Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.
The Gibson SG started its life as a Gibson Les Paul. The original Les Paul guitars weren't successful. Most believe this is because they were both too heavy and too expensive when compared to Fender solid body electric guitars. The old school Les Paul would catch on, but not before it got replaced with what is now universally known of as the Gibson SG.
The guitar which became the SG was a hit from the very start. It was more affordable than the older single cutaway, maple top Les Paul, and it weighed significantly less. Why was it more affordable? The original SG/Les Paul guitars didn't have that carved maple top on them. Takes a lot of labor to carve a maple top, and maple isn't inexpensive itself. Take everything you believe about how and why a Gibson SG should be less expensive than a Gibson Les Paul, and for the sake of this article, throw it out the window.
In this article we will be discussing the most expensive Gibson SG guitars made within the last several years. Some of these will absolutely have a maple top on them, and others will be rather expensive for other reasons. This page is about the SGs which cost more than the typical Gibson Les Paul, and I'm not talking about Studio models either.
Why buy an SG which costs so much?
Why would someone want to spend so much on an SG when they could have got a Les Paul? The SG guitar is all out preferable to the Les Paul for some people. The double cutaway allows for superior access to the upper register of frets. The thinner body of the SG typically means the guitar weighs less than a non-chambered Les Paul.
Ever stand with a heavy guitar around your shoulders for more than an hour? It starts to wear on your shoulders after a while, and regardless of how much fun you're having. So a less heavy guitar is quite preferable to many persons. Another thing, the SG looks positively fabulous. There's something aggressive or even rebellious about its looks. The dream of many has been for an SG with a flame maple top. Well, Gibson is in the business of making a guitarist's dreams come true!
The purpose of this page is to discuss the most recent editions of Gibson SG which are much more expensive than the Gibson SG Standard. Typically something is more expensive not for being a better guitar, but for having features one may or may not want, but which do cost money to incorporate into the build or which are added on after the base guitar is built. We won't included expensive signature series SG guitars such as the Gibson Brian Ray SG because those have been elaborated on elsewhere.
1. 2016 Ltd Gibson SG Supreme
The Gibson SG Supreme is a dream come true for many. What you're looking at is a AA grade flame maple top on the traditional mahogany body of the SG. The carved AA flame maple top on the SG Supreme immediately grabs your attention with its 3D figure. The solid maple/mahogany body is characteristically rich, warm, and resonant. You get mahogany’s smooth, appealing lows with good sustain, as well as the extra clarity, definition, and bite added by the dense maple cap.
Take a gander at the fingerboard and you can see the fretboard positioning markers are inlaid with the mother-of-pearl split diamond pattern That fingerboard is of Richlite, something Gibson and other high end manufacturers are moving towards making more and more use of. These guitars have a two octave neck, so you've got 24 frets to play with, two more than found on a traditional Gibson electric.
The pickups on these guitars are both Gibson Burstbucker Pro pickups. The BurstBucker Pro adds Alnico 5 magnets to the original BurstBucker design, which captured the subtle variations in true humbucker tone thanks to historically accurate "unmatched" bobbins. These pickups sound great clean or they can be used to push your amp into overdrive for the fat, smoky sound you can only get with a humbucker. All BurstBucker Pro pickups are wax potted to minimize feedback and noise.
Gibson tends to do a limited edition run of the SG Supreme every year. So don't fret over much that we're talking about the 2016 edition. There are previous editions, and surely, there will be more as the years go by. For 2016 SG Supreme guitars, there are exactly two finish options, the red and blue shown. These are twenty five hundred dollar guitars new, that's the cost of that maple flame top.
Despite the flame maple and the roughly one thousand additional dollars required to buy one of these, the SG Supreme is not like a SG Standard with a maple cap added on. These are simpler guitars. Look at the controls, there are one volume and one tone control, there are no coil taps here. So this is a less tonally diverse, but more visually striking Gibson SG.
