Thursday, September 15, 2011

1961 Gibson SG Re-issue

Como estas?

Today we are looking at a real peach of a guitar I borrowed from a friend of mine a while back. It is a 2010 Gibson SG 1961 re-issue finished in Heritage Cherryburst. This is, of course, a reissue of the first run of SG’s that were ever made.

I have owned a few SG Standards over the years, but this one is quite a bit better, mostly due to the neck and the electronics.

This 1961 re-issue plays the role of an iconic rock instrument, and has a first-class list of specifications and hardware.

For starters, it has a mahogany body that has been sprayed with a very thin layer of nitrocellulose lacquer. You can see the ripples in the grain, and that is a good thing in my book. This SG has a beautiful natural resonance and sustain when it played unplugged, and I think it has a bit to do with thin finish. That and that this guitar comes in at around 5 pounds, 12 ounces, which is ridiculously light for most any electric guitar.

The body shape is a little different, so that the neck heel meets at the 22nd fret instead of the 19th fret, giving a little more access to the notes that I never use. It also gets a different pickguard shape.

The one-piece mahogany neck has a 60’s slim taper feel with a 1.695-inch wide nut, and it is thinner and flatter than any SG (or Les Paul) I’ve ever played. It is very comfortable and has a similar profile from the nut to the heel. It has some nice-looking cream binding and the 22 frets are level and well-done, unlike a lot of newer Gibson products I have played. They seem a little more flat than crowned, but I am putting that aside as an eccentricity of it being a re-issue. It has the classic trapezoidal inlays in the rosewood fretboard, which is another design I never tire of looking at.

The 1961 re-issue gets Gibson 57 Classic humbuckers, and I never realized how much better sounding they are that the Regular 490 series pickups that come in the SG Standard. I A-B’d this one with my Standard, and the 1961 has a fuller sound and loses the tinny-ness that I have in my guitar. I was so impressed with these pickups that I picked up a set to throw in a Japanese Les Paul I have. It has the expected 2 volume pots, 2 tone pots and a 3-way switch.

The rest of the hardware is as expected, with Grover Kluson-style green tuner keys and a tune-o-matic bridge. It has the vintage look nailed, for sure.

And the vintage sound. This guitar plays very well and sounds incredible. I played a little Doors, a touch of Cream stuff and some AC/DC and this guitar sings. It is the real deal.

These guitars are definitely a step up from the everyday SG Standard models, but so is their price. The list price for a Gibson 1961 re-issue SG is an astounding $3299, with a street price of $1999. Start saving your money!