Gibson SG: Why you need to buy Satan’s Guitar!

You are looking to buy a new guitar? You think about a nice Gibson SG?! Trust me, you are on the right path — buy a Gibson SG! Not just because it is made out of a great mahogany body and neck, it has a rosewood fingerboard, or the pickups allow simultaneous parallel use. No, it just looks damn good! And there are some more good reasons 🙂 But let’s start from the beginning!

A brief history of Gibson SG Guitars

The Gibson SG has been around since the end of 1960 and SG stands for “Solidbody Guitar”, or like real-hard-rockers would say “Satan’s Guitar”. Why did the SG appear at the end of the sixties? In the sixties, sales of Gibson’s popular guitar Les Paul declined. Therefore, a new model had to be created, which was hoped to bring back the sales. At the end of the sixties the production of the classic Gibson Les Paul guitar was stopped and the “Gibson SG Les Paul” was brought to the market to compete with Fender Stratocaster which got more and more attention by musicians. In the following years all SG Les Paul models were renamed into SG – without the “Les Paul” name on it.

What makes the SG guitar so special?

The body and neck of “Satan’s Guitar” are made of mahogany wood. Mahogany wood gives the sound a particularly soft and balanced sound character, which is why the guitar has a beautiful long sustain.
The fingerboard is made of rosewood wood. Rosewood has a very high density and produces a full, powerful and harmonic sound.

The combination of both wood types provides the unique sound of an SG which let it sounds very natural. This base will help you to get every sound out of your guitar, to boost it or to shape it further to create your own individual Gibson SG sound for your band.

Gibson SG Models

The Gibson SG model fold is enormous, since 1960 there have been different models with different names such as Standard, Special, Custom, Junior and different Reissue variations. There are also replicas of Epiphone and other guitar brands from the SG. 

In the following I would like to provide you a small overview of three different models with the corresponding characteristics and pickups.

Gibson SG Standard

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood / Palisander
Bridge Pickup: 490 T
Neck Pickup: 490 R

Gibson SG Special

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood / Palisander
Bridge & Neck Pickup: P-90 Single Coil Pickups

Gibson SG Standard Reissue VOC

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood / Palisander
Bridge & Neck Pickup: HH

Which pickups are used in a Gibson SG?

Depending on which Gibson SG model you choose, different pickups are used by the SG as standard. The following pickups are used for the neck or the bridge at the SG:

P-90 Pickup

This was the first “original” pickup that was built on Gibson Les Paul. The p-90 pickup provides a rough and dynamic sound with a solid, powerful and soft sound that is particularly suitable for rock and blues.

490 R and 490 T Pickup

The 490 is the improved model of the P-90 and differs only slightly from it. The PU-490 was Gibson’s first humbucker equipped with Pole-Piece-Spacing. Pole Piece Spacing ensures that the poles are able to follow the string spacing more precisely and thus catch the sound better, so that a better signal can be captured from the pickup.

498 T Pickup

The 498 T pickup from Gibson provides a louder output which sounds a bit more centered and powerful. The higher output is achieved because the pickup has more turns of the wire in the pickup, giving the sound more punch.

Check out these Pickups for your Gibson SG!

There is no specific formula which pickups you should use for your Gibson SG. However, if you want to make more unusual music and squeeze out certain notes of your guitar. This list may help you find the right Pickup for your Gibson SG:

Gibson 57 Classic Plus

  • Creates a warmer, bigger and clear tone
  • Higher output and very precise
  • Good for classic rock, smooth sounds but also for distorted “standard” metal.
Tip: Use the “Classic Plus” in the bridge position and a Classic in the neck position.

Seymour Duncan Standard Humbucker Jeff Beck

  • Brings more beautiful harmonics
  • Supports the natural sound of the Gibson SG
  • Good for Hard Rock tones and clean parts

Lace Bill Kelliher Signature Dissonant Aggressor

  • Clear, harmonic and precise tone
  • Noiseless with a powerful output
  • Good for down tuned metal

Artists who played a Gibson SG?

In the rock, punk and metal world there are some well-known guitarists, who always have the Gibson SG with them at various concerts around the world. For many it has even become the trademark. The most famous representative is certainly Angus Young from ACDC, who is shown on every album cover with a Gibson SG, especially often in the famous Cherry design. Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, on the other hand, has made the dark black design of the Gibson SG famous. Black Sabbath belong with songs like “War Pigs” or “Looking For Today” to one of my absolute favorite bands – which is why I decided to go with the Gibson SG. Eric Clapton, probably one of the best-known and best guitarists on this planet, used the Gibson SG from Cream in his time. Other artists like Daron Malakian from System of a Down, Robby Krieger from the Doors or Pete Townshend from the Who have also used Gibson SG for various records and concerts. You see, different masters of rock and metal use the Gibson SG, what are you waiting for?! Get your Gibson SG and rock out!

Is a Drop C tuning possible on a Gibson SG?

You wanna play the dark tones on a Gibson SG? No problem! The Gibson SG can be used for the real heaviest music if you want to — but you should look out for a few things. But you should use bigger strings I suggest minimum 12 – 56. Perhaps, you then might have to enlarge the guitar nut when you use bigger strings.
Martin Schulze Weischer

Martin Schulze Weischer

Martin has been a musician since 2005 and has written and released several albums with various bands from the rock, punk and metal scene.