Gibson SG Tribute 60’s Review
The Gibson SG Tribute 60’s is a modern reconstruction by Gibson, of their legendary 1960’s SG special.
Why ‘legendary’? Well, this is the original guitar played by: Pete Townshend, Carlos Santana and Tony Iommi (to name just a few!). It’s essenially a Gibson SG special with ‘Burstbucker’ humbuckers, which aim to recreate the original P-60 pickups– which, you may be surprised to hear, are single-coils.
Yup, the opening riff to ‘Black Sabbath’, by the band ‘Black Sabbath’- one of the heaviest riffs in metal history- was played with singlecoil pickups. Heavy metal bands today very rarely use singlecoils- if they use them at all! They tend to prefer the heavier sound of humbuckers.
True, a few bands- such as Iron Maiden- do use singlecoils in (some of) their guitars, but this isn’t the norm. So, if you’re looking for the sound of early Black Sabbath, or The Who, you’ll be wanting a P-90 singlecoil!
However, these pickups- being singlecoils- are much more prone to interference and hum. Therefore, Gibson have gone for the more modern ‘Burstbuckers’ on this guitar.
The Gibson SG Tribute 60’s also features a ‘min-etune’ tuning system. This is a clever little device that is installed in the headstock of the guitar. It can magically tune your guitar for you at the touch of a button- which is pretty impressive to watch!
The best part about this tuning system? Other than the fact that it will save you a lot of time and effort with tuning, this thing actually tunes the strings. That may sound obvious, but it isn’t. Some ‘tuning’ systems actually digitally alter the sound of each string- a bit like autotune, or a whammy pedal
I mean, the digital method is effective, but it degrades the tone- and sometimes just sounds wrong. So a robot that actually turns the physical tuning pegs is a much better idea!
- Solid Mahogany body
- Mahogany neck
- Slim Taper ’60s neck profile
- Rosewood fretboard
- Trapezoid inlays
- BurstBucker 1 and BurstBucker 2 humbucking pickups (neck/bridge)
- Grover™ Kidney button or Min-ETune™ automated tuners
- Body Style: SG
- Tune-O-Matic Bridge
- Heritage Cherry finish
- Traditional Back-Angled headstock
- 24 medium jumbo frets
- PLEK-Cut, Black Corian nut
- Chrome hardware
- Individual Volume Controls, Tone Controls
- 1/4″ Output Jack
- Three-Way toggle switch
The ‘Robot’ Tuning System
- Ultra-high-ratio 40:1 tuners
- Extended-life Li-ion battery
- 6 popular alternate tunings
- 6 programmable tunings
The bustbucker pickups in the Gibson SG tribute 60’s use similar Alnico V magnets to the original P-90 singlecoils. The tone they produce ranges from warm and vocal, to snarly, aggression- but without all the drawbacks associated with singlecoils.
Purists may want to install the original P-90 pickups in this Gibson SG, but if you were going to do that, you’ll probably want the original guitar too (if you can find one!). The point is that this guitar has the same look, feel and tone of the original 1960’s Gibson SG, but it’s been updated with more modern technology.
What We liked
This guitar is very light and comfortable to play- something that’s probably due to the slim-taper neck profile. The slim-taper necks were originally designed for Les Pauls as an alternative to the fat tree trunks they used to use. The idea is that a thinner neck is easier to play and promotes speed.
I have to agree that a slimmer neck is easier to play. Your hand won’t get tired out to easily, and won’t have to stretch as much. This is even more of an advantage if you have smaller hands!
The body is also nice and light- which, again, makes this guitar much easier to play! Even though it has all this reduced mass, the guitar doesn’t feel cheap, or badly done at all.
The Gibson SG tribute 60’s also has 24 frets- two more than a standard SG! I like this feature, even though it only actually gives you two extra notes (a D-sharp and an E on the thinnest string). It’s great for those high-pitched bends that end heavy rock or intense blues solos!
Yes, you could go and find a Tony Iommi signature for the early Sabbath sound (if that’s what you’re into), but there are some problems with that:
- A) They don’t make them anymore
- B) This guitar is almost exactly the same
- C) This guitar is probably going to be more affordable!
Oh, and did I mention that this guitar tunes itself?!
This isn’t just a cheat way to never have to learn to tune by yourself, it’s actually a tool. Just like an electronic tuner, this device can be used in noisy environments (like, before a gig), but you don’t need an extra pedal or power supply. The Min-Etune system is built right into the headstock of the guitar and runs off batteries!
What We didn’t like
Although this guitar definitely doesn’t feel cheap, there are some small touches that could be improved.
For example, the frets can sometimes feel a bit sharp, there is no binding on the body, and no pick guard. The SG special had a pickguard, why is there no pickguard, Gibson?!
Not that is really matters, as these things are all just aesthetics. As I said, the guitar plays, sounds and feels great- it’s just some of those finishing touches that seem to be missing.
I guess it’s OK though, as you get official 1960’s robot tuners, and two extra frets instead, right? Wait, did the original have robot tuners…?
Conclusions on the Gibson SG Tribute 60’s guitar
The Gibson SG Tribute 60’s is a great guitar to play and listen to. However, it’s not really like the 1960’s Gibson SG special. It’s more like what that guitar would be like if they made it today.
This isn’t a negative comment, and it’s an amazing guitar- especially if you want that early Sabbath or The Who kinda tones. I know those bands might be very, very different, but that just shows the versatility of those pickups!