Australian Guitar - - Reviews -

The Gib­son SG has a special place in the hearts of many Aussies, thanks in no short part to its as­so­ci­a­tion with AC/DC shred­der An­gus Young. In many ways, the SG is the ul­ti­mate pub rock gui­tar: it’s light­weight enough that you can swing it around for hours, and it has a bright, punchy tone that cuts through even when you’re wedged into the cor­ner and stuck with a dodgy PA. Th­ese same qual­i­ties also make the SG great for big-league stages as well, but that’s not all: a lot of us love the SG for how it rips with metal and stoner rock – there’s just some­thing about their voic­ing that works for those gen­res. Tony Iommi is fa­mously into 24-fret SGs, and the man in­vented metal, so there you go. The SG Special 2017 T is not a mil­lion miles re­moved from pre­vi­ous years’ SG Spe­cials, but it does have enough of its own vibe to set it apar t.

The SG Special 2017 T has a thin ma­hogany body and neck (a change from the re­cent maple-necked ver­sion). The neck has an SG Slim Ta­per pro­file, which is dif­fer­ent to the ‘60s Slim Ta­per neck shape found on Les Pauls, for in­stance. It has 24 frets on a rose­wood fret­board, and the vintage-style key­stone tuners give it a tra­di­tional look with mod­ern per­for­mance. The nut is made of TekToid, a syn­thetic ma­te­rial that is self-lu­bri­cat­ing and se­lected for great nat­u­ral sus­tain. The fin­ger­board in­lays are small blocks, giv­ing this gui­tar a bit of a ‘7 0s vibe – es­pe­cially in its Satin Vintage Sun­burst fin­ish. A Satin Cherry ver­sion is also avail­able.

The pick­ups are a 490R in the neck po­si­tion and a 490T at the bridge. The hum­buck­ers fea­ture Al­nico II mag­nets, and are in­spired by the orig­i­nal Patent Ap­plied For (PAF) pick­ups of the ‘50s, but with mod­ern im­prove­ments such as wax pot­ting for mi­cro­phonic feed­back sup­pres­sion. In­ter­est­ingly, this year’s model does away with the coil splits of re­cent years’.

The SG Special 2017 T is a very di­rect, rich and bold-sound­ing gui­tar. This makes it great

for stoner rock and metal, but it’s also ar­tic­u­late enough for psych-rock and jam-band styles, clas­sic rock, blues, in­die and al­ter­na­tive. It’s great for low­ered tun­ings – try drop­ping it to C# for some Iommi-style dark­ness while those higher frets let you main­tain your range – and it han­dles clean tones beau­ti­fully, which is great news for play­ers who em­ploy a lot of fin­ger­pick­ing, hy­brid pick­ing or jan­gly chordal ap­proaches. It’s a very playable gui­tar, too: you can re­ally zip around on the neck.

If there’s one area to crit­i­cise this gui­tar in, it’s the thin­ness of the satin fin­ish. For many play­ers (in­clud­ing me), that’s a good thing: it al­lows the wood to re­ally breathe, which seems to make it sound more ‘woody’ when com­pared to a gui­tar with a thick poly fin­ish. But ther e are re­ports on­line of play­ers eas­ily ding­ing the fin­ish. I guess you should just pre­pare your­self for the fact that this gui­tar is go­ing to de­velop a lot of in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ter, and it’s not go­ing to look fac­tory-fresh after a cou­ple of years. If you’re from the ‘gui­tars are made to be played, not dis­played’ school, then have at it.


This is one of the more flex­i­ble SGs out there, both in terms of son­ics and playa­bil­ity. You won’t re­alise how much you’ve missed hav­ing those ex­tra two frets on a stan­dard SG un­til you start to ex­plore what you can do with them, and you’ll quickly re­alise that Iommi was right all those years ago when he started com­mis­sion­ing 24-fret gui­tars based on the SG.

RRP: $2,199

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