I know there are plenty of resources on the web for guitar lessons. Yet, I still keep feeling the need to add more to the list. The problem is, I can never really think of things to write about. So, today, I was playing a Gibson SG and I decided that’d be a fine thing to write about.
First things first…
I’m a pretty big fan of the various Les Paul models. By extension, everyone that knows this (and knows the history of the SG) thinks I’m obviously a fan of the SG models. I am – but not nearly as much as I am a fan of the GLP.
Wait a minute… What’s going on?
Well, I’m going to tell you. That’s kind of what I do!
The year was 1960 and the Gibson Les Paul was not selling very well. In fact, the model had sold less that year than it had in all the previous years. Les was going through a rather public divorce and the Fender Stratocaster was pretty popular.
Gibson, being Gibson, took the Les Paul model, made it thinner, gave it the cutaways so that the higher frets would be more easily reached, changed the neck mounting point, and stole the maple top! (There are some models that have the maple top.)
This made it lighter and made it more easily used to get harmonic feedback that one can control. Terrible idea, really.
Les, being Les, had had no input and didn’t want his name on the guitar. So, it became the SG – which stands for Solid Guitar. It is, as I recall, the number one best selling Gibson guitar.
Personal note: I prefer the weight and solidness of the GLP over that of the LP. There are some other differences and each has a place in my collection, but I much prefer the GLP.
Anyhow, the SG model was released in 1961 and Les Paul didn’t even collect the royalties of $1.00 per guitar.
The SG is a good, solid choice for a guitar player and I’m told that it’s easier for those with less than nimble fingers and smaller hands. It’s lighter and it’s about half the price of a GLP. Also, it’s hard to not feel like a rock star when you’re playing a guitar with horns. So, there’s that.
It’s a great choice for people who want to play bitchin’ solos, but it lacks the natural sustain that you get with the bigger and heavier Les Paul models.
Other than that, they’re fairly similar. I know… I know… But I’m going to go ahead and say it. The Epiphone models are very playable. If you can’t afford a Les Paul, buy an SG. If you can’t afford an SG, buy the Epiphone. They’re built overseas to the same specs as a Gibson, more or less.
The two sound fairly similar (and so much can be done with effects these days) but the Les Paul has a bigger (I’m going to use that word) sound. It has a meaty tone, and that really shines when you’re pumping it through an overdriven amp. It’s unmistakable and there’s a reason it’s a legendary guitar.
As I was thinking about writing a little bit about the SG, I wondered if I’d be able to say just get both. And, frankly, I don’t think most people can justify the expense. Unless you’re really aiming for faithful reproduction, the obvious choice is the Les Paul. You can still get feedback, you just need to spend a little more time figuring out the guitar.
There’s nothing you can do with an SG that you can’t do with the GLP and the added sustain is just worth it. The thicker sound is worth it. The beauty and durability are worth it.
There’s a few things that I say on a regular basis. You’re new to guitar? Get an Ibanez, any model. They’re excellent guitars for the cost. You’re getting serious about playing? Buy a Les Paul – even a Junior is fantastic. You can’t go wrong with a Les Paul.
Now, shut up and play us a song!