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.
Continuing with the Rack units… but… I’m not getting a rack… I’ll just use them as heads…
Man is this thing powerful or what?!? So… specs are: weighs around 22 kgs it has 2 output transformers capable of delivering 2x 95 watts each, you can push a lot of cabs! 4 in total if you use the outputs… however… with a cab switcher… you can push 4 16 ohm cabs per channel… a total of 8!! That’s a full Stadium rig!
6L6 and El34 tubes, so each channel has 2 modes.. Class A through the EL34 at 30 watts, or Class A/B at 95 watts using also the 6L6. What’s cool about this… well… apart from having different tones… you can run the channel at 30 or 95 Watts, which makes quite a bit of difference.
In total this unit has 12 tubes, which translates into £200 for a whole set of JJ tubes… it has 2 channels with independent stand by switches and volume knobs, it has 2 presence controls… one for each channel.
The volume knobs are just great, they behave like a hi-fi knob, you can just tame the volume to any level you want, but more importantly the volume sweeps in a beautiful way, there’s no sudden increases or drops like on Marshall amps.
I’m running this power amp together with a Studio Preamp, this is pushing 4 cabs at a total of 4 ohms, and man…. this thing sounds huge! Also loud… but the sound has this 3D sort of thing about it, pretty much like a Matchless, I’m not entirely sure if this Power amp colours the tone or not… but I’ve read that some people are actually using it for hi-fi, so I’m guessing the unit just amplifies whatever the preamp is putting out.
If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I’m after the AC/DC Donington 1991 sound, during the razor’s edge tour, this combination of the 295 and Studio Preamp pretty much nails the tone, it’s almost addictive!
I’m yet to use this in a live environment (thanks Covid 19) but I’ve played relatively loud at my studio (100db) and it is just a gorgeous tone! Of course I’ve been testing it with my SGs.
I hear that rack units are out of fashion… and people are buying 15W combos or heads… I’ll tell you what people are not thinking about… headroom… 100W is loud… but… running a 100W amp at half volume sounds much nicer than a 20 W amp at full volume, the articulation that you get with the massive transformers of a 100W cannot be achieved with a 20W head/combo.
The Power amp plus the preamp weighs a total of 26kg. My Marshall 1987x weighs around 15 and an SLP 1959 weighs 20Kg… so… yeah.. these Mesa are heavier, but can you put a price on tone? Would you care carrying an extra 6kg if you know your tone will be much closer to what you want?
Of course not… 6kgs is nothing… just ditch some other crap from your rig. These units are outstanding and I’m pretty sure that they will come back into fashion soon.
This means it was built between 1970 and sometime around 1986, loads of guitar enthusiasts hate this era and they will swear that they are the worst guitars Gibson has ever built, but to be honest most of them probably have not tried a Norlin era Gibson, and this feeds the inflated price of the pre-norlin era gibsons, this is why a 1968 SG will set you back around £8k and a 1971 will cost around £1,5k.
This is a great guitar, it’s incredible how fast the neck is and how effortless you can go through the fretboard, this is the reason why they earned the nickname of “fretless wonder” this happens because the action is really low and the frets are not very tall.
Playing these “fretless wonders” does require some time to get used to, it does challenge your ability to perform bends and you have to get rid of the “heavy hand” habit (if you do have it) but once you get used to them, they are great.
Of course this guitar is also part of Angus’ arsenal, (and this the reason why I bought it) you can see him using it on the “Flick of the Switch” video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWKcJwuZnzE) and he also used it live on some occasions.
On this model Gibson implemented 2 curious changes: the inlays changed to a rectangular shape and the output jack changed from the top of the guitar to the side. Personally I love these inlays, they do look great and you get an extra one! (the 1st fret gets an inlay as well, where as before only custom guitars would bring an inlay on this fret). It also has the “speed knobs” not sure how “speedy” they are, but they move smoother than the black top hats.
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!
This is not just a great example of Gibson’s craftsmanship but it is also Angus Young’s first SG, featuring the addition of the volute to the headstock and the “made in USA” stamp, this guitar is the one we can hear in many AC/DC songs.
I’m sure everyone remembers Angus’ lightning bolt model, well… the first version of that guitar was created by John Diggins (Jaydee Guitars: http://www.jaydeecustomguitars.co.uk/) using this exact same model.
John used to fix Angus’ guitars, to the point were the only original part left on the guitar was the headstock, and when he had to rebuild the fretboard he decided that some lightning bolts might look cool, so he added them to the 1971 SG Standard, making it the base for Gibsons’ later Angus Young signature guitar.
This is my 1971 Standard after many years of playing I finally was able to find one and actually buy it this time around.
It doesn’t have any modifications, of course it has some dings here and there but nothing major and it all just adds character to the instrument, the only noticeable “issue” is a small hole on the pickguard which I covered with black tape (I know.. not ideal), I’ll probably buy a 1971 pickguard of ebay at some point.