So I didn’t know this was a thing… but it turns out that Gibson turned 100 in 1994, as a result… all guitars built in 1994 have a different serial number pattern, they all start with 94.
This is a Gibson SG Special in ebony with ebony fretboard. I’ve been after one of these for sometime, during the early 90s Gibson used to put ebony boards on SG Specials, I don’t know why, but as you know ebony tends to be reserved for higher priced guitars, so it’s a cool spec to have.
I bought this used a few weeks ago, not only it looks amazing with the dark board but it also has great dot inlays, they are not plain like most.. they have a bit of perloid colouring, which looks great.
Pickups are 490R and 490T, which are not all that special, however… upon doing some research, I found that they sport Alnico II magnets as opposed to Alnico V on the 498 that the SG Standard comes with, I’ve never been a fan of Alnico V, they are not articulate and clear like Alnico III, and Alnico II are slightly stronger than III but a lot less stronger than V, so I was keen on trying these out.
All in all the guitar plays great, the neck profile is like 50s les paul, quite chunky which seems to help my vibrato, the playability is very good and quite slinky for some reason.. and I use 10s.
I recommend you get one of these if you see them out there, I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite SG but.. being the underdog makes it a lot more special and the combination of the Ebony finish with the dark ebony board and the uncovered black pickups… makes it a hell of a looker
Is this different to my other 61 Custom Shop? Yes…
For starters.. the colour is different, 61 CS Standards used to have this very light cherry colour with a fine nitro finish, now this have this much darker wood with of course a fine nitro finish.
As all Custom Shops, they come with Custom Buckers which for me are one of the finest pickups out there, it pairs so well with the SG.
But this guitar feels different, Gibson seems to have stepped up their game and are putting a lot of energy into every guitar, I’m not talking about accuracy of recreating a specific year, I’m just talking about making a damn well made guitar, this is an absolute rock machine, and I might have uses this term before… but I mean it this time.
I have now 9 SGs, 4 are custom shops and the other 5 (including the SG) are somewhat special SGs, I only have one standard from 2006 that I kept.
So You can trust me when I say that this SG is just badass, it has become my number 1 straight away, replacing the 64 reissue… which is now my number two.
So what is it? Well… to be honest… is everything, everything belongs together in this guitar. It just feels like home and the pickups are extremely perfectly balanced, I get just the right amount of feedback when needed, and it’s the nice type of feedback… the one Angus gets on stage.
Yes… another SG, this one took me a while to get, and I sold a few to get it, I found my self having 9 SGs and only using 3 or 4, it seemed wrong and I wasn’t comfortable with having unused guitars just hanging there.
So I published a bunch on on reverb and sold within like 3 days. I bought a few Marshall cabs and then this gorgeous SG came up for sale on reverb, my first Gibson Custom Shop
What an instrument! I don’t know what they do in the custom shop but playing one of these is like playing your favourite guitar, the one that just fits you…. maybe I got lucky but I doubt it… i think that is the purpose of a custom shop Gibson, to just… deliver what you need.
The finish is perfect, the intonation… perfect, the looks… perfect, the thin nitro finish… perfect, the smell of the case… perfect too! It smells like the nicest Gibson ever, Gibson owners know what I’m talking about.
It comes with PAF pickup replicas, in theory they use the same machinery used back in the 60s and pickups back then had uneven amounts of turns of wire… because apparently no one counted them, so they also replicated this process and people go crazy for these PAFs! I only just realised this. Owners are always changing pickups around but apparently Gibson Custom Buckers PAFs are probably the only ones that doesn’t get swapped.
The sound is nice, well formed, very balanced, slightly mid rangey, I’m not sure if this is the Custom Bucker or the bumblebee capacitor, the resistance is 6.8 on the bridge and 7.86 on the neck, I think the bridge could use a little more power, but the sound is still great and you can get very sweet sounding cleans and devilish distortion too!
So… is it just another SG? Yes… of course, 2 horns, fat bottom and 6 strings, so what? Well… this one has the nice bevels, great looking tuners, the hardware is nickel which I loge because it looks like it’s been there for ever, and the most important of all… it has a very thin coat of nitrocellulose paint… which in theory allows the wood to breathe and resonate more, I don’t really think that’s true or at least impossible to prove… but… I love a nitro finish, it just looks great!
How does it play?
