Gibson SG Special Solid Body Electric Guitar (1961)

Gibson  SG Special Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1961)
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Item # 12054
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Gibson SG Special Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1961), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 26018, cherry lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This lovely deep cherry-finished SG Special was built in mid-1961, the first year of Gibson's new uber-sculpted solidbody. It still seems amazing to think the relatively staid design team at Kalamazoo came up with this dramatic, devilish shape in 1960, a radical evolution of the late '50s double-cutaway budget Les Pauls. It looks way ahead of its time, and the reaction from some conservative players (Les Paul among them) was not enthusiastic. No matter; younger Rock'n'Roll players took to them in droves, although it was not until the much louder later '60s that they became enshrined as a true classic.

For Gibson connoisseurs the early 1960s was the greatest period for the SG series; This "stoptail" '61 is the pinnacle of the Special model by just about any standard. More and more '60s SGs were ordered with vibratos as the decade went on, and by 1966 Gibson modified the design to speed production with a large "swimming pool" route to the body and pickups mounted to the top-spanning pickguard. This first-year example has all the earlier features: no vibrato, old-style stepped neck joint with a blended heel, pickups mounted directly to the body with a small pickguard and nickel plated hardware, all changed by the turn of 1965-66.

An item of note on this guitar is the shallow C-profile neck is just slightly slimmer at the nut than generally expected on SG's until 1965, halfway between the 1 11/16' spec. ostensibly universal in early 1960s and the later 1 5/8"'. While the prevailing theory is the older wide nut was ubiquitous until 1965 we have seen a number of earlier Gibsons that deviate from this. The company was apparently flirting with slimming this on the "amateur" level guitars at least a few years prior. The neck itself tapers noticeably towards the body with the very flat "1960 C" profile and a an effortless slim feel.

The wiring rig is untouched original with a visible date to the 3rd week of 1961. This guitar mounts two very hot plastic covered "soapbar" P-90 pickups, the 60's style capped plastic knobs and non-compensated '50s style stop tailpiece with no vibrato. The neck angle is excellent, especially compared with some later '60s examples. In 1961 the Sg Special listed for $210; whoever bought this one also shelled out extra for the deluxe hard-shell "Faultless" case, which was rarely ordered with the mid-priced Special; most buyers went with chipboard!

The SG Special was and remains a very popular guitar, with good reason. This one is super light and handy, weighing in at a hair over 6 pounds with a very solid feel. Just under 1200 of these slim cherry beauties were shipped in 1961, and some of those were the last of the older 1959 "slab" style. Not too many of this fairly fragile instrument will have survived six decades this cleanly. The model has long been regarded as a classic Gibson solidbody; anyone who has seen live footage of the Who or Santana in the late '60s knows what these light and responsive SG Specials are capable of! It is simply one of the classic rock guitars of that or any era, more versatile than many think with a "special" sound unto themselves!
Overall length is 40 in. (101.6 cm.), 13 1/4 in. (33.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm.) deep. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.)., 6.02 lbs.

This 60+ year old SG is generally clean overall with some mostly minor wear and tear. The original cherry lacquer finish is quite well preserved overall, with a beautiful unfaded deep red color over the entire instrument. There is scuffing, small dings and dents scattered around but nearly all are not through the finish. The top and back have a number of small random dinks but just a few deeper scratches on the back.

There NO cracks or breaks to the instrument, which is always delightful on older SGs. All the hardware remains original and clean; the nickel plating shows some very light wear. The D string tuner is slightly bent but works fine. The original frets and fingerboard have only very light wear and this is a super solid SG and a really fine player, still housed in the original Gibson badged gold-lined black hardshell case, something od a collectible in its own right! Excellent + Condition.