What year is my SG Custom?

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Dioesque, Aug 13, 2021.

  1. Dioesque

    Dioesque New Member

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    I bought my trusty old black SG Custom from a used-guitar shop about 30 years ago. I presume a previous owner painted it black (did SG Customs ever come from the factory in black?), and the paint has obscured its serial number. Great guitar, but just out of curiosity I've always wondered exactly what year model it might be.

    I customized it a bit further myself by putting in taller frets (it had those very flat "fretless wonder" type frets that make chording easy but bending hard), adding speed knobs, and installing a DiMarzio X2N pickup in the bridge position. All of the hardware is golden (now pretty faded) except for the tailpiece, which I replaced because the original was badly corroded.

    If it helps, the pickups appear to be what they call "tarbacks" (that's exactly what their back sides look like, a sort of grey-black resin). Note also that its 3 humbuckers are all right up against each other; I've seen some Customs where there's a little bit of space between the pickups, but I don't know what years are associated with that variable. And it has what I've heard referred to as a "harmonica" type of bridge.

    Might those specific details be enough to narrow down what model year this might be?

    (I tried posting photos, but got an error message saying the files were too big. I'll try to figure out what size photos need to be, and how to shrink them enough to fit.)
     
  2. Dioesque

    Dioesque New Member

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    Duly diminished photos now attached: IMG_0227.jpeg IMG_0228.jpeg IMG_0229.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2021
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  3. Go Nigel Go

    Go Nigel Go Well-Known Member

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    That is a beautiful guitar. My guess would be mid to late 1970's, but I am sure some of the more eagle eyed members will be able to chime in with a better estimate. I would rock that thing all day long, and that is all I need to know! :smile: I usually don't go for the solid color SGs, or gold hardware for that matter, but I would happily make an exception for this one.
     
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  4. Chuteboxehero

    Chuteboxehero Well-Known Member

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    That's fantastic! Pop the cover off the back and check the date on the pots. Assuming they're original that'll get you a pretty accurate date.
     
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  5. Dioesque

    Dioesque New Member

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    Do these gut shots of the back shed any further light on its vintage? I don't know what the numbers or codes mean. (Ignore the aluminum foil shielding. I threw that in on a whim one day.) IMG_0230.jpeg IMG_0231.jpeg IMG_0232.jpeg IMG_0233.jpeg
     
  6. Dioesque

    Dioesque New Member

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    One more, if it helps...
    IMG_0234.jpeg
     
  7. Chuteboxehero

    Chuteboxehero Well-Known Member

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    Looks like 3 250k pots and 1 newer 500k CTS. I'd say definitely not original and I don't see any date info on the three 250K's unless it's on the side that isn't visible in the pics. Based on the bridge and pickups I'd guess mid 70s. I have a '74 Standard that came with tarbacks and a harmonica bridge so your's is likely from the same era.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2021
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  8. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Pots are not original.
     
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  9. Dioesque

    Dioesque New Member

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    Which makes certain & precise (year-specific) dating all the more challenging.

    Back to an earlier point: am I correct that black was never a factory-painted option for 1970s SG Customs?

    If so, then mine must have been stripped prior to re-painting it black. The "buckle rash" bare patch on its back, exposing the bare mahogany wood, shows no sign of a previous white (or other colored) layer in between.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2021
  10. RW59

    RW59 Member

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    '72/'73.

    The wide gap between the bridge and bridge humbucker, with all 3 pickups crammed together tells the story.

    In '72 they changed the neck joint, setting it in farther so the end of the fretboard touched the pickup ring (instead of having a gap there, covered by a screwed on plastic panel). That required moving the bridge and tailpiece back also.

    But at first they left the pickups exactly where they had always been, creating a wide space between the bridge and bridge pickup.

    Around '74 they repositioned the bridge pickup, moving it closer to the bridge. With the wider space between the neck and bridge pickups, 3-pickup models then had gaps between the pickups.

    Black wasn't a standard catalog color, but there are documented '73 special order black Customs. Google didn't find references to black '72s (but that doesn't eliminate the possibilty that there may have been a few).
     
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  11. jfine

    jfine New Member

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    A very few early ‘60s Les Paul/SG Customs have turned up in black. They would have been custom orders back then. When I was in college in the late ‘60s, I knew a guy who had one, with a Bigsby on it, but I’m not so sure that his wasn’t a refin. Tom Bukovac, the Nashville session guy, has an original one. I’ve also seen pics of Customs in cherry red and brown sunburst.
     
  12. Dave

    Dave Well-Known Member

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    Very Nice Guitar!
     
  13. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    RW 59 likely has it right...
    And I'm with Dave, yours is an excellent guitar, a truly vintage warhorse.
    The harmonica bridge says definitely seventies
    The fine deep body bevels say mid to late seventies to my eye.
    Gibson serial numbers from the "Norlin" period are nearly useless.

    Consider that a guitar whose serial number has been obscured might well have
    been stolen at some time, by person or persons unknown.
    Maybe it's better not to know.

    But also, there are many Gibsons with serial numbers difficult to read
    simply because of the thick factory paint job. This is especially true of the
    white ones.

    I say rock that sucker...
     
  14. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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  15. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    Your SG was made from 1969 to 1986...

    :io:
     
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