Gibson SG

  • Gibson SG

The Gibson SG is as iconic as any guitar that has ever been made. At a glance, any guitarist can instantly recognize this guitar!

There have been Japanese copies and of course the Epiphone line that is also owned by Gibson and recreates a very similar product. However, this is the guitar that has not only ROCKED the world, it has also ROCKED the ages!

What kind of a list might we have if we just looked at some well known SG guitarists? Well, for one, Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin who used the double neck guitar for Stairway to Heaven…

How about Tony Iommi with Black Sabbath and his Black Guitar? I know what you’re thinking, but I play right handed (unlike Tony who plays left handed).

We cannot forget Angus Young who managed to bring so much life to three chord melodies. Truly an artist at work!

No I’m not done, … not by a long shot! How about Robby Krieger of The Doors, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia of the Greatful Dead, Frank Zappa, Frank Marino from Mahogany Rush. Need I go On?… How about Pete Townshend from The Who, Jimi Hendrix ( another left handed guitarist), Mick Box from Uriah Heep, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Blue Oyster Cult. Judas Priest, The Allman Brothers, hey I know there’s a lot more out there that should be getting their props as well, but the point is, the SG is here to stay!

Now, if perhaps you are thinking of buying your own piece of the pie, you may very well purchase a brand new one from a certified dealer, or perhaps you are going to buy a used guitar; you may even wish to get your hands on one that is a piece of history. Anyway you cut the mustard, I’m sure you are going to want to know you have the real deal and you’re going to want to know what you’re getting (which brings us to the real nuts & bolts of things), … What’s the Serial Number and how do I know what it means? Well, I will try to tell you some info that might steer you in the right direction.

They use a series of numbers to determine when the guitar was made and by who. Here are some Serial numbers from 1968:

500000-500999 ~ 501601-502706 ~ 503010-503110 ~ 503405-530993 ~ 600000-600999 ~ 750000-750999 ~ 800000-800999 ~ 895039-896999 ~ 899000-899999 ~ 900000-902250 ~ 90300-920899 ~ 940000-941009 ~ 942001-943000 ~ 945000-945450 ~ 947415-956000 ~ 959000-960909 ~ 970000-972864

Record keeping sucked back in those days, but as the story goes, If you have a number on your guitar that isn’t on the list, it could be a fake or perhaps a stolen guitar that was re-stamped, or it just never made it on the list… who knows… Anyways everything is rather sketchy up until 1977 when they re-did the Serial Numbers. After that, they used an 8-digit number system to keep track of things better. The system they used was “YDDDYPPP”. YY= the year it was produced, DDD= the day of the year it was produced, and PPP= the number produced off the assembly line that day. So to try to keep you up to speed with me, … There is one more thing I have to throw at you, … There were two factories making these guitars up until 1984. There was the Kalamazoo factory and the Nashville Factory. Each of these factories used their own production numbers so that they could keep track of who made what. Kalamazoo closed it’s doors in 1984, so after 1984, you didn’t need to use this, but if you have a guitar manufactured before 1984, you will want to keep track of that.

Here are some examples:

If the Serial Number is 82763501, This guitar was made in 1983 on the 276th day of the year (Oct 3rd), and was the first guitar off of the line that day. It was also made in Nashville.

If the Serial Number is 70108276, this guitar was made on January 10, 1978 and was the 276th guitar off of the Kalamazoo production line that day.

If the Serial Number is 80465507, this guitar was made on February 17, 1985 and was the 507th guitar off of the Nashville (and only) production line that day.

One more thing I would like to add before moving on, and that is guitar seconds. Guitar seconds were guitars made on the production line that were not up to the usual standard of perfection. Perhaps a blemish in the lacquer or a nick in the paint. It never compromised the playing aspect or they wouldn’t even sell it. For whatever reason, these guitars were sold usually to factory workers or for demo guitars and they were not only sold as seconds, but were stamped to verify that this is not the usual guitar that one might expect to purchase from Gibson. Prior to 1984, these guitars were stamped with “2” below the serial number and in 1984 and thereafter, they were stamped “SECOND” below the serial number. So if you see one, it isn’t a bad thing, but I would expect to pay less for one of these guitars.

I guess this about concludes this article. I hope you found it informative…

Take Care,

mark

 

First Act ME301 Guitar Review

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You may not know it, but First Act makes a lot of products. They are a musical instrument manufacturer. First Act produces Guitars, Basses, Drum Kits, Percussion instruments, Amplifiers, and an array of different accessories. First Act was founded in 1995, so they have been around a while. Today we are going to take a look at one of their guitars.

