Maybe it is my age and it shows how long I’ve now been working in the guitar industry, as I find it hard to believe that this Gibson SG Special is now over 50 years old – The serial number system alone, from this period, is not exactly accurate to nail down the age, but with the historic data that we are supplied, we assume it is a 1973 model – 6 digit number 136528 – But looking inside the control cavity, the original pots/loom confirm our suspicion, as they are numbered 13773 – It is a fairly clean guitar, in that no repairs, no breaks, no touch up work, no refin, no re-fret, original pick-ups/wiring/loom/pots etc – But it is not all original – More on that below – But more than enough originality and character to appeal to a player and collector a like
In no particular order see my notes below on this 1973 Gibson SG Special with a faded ‘walnut’ finish :-
- Whole guitar weighs 6lbs and 11oz – That’s right – Under 7lbs
- Replacement ‘Kluson waffle back’ style tuners – The modern/replica ‘waffle back’ tuners, with hexagonal nut, only require a single screw on each tuner – As such it leaves an original hole visible, above each tuners
- Replacement ‘TonePro’s locking tailpiece
- Replacement ‘harmonica style’ bridge – It looks original until you look underneath and notice the ‘made in Japan’ markings – So probably a Gotoh – Original bridge would have been Made in Germany, courtesy of Schaller Effectively, if you so desired, you could hunt down an original set of tuners, bridge and tailpiece and put it back to ‘original’ and no one would really be any the wiser
- Original faded walnut finish – no repair work carried out – no touching up etc – Look under the bridge or tailpiece, or indeed the scratchplate or pick up rings and you can see more of the original tone of the finish – More of a deep/dark cherry character – As such you can see how much it has faded over the years
- Small pick guard – single ply
- Rosewood fingerboard – Only shows a touch of nail wear – mainly on the E+B string and around the first 2-4 frets – No repair work required, as wear is subtle – If it has taken 50 years to get to this level of subtle wear, then its got another 50 years of work in it before any repair work required
- Original wide + low profile frets – Again any hint of wear is subtle and as such no fret dress required
- One piece mahogany neck – No break etc – Deep D, or U profile – Measures .820″ around the top nut end, then fattens out to .974″ around the 12th fret
- Narrow top nut width on this era – Effectively 1 9/16″ – As such the fingerboard width has more of a ‘Fender’ character about it – In turn, with the deep D or U neck profile, the whole feel is more of a Tele – Same/similar dimensions to The Who Live at Leeds SG’s that Townshend favoured at the time
- Original 137 CTS pots – you can read the 73 pot date, as applicable – Original wiring etc and includes the original orange drop tone caps – Pots are clean and function as required
- Original switch + jack socket
- Black plastic pick up surrounds
- Original mini humbuckers with original black plastic covers – These are the same mini humbuckers as you’ll find on the LP Deluxe models from the same era – Original examples as they still have the black ‘paf patent number’ stickers on them – Shortly after, the spec was changed a bit, when they move to a stamped patent number on the base of the pick-up – So effectively the same desirable pick-ups that you’d find on many Epiphone models, like the Riviera, from the 60’s – I believe these feature alnico magnets and they later changed to ceramic magnets, as/when they moved to the stamped patent numbers – So to many players these are the more desirable pick-ups – Lower ‘vintage’ output – Measure 5.77K
- Condition wise :- Plenty of played in character, but more a case of used and not abused – Nothing nasty at all – But no shortage of fade, compression marks, grazes and scuffs, that by and large are only to the top surface of the finish – Today Fender and Gibson Murphy Lab would describe it as light relic
- Re-strung with a set of 10-46 gauge strings and set up with a sensible fluid action that responds to a light touch
Feel, playability + tonal character :- I suppose we will all judge a guitars potential differently – based on our playing styles – What we need the guitar to do and indeed how it compares to other guitars we own and play – To me The Who Live at Leeds era may well sum up this SG at its best – It doesn’t come across as a virtuoso’ s lead guitar that you’ll spend hours up on, showing off your speed licks and tricks – Great for chords and riffs and the more ‘simplistic’ melodic side of lead work – Think The Who, Oasis, Johnny Marr, George Harrison – More so than SRV and EVH etc – Nothing wrong with that as most/many guitars paint their own picture and have their own character – No one guitar does it all – Play simple and effective and you’ll find this SG is loaded with character and will inspire accordingly – I think the guitars tonal character comes across at its best with sensible levels of gain – Not clean and not shred/grunge based – The bridge pick-up can growl, snarl and bite and kick up a storm as required – Tight and focused with plenty of depth and clarity – Neck pick-up is so much smoother – As such both pick-ups on together creates an interesting mix/blend, that allows you to dial in/out each volume pot for additional versatility – Maybe more of a song writers guitar, who delves into melodic licks etc as required, more so than a flash man’s SG – Overall a 50 year old guitar that can tell a good story – Has seen some action, yet can’t wait to work another 50 years, as required – Whilst I know £1800 is not cheap money, yet for a 50 year old guitar, with plenty of character, then a 73 SG Special is a far more affordable step into the ‘vintage arena’ compared to the high prices you see today, for models from the early, middle or late 60’s
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