A Quick Review about the new Gibson Les Paul Classic 7 String Electric Guitar

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Hi folks! REALLY busy right now… Several reviews in progress but not a lot of time to write and post. Sorry for the delays…

Here’s a quick overview of the new Gibson Les Paul Classic 7 String Electric guitar. This isn’t my normal thorough review: it’s something I wrote and posted on the Gibson page for the Les Paul 7… I thought I’d share it with you folks. It’s just a quick opinion… I’ll be more thorough in a later post with pics and opinions…

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I’m sitting here recording with my Gibson Les Paul Classic 7 String for the first time. I have had the guitar for weeks now, tinkering with it, embracing its identity, assimilating it into my musical brain. I went to the official Gibson product page to read the specs again as I actually use this lovely instrument in a professional environment (yet really just having a blast channeling music through this black and cream Beauty as if it were a part of my hands.) Opens a new window…

I have bought and sold a few of the Gibson V and Explorer 7-String guitars (when you can even find one, particularly the Explorer). They are great guitars: I just found the EMGs to be too sanitary (sterile and too perfect) and the necks to be just too wide. I have huge paws, so I don’t have a problem with them – I just found the necks to feel bigger than a Jazz bass neck… I REALLY wanted to love and keep the Explorer in particular but I just couldn’t do it. It felt like it was not a part of me when I played it. I sold both of them within a month of acquiring each one.

I kept hoping for a great Les Paul 7. My wish was granted this year.

This is REAL opinion from someone who’s actively using this guitar, with 4 decades of experience underneath my brains and hands.

You can find out lots of information and pricing for other Gibson Les Paul Classics at my favorite G.A.S. providers, zZounds with a guarantee that you’ll love it! Please visit this page and buy stuff from these great folks. It helps me fund my music projects and this site.

  • Nibs on the binding (yay! I’m missing those nibs on some 2014 and 2015 models. YES, I know why they’re not on recent models: I just happen to love the nibs. It’s a Gibson, after all!)
  • The nut material doesn’t ping as much as Corian. Nice. It’s smoother and feels a little stronger.
  • Seymour JB and Jazz pickups (YES! Passive that can bite or scream rock and smooth jazz and new age! Wheeeee! We’re NOT all metal players! Note: I LIKE metal, I just don’t play it.)
  • Nice carved top that feels like a Standard, Traditional or Classic. Nice! Close your eyes and you think you’ve got a Traditional in your hands.
  • A neck that feels as familiar as most any of my Gibby and Epi Les Pauls, nicer than my Les Baritone (still love my Bari, though)
  • A neck that someone carved with ME in mind: a little flat and slender at the nut and rounder at the heel. Feels great, unobtrusive, melts into my hands every time I play it… It’s a very different neck like a less-rounded Firebird or something: but know that it feels great in hand!
  • 15DB *CLEAN* Boost (does louder clean on clean circuit and goes to downright snotty when overdriven!), plus individual splits based in a Gibby PCB Quick Connect board… NICE. I can solder on a Gibson Quick-connect and hook in some DiMarzios or other Seymours for smoother or harsher sounds if I want to: all without changing or damaging the guitar
  • That wonderful quirky and awesome mis-matched “cream” color between binding, pick guard, and rings (Trust me, all of my Les Pauls have this endearing trait… I happen to find it to be like “home.”)
  • A FANTASTIC piece of rosewood on the ‘board and excellently-balanced and leveled frets. No buzz anywhere, not even when I down-tuned to ADADGAD.
  • When I set the intonation, I only had to tweak three strings, and they were < 4 cents off. NICE! I don’t mind setting intonation. I just felt pretty good when it only took a tweak or three.
  • I love the Grover keystone tuners (would liked to have the locking ones, but I can’t always have everything!)
  • A SUPERB finish job on the lacquer finish. Excellent work Gibson team!

It isn’t any heavier than my Peace or my Epi Custom. It’s lighter than my Trads.

 

Jim and his Les Paul 7 String...

Jim and his Les Paul 7 String…

I have NO gripes about this guitar. It is a recording and jamming machine and I love it! It makes it EASY to jump from a “regular” Les or a Bari Les to this guitar. The necks are very similar. You don’t feel like you’re playing a cricket-bat-neck guitar. NICE.

