Last update: 612/2023.
Some guitars are identified so well with the players that played them that you can’t really picture them playing something else. Hendrix wouldn’t be Hendrix without a Stratocaster, and Jimmy Page in concert, lives on in most people’s minds wearing a sunburst Les Paul slung way down low. So when you think of the Gibson SG, Angus Young from AC/DC may be the first that springs to mind.
Table of contents
And rightfully so – as guitars go, the Gibson SG is a mighty fine example of what makes a great instrument. Many different SG models are available, but we’ll look exclusively at the SG Standard.
Gibson SG – Our review
Like other iconic guitar designs, you certainly know an SG when you see it. The Standard has that distinctive ‘double horn’ shape, constructed from a solid piece of mahogany. It’s available in two different old-school nitrocellulose finish choices (Heritage Cherry and Ebony) that have been classic for years.
The neck is also constructed from mahogany with a rock-solid tenon neck joint (instead of a bolt-on design) that’s topped with a genuine rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets installed. The fingerboard is bound, which serves the dual purpose of eliminating any sharp edges while adding a classy touch. A Graph Tech nut helps to round out the entire package.
Electronics and Hardware
There’s nothing decidedly fancy or ‘newfangled’ on the SG Standard regarding the hardware and electronics options. And you know what? That’s not bad – often, working with a tried setup may be your best option.
You won’t find any tremolo bridge here – the SG Standard has a stop bar design right off the shelf, including the classic Tune-O-Matic bridge.
The tuning machines are Grover Rotomatics, which is sure that tuning up will be smooth and accurate. Two humbucking pickups – a Gibson 490R humbucker (neck position) and a 490T (bridge position) – are loaded onto the SG.
They are controlled with the classic Gibson two-volume/two-tone knob setup and a three-way pickup selector switch. Simple but effective!
Gibson SG – No hard case
One thing we would have liked to see differently: while Gibson provides a soft shell case, a hardshell one seems to make more sense to help protect an instrument at this price point.
There’s no doubting the SG’s eye-catching appeal, but looks don’t mean all that much unless the guitar performs where it needs to – and here is where the SG Standard shines. The body profile is thin enough not to be too heavy.
The combination of the rounded neck profile, the medium jumbo frets, and the bound neck make for a playing experience that has to be experienced to be appreciated.
And the tone? The Alnico II setups in the 490 humbuckers make it a piece of cake to get that classic rock tone all night long.
SG Standard Specifications
|Column 1||Column 2|
|Finish: Gloss||Nitrocellulose Lacquer|
|Scale Length||24.75″ / 628.65mm|
|Number Of Frets||22|
|Nut Material||Graph Tech|
|Nut Width||1.69″ / 43.05mm|
|End of Board Width||2.26″ / 57.4mm|
|Bridge||Aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic|
|Tailpiece||Aluminum Stop Bar|
|Tuning Machines||Grover Rotomatics w/ Kidney Buttons|
|Pickguard||Black 5-ply Full Face|
|Control Knobs||Black Top Hats with Silver Reflector|
|Electronics||Neck Pickup 490R|
|Controls||2 Volumes, 2 Tones & Toggle Switch|
|Strings||.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046|
|Case||Soft Shell Case|
|Accessories||Includes Gibson Accessory Kit|
What is the Gibson SG good for?
The Gibson SG is great for a whole range of musical styles. It’s great for rock, hard rock, metal, and blues genres. It’s not overly heavy, especially when compared to a Les Paul, which is around twice the weight at a round 12ibs or 4 kilos. That makes all the difference if used for extended stage performances.
How good are Gibson SGs?
Gibson SGs are known for producing rich, warm tones with great sustain. Gibson SGs are considered top-tier guitars. They are played by lots of iconic guitarists, which says a lot. To name a few, Angus Young, Pete Townshend, and Tony Iommi.
Is an SG like a Strat?
While both the Gibson SG and Fender Stratocaster (Strat) are iconic electric guitars, they have distinct differences. Here are a few key distinctions:
Body Shape: The SG has a double-cutaway, solid mahogany body, while the Strat features a double-cutaway design with a contoured body made of various woods.
Pickups: SGs often come with humbucking pickups, which deliver a thicker, warmer tone with less noise. Strats typically have single-coil pickups, known for their bright, clear tones, but may be more susceptible to interference.
Neck Profile: SG necks are slimmer and have a faster-playing feel. Strats generally have a slightly wider neck profile.
Sound: SGs are known for their powerful, sustain-rich sound, making them a rock and metal favorite. Strats are renowned for their versatility, suitable for various genres, including blues, rock, pop, and much more.
So, while both are exceptional guitars, they cater to different playing styles and tonal preferences. Your choice between an SG and a Strat depends on what you want to play and your personal preferences. They are both great guitars; ideally, spend time playing both if possible. Doing that should make it clear which is the better guitar for you.
Gibson SG Cons
A neck dive is a problem for the SG. Neck dive means the guitar’s heavy headstock will feel like it wants to dive down because of how its weight is distributed. In a nutshell, the neck and headstock weigh more than the body.
Overall, there isn’t much at all that’s decidedly bad about the Gibson SG Standard. On the contrary, we have found it an electric guitar with that almost perfect balance of great looks, playability that takes minimal effort, and impressive tone.
Is it the cheapest guitar on the market? No, it’s not – but sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra to get a professional class instrument that delivers the goods.
Transparency disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. This commission comes at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services that I believe are helpful and valuable, and we never let the potential for a commission influence our recommendations.