Continuing my series of guitar reviews, I’m going back to the Gibson SGM, which I bought from Fab Music back in 2019. Despite dithering over this purchase, and coming back for it 6 months later, it has turned out to be one of my most-used guitars.
It’s a Gibson 120th Anniversary edition (2014) SGM, to be precise. The M in SGM stands for Min-eTune, the infamous electronic tuning system. It’s based on the bottom-of-the-range SG Junior. And, while it’s not one of the finest examples of Gibson’s work that you’ll ever see, it suits me just fine as a no-nonsense lightweight humbucker with 24 frets and a nice set-up. Plus, I finally own a Gibson.
It’s not pretty. The cherry finish is patchy, and the fretboard rosewood is grainy and weird, but when a guitar plays this well, I can overlook its cosmetics. The ’61-style zebra Alnico V humbuckers have a nice warm punchy sound suited to clean or distorted tones, and the slim C profile satin neck and double-cut body makes light work of accessing all 24 frets.
Due to its light weight (6.6lb/3kg), you hardly know you’re carrying it. Surprisingly, this doesn’t seem to affect its sustain much — maybe it’s the glued neck joint. And, once I’d replaced the awful Min-eTune with a set of Kluson vintage-style tulip-buttoned tuners, not only is the guitar lighter, but the headstock is less prone to dive-bombing (a common SG complaint).
The modern narrow/tall frets take a bit of getting used to, but as its last set-up included a good fret polish, this actually makes my heavier touch a bit easier. Like my Kasuga Deluxe, the string spacing at the bridge is around 50mm and the nut is 43mm wide. Coupled with the standard Gibson 24.75″ scale, this makes any Les Paul player right at home, with a slightly slinkier compact feel.
I’m glad this ugly duckling stayed in the shop for my return.