Mark Lucas | Guitarist | Live | Session | Arranger

THE GIBSON SG

The first SG I owned was an SG Special in 1985, when I lived in Boston. I was attracted to it's midrange tonality, although I didn't really know why, at least , in the way I understand it now. The second one was a black SG Special, that I ran through a Marshall Silver Jubilee 2x12 combo. This particular combination was tonal nirvana for me. I could get everything I needed from this; blues, a great classic rock sound, and believe it or not, a respectable modern jazz fusion sound. Unfortunately, the Marshall literally ate tubes, and the SG suffered at the hands of a rather unscrupulous repairman.  I didn't play another one until 2007, when I bought an SG Classic with P90 pickups. A really great guitar with a big fat 50's neck. Again, another sloppy repair job resulted in me getting rid of it. I now own what I consider to be the quintessential SG; a cherry red V.O.S. form the Gibson Custom Shop. The V.O.S. guitars are significantly different than a production model Gibson. They are made one at a time; the bodies are one piece of mahogany, as opposed to 2 or 3 piece laminates. A one piece body just sounds better and gets better with age, as the vibration of the wood is in one direction. I also like the finish, which has a worn-in quality to it; not a relic finish, but a very subtle patina. The neck is more of a 60's type of shape; not as fat as a 50's. And like all SG's, they are light. As much as I love the sound of a Les Paul, I really don't like the weight of them.

On to the really compelling reason I like SG's. I consider them to be the solid body version(sonically), of an archtop. That probably sounds sacreligous to an arch-top lover, and equally so to a rock player. Why I say this is that to my ear, The SG is the closest thing to the midrange thickness that archtops have, generally speaking, without the feedback. And it can cover all kinds of ground. I've heard Michael Landau and Robben Ford play SG's. And of course, Duane Allman. These 3 are so much more than the categories they get labeled in. Particularly Duane. I read in an interview that one of his favorite recordings was Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. Carlos Santana played an SG back in the 60's. And the torch is being carried now by Derek Trucks, in my opinion, the logical extension of Duane Allman.

Unlike an LP, I feel an SG just sits better in a mix. I did a recording recently with a well-known jazz saxophonist and everyone who played on this thought I was playing an archtop. I was going straight through a Mesa Boogie TransAtlantic 30 1x12 with just a touch of reverb.

So, just some ruminations from the past into the present. Let me know your thoughts.

 

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