Being one of the oldest guitar brands in the world, Gibson has established quite a few iconic models. Naturally, the best known line of Gibson guitars is the Les Paul. However, it is closely followed by Gibson SG series. Made popular by Angus Young of AC/DC, Gibson SG has always been considered to be Les Paul’s more aggressive brother. Today we are going to check out the 2017 Standard T model. There are several more tricked out versions of SG out there, but sticking with the Standard is a good way to see what this guitar is capable of in its default state. Lets get started.
John Mayer is most commonly associated with Fender Stratocaster guitars, and for a good reason. On any given concert, this is the ax you will see him playing the most. That doesn’t mean that Mayer’s palette includes nothing but Strats. On the contrary, he has one of the most diverse collections of guitars among all top tier performers today. As you have probably guessed by now, Gibson SG is in there as well. The fact of the matter is that Strat’s single coils aren’t capable of everything. There comes a time when two beefy humbuckers are simply necessary.
What sets aside SG series from the Les Paul is the body shape. Gibson wanted to do a double cutaway design that increases comfort but also has unique character. That is exactly what SG represents. Compared to Les Paul, it is a much faster body shape that sits more comfortably in your hands. Gibson SG Standard T brings that exact same body with no modifications. Tonewood of choice is naturally mahogany. Gibson’s source of mahogany yields great sustain and adds a bit of a bite to the tone.
Neck is also a mahogany piece that features a classic slim taper profile and sports a historic 1 11/16″ neck width. The fretboard comes in form of a rosewood board with trapezoid inlays and cream binding. Overall, everything about this model matches the specs of the ’57 original. Last but not least, we have the dark stain finish that really adds a whole new dimension to the way this guitar looks.
Hardware wise, Gibson tried to stick to the original as much as possible. Needless to say, they have managed to achieve this in most of the important areas. Starting with the bridge, we have an aluminum Tune-O-Matic piece that leads to an aluminum tail piece. Both of these components are chrome plated like the rest of the hardware. On the other end of the guitar at the headstock, we see a set Grover kidney-button locking tuners. This is the first piece of hardware that isn’t quite up to spec. Unless you are a diehard purist, chances are you will appreciate these tuners as they offer a much better key retention. Nut is also one place where we find alternative materials being used. To be more specific, the nut is made of Tektoid.
Electronics are where things get interesting. Gibson went with a set of ’57 Classic humbuckers, which is a huge upgrade compared to the last year’s model. We are looking at Alnico II magnets packed inside a nickel plated steel covers. The control complement is a standard one. In other words, there is a set of two volume knobs and two tone knobs, each volume/tone pair being assigned to an individual humbucker. Lastly, there is also the pickup select switch.
When it comes to performance, things are pretty great. The inclusion of ’57 Classic humbuckers has really brought the SG Standard back on track. Compared to the 490R/T set found on the 2016 model, these vintage humbuckers tend give the SG a lot of classic grunt. After all, that is what most of us really wanted in the first place. Straight out of the box, Gibson SG Standard 2017 T packs a mean punch. Cleans are massive, wide but ultimately crisp. Once you punch that overdrive button, you basically being sent back in time. The tone is gritty, full of girth and great sustain. This year’s SG is made to play classic rock or blues. With that said, it definitely handles heavier distortion if that is your jam
We’ve paired it with a vintage Plexi and got some pretty amazing results without tweaking the sound all too much. Pushing it through a busy signal chain also delivers great tone as the guitar is fairly forgiving to all kinds of effects. At the end of the day, Gibson SG Standard T comes across as a true workhorse that is fairly flexible but always ready to deliver a pure, vintage tone should you need it.
In terms of playability, Gibson has made a few minor changes that improve things quite a bit. As we have mentioned earlier, the neck features a classic profile. However, Gibson went ahead and reshaped the binding on the fretboard. Instead of a 90 degrees angle compared to the fretboard surface, the binding on this new model is slightly tapered inwards. In theory, this small change should make the guitar more comfortable to play and give you that worn in feel. On paper, the results are mixed. In our opinion, that worn in effect will take a bit of playing to achieve, but not nearly as much as it would if the binding was stock.
Gibson SG Standard 2017 T is an awesome guitar. There is no other way to describe it. The fact that Gibson has added ’57 Classic humbuckers and a set of locking tuners adds to its value and brings the guitar into the modern age. With that said, Gibson SG was never meant to be an edgy ax. Instead, it is a source of vintage vibes and good old classic tone. That hasn’t changed with this year’s model. If you need a proper workhorse with great pedigree and plenty of head space in terms of performance, definitely check this bad boy out.