Australian Guitar - - Reviews - WORDS BY PETER HODG­SON.

Things looked a bit hairy for a minute there, as far as Gib­son’s avail­abil­ity in Aus­tralia went. But now, un­der the much- wel­comed cus­to­di­an­ship of Aus­tralis Mu­sic (and un­der new man­age­ment on the North Amer­i­can side of things), Gib­son is back and bet­ter than ever.

In the last is­sue of Aus­tralian Gui­tar, we looked at the flag­ship Gib­son Les Paul Stan­dard. This time, we’re go­ing to look at a model that is near and dear to many Aus­tralians’ hearts – the SG Stan­dard. In many ways, the Gib­son SG is a sta­ple of the Aus­tralian gui­tar scene, even if it’s made in Amer­ica and its most fa­mous Aussie ex­po­nent is a lit­tle dude from Scot­land wear­ing a school­boy uni­form (you know who we’re talk­ing about).

Some­thing about the SG’s sharp horns and thin body just feels right in an Aus­tralian pub rock en­vi­ron­ment – and if this 2019 model gives us any in­di­ca­tion, that won’t be chang­ing any time soon.


The SG Stan­dard has the larger, more An­gus-as­so­ci­ated pick­guard – which was rein­tro­duced for this model a cou­ple of years ago – as op­posed to the smaller pick­guard you’ll find on the 2019 EG Stan­dard ’61 model. It ex­tends up above the pick­ups like a late ‘60s SG, and it gives the gui­tar a re­ally se­ri­ous, ag­gres­sive look thanks to the ad­di­tion of a few more points to com­ple­ment those sharp horns.

The body is made of ma­hogany. It’s a very light body at that, which makes it great for chuck­ing around on­stage. The neck is one-piece ma­hogany with a one-piece rose­wood fret­board and 22 frets with a Slim Ta­per pro­file. This ver­sion has Grover Ro­tomatic tuners with Kid­ney but­tons (an ear­lier in­car­na­tion had green keys), an alu­minium Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge and stop­bar tailpiece, black Top Hat con­trol knobs with sil­ver re­flec­tor tops, and a black five-ply pick­guard.

The pick­ups are Gib­son’s 490R and 498T pas­sive hum­buck­ers, with 42-gauge cop­per wire and Al­nico II mag­nets. The bridge pickup weighs in at 13.9Kohms with the neck read­ing 7.8Kohms, so we’re look­ing at a rel­a­tively mod­er­ate take on a hot vin­tage-voiced bridge pickup, along with a more vin­tage-spec’d neck pickup. Con­trols on deck in­clude the stan­dard two vol­umes, two tones and pickup se­lec­tor ar­ray.

The gui­tar comes in Gib­son’s soft-shell case with an ac­ces­sory kit. A hard case would be nice at this price, but the in­stru­ment does feel pretty well pro­tected in this par­tic­u­lar soft case.


So, how does it sound? Well, it’s an SG, so let’s be real here: it sounds in­cred­i­ble. Com­pared to a Les Paul, the SG is gen­er­ally a lit­tle punchier and a lit­tle more com­plex in the up­per mids, but not as deep in the low end. This makes them es­pe­cially well suited to power chords or leads that need to jump out in the mix, or f or stack­ing mul­ti­ple takes of the same riff with­out the sound be­com­ing cloudy.

The choice of pick­ups here seems very care­fully con­sid­ered: the bridge pickup gives you a lit­tle more oomph and edge than if this w as to have, say, ‘57 Clas­sics, mak­ing it a gui­tar more suited to hard and heavy rock, blues, al­ter­na­tive

and grunge in some ways – although it’ll still do clas­sic rock with­out a hitch.

The sound is de­tailed and punchy, with great sus­tain and lots of rich up­per-mid over­tones. Switch to the neck pickup, and you’ll find a much rounder, juicier sound­ing pickup that re­ally comes to life when you dig in hard with the pick, but also smoothes out and dark­ens up if you pick softer.

The SG has lots of char­ac­ter for clean tones as well, so if you’re in a band with a lot of light shade in your tone, you’ll find that this gui­tar can cover a sur­pris­ingly wide range of bases for some­thing so seem­ingly sim­ple. And therein lies the rea­son so many Aus­tralian gui­tarists keep com­ing back to the SG: it’s a truly ver­sa­tile gui­tar, no mat­ter what flavour of rock you want to shred out on it with.


But what are the downsides? Well, to be com­pletely hon­est, there re­ally are none. Maybe you pre­fer the other pick­guard style, or maybe you wish a dif­fer­ent model of pickup was used. But for me, this model – moreso than any other SG I’ve played in re­cent me­mory – re­ally cap­tures what it is that makes the model so iconic. It has the sound, the look, the at­ti­tude and the playa­bil­ity that I’m look­ing in a gui­tar of its cal­iber. Spec for spec, there isn’t all that much of a dif­fer­ence be­tween this gui­tar and other re­cent-year SG Stan­dards. But with Gib­son USA’s re­newed com­mit­ment to qual­ity con­trol, plus a stream­lined prod­uct cat­a­log that en­sures laser-pre­ci­sion fo­cus on a smaller num­ber of mod­els – com­pared to the pre­vi­ous splat­ter-shot ap­proach to re­leas­ing a jil­lion dif­fer­ent gui­tars a year – this is prob­a­bly the best year in re­cent me­mory to get a new Gib­son SG.

Sport­ing a ver­sa­tile range of qual­ity tones, a build that feels solid, yet sur­pris­ingly light, and some bril­liant fin­ish op­tions, the 2019 Gib­son SG Stan­dard is a top-range gui­tar for a mid-range price.


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