Gibson SG Supreme 2016 Limited Edition Features:
- Ocean Blue Finish
- Nitrocellulose Lacquer
- Carved AAA Flamed Maple Top
- Mahogany Body
- Mahogany Neck
- Richlite Fingerboard
- Split Diamond Mother of Pearl Inlays
- Slim Neck Profile
- 24.75" Scale Length
- 12" Radius
- 1.695" Nut Width
- Tektoid Nut
- 24 Frets
- Burstbucker Rhythm and Lead Pro Pickups
- 1 Volume and 1 Tone Control
- Three-Way Selector Switch
- Chrome Top Hat Knobs
- Tune-o-Matic Bridge
- Stopbar Tailpiece
- Grover Locking Kidney Tuners
- Chrome Hardware
2. Gibson SG Deluxe
There is no doubt having three pickups provides more tonal variety than does having two. The thing about having three full sized humbucker pups though, is the middle one can get in the way of where you are used to attacking the strings with your pick. It can take some getting used to for someone who uses a plectrum.
Some folks have no need for that weird plastic thing you hold between your fingers. What I'm hoping to convey here is you should know going in how or if that middle pickup is going to be in the way of your finger or pick attack. Three humbucker Gibson guitars aren't the norm, but they aren't truly so uncommon either. We players and fans can all think of well known artists who use such instruments.
Those three humbuckers aren't just any humbuckers. Those are three '57 Classic humbuckers, three of the most widely desired Gibson pickups in production. You think about how this guitar has a maple top and three humbuckers, then you can easily see how it is comparable to an Ace Frehley Les Paul, and the Peter Frampton Les Paul. Those guitars cost lots more than this one does, and this one comes with a Bigsby.
You can see the SG Deluxe has a AA flame maple top like the Supreme has. What you can not see from the photo is the Deluxe has the 1960s slim neck profile. This guitar is available in three additional finishes to the orange burst shown, they are red fade, cobalt fade, and lime burst. A two octave fingerboard and split diamond inlay are also evident, and in a departure from the Supreme, the Deluxe has two tone and two volume controls, as most SG guitars do.
The price is twenty five hundred and ninety nine dollars for a new one of these. There are plenty of them available on the used market, and each guitar comes protected in a plush-lined hardshell case with black exterior, owner’s manual and truss-rod wrench, and comes covered by Gibson USA’s Limited Lifetime Warranty and 24/7/365 Customer Service.
Gibson SG Deluxe Features:
- AA figured maple top
- Mahogany back
- Mahogany neck with 60' Slim Profile
- Bound head-stock with Split-Diamond inlays
- Bound 24-Fret rosewood fingerboard with Split-Diamond inlays
- Chrome Bigsby tailpiece
- Grover Locking Kidney tuners
- 3- '57 classic pickups with center pickup blend tog-pot
- Black plastic, (No Pick-guard)
- Stained top with metallic shade and back
- Hard-shell case
3. 7 string SGs, the Gibson SG Dark, and SG Light
Gibson has long been the go to guitar brand for the heavy rock or metal guitarist. You consider how Tony Iommi was very much the first heavy metal guitarist and he plays a Gibson SG almost exclusively, and there you have it. Tony also is well noted as being a guy who slacks his strings often. What am I talking about? What is slacking strings? He's often got his SG tuned down from the pitch we know of as standard tuning.
Fast forward to the here and now in the metal guitar music making communities, and you have artists seeking an extended range. What I mean is six strings and 22 frets on an electric guitar are wonderful, but also overly traditional. An extended range represented by seven strings and maybe 24 frets, such a guitar can clearly give the player some notes and tones not normally available.
The two Gibson 7 string SG guitars are just such guitars. They offer two octave fretboards and seven strings. Death metal, doom metal, and countless other sub-genres of hardcore metal music are more readily created with just this sort of guitar. Be certain you realize these guitars have no concerns about what type of music you use them to make, they'll have the same extended range capacity for jazz, country, or any other style you desire to play.
Take a look at the fingerboards of these 7 string guitar. Direct your eyes to the seventh fret, and notice the super cool Roman numeral '7' inlay there. These are special guitars. They aren't for everyone though, as the necks are going to be too wide for all hands to cradle and caress so comfortably.
Well, what about the pickups on these 7 string SGs? You can't very well put a normal one in there, pickups are created for the number of strings they'll be creating sound for. Gibson decided to use Seymour Duncan pickups here. These are still passive pickups, but they are wound for plenty of crunch. Below I'm going to list specifications, be sure you realize the Dark and the Light are the exact same guitars, the only difference being the color. There were exactly 300 of each made, and they sold for $2,499 each.
Gibson 7 String SG Features:
- Body shape: Double cutaway
- Body type: Solid body
- Body material: Laminated
- Body wood: Mahogany
- Body finish: High gloss Lacquer
- Neck shape: Rounded
- Neck wood: 1-piece Mahogany
- Joint: Set-in
- Scale length: 24.75 in.
