Gibson SG Standard
Gibson SG Standard

SG Standard, SG-Shaped Guitar from Gibson in the SG series.

King Loudness 04/27/2011

Gibson SG Standard : King Loudness's user review

« A killer, but sometimes inconsistent rock guitar »

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The USA made Gibson SG Standard is a guitar first designed in the early sixties as an update to the then outdated and fading Les Paul Standard. It was a much sleeker guitar than its sibling, and that's still true today. It's very contoured and much lighter than most Les Pauls or single cut/carved top guitars. However it still is able to retain a lot of that Gibson thickness and low end that the guitars are known for.

The SG Standard has a very thin and contoured mahogany body, set mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard with 22 frets, Kluson tuners, tuneomatic bridge with stopbar tailpiece, and dual Gibson 490R/498T humbucking pickups, each with its own volume and tone control, and a 3 way selector to switch between the pickups. This reissue is based off of the late '60s SG Standard with the larger pickguard, so if you want one based off of the early '60s model, look into the SG '61 reissue.


The SG was designed to be a more ergonomic and easier to play/hold version of the Les Paul way back when, and the same is true today. It's a very light guitar that sits very well on the body. Some of them have a problem with "neck dive" (where the neck will dive towards the floor when you let go for it) but there are ways to control that. The upper fret access is very good because of the sculpted cutaways that are scooped out enough to reach the highest frets. The only thing that hinders upper fret access is the slightly blocky heel for the neck joint, but that is the case with most Gibson guitars I've tried.

Getting a good tone out of the SG Standard is no easier or harder than with a Les Paul or Flying V or whatever else. Because it's constructed of mahogany, it sounds very thick and dark like a Gibson solidbody should. However, because it's lighter and there is less wood there, it is a bit brighter and thinner than say, a Les Paul. It works well for clean tones because of it's balance between dark and bright frequencies. The dirty tones are great as well and they sit in a good frequency range that isn't muddy, nor ear piercingly bright.


I've tried the SG Standard through various Fender, Marshall and Mesa Boogie amplifiers, all with very good results. The guitar excels to me at rock/hard rock based tones because of the 490R/498T pickups, which aren't my favourite pickups that Gibson offers, but they work well enough in this guitar.

Clean tones are very good considering the pickup choice. The neck pickup offers some nice quasi jazz tones and the bridge pickup offers some somewhat country esque tones with the amp dialed in fairly bright and clean.

The dirty tones have a nice balance between thick and bright (IE: Gibson tone and Fender). It holds up very well for classic British tones as well as modern super-saturated American tones equally. I would say the pickups are geared towards the latter, with a slightly scooped mid sound that works well with higher gain tones. It also cuts through very well for leads and sits well in a band mix with another guitar (IE: Les Paul).


The SG Standard is a great sounding and playing guitar that offers a great alternative to the heavy and somewhat clunky Les Paul. The price of about $1,400 CAD is very reasonable for what you are getting I feel, and on the used market they go for sub $800 prices on occasion, which is great. My biggest gripe with the SG is consistency. I've played many of them and there was no rhyme or reason as to which one would be great or which one would be a total dog. I've had better luck with Les Pauls personally as far as finding a good one. Perhaps the fact that they build/sell them for so much cheaper than a fully furnished Les Paul could be a reason why I find so many dogs. Maybe I'm just an LP guy at heart, who knows...

Either way, the SG is a great rock guitar. It's light, plays well, sounds good and has lots of tones available. If you find one that fits you, you can't go wrong with one.