Gibson SG Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar (1964)

Gibson  SG Standard Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1964)

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Item # 8041
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Gibson SG Standard Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1964), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 162029, cherry lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

We've seen a lot of clean, well-preserved vintage guitars over the years, but this one just rocked us back on our heels. Clean? We're talking immaculate here! When the case opened up we had to do several double takes and the "sniff test" several times before we could believe our eyes (and noses!) that this really is an all-original 1960s guitar and not a restoration or tricked-up reissue. But no, as the line goes (well, a paraphrase anyway): "It's real, and it's spectacular!"

This almost impossibly well-preserved gleaming cherry red SG Standard was built in 1964, the last full great year of Gibson's classic Ted-McCarty-helmed electric era. The smooth C-profile neck is the wider (and much beloved) 1 11/16" style used up through 1965 with a great solid and chunky feel, thicker than the earlier flat-profile '61 and '62 Les Paul/SGs. Like many other features (the old-style neck joint, humbucking pickups carried in rings mounted to the body with a small pickguard, and nickel-plated hardware), this would be changed by the end of 1965. This guitar mounts two very hot "patent number" humbucking pickups, the older-'60s style "capped" plastic knobs, and a Gibson Vibrola with the plastic-tipped handle still intact.

For critical Gibson connoisseurs, this was the apex of the SG series solid bodies, as by early 1966 the design was heavily modified to speed up production with a large "swimming pool" route to the face of the body, as well as pickups mounted to the top-spanning pickguard. This example has the same features as the earlier Standards back to 1961, except for the substitution of the long-plate Gibson Vibrola tailpiece for the earlier (and very poorly received) "side-to-side" vibrato system. The guitar has no modifications with an untouched wiring rig with pots that appear dated to the 39th week of 1963, but the last digit of the code is obscured by solder joints.

The SG Standard was and remains a very popular guitar, with good reason. Although considered one of Gibson's classic designs, the SG standard is not nearly as common as many think. The Les Paul name was deleted in 1963, and as the design changed radically in 1965-6, this particular SG variant was only in production for about two years. Exactly 1,375 of these slim cherry beauties were shipped in 1964, but only a tiny fraction can have survived anywhere nearly as cleanly as this one.

From George Harrison to Eric Clapton and legions more, the '64 SG Standard is one of the classic rock guitars of that or any era, more versatile than many think with a sound unto itself! This example is a superb player, and would be the ultimate collector's choice -- to get a cleaner one you'd have to fire up the time machine.
Overall length is 39 3/4 in. (101 cm.), 13 1/4 in. (33.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

We almost never describe vintage guitars as "near mint," but this immaculate SG is easily the most perfectly preserved example of a '64 Standard we have ever seen. The cherry lacquer finish and nickel plating still shine with hardly a mark on them, and the frets and fingerboard show hardly any play time. Can we find a few flaws? Well, there is some tiny scuff marking to the top surface of the pickguard from picking, which could be carefully buffed off, if desired. There are a few light scratches to the plastic control cavity plate on the back. The treble side of the heel joint shows a bit of sloppy finishing near the fingerboard (a not uncommon sight) and the lacquer just at the base of the heel joint has the tiniest stress mark.

The neck joint is as solid as they come and there is no movement or repair to this oft-problematic area. Another bonus on this guitar is the excellent neck angle, which is about the best we've seen on an SG of this period. This enhances playability, giving plenty of angle to the bridge off the vibrato. The finish on the back of the neck has just the slightest fade compared to the rest of the guitar, and there are a few tiny touch-ups on the headstock edges, so cleanly done they are unly visible under UV light.

The original case is also in immaculate shape; it has been treated with a vinyl/rubber preservative like Armorall so is a bit slick to the touch, but means the covering has never dried out, split, or cracked. There are only a few tiny scuffs and one missing edge stitch to betray its true age. When 1960s vintage guitars surface in this sort of shape, it's hard for many to believe they are in fact 50+ years old; we are so used to seeing checking and fade that the finishes appear too bright and rich to be real! This is what a 1960s guitar looked like when it went on the wall of a shop brand new, the object of dreams.

Yes, we have played it -- and as long as you wipe it down each time, it's OK to fire it up and let it sing. Although the extreme state of preservation might preclude this being a gigging guitar (which is kind of sad, as it's a truly great one), if you're looking for absolutely the finest 1964 SG Standard in the world, there will not be much in the way of competition for this one. Inside the original case is a copy of the 1963 Gibson catalog, and for inspiration, a very nice color print of The Beatles with George playing his own '64 SG. A fantastic package of Gibson goodness. Near Mint Condition.