2nd special SG in my collection, the first one was the ebony board one and this one.. was an accident.
I tend to place bids and then forget about them, 99% of the times I usually lose the bid… but this time it was collection only and the guitar was filthy
So based on those factors, no one really placed any bids and to my surprise… mine won :).
I went to pick it up not being too excited as I really didn’t want it, having so many standards and custom shops… I wasn’t excited about just a special faded.
But you know how it goes… when you least expected is when you are surprised the most (not always!). So I pick it up… take it home… and the next day I went for a cleanup, man… the amount of sweat on this fretboard, i had to scrape it off, then do lemon oil, then scrape a bit more…. Even the back of the neck had to be scraped! Being unsealed wood… they seem to pip up a lot of dirt.
So once I finished with the neck… I did a good clean to the body, and then…. i used the instrument food from Monty’s guitar, again… as being unsealed wood… I was excited to try the clear instrument food.
I also used the coffee one on the fretboard because it give it a nice shade and males the pattern stand out.
After like 2 hours of cleaning and changing strings… I plugged it in, I loved it instantly. The neck is chunky just like the ebony special, the frets are well defined and on the big side, the pickups… Alnico II 490/498. i love these, much better than Alnico V which I believe the SG Standard comes with.
These specials are becoming my favourite! They do rock, you can beat them up a bit more , they are just a rocking machine with nothing fancy on them.
Debatable! Of course… probably the most debatable subject on guitars, us musicians are weird people, we love one thing today and hate the same thing tomorrow and we start tweaking things until we go “oh man.. I loved how this thing sounded yesterday “ we are almost never happy with what we have for more than a week.
Well… sort of, we get used to a sound and this will sometimes stop causing an impression on us… when something blows your mind out it’s because it’s new… fresh… different. But we often just get bored and our brain sort of fills in the blanks and the sound just becomes “standard”.
I’ve experienced this many many times. Now… I’m in a different mind set… I have enough guitars and amps that I can just switch stuff around when it’s just not working… this made me understand that sometimes one thing sounds better than the other, it could be us… could be placebo… could be voltage, humidity.. who knows! But… I try not to tweak things (apart from volume, treble, mids, etc) I’ll just swap guitars… and try again.
I stopped modding guitars (as much as I can) the guitar has to feel right… if it doesn’t… there is no mod that will make it “better” or more suitable for you, and once you break that “mod seal” there is no going back… and there is no end on the amount of mods you can do!
One of my Custom Shops sounded just slightly darker than others and there was something about the volume pot that I didn’t like… but I love the guitar… it feels like home… but that volume pot…just.. was weird. So I changed it with a vintage spec 550k ohms, and boom! There it was… missing piece.. feels perfect.. never touched it again and I play it a lot!
I had another custom shop.. that came with 57 plus humbuckers.. which I hated.. too nasal and bright.. I went ahead and purchased some custom buckers and installed them… got rid of the 57s. It sounded better… but I still wasn’t getting along with the guitar… it felt “stiff”. I ended up selling it because when I kept “rotating” guitars… that one never ended up pleasing me.
I’m a true believer of “magic dust” inside the guitar… the good ol’ mojo… if it has it… then maybe some minor tweaks will be acceptable.. if it doesn’t have any “magic” or mojo… then I think no mod will make it much better.
I even try not to open the control cavity if I feel that the guitar is perfect… because you know what? “Ignorance is bliss” if you open that up and you notice something that you don’t visually like… you’ll want to change that.
Just today.. I bought an SG Special that I just love how it sounds! But the pots where a bit stiff because the guitar was filthy!! I did a whole clean up… but pots were still stiff… I opened the control cavity to put some contact cleaner… and guess what… there’s a PCB controlling the pots… I just put the contact cleaner to loose them up and close it quickly before I convinced myself of “upgrading” to one of those fancy wiring kits.
To mod or not to mod… that’s the question… go for the small upgrades… maybe a pot… maybe a bit of a clean… but you know what the best upgrade is? a new set of strings :). And a guitar that feels just right. If it doesn’t feel right.. it is not for you… sell it and buy another one
So… when you see AC/DC live… you see tons of guitar cabs, and you have to wonder… how are these people pushing all these cabs??
Well… That I don’t know… however… you can do this at home pretty easily, given that you have more than one cab.
My recent OR15 purchase was because I wanted to use 4 cabs for a specific gig, and I either had to carry my mesa boogie which is a 295… meaning 2 amps.. 95Watts. Or… I have to buy a new amp to go with my SV20h
Well.. I bought the OR15 and then I remembered I had this Y cable which splits one signal into two different 1/4 inch jacks.
I can now push 4 cabs with these two amps, they also sound pretty similar.
I had one hiccup with the Orange as the cabs are 8ohms each and the OR15 has a minimum of 8ohms load… so.. Palmer sells a device that allows you to connect cabs in series or in parallel, meaning that 2 x 8ohm cabs can turn into a 4 or 16ohm load.