- Truss rod: Standard
- Neck finish: Gloss
- Fretboard Material: Richlite
- Radius: 12 in.
- Fret size: Jumbo
- Number of frets: 24
- Inlays: Trapezoid
- Nut width: 1.97 in. (50 mm)
- Seymour Duncan Pickup Configuration: HH
- Neck: SH-1n
- Bridge: SH-4
- Control layout: Volume 1, volume 2, tone 1, tone 2
- Pickup switch: 3-way
- Bridge type: Fixed
- Bridge design: Tune-o-matic
- Tailpiece: Stopbar
- Tuning machines: Grover
- Color: Black chrome
- Number of strings: 7-string
- Special features: Limited edition
- Case: Hardshell case
- Accessories: Truss-rod tool
4. The 2015 Gibson SGS3
The SGS3, last produced in 2015, was priced to sell at the same dollar amount as the SG Deluxe. The SGS3, however, had no maple top, had no Bigsby vibrato, had the standard 22 fret fingerboard and the normal SG and Les Paul fretboard positioning marker inlay. How to reconcile this?
Well, there is gold plating found here. This explains a lot of the price. Black and gold go quite well together, and Gibson liked to describe this guitar as 'Black Magic.' You do, of course, get a vibrola with this guitar. This version is noted as a sideways vibrola, and a Bigsby isn't for everyone. The good people at Gibson want everyone to know their sideways vibrola device is greatly improved from previous incarnations.
2015 was a year when Gibson did some things lots of purist type persons simply did not like. Things like the G-Force tuners, the zero fret nut frustrated many. There were also questions about Gibson's quality control that year. None of those problems will be evident for the persons who purchase this guitar, as it does not have the G-Force or the adjustable nut, and Gibson's utmost attention is on the special edition models. When a guitar has gold plating on the metal hardware, it is going to be a guitar looked at very closely.
Gibson SGS3 2015 Limited Edition Electric Guitar Specifications
- Body Type: SG
- Body Species: Mahogany
- Neck profile: Slim Taper .800 -.875
- Fingerboard: Rosewood 22 fret
- Fingerboard binding: Cream
- Inlay: Acrylic trapezoid
- Finish: Ebony
- Bridge: Gold Tune-o-Matic
- Tailpiece: Gold Sideways Vibrola
- Electronics: 57 classic, 57 classic, 57 classic plus
- Plastics: 5 ply Black and White pickguard
- Knobs: Black top hats
- Case: Vintage Brown Hardshell
Gibson SG Supra
5.Gibson SG Supra
The latest Gibson SG Supra guitars were available in the two finish options I have pictured above. These guitars have the flame maple tops, the three '57 Classic humbuckers, and then some special electronics which you won't see often on any Gibson guitar.
What are these special electronics? Well, the Integrated Fishman Piezo Power Bridge system with Blend control is exactly it, and something pretty dang special. The electric guitar contains a wealth of different sounds. But the rich organic quality of an acoustic has never been one of them - until now. The Fishman PowerBridge System - including the PowerBridge Pickup and dedicated preamp, can reveal new colors and textures hidden inside your electric guitar.
The controls look traditional, but hide a clever “TogPot” around the three-way pickup selector, which let’s you blend in the middle pickup as desired, enabling myriad sonic variations, while a Fishman designed piezo volume control with exclusive “smart switch” lurks in the position of the second tone control, and lets you blend in the acoustic tone as desired, and split your output to stereo with piezo and magnetic on separate sides (you will need a special cable that is not included to split the piezo and magnetics), or sum them in mono. To anchor it all down, Gibson USA loads in a traditional stopbar tailpiece, with a set of genuine Grover locking tuners.
Now, one can easily see the flame maple top on the SG Supra. What you don't see from a frontal view is these also have flame maple backsides. I have read on websites which ought to know better that the entire body of these guitars is of maple. But Gibson's own information pages about the SG Supra say no such thing. What is without question here is the addition of more maple is going to make these sound differently from other premium SG guitars.
Take a look at the fingerboard of the Supra. That fingerboard or fretboard is of Richlite material. Yes, this material is becoming more often used, and when it is used, it is being used on the most upscale and expensive guitars. Richlite is thought to be as fine as ebony. You can see the fretboard positioning inlays are also different from any of the previously discussed guitars. Then, there is an abalone inlay globe on the headstock. You don't get one of these without digging deep into the wallet, they are priced at $3,599.
