Gibson SG Standard Profile

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History of the Gibson SG Standard

Gibson SG Standard

Guitar Name: SG Standard
Guitar Manufacturer Name: Gibson Guitars
Country in which the guitar is/was manufactured in: US
Year the guitar was created: 1961

As a reaction to the surprising early 1960s slowdown of sales for Gibson's famous Les Paul models, the factory, in 1961, decided to build a new guitar based on the Les Paul design. This new design, featuring most notably a thinner, mahogany body, eventually became the SG. The deep double cutaway was added for better access to the upper frets and the scale of the guitar was changed to 24.75". New electronics were designed and the result was a brand new guitar with very little similarity to the Les Paul. This new guitar was dubbed the "SG" ("solid guitar"). Sales of the Gibson SG were strong from the very start. Ironically, Les Paul himself didn't care much for the new design and eventually dissociated himself from the guitar.

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Gibson SG Characteristics

Gibson SG Batwing

If there is an SG sound, it is clean and edgy with a bit of bite. The SG lends itself well to low to medium distortion effects. Its unusual tone, with each string being distinctly heard, is well suited for classic Rock and Roll. Musicians who find themselves as the only guitarist in a band will often choose an SG as their primary instrument due to its versatility and solid performance.

Sporting one of the most unusual cutaways found on an electric guitar - the double "Batwing" shape (first appearing in 1966) - the SG Standard is a quality instrument. This solid body (and solid wood) guitar is most often made from mahogany although Gibson does use maple and birch in some of their models.

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Gibson SG Construction

SG Vibrato

The SG comes with Gibson's traditional two humbucker pickups and a Tune-o-matic bridge with a vibrato tailpiece as an option.

The SG neck is typically made of mahogany, or on some lower priced models birch laminate or maple. The fretboard is made of rosewood, ebony or maple and pearled inlays are featured on most models.

The body is available in a limited number of colors:

  • Heritage Cherry
  • Natural
  • Walnut
  • Mahogany
  • Classic

Like most guitar makers, custom colors and finishes are available. The SG is well-balanced and comfortable to play and a properly set up guitar needs little or no maintenance. The SG Standard features pearl trapezoid fretboard inlays, as well as fretboard binding and an inlaid "Gibson" logo.

Gibson now offers different models of the SG - the Supreme, the Faded Special, the Menace, and the Gothic. The company also offers reissues of the sixties SG Standard and Custom. Gibson's sister company, Epiphone, manufactures a less-expensive version of the SG.

Gibson introduced the "Robot" SG in 2008, featuring a motorized tuning system in two models, the SG Robot Special and the limited-edition Robot SG LTD. The thought behind the Robot was to cater to players who change tunings a lot, allowing them to due so with little time and effort. These instruments are understandingly more expensive and not often seen at the local music store along side other Gibson guitars.

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Guitarists Who Play the Gibson SG

Angus Young
AC/DC's Angus Young. Photo by Michael Putland | Getty Images.

Perhaps the guitarist most closely associated with the SG is Angus Young of AC/DC. The opening licks of such songs as "Thunderstruck" represent the classic SG sound and a big part of the sound of classic Rock (Gibson offers an Angus Young Signature model). Black Sabbath's own Tony Iommi is often seen with one of his many custom-made black left-handed Gibson SGs and Eric Clapton played a white SG Standard during his time with the power trio Cream in the late 1960s. Here are just a few of the hundreds of famous guitarists who play the Gibson SG.

  • Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong
  • The Who's Pete Townshend
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington
  • Lynyrd Skynrd's Ed King
  • The Allman Brothers Band's Derek Trucks
  • The Doors' Robby Krieger