Gibson SG Custom Solid Body Electric Guitar (1969)

Gibson  SG Custom Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1969)
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$15,500.00 + shipping
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Item # 12053
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson SG Custom Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1969), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 849363, walnut lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a fairly rare variation of the Gibson SG Custom, the top line model in their sculpted solid body series. This Custom was built in 1969, when a lot of things were in flux in Kalamazoo. The re-introduction of the original 1950s style Les Pauls was a roaring success, but the SG's still stood their ground in the hyper-amplified music of the day and remained popular. The Custom was always an expensive guitar, and shipped in much smaller quantities than other SG variants.

This Custom shows a number of changes from earlier 1960s models. The most obvious is the finish; the stock color was white up into 1969, when it was changed to this more natural looking "walnut" livery in deference to the hippie aesthetic of the times. In 1966 all SG's had been modified with a large center body rout covered by an expanded pickguard allowing bodies in stock to be assembled into any SG or Melody Maker model. This guitar's three humbucking pickups are hung beneath the pickguard instead of mounted to separate rings as earlier examples. The gold-capped plastic knobs are the late '60s "witch hat' style. Besides the large pickguard it also has the streamlined and much more solid neck joint adopted at the same time, which finally cured the heel issues that plagued earlier SG's.

The neck itself is a 3 piece mahogany laminate with no volute or made in USA on the back of the headstock; these would arrive in 1970. It is very skinny at the nut (1 9/16") but surprisingly deep, especially as it approaches the body. The bound ebony fingerboard has genuine pearl block inlay and the very small "fretless wonder" fretwire preferred by Les Paul himself. The multi-bound headstock sports the Super 400 style split diamond inlay and is fitted with Kluson Sealfast "Waffleback" tuners. The Gibson catalog touted the "New extra-slim, low action neck" as a standout feature.

All hardware is gold plated including the Deluxe long-plate Gibson Vibrola, de rigeur in the mid-60s but falling out of favor in the "heavy" later 60s. The neck angle is amazingly sharp, quite the most oblique we have EVER seen on a period SG with tons of break off the Vibrola so it actually works well. This is a fairly short-lived version of the Custom; by the end of 1971 SG models lost the large pickguard, going thru some changes before settling down to the familiar mid-70s style.

This guitar retains all 3 original Patent # pickups and wiring with visible pot codes to the 34th week of 1969. The pickups are quite powerful sounding, but the middle position is VERY out-of-phase, in "wild dog" territory! The serial number is in the "840xxx" series used in both 1967 and 69 but all features mark this as a 1969 instrument. It is also a fairly rare one;
only 451 Customs shipped that year compared to over 3300 SG Standards. Taking the decade as a whole the figures are even more striking; from 1961-70 only 2641 Customs were sold compared to over 21,000 Standards. The List price September 1969 was $525 plus $73.00 for the #0537 deluxe gold-plush lined shaped hardshell case.
 
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 9/16 in. (40 mm.).

This is a lovely example of this relatively rare Gibson creation, showing not too much play time over 55 years. This all-original lacquer finish shows virtually no checking except on the headstock face and only minor wear with some scuffs, dings and a few chips on the back edges. The back of the neck has a few tiny feelable dinks. The neck and heel show no breaks or repairs, unlike many examples of this model. The frets are the original "fretless wonder" low narrow wire, showing very little wear and still quite playable.

The guitar remains all original except for a set of hand-cut tall brass saddles for the original bridge; originally it had tall Nylon saddles (we know as we found one in the case lining!). The pickups are three original patent # humbuckers and all solder joints appear original. The lacquered gold plating has noticeable wear on the pickup covers, bridge top and vibrato piece behind the bridge. There is a very small crack in the pickguard between the bridge and middle pickups, with a tiny piece of ancient tape over it.

This guitar comes with a story of having been bought from Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult in Rochester, NY during the 1970s; while this cannot be verified, it is a cool story! This IS a very BOC-style guitar, at any rate and there is an old tape cross-like mark on the case lid! Whatever its provenance this is a great playing and sounding guitar, a "wow"-producing instrument even on just opening the case, which is the original yellow-lined black hardshell. Excellent Condition.