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

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

  1. AxRab

    AxRab Member

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    I had a 1972 SG Deluxe with the Control Cover on the front, Volute and Bigsby that was a great playing and sounding guitar, I can honestly say that the worst SGs ever are the early 70's SG1 and SG2 guitars, totally unplayable, I have never played one that played good, total garbage!!!! I'd swear they were made in Mexico.........
     
  2. barbas23

    barbas23 Active Member

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    the funny thing is all mexican made (assembled?) guitars i tried sound, look and play great :D

    back to norlins i only experienced a friend's 3 color (vivid!) burts LP custom,
    borrowed her for a while back when we played together.
    (he's a bass player)
    had a repaired neck break and was heavy as hell,
    and the guy kept a very low action on her, which i didn't like
    but she was a great sounding/playing axe, nonetheless
     
  3. Tenafly Viper

    Tenafly Viper Member

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    [quote author=AxRab link=topic=20225.msg244476#msg244476 date=1263105975]
    I had a 1972 SG Deluxe with the Control Cover on the front, Volute and Bigsby that was a great playing and sounding guitar, I can honestly say that the worst SGs ever are the early 70's SG1 and SG2 guitars, totally unplayable, I have never played one that played good, total garbage!!!! I'd swear they were made in Mexico.........
    [/quote]
    The SG1 and SG2 are chief examples of why people hate the Norlin era. Cost cutting measures that probably did little to cut the cost and just made for an ugly and as you say unplayable guitar.
     
  4. DavidJ

    DavidJ Active Member

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    Haha! OK here's my SG11 - in all it's glory! Featuring the design changes people have mentioned.

    Front routed
    LP-style pickguard
    Moon Control Panel
    The body is made from two pieces of wood (I don't think the guitar is mahogony - it's too light)
    No neck angle (ie the fret board is parallel to the body)
    Weird pick ups - minihumbucker sized, but single coil, despite what the catalogue says.
    No scalloping on the horns and the body bevels are skimpy

    For:
    It was cheap! (£200).
    I've had it a long time and played it in a few gigs.
    It is actually very playable although it took a bit of setting up.
    In the flesh it looks pretty good in terms of finish etc

    Against:
    The pickups sound more telecaster than SG - not bad, just very different to a classic Gibson sound. With a bit of grit in the amp setting and the tone backed off to about 3 they sound really good.
    All the things people have said in terms of the "non-Gibson" features.
    It was quite obviously built to a price although the quality isn't as bad as some of the posts here would have you think!

    Anyway I like it although it is by no means a classic axe.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Tenafly Viper

    Tenafly Viper Member

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    David, Is the guy in your avatar picture the guitarist from SAHB?
     
  6. mrk

    mrk Active Member

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    I've owned 3 Norlin-era instruments - an EB-3, '72 SG-II and a '73 LP Custom. IMHO they were all finely crafted instruments that played and sounded great. I still have the LP, along with 8 other guitars. Of the bunch, the LP is my go-to axe, unless I'm going for a very specific sound - i.e., surf, rockabilly, etc. And I still regret trading the SG-II.

    MRK
     
  7. DavidJ

    DavidJ Active Member

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    [quote author=Tenafly Viper link=topic=20225.msg244589#msg244589 date=1263321086]
    David, Is the guy in your avatar picture the guitarist from SAHB?
    [/quote]

    Yep, that's him! Zal Cleminson. Saw the band a couple of times in the 70's - they were unforgettable live.
     
  8. Tenafly Viper

    Tenafly Viper Member

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    [quote author=DavidJ link=topic=20225.msg244592#msg244592 date=1263324743]
    Yep, that's him! Zal Cleminson. Saw the band a couple of times in the 70's - they were unforgettable live.
    [/quote]

    From what I understand they were the inspiration for AC/DC. They were a pretty great band.
     
  9. DavidJ

    DavidJ Active Member

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  10. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting the photo of the 70s SG. I was wowed by SGs in the 60s when I was
    trying to keep my mind on my studies (in the middle of the sexual revolution!) and didn't
    have any money to buy guitars. When I'd go to parties that had bands, I'd stand around
    and almost drool, wishing on the SGs... not the Strats really...

    And it's good to hear that there are guys who have guitars from the 'Norlin Era" that are
    okay. That's why the company survived it. The instruments were all made by the same
    people in Kalamazoo, whether their morale was good or not. Pete Townsend would smash
    them whether they were new or old. I always hated seeing that.

    Me, I like my new SG just fine, but I also would like to get my hands on one of those
    "Firebrands." Those were late seventies or early eighties I think. So the answer to the
    original question of this thread is: There were good ones and bad ones, just like now.
    If you have a good one, PLAY IT. And don't mod it. Someone else here said that people
    were too quick to put "hot" pickups in, and so a stock guitar from that era is unusual.

    Also, as usual, Post some pics... we all want to see them.
     