Folks, we can nit-pick the details. Me? I wouldn’t change anything. The silver labels on the headstock that are better than the decal type but not quite as pretty as the inlay: fine. Silver is cool. I would love nickel covers (yes, I’m one of those guys): but no-one makes nickel-covered 7 passives that I’ve seen – not something Gibson could have chosen: and besides, Seymours!

Dear Seymour Duncan, MJ and all the wonderful folks at SD: Please make me some nickel-covered wax-potted 7-string pickups that are a 59 in the neck and an overwound Pearly Gates in the bridge!

The recordings are superb. I must say, dropping below the 6th string to walk around the melody and harmony with some notes that dip into the bass world is just stupendous. When you get used to it, you’ll love it.

The sound and playability are crisp, clean, and well-defined. You can finger pick, claw hammer, hybrid pick, and single-pick your way to heaven because this guitar puts out through tubes AND solid states like nobody’s business.

Gibson, thank you for this. I’m truly happy. It’s now my number 8 guitar (a big deal, really).

The Gibson MIII Limited Edition HSH 24-Fret Magnificent Monster Electric Guitar Review

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The Gibson MIII Radical Reissue Reinvented Electric Guitar Review
One of the staples of recording electric guitar is to have an array of guitars that can make many different sounds without having to unplug and get a different instrument to do it. The MIII is just such a guitar – a tone machine. I like being able to sit down with it and a set of ideas, crank up the tubes and the recording world, and get down to business while the mood and inspiration are hot.

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My MIII fits the bill nicely. I recommend one if you’d like a great neck and versatile sound coupled with the rock-solid tuning stability of a double-locking Floyd Rose-equipped guitar.

Quick Opinion:
I have been looking forward to writing this review. There’s a lot to say! One of the first things that struck me when I unboxed my MIII for the first time was the cool finish. It is very much like the old-car-metallic-poly (yes, it’s lacquer, I’m speaking of ‘look’) appearance of my Gibson Elliot Easton Tiki Bird Firebird… Mine is a RADIANT orange color with the look of the grain under a clear coat. It looks deep, it’s much cooler than other metallic finishes I’ve seen.

My Orange Glow Gibson MIII plays easily, sounds fantastic, and is a pleasure to hold whether sitting or standing. It sounds great, it feels good (like an Explorer’s neck on a double-cutaway body) with stay-in-tune-the-whole-day kind of playability. Nice!
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I think if you’re looking for a shreddy guitar, a quick-playing in-tuning whammying guitar, and want a set neck with a maple fretboard, this is THE choice! More details? Read on for more…
There are customer reviews and more specs for the MIII available here at zZounds.

Features:
The Gibson MIII is very feature-rich with a ton of great specs.
* Nice double-cutaway mahogany body
* Excellent maple neck with maple fretboard, with a profile something like an Explorer with a reversed “Explorer banana” headstock
* 21 degree radius on the fretboard – very comfortable and natural in the hands for bends
* 24 fret heaven – hit that ultra-high E with ease!
* A Floyd Rose bridge and locking nut combination – if only most static bridges had the fine tuners! (Gibson, what about making the TP6 available on production guitars?)
* Tone and Volume knob simplicity: I can reach the volume with my pinky and do volume swells with ease
* The master tone pops up to split the humbuckers into singles
* HSH pickups with a 5-way selector
* A wonderful high-gloss, smooth finish that colors the body and the back of the neck and headstock
* Gold-silkscreened Gibson logo on the headstock
* Those awesome old-school upside-down black fret marker inlays, yeah!
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The pickup selector is a traditional blade-type switch with the following configuration (from neck-side to bridge-side):
** Neck only
** Neck and middle
** Middle only
** Middle and Bridge
** Bridge only

Overall, this guitar is loaded with lots of stuff, buttons, switches, and downright coolness built-in. I think its gutsy of Gibson to have some fun with a maple-fretboarded tone-ripper!

When you combine the popped-up splitting knob with the blade selector, you can get loads of different sounds and strengths from these very versatile electronics.
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Playability
My MIII is a dream to play. I already love Firebirds and Explorers – and the neck is pretty similar in most ways to both… It was like a fun FireExplorerSG with Maple and a Floyd… Nice! I am agnostic as to necks when it comes to the “perfect” neck for me. I love flat necks, fat, necks, medium necks, even the flat/wide neck of a classical – so I’m almost always comfortable when I pick up a quality-made Gibson of any kind. Given that I love my Z-shapes and my banana headstocks, I must say that the MIII felt right at home, despite its funky thumb-bassy-body look.

