I solved my Gibson SG dilemma this past weekend, as I promised I would. I ended up buying a model called the SG3, which was a limited edition that Gibson put out last year. I got the last one at the store I went to. It has three humbucker pickups with a 6-way switch, so you can get all manner of different sounds out of it. I also find it to be very playable for my style. Below is a very bad picture of it.
I'm currently working on programming a Zappa-like distorted lead sound into my Axe-FX preamp to use with the SG3. This SG3 has a lot more top-end bite than any of my other guitars, and I'm finding it quite easy to get that classic Zappa "snarl". In fact, almost too much of it--I'm having to tone the high end down a bit. Zappa's guitar sound in the '70s is very difficult to reproduce, because he used a custom-made preamp circuit built in to his guitars. It contained both a massive output as well as a special filter effect. I'm imitating this by throwing a phaser effect in front of a distortion pedal simulator in the initial part of the signal chain within the Axe-FX. It's not exactly the same as what Zappa did, but it's in the same neighborhood. Zappa also used an effects rack that was approximately the height of a refrigerator with all kinds of expensive effects devices. By the standards of the '70s, he had this amazingly lush and huge distorted guitar sound. I'll never nail the exact sound (indeed, I'd rather have my own sound), but I can get at least some of the combination of lushness and bite that his sound had.
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