Before I look at the newly released Gibson SG Special Humbucker Dark Walnut I’ll start with a bit of background about the SG and its very interesting heritage. It was first introduced in 1961 as a replacement for the Les Paul standard, believe it or not, and as its well-documented Les Paul hated it so much so he demanded that his name be removed from it. This in turn made the SG appeal even more to the ‘dark side’ of rock and has been played by such high profile players as George Harrison, Pete Townshend and Angus Young. Perhaps it was the ‘devil horn’ shaped body that attracted such guitar players but both factors have surely contributed to the SG’s famous bad-boy reputation.
Judging by the construction of the SG Humbucker Dark Walnut, it’s clear to see why it was so well suited to rock music. It’s slim line, almost aerodynamic, solid mahogany body means ultimate playability and full access to all frets without obstruction. The body is paired with a mahogany set neck and baked maple fingerboard, which again allows you to take full advantage of the neck and allows you to play solos that you can’t play on any old guitar. In addition to this the neck has an ergonomic 50’s profile, which feels great in your hands and allows you to do chording work more naturally. So this is then arguably the ideal construction balance, although that’s a pretty bold statement.
You’ll notice at first glance that it’s a visually simple yet beautiful guitar. The headstock just has the Gibson logo, an unbound fingerboard with dot inlays. So it’s not exactly feature rich but it’s this design that makes it so appealing to me, especially with its transparent satin nitrocellulose finish which makes it look really raw and retro. There are also two benefits with this; good ol’ fashioned wear and tear will actually improve the condition and is expected to keep, or improve on its original value. Which brings me neatly to the other positive; apparently for every unnecessary feature they have removed, Gibson have reduced the total price of the guitar. Making the SG Special Humbucker one of the cheapest full-spec American built SGs ever sold.
Now to the most important bit, the way it sounds and you’ll be glad to know there’s been nothing sacrificed for price in this department. It has two modern classic humbuckers with a 490T model and a 490R at the neck, inside of which lies an Alnico II magnet, which gives the SG Dark Walnut a surprisingly high, singing tone. But of course it is still capable of the thick high-gain output offering a perfect spectrum of tone, especially for rock music. I was very impressed when I heard the versatility of this guitar and its no wonder why some of the most talented guitarist ever seen chose to use them.
For such a quality guitar it’s hard to understand why the SG Special Humbucker is priced so cheaply, but lets just thank Gibson that they are. For a guitar that looks and sounds amazing, will retain its value and will get better as time goes on, in my opinion it’s the most exciting guitar released this year.