The fretboard has an interesting feel to it. It’s not glossy like some of the Fender maple necks – rather it is almost “flat” or satin. You can get your pure nickel Ernie Ball “ROCK AND ROLL” strings out and get everything nice and gray from the nickel on your fingers. The neck does have some kind of finish on it (much like the Raw Power SG and Les Pauls a few years back), so the black stuff doesn’t become permanent – but it looks cool when it’s been played quite a bit.
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I have found that using the Floyd with the last two fingers of my picking hand and then sliding down to pinky the volume is actually fairly easy for those who do this type of thing. Even though I’ve gone to using a Morley Steve Vai Alligator volume pedal, I do still love the fineness of a slick volume control knob’s sweep. These are quick and easy because of the metal black knurled knobs. Generally, I carefully swap out my Gibson witch-hat knobs for this very reason (to either knurled or speed knobs) – but the MIII already has it covered!

It’s not too heavy on the shoulder or the leg, and it has a nice general balance to it – the neck sits out a good ways, but the body is bigger and thicker than something like the SG, so it’s not too much of a diver at all.
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Sound
Here is one of the Gibson Limited Edition MIII’s strong points: sound: Gibson has brought back the very cool Dirty Fingers humbucker with a vengeance! It’s as crunchy and broad as the original, with that nice ability to clean up pretty well when you pick softly and dig in a little less. Very nice…

The Humbucker Single Humbucker configuration, combined with the 5-Way blade pickup selector and the coil-splitting tone knob, you get lots of different sounds out of this beast. I have found that the nicely-sized body gives excellent sustain, while not being too heavy. Although you don’t get solid-body Les Paul sustain-for-weeks sound, you do get much better long-lasting sustain than with the traditional bolt-on-neck-Floyd guitars.

I think the locking Floyd system is a great strong suit to this guitar’s arsenal: It stays in tune day-to-day for me, and I like that. I’ve had GREAT guitars with whammys with which I loved recording – but had to stop and tune them over and over again between takes because of their trem systems. This MIII has that beat and then some!
If you purchase a new Gibson at zZounds, qualified buyers can even play as they play with the 12 month select brands (new guitars only) payment plan.

Fit and Finish
My MIII is extremely well made. The finish is bright, smooth, and doesn’t have lots of flaws around the neck pocket and the electronics. I like the way the craftspeople at Gibson did this one. It was well-done out of the box.

I only had to adjust two saddles for intonation on the bridge – otherwise, it was ready to go right out of the box. The fretboard is perfect, the fret ends were clean (not rounded and invisible, but clean, just the same). I think my most recent Les Paul (a limited semi-hollowbody) has the sweetest factory fret ends of any non-bound Gibson I’ve handled. This MIII isn’t on par with that one – it has more edge and end to the feel than the LP.

The case is nicely manufactured, the finish was completely cured and the bridge was nicely adjusted. Opening the control cavity reveals a simply done set of electronics that are neatly soldered and well-grounded.
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Overall, it’s really quite nice from stem to stern.
The new Gibson 2014 models are now in stock at zZounds. Celebrate 120 years of excellence and Legendary Tone!

Wishes and Wants
I really love my MIII. I think the only thing that would have sent me over the top to buy a second one (for more tuning options, like keeping one in DADGAD and one in CGCGCC with thicker strings) would have been if Gibson had taken the time to put the fret-end neck binding on this guitar – black or body color or white… Gibson’s fret-end neck binding is, in my opinion, one of the sweetest features Gibson offers. I love the feel of it when I’m playing – or rather, the lack of feeling the frets when I’m playing.

Maybe, just maybe, a pickguard model with all the electronics behind the pickguard would be cool, particularly if the guitar was wired with the Gibson Quick Connect electronics wiring and changing system. I would love to have a box of Quick Connect pickups that I could use to change things out on the fly…

Otherwise, I love the MIII – they did a great job with it.
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the wonderful Limited Edition Gibson MIII – click here! (Visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! It makes a difference when you visit my sponsor and grab some great gear.)