I attached it to the back of the Orange with zip toes tot the grill and I plugged everything in, neat and tidy.
Spent last Sunday at the Birmingham Guitar Show here in the UK, it was a great day, the place was buzzing and there were loads of stands.
ATB had their display of vintage guitars including two 1960 Les Pauls at £300k! There was a nice 1962 ebony block SG. First time I see one of them in person. All in all it was a feast for our eyes.
As I walk past the Orange stand… it comes to my mind a distant memory of me using an Orange at a rehearsal place and quite liking it. So I stopped to see what they had, it wasn’t much… but one of the guys from Orange approached me and talked me through their collection, they had this OR15 heavily discounted because it was in black tolex and apparently hadn’t sold well.
I was with a friend who was lugging his 69SG which he offered me for trying out the amp, these places tend to be loud and it’s hard to really test anything out… but as soon as I plugged in and hit a note… I knew I was buying this thing.
It sounds like something between a Marshall and a Mesa Boogie, it has the Marshall growl but the mesa boogie sustain and body. I heard that Orange amps tend to be a bit on the darker side. This could be true… but speakers play a big part.
It sounds great, it complements the SG really well, it also has great response at al volumes, it doesn’t fall apart if you abuse the gain or the volume.
It’s not made in the UK as it’s not top of the line but still it is a great amp, this black edition i saw it retailing at anything between £550 and £600, I paid £349 at the guitar show!
If you are looking for a small amps that can kick like a mule… try this one out, it’s more manageable than the SV 20 H as it has a master volume and gain knobs, which means you can probably get a clean-ish sound for pedals.
Last week was my 40th birthday, I spent a great week with my wife, my kids (I didn’t have kids when I started this blog) we did all sorts of things, but every year I buy something for myself… like a self-present… however this year was a bit different because I already have everything I wanted.
I swear, I spend at least 1 hour per week browsing through ebay, reverb, etc. Looking at guitars, just seeing how the market is and what is available, but lately… nothing was catching my attention, I already have 10 SGs, 3 custom shops… a jaydee… I think I’m good in the SG department.
But… never say never…. Well… I never had a yellow SG, and who doesn’t like a TV Yellow SG!? Well… I couldn’t find one… but! Andertons in the UK and CME in the US, did a special run of SGs with some really cool colours, green, pink, black/purple-ish/yellow. So… I found one used and it was yellow :). These are a reissue of the 70s SGs, the square inlays, the neck, the slightly smaller frets, and… they created T-Top replica pickups which are somewhat unique.
I went ahead and pulled the trigger, drove an hour to pick it up, in fact I took my son and we saw some sheep and goats on the way, we had loads of fun.
I got the guitar and I instantly removed the old strings, gave it a good clean, a nice fretboard run with instrument food from Monty’s guitars, a bit of fret polish with nomad products, and man. It looks and feels incredible.
The frets are a bit on the low/small side… I got a heavy hand.. I need to work on this, so not my most comfortable guitar to play, but oh boy! Does it look cool!
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
This next experience is related to a few gibson SGs and humbucker pickups.
Do you know what’s inside your guitar? It’s safe to say that we all know more than before… you can find anything on the internet about your guitar specs and whether they are good components or not.
Pots are often ignored, we look at wood, pickups, tuners and of course guitar brand, however pots are critical, think about them as the wheels of a car, you can have the best and biggest engine ever… but if your wheels are worn out or cheap quality then your car will just spin out of control.
CTS. I’m sure you’ve all heard of this brand, it’s probably on 90% of guitars out there, and they are the best of the best, however… they can be even better… there’s a company called RS Guitarworks that worked with CTS to develop a more authentic vintage taper and a more realistic value of the pots, humbuckers almost always are installed with 500k pots, however… they are not always 500k, they can be 450, 510, 460, etc. And even though the number is not really important… there’s a reason why they need to be 500k, and this is how the pickup was designed to work, with a 500k pot, because that’s just how it sounds like the developer wanted.
I was tired of having different tapers on the guitars I use live, the taper defines how steep the volume increase/decrease is when you turn the pot. This can be ok for your home guitars because they can all have a different character and you might actually like this, but for live performances you want to be able to switch guitars and at least for me… hoping for a similar performance when using the volume, I manage how much distortion the guitar gets by using the volume on it.
So I bought 4 RS Guitarworks superpots for my main SGs, after 2 hours of dealing with my not great soldering skills I was able to test the first guitar, I was blown away and I don’t say this lightly, I don’t often go around changing things in my guitars. The guitar sound just became more clear and more alive, the old pot probably with a below than 500k reading was holding the pickup down.
The volume taper was amazing, the sound of the pickup was amazing instantly, I was now able to get a crunchier sound by setting the volume to around 5 and then getting an angrier sound when I turned it up to 10.