  11. TNT

    TNT Active Member

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    That being said, if I had a '70s SG in good nick but without its stock pickups, I wouldn't go out of my way to find originals and put them in it. I'd just swap in some '57 Classics and be much happier. Probably wouldn't put original tuners back on it either.
     
  12. DavidJ

    DavidJ Active Member

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    I changed the tuners on my SG11 from these:
    [​IMG]
    which were damaged (and horrible), to these:
    [​IMG]
    which were a "near-enough" match to the originals and a huge quality improvement. They are Klusons and have a low ratio and nylon bushes internally. Work a treat and look about right for the guitar.
    I also have a set of mini-humbuckers that I always intended to fit but never got around to:
    [​IMG]

    I get two kinds of reaction to the guitar, people who know little of guitars in general usually say: "really nice looking guitar, I can't believe it's nearly forty years old. Ahh Gibson, they're real classics aren't they?".

    People who do know about guitars usually say: "That's nice, is it a real SG?!"
     
  13. sgtbeefheart

    sgtbeefheart Well-Known Member

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    [quote author=DavidJ link=topic=20225.msg244588#msg244588 date=1263319182]
    Haha! OK here's my SG11 - in all it's glory! Featuring the design changes people have mentioned.

    Front routed
    LP-style pickguard
    Moon Control Panel
    The body is made from two pieces of wood (I don't think the guitar is mahogony - it's too light)
    No neck angle (ie the fret board is parallel to the body)
    Weird pick ups - minihumbucker sized, but single coil, despite what the catalogue says.
    No scalloping on the horns and the body bevels are skimpy

    For:
    It was cheap! (£200).
    I've had it a long time and played it in a few gigs.
    It is actually very playable although it took a bit of setting up.
    In the flesh it looks pretty good in terms of finish etc

    Against:
    The pickups sound more telecaster than SG - not bad, just very different to a classic Gibson sound. With a bit of grit in the amp setting and the tone backed off to about 3 they sound really good.
    All the things people have said in terms of the "non-Gibson" features.
    It was quite obviously built to a price although the quality isn't as bad as some of the posts here would have you think!

    Anyway I like it although it is by no means a classic axe.
    [​IMG]
    [/quote]

    That's a really nice guitar.

    Hard to believe it's nearly forty years old.
     
  14. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    Nice example of a less desirable but still cool SG. I wonder about the pickups....but I think I finally figured out that the half-moon control plate and the slide switches are possibly left over from other Gibson guitars models!

    I'd suggest trying a modern bridge with individual string intonation and saddles, but maybe yours is OK with the string gauge on it.

    Congratulations and enjoy!
     
  15. javamagic

    javamagic Well-Known Member

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    Surely the pickups on there are mini-humbuckers with plain black covers? That's the impression I was always under. :?
     
  16. DavidJ

    DavidJ Active Member

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    Hi JM - No I am finally convinced they are not mini's.

    The 73 brochure say's they are, but it also describes the same guitar as having a T-o-M bridge! A few people on here have said they are too, but a while back I did the following experiment with a screwdriver (I should get out more, I know....)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This (and the sound!) has convinced me they are single coil. The backs are sealed like so:
    [​IMG]
    So I never wanted to break them apart to finally prove it one way or the other. The backs of mini-hums, as you know (I read your posts elsewhere on these and learnt a lot) look very different.

    Quite why Gibson produced a one-off pick-up for a budget guitar escapes me - they must have done the same for the SG100/200, because those pups are unique too. (as far as I am aware).

    PS check out the original cherry colour amd the amount of fading!

    PPS The intonation is ok so I have left the wraparound on. The tone pros version looks nice - I might try it sometime. I did put a bulky Shaller one on for a while but it looked awful and was too thick to get a low enough action.
     
  17. SG Champagne

    SG Champagne Active Member

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    I had never even HEARD of the SG II before you posted these great photos, so thank you very much for educating me.
     
  18. DavidJ

    DavidJ Active Member

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    [quote author=SG Champagne link=topic=20225.msg244709#msg244709 date=1263600405]
    I had never even HEARD of the SG II before you posted these great photos, so thank you very much for educating me.

    [/quote]

    My pleasure and I'm glad you find it interesting. The reason I found this forum a few years back is that I had owned the guitar for a few years and decided to educate myself about exactly what it was. Some very knowledgable and helpful people here helped me.

    I bought it from a friend who had it several years and used it in a band we were both in. He used it mainly for slide playing through his fender twin and the sound of it made your hair stand on end!

    I was with my friend when he bought it and at that time it must only have been 6 or 7 years old and yet it had already faded to the colour it is now and the frets were really worn. It must have had a tough few years early on! I had it refretted when I bought it.
     
  19. barbas23

    barbas23 Active Member

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    do they hum?
     
  20. guitarweasel

    guitarweasel Well-Known Member

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    [quote author=barbas23 link=topic=20225.msg244718#msg244718 date=1263606073]
    do they hum?


    [/quote]

    Only if they don't know the words. :roll:
     

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