How do you evaluate and appraise this Gibson 1965 SG Junior ? – A short time ago I was exhibiting at a guitar show when I came across this 1965 SG Junior – With well over 1000 guitars for sale at this venue, what is it that draws you towards such a guitar ? – I can’t answer that, but the bottom line is that my taste buds were showing some initial signs of interest – At this stage I will admit that I don’t necessarily have a strong plus or minus point of view towards a perfect museum grade example, or indeed a rebuilt, customised players grade example – Of course the price must reflect the state of play either way – However I do expect it to possess that magical ‘mojo’ when it comes to the playing performance, its tonal character and even its aesthetics appeal – I can’t put the finer details of ‘mojo’ into a sentence or phrase – But I’ve come across perfectly clean museum grade vintage guitars, that have little character and somehow leave you cold, once you’ve played them – Likewise I’ve come across re-built and players grade examples that just nail it once played – So time to appraise this 65 SG
Something certainly drew my attention towards it when I first set my eyes upon it – Yes I instantly noticed a changed set of tuners, along with a non original wrapover bridge/tailpiece – Yet the rest of the guitar was all correct, so no structural issues regarding any headstock breaks, repairs or touch-ups – No refin – No refret – But it instantly felt right when I got down to playing it – A light weight body produced a vibrant acoustic voice and even a 10 second initial test drive through an amp was impressive – So yes I purchased it as it possessed the magical ‘mojo’ I was hoping for – The next step is do I leave it as it was, regarding the tuners and wrapover bridge, or can I improve the situation – So for a couple of weeks I just left it on a stand in the showroom whilst I looked at various options, with a view to achieving a more preferable outcome
When purchased it had a set of modern Schaller M6 tuners with the hexagonal nut on the headstock facia – Many players chose such options in the 70’s and 80’s, but on an aesthetic appeal alone I wanted it to look ‘more original’ – In my spares box I found a set of replica style, 3 on a plate Kluson Deluxe tuners, albeit looking as new – So I aged them for obvious reason and acquired a set of conversion bushes so they fit correctly on the headstock facia – Granted you can still view the original screw holes, on the rear of the headstock, from the M6 tuners – But as any ‘plug’ plus touch up would still be visible, certainly under any close scrutiny, I desired to leave as is – Certainly shows I’m not trying to disguise it and pass it of as ‘original’ – Then what about the wrapover bridge/tailpiece – No structural changes had taken place, so easy to exchange as required as , since you can still utilise the original adjustable string posts – Since an original wrapover version has the compensated ridges, that are fixed for a wound G/3rd string, I decided to purchase an aged MojoAxe version, so it instantly looks right and blends in – They possess the appearance of an original 60’s model, but now with a compensated ridge that is fixed for a plain G/3rd string – Hence improved intonation/tuning and in my opinion a no brainer – Many players are now fitting such wrapovers on similar SG’s and LP Juniors and keeping the original version in the case, due to improved intonation/tuning – Bottom line is that it retains the correct vintage appeal
In no particular order let me update you with various details etc :-
- Original cherry finish – faded with appropriate lacquer checking – More faded on the rear of the neck from regular use – Lighter side of nicks – No issues regarding breaks, refins, touch up etc
- Whole guitar weighs 6lbs and 6oz
- One piece mahogany body with a vibrant acoustic voice
- One piece mahogany neck with a C profile – Measures .819″ around the top nut end, so the slimmer side of full – Measures .983″ around the 12th fret so more chunky
- 1 11/16″ nut width which equates to 43mm
- No fingerboard nail wear worthy of a mention – Maybe a hint of wear around the 2nd fret, but a) minimal and b) it has taken well over 50 years to achieve such minimal wear, so plenty of playing years still in it
- Original frets that are still in good condition – No fret dress or replacement required
- Re-strung and set up with a set of 9.5 – 44 gauge – The hybrid set between 9 and 10 gauge, so nice and slinky – Set up with a slick easy action
- Original P90 Soapbar pick-up – measures 7.84K
- Original pots that show 13764 – so 1964 Pots – There maybe a question of a new solder join on the jack socket – Hard to tell or confirm/deny – But certainly otherwise the wiring harness is all original and correct
- Offered for sale with no case, but manage to acquire a modern Gibson brown shaped SG case – as per most modern SG’s are shipped with – Actually a better/stronger case than an original case, so at least you can use it on a day to day basis – then search e-bay/Reverb as required if you wish to pursue an original case
Tonal character :- To me an initial test drive was based on an amp with some gain and the SG turned up to 10 – With less gain, it has the ‘raw’ character that suits the early voice of Chicago blues and indeed enough bite, edge and attitude to deliver a ‘punk’ voice – So more raw as against sophisticated – Plenty of girth, depth, body and bite that sounds so musical, especially on power chords and riffs – Add more gain on the amp as required, especially if you want it to sing for single note licks and scorching solos – Yet whilst my initial test drive was under taken with the SG’s volume pot on 10, there is more to this guitar when you utilise the volume pot for subtle yet effective tweaks – Leave the amp alone and utilise the SG’s volume pot to ‘soften’ the voice – It still retains the SG’s character, but will deliver less gain – Hence far more soul, expression and emotion is available to you at a tweak of the volume pot – Maybe 6 or 7 can be your home base camp, then wind it back towards 10, as and when you require a statement that delivers more of a full on approach – So it certainly is not a one trick pony – I’m not so sure many will choose to use such a guitar on a clean amp setting – Granted it will deliver the goods if required, but it is not going to deliver the soothing melodic voice of say Hank Marvin, or indeed for chilled out jazz/blues – Yet for Bo Diddley style rhythm, it only needs a sprinkling of gain to deliver the goods
It has plenty of character and yes it possesses the mojo I expect and hope such a vintage guitar to deliver
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