Grover and still work fine since 1979. The guitar body is mahogany. I can't tell if it is one piece of mahogany or not, but if it is not one piece, it is very nicely matched. Playability not affected. Stock Pickups are, like I said, designed by Bill Lawrence.

    These Norlins have gotten a bad rap. I think that they are a good deal on the used market, if you can find one in fine condition, which may be difficult.
     
  5. oldrockfan

    oldrockfan Well-Known Member

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    the tough part is finding them in mint condition. Seems every guitarist was modding the guitars in that era. I see tons of heavily modded late 70s gibsons. I think part of it was the 60s gibsons were collectable and the 70s guitars were selling for alot cheaper so folks who wanted to experiment used them. I had a late 70s LP that was a good player but weighed a ton.
     
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  6. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    Were the guitar players of the late 70s and later putting DiMarzios in both the SGs and LPs of the day?

    I agree that it's tough to find a Norlin SG with original pups.

    I should have the pups on my SG measured some day. I have no idea what the ohm reading is. I know that they are the factory installed stock "Super Humbucking" pups of that era.
     
  7. guitarweasel

    guitarweasel Well-Known Member

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    I never had a Norlin SG, but I did have a Norlin Les Paul...........for about a nano second. :p
     
  8. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    What was wrong with the Norlin LP?
     
  9. guitarweasel

    guitarweasel Well-Known Member

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    [quote author=SG Champagne link=topic=20225.msg244406#msg244406 date=1262996223]
    What was wrong with the Norlin LP?
    [/quote]

    Name it. Never stayed in tune, poor workmanship, bad sound. Nothing I did to it made it any better.. Even the lacquer started chipping off.
     
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  10. Voxman

    Voxman Moderator Staff Member

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    [quote author=SG Champagne link=topic=20225.msg244406#msg244406 date=1262996223]
    What was wrong with the Norlin LP?
    [/quote]

    [quote author=guitarweasel link=topic=20225.msg244410#msg244410 date=1262996536]
    Name it. Never stayed in tune, poor workmanship, bad sound. Nothing I did to it made it any better.. Even the lacquer started chipping off.
    [/quote]

    I had the same experiences with them too ... and back then they were relatively cheap enough that one could buy many to go thru .. not much luck thou
     
  11. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    "with them" you mean Norlin Les Pauls or Norlin SGs?
     
  12. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    Interesting...not being a Les Paul player, I only had ES-335's and ES-175's made in the Norlin era, and both were fine instruments, well made, good necks, finish did not chip, stayed in tune, sounded good, etc. I wonder if certain models were more affected than others?
     
  13. guitarweasel

    guitarweasel Well-Known Member

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    My only experience was with Les Paul's, seems like they (Gibson) were in such a hurry to crank them out, they didn't care about QC.
     
  14. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    [quote author=guitarweasel link=topic=20225.msg244434#msg244434 date=1263034865]
    ... seems like they (Gibson) were in such a hurry to crank them out, they didn't care about QC.
    [/quote]

    Some things never change. ;)
     
  15. Voxman

    Voxman Moderator Staff Member

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    My experiences was with both, and having my ear to the ground, so to speak. In the 70's, for me, was constant gigging, teaching guitar and working in music stores with lots of constantly changing used inventory. All there was were buy n sell papers and used music stores so you came into close contact with a lot of stuff on a daily basis and also at night at the gig. To be fair their were Diamonds in the rough too
     
  16. TNT

    TNT Active Member

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    If you have the guitar you like, who cares what others think. I would bet that a lot of the slamming comes from owners of earlier SGs and continued by people who have never touched a Norlin. They had some weird bridges, tails, inlay/binding configurations, pickups, volutes, etc. that make them different from before and after the era. As long as the basic quality of build is good there should be nothing wrong with one in of itself, but may require mods to get the sound you need. We won't get into the front mounted control covered ones...
    Just be glad you got yours while it was cheap. Remember Angus' main guitar was a Norlin.
    That being said, Norlin acoustics in general don't deserve the Gibson name in my experience. Maybe Epiphone on a good one. They even screwed up the J45 in those years.
     
  17. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I agree 100 percent, TNT.

    I know feathers can get ruffled in discussions like this. I am new to the group, too, so, I could be suspected of trying to stir things.

    But I am not.

    I am trying to generate sincere discussion of Norlin Gibson SG Special, Standard and Deluxes, especially from people who own or have owned them.

    :)
     
  18. oldrockfan

    oldrockfan Well-Known Member

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    my norlin LP played fine but did have trouble staying in tune and it was extremely heavy. I don't know why that was but it was the heaviest LP standard I ahve ever handled. Course can't really complain too much when you consider I think I paid around $400 for it :)

    There are good and bad examples from any time period with Gibsons. I think the 60s were definately the best chance of a great one but any era gibson can be a good one.
     
  19. guitarweasel

    guitarweasel Well-Known Member

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    That was one good thing about that era. Prices! I paid around $ 500.00 for that Lester brand new!
     
  20. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    [quote author=TNT link=topic=20225.msg244445#msg244445 date=1263054247]
    As long as the basic quality of build is good there should be nothing wrong with one in of itself, but may require mods to get the sound you need. We won't get into the front mounted control covered ones...
    (cut)
    That being said, Norlin acoustics in general don't deserve the Gibson name in my experience. Maybe Epiphone on a good one. They even screwed up the J45 in those years.
    [/quote]

    I'm not so sure about those moon plate front cover SG's.....

    Gibson/Norlin really screwed up the acoustic guitars in the 70's. Apart from the whole "Mark" series ultimate failure money-dump R & D acoustics, the factory had repairs coming back on fomerly good models, and decided to make all the bracing more sturdy - meaning less resonant.

    [quote author=guitarweasel link=topic=20225.msg244449#msg244449 date=1263056774]
    That was one good thing about that era. Prices! I paid around $ 500.00 for that Lester brand new!
    [/quote]

    Amen...I paid 200 bucks for the SG special in the avatar pic....$200 for a Tele....$400 for an ES-335. Definitely was a time to just buy and sell guitars to play, not collect.
     

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