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.
These are cute, aren’t they? Like little monsters before they get angry and start roaring!
The SV20H is part of the new series of Marshall, attempting to deliver classic rock sounds at friendly volume levels, they also have a re-vamp of the jcm800 called Studio Classic.
The SV20H is a 1959SLP but with 20 Watts instead of 100, or… a 1987x at 20 Watts instead of 50.
It also has the ability to go down to 5. Now… you might think… oh good, I can use this at bedroom levels… wrong!
5 watts is borderline ok for a rehearsal, the full 20W is loud enough for a gig and no microphone required for the cabs.
The SV20H is an awesome bit of gear, the tone is there, the classic Marshall tone we all want.. is there, I used to have a 1987x and sold it on, It was heavy and I was always carrying an attenuator I also sort of fell out of love when I bought the Mesa Boogie 295 + the studio preamp.
I honestly think that the SV20H is an improved version of the 1987X and also a friend of mine has the same feeling… and he owns an original 1987.
It cuts through better… it creates better feedback.. more responsive, better clarity. It’s an improved Marshall, companies seem to have taken the chance to make things better and not just repeat history… I also cover this subject on my latest Gibson SG Custom Shop.
Technology is better than 50 years ago, this doesn’t mean we live in the future and we stop using the same concepts as before, there’s no need to revolutionise the gear we use… but… better components, more reliable, and more importantly… better testing environments, more time… smarter people and… a bigger customer base always gives you more feedback. There is more competition than we ever seen before and brands are listening.
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.
Maybe some day I will understand Gretsch’s naming convention, but who cares… they make some of the coolest looking guitars out there!
My main motivation for buying Gretsch’s is to get closer to Malcolm’s sound, I already have his number one copy… but I’ve been searching for a White Falcon for years! Well.. not THE white falcon, but something that would get me there without breaking the bank.
How cool is this?! These are limited editions of the G5422TG as you can still buy new in other colours but not in White.
It’s a hollow body with a center block which is where the pickups go, in theory this helps with feedback problems and fattens up the sound.
It just looks like a White Falcon, however… it’s much mush smaller, it really is like a little brother version of the WF, this doesn’t take anything away of how good this sounds and plays. Like every Gretsch, it was great out of the box and ready to rock.
The late part of 1963 was an important year for the SG, this is when the SG earned its own identity, they stopped calling it “les paul” and it also lost the “les paul” branded truss rod cover.
Some say that this is when the SG really took off, I’m actually not sure what was holding it back… but when you look at a 61 and a 64, the differences are obvious.
First, let me state that the 61 Reissue that we all know (and love) it is not period correct, the vibrola was a sideways one… the one that is used on the 61 Reissue actually came about on 63/64, this was a considerable change in design, the vibrola became more useful and stable.
So, what are the differences? Well… apart from the vibrola change, the neck is also different, the scale and amount of frets are the same, however it is no longer a 60s slim taper neck, it is much more C shaped, making it more like a “baseball bat” type of grip, this is similar to a regular production standard that you can grab off the shelves today.
The playability is great, I also own a 61 Custom shop and it also plays great… but the changes on the neck of the 64 certainly fit the SG well, in fact, the black SG that Angus uses almost exclusively on live shows is a 1964 which he removed the vibrola and painted black.
The finish is also quite different, the 61 has a much lighter cherry tone whereas the 64 is darker, which looks great with the vibrola.
In this particular example that I own, the pickups are also quite different, they are the same type… Custombuckers alnico III however the resistance is much larger, the 61’s bridge pickup reads around 6.9 whereas the 64 reads 7.8! It is much hotter and you can tell the difference when playing it, the neck pickup of the 1964 is also 7.8 and the 61 is 7.86, so much closer. Even though the bridge pickup is hotter, it still cleans up very nicely when the volume is turned down.
The feel of the volume control is also different, you don’t loose that much treble when rolling down the volume and the tone control is also quite nice to experiment with. I found myself for the first time being able to tame some of the brightness by just rolling the tone down, I believe this model has “black beauty” caps as opposed to bumblebee caps on the 61.
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.
Big year this one, I finally managed to acquire a Matchless amplifier, something I’ve been wanting for a looooong time.
Being totally honest… I loved the way the look, that was the main reason I wanted them, something that looks that good has to be good too.
There are not that many artists that use matchless, but the main one I care for is Ricardo Mollo, guitarist from Divididos and probably the Argentinean Hendrix, the guy is an animal and a tone freak, very colourful playing, interesting rhythms and sounds.
A few weeks back as usual I started watching videos about it… then reviews, then more videos, then pictures… and then I found one in Reverb at a very decent price, so I pulled the trigger.
The seller brought it to my house that very same day, I was super excited, a few hours later… the amp arrives. Oh my god, what a feeling… I think level of excitement matched the one I had when I got the 71SG and the Jaydee.
I first plugged in the telecaster… don’t ask me why… but I wanted to hear a single coil pickup
Man… as soon as I started playing I was in a sensory overload, the cleans… the depth of sound, it was like the first time you enter a house of mirrors… you just look everywhere and think “what the hell is going on”
Every chord just sounded perfect, every string had its own character, suddenly you can hear how the guitar was truly designed, I think this should be Matchless’ moto: “hear your guitar for the first time”
Let me dig deeper into this concept, I’m a Marshall Man, I have like 10 of them and I’ve always loved them way more than anything else, I’ve always thought that any other brand with a similar sound was just trying to imitate them, so… why bother trying them.. just get the real thing. But… you know when you are playing with the band.. or with just background music and your solos don’t cut through or you can’t really hear that high E string on the G chord? I know of course you can tweak your sound, etc. But I’m talking about a different level of “hearing everything”
Matchless provides cut through 360 degree sound, I don’t understand how they do it, my Matchless is a Lightning 15 Reverb, so it’s not top of their line but everything they do is top of the line…. everything is done to a level of detail that is out of this world.
I’ve started testing tones and everything just sounded incredible, the Treble and Bass control (yes… no mids) interact with each other in a ver intuitive way… and they are extremely responsive, you can go from scooped mids, high bass, high mids, high treble, etc but just playing around with these two knobs.
I play in an AC/DC tribute band, and I tell you… this amp does better AC/DC tone than a Marshall, and my usual setup is either the JTM45 or the 1987x with a 1960AX cab… so.. also top end stuff, but again… Matchless is just incomparable.
They are crazy expensive, but I suggest you find a way of trying them out, it’s a before and after experience, I don’t think I’ll be purchasing another brand any time soon… at least until I get to buy their flagship model… DC 30.
So… to summarise… Matchless is just that… something that is impossible to Match, something that has been done with so much care and thought that it can’t be better… everything has a purpose nothing was left to chance or to economic reasons, everything is there for a reason.