The Gibson Pete Townshend 50th Anniversary SG Standard Limited WHO Edition Guitar Review

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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.
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendHeadstock
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information Gibson SGs – click here! (visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! (And G.A.S., of course! :-))

Quick Opinion:
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.

Features:
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
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendCaseExterior

Playability
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.

In general, this is the archetypical SG in many ways and it’s easy to play!
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendBodyShot

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.
FactoryGibsonPeteTownshendBodyShot2
I really like zZounds and their service, and their people! Here’s a list of the current Gibson SGs offered at zZounds.

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.

The Rockin’ Gibson SG “HH” Special Limited Edition Review! Affordable Awesomeness – get your Angus on!

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Gibson SG Special “HH” Limited Edition Review!

In 2012, Gibson began shipping a variant of the non-gloss (some folks call it “faded”, but it’s not the official title) Gibson SG Special. The Gibson SG Special has a long history of bringing USA-made sound-wonder to the masses at more affordable prices. I think most folks wouldn’t turn down an SG Standard or Supreme if offered, but when the money sneaks out of the wallet, the budget-priced SG Special is the ultimate Gibson “gateway” guitar.

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The Gibson SG Special HH Limited Edition

Rich, resonant, easy-to-play, priced competitively with Asian-made lookalikes, simple, durable (for the most part), and truly a work-horse guitar… I love the Gibson SG special line so much that I’ve “rescued” several “basket cases” over the years and turned them into some of the best sounding and playing instruments I’ve ever owned or used. The retail price of the Gibson SG Special has varied greatly over the years – this limited-edition “HH” model is VERY affordable at less than $600. They can occasionally be found on sale for as much as $75 off the street price. A bargain for handcrafted USA-made rock machines!

What do I think of the limited HH SG Special? I think it is a winner. It does just what it is supposed to do, does it well, and sounds fantastic.

You know, it actually helps me write more reviews and do more gear stuff if you visit zZounds through my links and buy cool stuff from them. Take a look at the Gibson SG Faded Special at zZounds. Although they don’t offer the Gibson SG Special HH with wrap-around tail piece, they offer the Faded and gloss series. zZounds’ folks are great peeps with really great policies and excellent customer service. I’m a customer too.

Quick Opinion: If you find one of these jewels new or used and you’re looking for your first Gibson or your next Gibson, give this serious consideration. They come in unusual colors and have the old-style semi-chunky SG Special neck from the old days. If you need your first USA SG, this is a strong contender!

On another note, as a person who plays lots of guitars each week, I actually like my HH SG Special very much! I’m enjoying the maple fretboard and the nice smooth feel of the dark cherry-finished body and neck. Nice!

GibsonSGSpecialHHControlDetailbyJimPearson

The Gibson SG Special HH Control and Bridge

Sound: Gibson SGs are known for their lightweight and resonant tone. The nice set neck with the small-ish light body makes the guitar sound resonate in your body as you play. There’s not much quite like it. The neck joint and body shape really make for great sound. But there’s more to the formula of that wonderful Gibson SG sound. There are reasons why Clapton, Townshend, Young, Trucks, and so many other awesome guitarists have played SGs over the years.

This particular variant of the Gibson SG is VERY light. It has a fairly thin body and is made of decent tone materials. The finish is actually smoother than the recent “faded” models – I don’t know if the finish makes the sound any different, but my ears tell me that the thin smooth (not glossy, though) nitrocellulose finish is a great breather. Give these a couple of decades and they’ll be very desirable for their sound!

GibsonSGSpecialHHBodyColorWIthFlashbyJimPearson

Shot with a flash to bring out the real wine color

Let’s get into details…
1) Pickups/electronics
2) Tone woods, body, neck, bridge
3) The lightweight simplicity of the SG Special

Pickups and Electronics: The Gibson SG HH Special Limited Edition electric solid body guitar has a slightly different configuration from many Gibson SGs. The HH has two volume controls and one tone control (master), with a traditional L-angle three-way pickup selector switch. The input jack is in its normal place as is the switch, and the knobs are about where they generally are (minus the second tone knob). Depending on to whom you speak, the tone control is or is not important. To me? Yes, it is. I like individual tone controls, too. In my case, I often leave the neck pickup at 10 on the tone, and sometimes put the bridge pickup at 5 for warmer sound. When I’m rockin’, all the dials are at 10+… So, I like a choice. For this little gem, I can give up a little of that flexibility for the price.