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This is the ME301. Read More

Gibson SG-24 Review

Gibson Limited Edition SG Standard 24

Electric Guitar with Case

Gibson made a Tony Iommi guitar that was 24 fret for those who wanted a 24 fret SG guitar. Then in 2011 for Gibson’s 50th Anniversary, they issued a limited run of 24 fret Gibson SG’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get one of those, but Gibson also put out a limited run of 24 fret SG’s in 2012 and I got one! This model is supposed to be only available at American Musical Supply and that is where I purchased mine.

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5 Way Switches Explained

5-way Switches Explained

How 5-way switches work

On some of the guitars and basses, the manufacturers use a 5-way selector switch. You may be wanting to put one in as a replacement,  incorporating it into a project guitar, or maybe inquiring minds just want to know. For whatever reason, if you want to know what’s going on in there, read on…

Let’s look at some typical 5-way switches. Below is the Fender 5-way switch that is found on some of their guitars:

Understanding how the 5-way switch on a guitar works will help you in wiring your guitar. There are two common types of 5-way selector switches in the guitar world, the Fender type and the “import” type. Both of these are functionally identical but are different in physical layout. You can easily identify which type you’re dealing with. The Fender-type switch (when viewed from below) have two rows of 4 contacts on the circular body of the switch, and the import-type switch has a single row of 8 contacts.

Most Fender-type switches are usually found in Fender guitars, but are easily available so they could find their way into any guitar. There are a lot of Strat-styled guitars and the Fender switch might find its way into any of them.

Import-type switches are often found in other brands (like Ibanez). Below is a typical Import-type 5-way switch:

 

There is also a rotary 5 way switch, but I have never seen one actually working in a guitar, But if you wired one in, it would work.

The Basics:

A 5-way switch is actually a place where connections are relayed from one place to another.They are mechanically connected within the assembly. The contacts are connected and disconnected by the lever of the component.

A 5-way selector switch is not technically a 5-way switch, it’s a 3-way switch.Actually a 2-pole 3-way switch. Perhaps this will help you understand that:

The switch is just making the same connections twice and relaying them. If there is 3 pickups (like on the Strat) it connects the 3 pickups twice. When wired up in the conventional way, it will connect the pickups as follows:

  • Switch pointing toward Bridge         –           Bridge pickup only
  • Switch up one notch from Bridge    –           Bridge and Middle pickup
  • Switch in the Middle                             –           Middle pickup only
  • Switch up one notch from Middle   –           Middle pickup and Neck pickup
  • Switch pointing toward Neck            –          Neck pickup only

Of course you can feel free to express yourself and try different ways to wire it. You may just find something you like.

 

A Bit of history:

The original Fender Stratocaster had 2-pole 3-way switches and were intended to only select the neck, middle or bridge pickup. When the switch was moved from one position to the next, the last contact was made before the next contact was broken. People found that if you could position the switch in between the three positions, you could actually have both the neck and middle, or middle and bridge pickups connected at the same time! It became common to rest the 3-way switch in between the positions; so common in fact that in the 60’s people were filing notches in the detente mechanism of the 3-way switch to achieve that in between position. These became the “notch” positions. In the 70’s, Fender adopted this popular switching style in their stock switch thus becoming what we now use and call a “5-way” switch.

 

How to wire it up:

Before you begin, remember that the Fender-type and import-type switches are functionally identical. The only difference is in the physical layout of the contacts. The schematics are the same for both switches, but the switches are different as you can see by the photos.

The schematics might be labeled 1, 3, and 5 (with 2 and 4 being the in-betweens) or they might be labeled B, M, and N (which stands for Bridge, Middle and Neck). The best way of working out which contact is which is by using a multimeter and see for yourself which contacts as you sweep the switch through the 5 positions. On the Fender-type and some import-type switches you can see which contact is are being made. If the switch is open or see through, you will be able to see which contacts are being made by the wiper. This method of visualizing the switch also helps when it comes time to oriented the switch in the right direction.

I have an upcoming section on wiring schematics and doing the actual soldering that might be helpful. I will provide the links here once it’s done.

I hope this was informative and helped you out. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to ask.

Till next time, take care…

mark

 

 

 

Adjusting the Height of the Pickups

 

After adjusting the action and string height, you should adjust the height of the pickups. If the pickups are too close to the strings, the magnetic field can cause undesirable distortion.Another by-product of a pickup being too close to the strings is that it can kill your sustain. The strong magnetic field will pull on the string causing it to stop vibrating prematurely. When checking the distance between the pickup and the string, always do so with the string pushed down at the last fret (the fret closest to the pickup). This is where the string will be the closest to the pickup. This is when you make your measurements and settings. Measure from the top of the pickup to the bottom of the string.

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Adjusting the Bridge

The bridge ( sometimes called the saddle ), is not only adjusted for height, but also to level the bridge with the neck.

But before we get into the differences in adjusting them, first let’s discuss what we are trying to achieve.

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