The History of the Gibson SG Guitar

Gibson SG is an electric guitar model released in 1961 (as the Gibson Les Paul SG) by Gibson, and it has been in production since along with many variants. The SG Standard is Gibson's best-selling guitar model.

Incredible as it may sound, the Gibson Les Paul Standard was discontinued in 1960 due to low sales levels (re-marketed in 1968), and Gibson focused on its new solid body electric guitar model, the SG. This is precisely where the acronym SG, Solid Guitar, began to be marketed in 1961. It is similar to the Gibson Les Paul model, but it is lighter mainly due to the narrower body and double-cutaway (double "cutout" above and below the neck).

The most famous ones

As it was considered in its first two years of circulation (1961-1963) as "Les Paul", the model has the same variations of this other model, of which the main and most popular are:

  • Standard (the most successful and sold),
  • Custom (which comes with three gold pickups, with a humbucker pickup being more than the Standard, and more expensive),
  • Junior (traditionally considered a student model and containing a single P-90 pickup),
  • Special (which in its first stage of circulation had two P-90 pickups, to later have covered humbucking pickups).


There are other later and less popular variations. It also has its version in the bass of the same name in its current circulations, although in previous versions it was called EB (with variations such as the EB-0 and EB-3).

In 1960, sales of the Gibson Les Paul guitar fell sharply, lower than what in other years was seen, so in 1961 the model received a completely renewed body that was slimmer and with two sharp cut horns that made the upper frets more accessible. All these modifications made production costs cheaper, and thus in 1961, the new Gibson Les Paul came out.

The legend not satisfied

When Les Paul saw the model (Gibson did not notify him of the modifications) in a shop window, he wanted his name to be removed from "those guitars" He said that this was not his guitar, but Gibson already had too many protectors made with the signature of Les Paul so the model continued to carry his signature for several more years. Gibson then gave this guitar the name "SG", short for "Solid Guitar".

Different construction woods

The fingerboard is usually 12 inches, the joint of the neck and body is glued, and the wood of the body and neck is mahogany. Unlike the Les Paul, the body is simply Mahogany, without adding the typical flamed maple top to reduce manufacturing costs for the new design.


Although when looking at an SG you only think of the Hard Rock sounds, this guitar is very versatile and usable for any musical genre, unless, for example, it mounts ceramic Paf pickups, in which case it is more appropriate for powerful music.


The SG maintains much of the Les Paul model characteristics, such as the pickup type, but the SG usually comes with a touch more gain or power (alnico 498T - 490R pickups), characteristic of the so-called Modern Classic sound.

Classic SG Guitar Bridges

It also uses a "Tune-o-Matic" bridge (Tom), with the consequent bending of the guitar, just like the Les Paul. A very aesthetically fitting vibrato with this guitar model is the Bigsby vibrato.

Something that they wanted to improve was the weight of the new guitar, so they focused on lightening the new model as much as possible, making it a narrower body, with beveled edges and a double cutaway.

Other specifications

  • The bevel of the edges in addition to giving it a decorative touch lightens the weight of the instrument and facilitates the support of the arm on the edge of the guitar.
  • The neck of this type of guitar is also usually quite thin.
  • The sharp spikes give it an aggressive edge, unlike the rounded shapes of the Les Paul.
  • With another cut across the top of the neck, the pickup selector is positioned next to the volume and tone controls, similar to those on the Les Paul.
  • The double-cut style also allows easy access to the last frets of the fingerboard. The finish of the cutaway is very sharp, so the hook for the strap is at the back of the body, losing a bit of stability when hanging, tending to tip forward a bit.

If you have problems with this, you can remove the hook and place it at the rear of the tip of the cut to avoid the tendency to tip over. From 1961 to 1965 a small pickguard was installed, which from 1965 was changed to a larger one, but today you can find SG models with both pickguards.

Models and variations

The 1961-63 Custom models do not carry the 'SG' insignia, but they do, however, have the Les Paul signature between the neck and low pickup. Standard models have "Les Paul" engraved on the lid. Models produced between 1961 and 1965 have a small pickguard. Post-1965 models have a large pickguard around the pickups (variants and re-editions with the small pickguard are still available, however).

A Junior model similar to the previous Les Paul Junior was also offered in the SG form. This model has a single P-90 pickup and optional vibrato lever. The SG Special was introduced a little later with two P-90 pickups and an optional vibrato lever.

In 1961 a bass line was released, the Gibson EB-3, and today there is another model of the same style called the Gibson SG Bass. The Gibson EB-0 bass underwent some transformations in 1961, which left it with a design very similar to the SG.

In the early '70s, several changes appeared in different models, from the low-cost SG-100 and SG-200 to the luxurious SG Pro and SG Deluxe, but in the late '70s, it was back to the old styles.

Gibson currently offers many variations on the basic SG-style body, including models such as the Special, Supreme, Angus Young Special, Faded, and Gothic.

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