The HH comes with the basic Gibson 490R (neck or “rhythm”) pickup and the basic Gibson 490T (bridge or “treble”) pickup. These pickups use AlNiCo II pickup magnets and are wound a lot like the sound of the Gibson 57 – but with distinct characteristics that separate them from the ’50s pickup sound. In the case of the HH SG Special, the pickups are traditional single-conductor (plus braided shield ground) wiring that is soldered like crazy to the back of Gibson pots and electronics. They’re squarely in the mainstream voice, are medium output, and can push the tubes quite nicely. If you’re looking for that extreme output “metal” sound, you’ll find them a little on the vintage side for hard stuff – but I’ve been known to put a King of Tone (opens a new window) and some 12ax7s in a tune-able preamp between the guitar and amp to get massive tone of just about any shape and color.

One side note about Gibson’s 490 pickups: An opinion (remember what they say about opinions?): They’re like lower-priced AlNiCo II Slash pickups – more vintage-y, a little less defined, and a little more mid-rangy than the Slash pickups and the Seymour AlNiCo II pros – but a worthy contender nonetheless. These do the blues JUSTICE as compared to even some of Gibson’s more expensive pickups. And another thing? You can actually play clean on the neck pickup if you don’t drive them too hard. Nice.

GibsonSGSpecialHHWiringDetail1byJimPearson

Wiring Detail – factory soldering

The pickup selector is fairly standard Gibson toggle fare: Neck-Neck/Bridge-Bridge. It’s quiet, mechanical, and very sturdy. I’ve never replaced a Gibson-installed pickup selector because it was bad or didn’t work.

Tone woods The body and neck are mahogany. The fretboard is baked maple (looks a lot like an unusually-grained rosewood or red-walnut color). The body is thin and resonant. Mine was made with a minimal number of wood pieces, so it has a nice growly resonance that is very distinctive.

I like rosewood like most folks, but I am really enamored of ebony and maple. The new “baked maple” fretboards of recent vintage feel a lot like good old hard maple and have a nice consistent bright sound and smooth feel. I know many people will be glad when rosewoods and some ebonies go back on the market, but I have the guilty pleasure of always wanting a few Gibsons to play that have real blonde maple fretboards and necks. I guess I’m a sucker for that smooth and bright wood…

GibsonSGSpecialHHBakedMapleFretboardDetailbyJimPearson

Rosewood, ebony, and many in the family of these dense dark woods are in short supply worldwide. Much of the (increasingly rare) woods of these types are getting forested for clear-cutting, illegal trade, and for creating junk wood products. The thing is, these woods take a LONG time to repopulate and to re-forest. Some ebony trees take a hundred years just to grow a few inches of diameter, some even longer. We can’t just cut down these woods, replant them, and harvest them again in a few short decades. Some of the best woods out there are older than even the Iron Age. We have to do our part: love the woods you love, but remember that we have to start becoming more sustainable.

Neck type and bridge Starting with the bridge, this is the old-style bridge: it’s not a tune-o-matic style with adjustable saddles and a separate stop-tail: These HH Specials have the single bridge-and-tail wraparound tailpiece that is placed very near the bridge pickup. These are reminiscent of the Melody Maker guitars of recent vintage and of the original series. It’s cheaper and simpler to have a single bridge piece and one set of studs in the body. The intonation is barely tune-able and the individuality of the tunable saddles is sorely missed, but the simple direct-to-body idea of the wrap around is fine. It sounds wonderful and resonates in the main body wood very well. I’m 50/50 on these bridges. On the one hand, they’re simple and sound fine. On the other hand, it’s very hard to set the intonation up correctly.

The neck is not the thickest Gibson neck I’ve held, but it is very much that chunky “D” sort of shape. I like V and D and deep C necks, so this one feels right at home. It’s just wide enough to make it easy to go from most any Gibson to the HH Special Limited Edition. As far as sound? Acoustically, when you play the guitar unplugged, it sounds fantastic. It has sustain that is unusual for guitars this light and of this setup. The neck actually plays a strong role in this guitar’s sound. It reminds me VERY much of my 2003 Gibson SG “moonie” Special. It’s a joy to play and sounds fantastic. Plugged in? It rings like crazy and feels very much alive in your paws when you’re playing loud OR soft.

