The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard Electric Guitar Review
I love Gibson SG guitars. Really, I do. So much so that I scrambled and bought a new SG for Christmas for me… The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard was out of manufacture, and a few of them were left at the online retailers. I knew I’d love some P90 goodness, an old-school SG setup, and that nice Gibson 60’s SlimTaper™ neck.
I really enjoyed my Christmas present. It made for lots of happy evenings of after-work picking and recording.
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It really was a strong purchase – and I’m glad I did it. My Pete Townshend arrived in absolute perfect shape, crafted with great care and put together perfectly. The neck was superb, the sound was fantastic, and the finish was remarkable. You’ve gotta love that new Canadian TKL case smell combined with that new hand-finished lacquer smell. Yowza.
The Pete Townshend SG plays like a dream and has a sound that is unmistakably golden. This guitar is a player, and begs to be taken out of its collector’s case and PLAYED.
The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard with P90s guitar is an excellent bundle bargain. It has what you’d expect from a Gibson Standard SG, plus a cool case. Overall, I think Gibson really packed a lot in to this instrument for the money.
* Mahogany body and neck
* Rosewood fretboard with 12” radius
* Dot inlays
* Polaris White nitrocellulose lacquer finish
* 22 frets on a 24 ¾” scale 60’s SlimTaper neck
* A wraparound compensated lightening bar saddle bridge
* Full size Grover nickel Rotomatic tuners
* 2 Alnico V P-90 pickups (vintage voiced, plus a little extra oomph)
* Totally cool “WHO” special silkscreened case
Along with the nice features, playability is where this Gibson SG shines. It feels great in the hands from start to finish. It begs to be played, and if you are like me, the neck is a real winner. Although I usually write a great deal about playability when I compose guitar reviews, I didn’t feel it was necessary to do so with this review. The Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary Gibson SG plays like an old friend in mint condition.
This guitar feels great in the hands. The finish is easy on the paws and the balance is typical for an SG – and it feels right at home. I love the way the fretboard radius is set up, and the frets are a breeze.
Sound Sound, sound, sound, sound, sound… Rich, thick, full, strong, awesome, iconic, fantastic, unbelievable – these are the words that I would think every time I played my Pete Townshend.
The Gibson SG Pete Townshend guitar is no longer available through retail as a new guitar, but you can read lots about the many different Gibson SGs here at zZounds.com.
The pickups can be warm and full when they are not overdriven. When the pickup selector toggle is in the middle or neck position, the sound can be downright molasses thick – fairly amazing for a single coil pickup. Once you start to add overdrive or distortion, things get really deep. The midtones are warm without being muddy. One of the great things about a Gibson vintage-voiced P-90 is that it is versatile without losing EQ.
With the selector on the bridge pickup, the guitar downright wails with tube amplification. It’s snarky enough to get a good bite and definition of the higher pitches – but it doesn’t lose all its low-end tightness. The midtones are very strong in the bridge pickup. I do love Fender single-coil pickups, and they are very different than P-90s – but the completely different nature of the Gibson P-90 pickups is an incredible strong sound that has its own wonderful coloring: not all single coils are the same.
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Fit and Finish
When I unboxed my Pete Townshend SG, I was actually impressed with pretty much all the aspects of the way it is built. Smooth finish, excellent choice of rosewood fretboard wood, hand-crafted fret-end binding, superb carving of the body and neck, and a flawless setup of the bridge, pickups, and headstock components… very nice!
Each of the Gibson “standards” I’ve owned (and those with fret-end binding) has a unique quality to the way the binding is scraped and cut down to meet the fret ends and the fretboard wood. Some guitars will have a little ridgy-ness to the top surface of the fretboard binding that’s scraped away, others will exhibit a baby-soft smoothness. Some guitars have both… but I always find that the fret-end binding technique (rough or smooth) makes the neck so very playable. My Townshend SG was the variety where the craftswoman/craftsman who dressed the fretboard binding really took a long time to do the finish work. It was as though the binding had been made ten minutes or so per side per fret. I think it’s the best I’ve seen, including my Les Paul Custom… Nice!
Funny thing about necks… they either feel right or they don’t. This one did. I think the craftsperson who did the neck really thought it through from beginning to end. Overall, a great guitar!
Here’s Gibson’s page detailing the wonderful SG Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary edition. (Opens new window.)
Wishes and Wants The wrap around Lightening Bar compensated tailpiece/bridge is excellent in comparison with the traditional smooth-top wrap-around tailpiece. However, I did not have much success in recording with the Pete Townshend and other guitars with TOMs or individual-saddle bridges.