Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm still here...

Nope, haven't abandoned the blog or this project. I just had a busy, crazy time last week and have been exhausted. I haven't actually *produced* any music, but I managed to *consume* a lot of it. I saw the band Yes twice within the span of a week, and also went to see Symphony X as well. Not nearly enough sleep was had during that period.

I also played a whole bunch of Gibson SGs at various stores this past weekend, because I'm on a big SG kick at the moment. A couple of months ago, I got a knockoff version of a '61 SG Custom, made by ESP in Japan, but the damned thing, like all the early '60s SGs (and the recent versions that have gone back to those specs) are neck-heavy as hell. Let go of the neck while you're wearing the guitar on a strap, and the damned thing dives right for the floor.

Gibson modified the design in the '70s and '80s to have the neck set further into the body, and that presumably makes the guitar balance better. With that in mind, I've purchased an '86 Gibson SG Special from a dealer in New Hampshire and will take delivery within the next week or so. It's a cheapo variant of the SG, and if I like that one, I'll probably get a more upscale version from that same era. They were all over the stores when I was a young guitar slinger, but I was purely a Les Paul guy back then. I didn't realize just how round and warm the SG tone can be, but still with some bite. The first thing most people associate an SG with is the scrawny, brittle tone that Angus Young of AC/DC gets. But you can get a very liquidy tone out of it if that's what you want--with less of the brightness that a Les Paul has. Very different animals, even if made by the same company. Here's a pic of the guitar I bought. It's very RED:

1986 Gibson SG front

1986 Gibson SG back

Here is my ESP Edwards knockoff of the '61 SG Custom. See if you can spot the structural differences where the neck meets the body:



It's crazy that such a small thing can make all the difference, but playing a guitar that doesn't hang properly from a strap is a very uncomfortable experience. The long-ago Gibson designers must have been having a few too many martinis with their lunches in 1960-61 when they designed that puppy to replace the Les Paul, which went out of production for several years. The original '61 SG's neck joint was so fragile (not a large point of contact with the body) that the guitars started falling apart right away, and Gibson was faced with massive warranty claims. They spent the next 10 years continually redesigning the SG, and finally settled on a design that lasted for basically 20 years--until the vintage guitar craze hit in the early '90s, and the dunderheads at Gibson decided it would be a good idea to make the SG all vintage-y and craptacular again. The original SGs play and sound fantastic (as does my ESP knockoff), but the balance problem is a killer.

Note, however, that I don't know for a fact that the '86 with the deeper neck joint will actually balance any better. I'm basing that hope solely on years of reading about these guitars and playing many guitars of different types. We'll see in a week or so, I guess.

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