The SG Special Sound: Simple. Resonant. Light. Awesome woods. Rings like a bell in your hands. Wonderful. Breathable finish. Buy one. (Subliminal: buy one!)

zZounds also sells the nicer, upscale gloss Gibson SG Special in ebony and cherry. VERY nice! They have a great ‘love your guitar’ guarantee! If you buy your gear after visiting my site and using my links, it helps me out (just being honest – no funny agenda or anything).

GibsonSGSpecialHHBodyShotbyJimPearson

Quality: My Gibson SG HH Special Limited Edition electric guitar is built like a tank. Bear in mind that all aspects of it were actually nicer than the faded models I’ve owned and played. The finish is a real plus! They did a GREAT job of the nice nitro satin finish!

Even though this is a low-end Gibson (well, in some folks’ eyes), the frets were done RIGHT on mine. I didn’t have to dress them or mess with the ends. VERY nice, smooth, shiny, and no jagged edges for my fingers to snag. I also found that there were no buzzy spots – the frets were seated very nicely.

The hardware is perfect and the solder joints were tough as nails. The soldering wasn’t as pretty as my LP Standard’s soldering joints, but they’re VERY strong and nicely applied. This new VVT (volume-volume-tone) arrangement made for a smaller control cavity and a little cramped-ness between the switch and pots. If you’re like me and you love to mod guitars like this, you’ll find that you have to be VERY careful about your planning as to what components to use and how the wiring will be routed. I think they could have put another two inches of bridge-ground wire in them for us modders… for the players out there, the ground is excellent and as quiet as a passive HH system gets.

GibsonSGSpecialHHBodyShotBackbyJimPearson

Gibson seems to be using different kinds of tuners these days when it comes to the traditional “green Key” or “keystone” type tuners. Mine came with genuine Kluson Deluxe tuners. I’ve seen others with Gibson Deluxe tuners (last time I was in touch with the Kluson folks, they told me that they’re not the same… I believe them.) I’m glad either way, because I grew up with old Les Pauls and 60s SGs with those lanky crazy green-key tuners. They’re not the most accurate or smooth tuners in the world, but hey work OK and they’ve gotten better over the years.

GibsonSGSpecialHHHeadstockBackbyJimPearson

My SG HH had Kluson Deluxes from the factory

Overall, my Gibson SG HH Special is built first class. Other than the gloss of many comparable Asian look-alikes on the market, my HH is better built than any of the ESPs, and even upper-crust Epiphones I’ve played and owned. Rock on Gibson. Thank you for doing such a great job on these low-cost wooden babies!

Value: The value of these guitars is an 8.5 out of 10, where 10 is a screamin’ steal and a 1 is “forgettable.” My only reason for these not being a 9 or 9.5 is the stop-tail config (and, I must admit, the brown color). I think these guitars are a must-buy for the budding guitarist. Remember: these days, the street price for many Chinese guitars with chock-a-block glue-hog bodies and cheap electronics are in the $500 range. No offense to the other guitars meant: I’m just saying that if you’re going to get out there and rock out ’til the clock’s out, a genuine Gibson USA SG is actually competitively priced to mid-line imports.

Interestingly enough, these street-price at less than the single-coil Melody Makers and only a little more than the 2011 single-humbucker Melody Makers (when they first hit the street).

Very high value, easy to play, sounds great, looks great, and worth the extra money to go get it a hard case – sold!

Wishes: I wish the wrap-around tailpiece had little adjustable saddles like those funky comb-shaped bridges of the 70s and early 80s. I almost want to put a Maestro Trem on it and feed the strings across saddles, but no go with the smooth simple wrap-around.

White (not distressed or TV white) and Pelham blue would have rocked the house! I don’t mind the walnut-type colors of the brown “faded” Gibsons, but I honestly felt like the dark brown of the HH Special looked like too-dark Minwax walnut over plywood – I would have preferred a black semi-gloss like the Goth series over the brown of these guitars.

Last wish? Do a Firebird and Explorer like this! I would totally eat up an HH Explorer Special!