Gibson SG Supra Features
- AA maple body and AAA flame maple top
- Three '57 Classic humbucking pickups
- Integrated Fishman Piezo Power Bridge system with Blend control
- Locking Grover tuners
- '60s asymmetrical neck profile
- Bound Richlite fingerboard
- Hardshell case included
6. Gibson Custom Standard Historic SG Standard
The final two guitars we'll talk about are more expensive than all the others. They don't have maple tops or backs, they don't have three humbuckers, and they don't come with Bigsby vibrola devices. You look at the pictures and wonder what the deal is. They look like typical SG standards.
These are Gibson Custom Shop guitars. The most skilled persons Gibson employs work in that department, and so the highest level of dedication and attention to details are found here. Gibson has gone out of its way, beyond the pale, to analyze the most obscure data of the original SGs, back when they were known as Les Paul guitars, and recreate those exact instruments here. That's what you are paying for when you buy any Gibson historic reissue guitar.
What about the pickups? These are Custom Shop humbuckers. Beginning with high-end potentiometers and capacitors, every part of this solid-body electric guitar's internal signal path was designed to give you absolutely dead-on SG tone. Of course, it's next to impossible to find genuine '50s PAFs (even for Gibson). Instead, this Custom SG Standard sports a pair of Gibson's CustomBucker humbuckers. The CustomBucker is the most historically accurate PAF copy ever produced.
What do these fine guitars, crafted by the finest luthiers employed by Gibson cost? You might want to have a seat. Go ahead and take a stiff drink, and a few deep breaths. These are listed at $4,499.
Gibson Custom Standard Historic SG Features:
Body & Hardware:
- Solid mahogany body
- Nickel hardware
- ABR-1 bridge, lightweight aluminum stopbar or Maestro tailpiece
Neck & Headstock
- 1-piece mahogany neck w/ long neck tenon
- 22-fret rosewood fingerboard
- Acrylic trapezoid inlays
- Single-ply cream binding
- 1960 slim taper neck profile
- 24-3/4 in. scale length, 1-11/16 in. nut width
- Holly headstock veneer
- Vintage tulip tuners
Electronics & Strings
- Custom bucker humbucking pickups
- 2 volume, 2 tone, 3-way selector switch
- Includes Custom Shop case, and certificate of authenticity.
7. Gibson Custom Standard SG Reissue
VOS is a big thing these days. What the thing stands for is 'vintage original specifications.' The major American guitar manufacturers all use it these days, and what happens is one of their old guitars from decades ago is very scientifically analyzed and replicated. This SG is another one of those.
This is very much the same guitar as the one just above this section. You can see the difference is the addition of the vibrato device. Another thing which is involved in these VOS recreations is they use the same glue as was used, in this case, in the early 60s.
Hot Hide glue construction is an even bigger deal in acoustic guitars than in solid body electric construction. Some folks believe the glue affects the tone. Whether it could possibly affect the tonality of a solid body electric, or not, is not something I wish to speculate about, but in any event, you have such glue used in the Historic Reissue guitars
Since some 1960s SGs shipped with Gibson's unique Maestro Vibrola, which effectively replaced the earlier Bigsbys, the SG Standard VOS Reissue includes it in the line. With an engraved cover and plastic-tipped handle, it worked well enough, though we look at it more today as an interesting part of Gibson's long and storied history which includes a number of interesting design choices.
This is the most expensive guitar on the list. Gibson wants five thousand and ninety nine dollars for each of them. They're certainly fine guitars, but they will be more fragile than any more recent SG Standard would be.
Gibson Custom Standard Historic SG Standard Reissue Features:
- Built to vintage specs, capturing the legendary SG look and sound
- Mahogany body produces a rich tone with singing high notes
- Custom Bucker pickups deliver vintage PAF tone
- Period-correct Maestro vibrato
- Hot hide-glue neck joint preserves resonance and sustain
- VOS finish gives you the look of a well-maintained classic
- Lightweight aluminum stopbar tailpiece delivers amazing tone and sustain
- Kluson Deluxe tuners maintain intonation
Gibson Custom SG Standard Historic Reissue VOS
© 2017 Wesman Todd Shaw