This is what I’m most amazed at, it just play as the nicest guitar you can possibly have, the first time you pick it up is like you’ve had this guitar all your life and you know everything about it, it might be the setup, it might be the size is just right, it might be the shape of the neck… the thin nitro on the back of the neck helps too. I truly don’t know what it is but… they have something different to Standard ones, it feels exactly like my 1971 Standard, like the wood has already settled in the instrument and the wood said “ok… this is my job for the rest of my life… I accept it… and I’ll behave”
Is it worth it?
Ah! The million dollar question. For me… it’s a resounding yes, I bought it used (like all my gear) so I paid half of what it costs new and getting a good deal always makes you feel better about the instrument, but money is relative… and the question here is… does it play twice as nice as a regular standard? I think it does… maybe not twice as good as my favourite Standard…. but it plays nicer than that one too… and I’ve bought many SGs before keeping only one standard…. definitely spent more then 4 thousand dollars on that journey, but the journey was great and it makes me realize how good this custom shop is.
So… should you buy one? YES! Go and play one somewhere… but don’t buy a new one… these custom shop cost a fortune and they lose a LOT of value as soon as you take it out of the shop.
I know I know… this is not a guitar but, it is a Bass Guitar, so I’m ok to post it here.
As you probably already guessed, I am a guitar player however I’ve been recently asked to stand in for a bass player in a band for a few gigs and even though I was offered a bass I thought this was a perfect opportunity to add yet another instrument to my “collection”.
I’ve always loved the way the Thunderbird looks, it has “rock music” written all over it, not sure if it’s because of Motley Crue or not but it just does. So I love the way the bass looks however I wasn’t keen on spending over a grand on this because I’m not a bass player… (meaning my wife would kill me) so I went on to ebay and started looking for basses, I looked at a few models and brands mainly because I read some not really good comments about the Thunderbird, players complain about the nose dive and about pickups being a bit muddy, I say… beauty comes at a price and closed my eyes and hit “buy now” on an old Thunderbird including a hard shell case. so it sounded like the perfect deal, considering the case for this bass is pretty hard to find due to the size of the instrument (yes, it is larger than other basses).
Moving along to the actual review of this bass…. I think it’s great, the pickups are a bit dark, but most of the bass amps bring an EQ which pretty much takes care of this issue, the nose dive has been fixed in newer models I believe… by changing locations of the strap buttons, but mine is an old version made in Korea (don’t get me started on the Korea vs. China Epiphone quality) so it does have a bit of a nose dive, but… when you are playing you can put a bit of an extra weight on your right arm and that does it… don’t stress your left hand, this one should be busy flying through the fretboard.
It’s a great instrument, I’m not sure if it’s the best for the price but as you can tell from the pictures, the bass looks amazing! you will get loads of compliments! (for the bass… not for you).
So… Of course your question is… “what the hell is an Epiphone doing here?…” Well, I like Epiphones, and let’s be honest… loads of us have started this amazing hobby/profession using an Epiphone or a Squier.
But this is no ordinary guitar, this is the angriest Epiphone of them all, it’s got world class features such as: ebony fretboard, Grover tuners, flame maple top, and last but not least EMG active pickups (models 81 and 85). This combination is a killer, also the fretboard is quite chunky like an SG standard so it’s great for shredders which I’m not one of them but I do enjoy every now and then picking up my axe (keeping the shredders lingo) and play a bit of Megadeth or Judas Priest.
Apart from all the amazing hardware this guitar is beautifully made, the transparent black flame maple top is very neat and let’s not forget about the inlays which now they have taken a blade type of shape… they just add up to the sort of dark theme going on, and this is the reason why I got this guitar. I used to play my Heavy Metal/Trash Metal tunes on my SG or on my Strat, but that just doesn’t feel right, I’m not sure if it’s just me but certain types of guitar make you play certain types of music, is like trying to play Back in Black (yes… by AC/DC) with a Sratocaster, it just doesn’t work.
So, now I can plug in this beauty to my Marshall TSL, hit the third channel and shred away (ahem… pretending to shred) with a nice biting sound.
These are not that easy to find and I like to think of them as bit of a unique guitar and probably one of the best ideas Epiphone has had, so if you can find one… buy it! and keep it! I’m not sure how they were able to produce this amazing guitar and still maintain the Epiphone budget but hey… I only buy and play guitars, I don’t make them, at least for now!