By the way… I’m not associated with them in any way.
I play in an AC/DC tribute band called Meanstreak, and being able to use the volume on the guitar to control distortion is key and absolutely necessary, to cut a long story short… I can’t recommend them highly enough, they are a bit more expensive than regular CTS but they are totally worth it! Give your guitar a treat and get one of these to try out.
Review of a classic… this pedal has been around for ages, more precisely it was released in the 70s and according to Wikipedia it instantly became a “Nashville Standard” I’ve only had this pedal for 6 months or so, so it’s not a classic for me but as soon as I plugged it in something snapped.
I first tried it with my Eric Clapton Stratocaster, as we all know compressors are sort of associated with chicken picking… and so are guitars with single coil pickups, the sound instantly becomes “studio” like, that was the first thought that came into me… everything just sounds tidier… compressed (of course), if you play “under the bridge” by RHCP with this pedal… you’ll think you are listening to the studio version, it’s pretty amazing.
So… first impressions were great I fell in love instantly and I said to my self “I’ll stuck this pedal to the amp with Velcro and never turn it off again”, however not everything that shine is gold, the pedal is a bit noisy, and what happens is there is a lot of noise when you are not strumming the strings and as soon as you strum.. the pedal compresses the sound causing a “volume difference” all the time which is a bit annoying but I do understand that this is the nature of a compressor, but it could have a noise gate of some sort.
I then moved on to the SG (humbucker guitar) and tone was ok, the best thing about combining this pedal with distortion is the sustain you get out of it… however the sustained note seems to vary in volume as it sustains for longer and longer, making me think the pedal is not entirely designed for this task… however I did hear that Angus Young uses a bit of compression on his Schaffer Replica to get that extra sustain, but we’ll touch on that later since I’ve already pre-ordered a Solo Dallas Storm (mini Schaffer Replica).
I totally recommend this pedal by all means this should be in your arsenal, you can have loads of fun with it but I’m not sure if it would be the 1st pedal I would buy, I think the Ibanes TS9 or a Vox 847 Wah Wah should definitely come in first.
The title of this post is not an understatement… Strings are very important just as important as tyres are for cars, surely you can drive with worn tyres, but you’ll probably slip at some point!
Every time I change my strings I re-discover the guitar tone, that first strum… the first lick you play… it just sounds great and for me it goes… “oh.. have I played this song since I changed the strings? I gotta try it”, but let’s face it changing strings is a pain in the neck, and 70% of the times I end up stinging one of my fingers with the high E so it’s a task that I usually don’t look forward to, the good thing about it? apart from the tone is that we get to buy something for our beloved guitar, whatever it is we just love buying stuff.
But… which is the right string for me!? and this is as hard as searching for your tone or more likely… it’s part of searching for your tone, because as the title states the strings are the soul of your guitar (and your fingers are the engine) and every gauge, brand, material, etc. sounds different some brighter, some darker, some just break all the time and some just “do the job” and we stick with those, but is this ok? should we not experiment a bit more? I mean… they are only like £6 a set, so why don’t we try more brands and gauges and materials? I bet is because you also hate changing strings!
Well… I always used Ernie Balls, either 0.010 or 0.009, because that’s what everyone uses, and it’s just what they usually have at the stores, however we now have Ebay! (I know it’s been around for ages… but I’m trying to prove a point here) and we can buy all sorts of different strings, there are tons of brands out there now, but there is something that recently has caught my eye (or ear?) I saw an interview with Billy Gibbons, and he talks about the time he met BB King and how BB asked him if he could play his guitar… of course Billy was more than happy to do this! and BB goes “your strings are a bit heavy”, Billy of course says “well.. we are just looking for a specific tone and sound”, and this is probably the reason why most of us go with 0.10 because we feel that 0.09 is just too thin and the sound it’s just too thin as well, but BB says “that’s all fine, but the question is… why are you working so hard?” BB was one of the first bluesmen to use low gauge strings (I think they were 0.008) so Billy listened to him and he swapped his 0.011 with 0.008 and never looked back, to the point that he went down to 0.007, and this is where my story begins…
I saw the interview and I thought… I need to try this, so I went online and bought a set of Rev. Willy’s 0.007 and man… was I impressed! they are so good! and the playability is just effortless, bends are easier and the tone is all there! it takes a bit to get used to them because they are thin! you can barely feel the high E, but trust me they sound amazing, I equipped my ’71 Gibson SG with them and I love it.
So… don’t just use 0.009 just go ahead and try! SRV used 0.013 but BB used 0.008 and they both sound amazing so there you go, spice is the essence of life, in our case it could be strings!
Also there is something “new” out there called Polyweb… from Elixir, I haven’t tried those but they are supposed to be great as well!
Have a look at the video, enjoy “La grange” but also at the end you’ll listen at Billy talking about his strings.