NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by budda12ax7 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:43 pm

That's hot dude!!!!!

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by Despot » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:21 am

Thanks folks.

I've put a few hours into this since I picked it up and I've got to say ... I love it. I've tweaked the action and relief just a little bit and I'm surprised, yet again, by how well a properly set up SG will play.

I'd been mainly playing this with the Princeton and Klone since I got it (and that sounds great - that whole Ryan Adams/Cold Roses sound is basically how it sounds out of the gate with bass/treble at noon) - but yesterday I dusted off the Swart and fired it up. And ... yeah ... that sounds pretty damn good too. The roundness of the Swart compared to the Princeton thickens the sound a bit - not that the SFPR is spikey, but the Swart does what the Swart does to the sound - and I was reminded why I've held on to both. It's not like they're totally different guitars playing through the different amps - but the sound is sufficiently different that there's value to swapping amps around, or even running both in tandem.

Actually ... I've never tried that. One for the Christmas holidays maybe.

This weekend I will be meeting up with an old band mate as I do every Christmas for some beers and to make some noise. I look forward to these sessions for weeks before they happen as they're so infrequent these days. This year I'm really looking forward to using this SG and the Telecaster.

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by Despot » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:16 am

Despot's Musical Christmas Trip happened as planned just before Christmas, with me taking a trip back to my old college town to meet up with some old friends who play.

Every Christmas this happens - and usually the latest bits of gear are brought along to give them a chance to geek out over some vintage stuff. My far more sensible friends have long ago accepted that one guitar is enough for them - so this annual trip where I bring a car load of stuff down there tends to be one that they look forward to.

The 'haul' this year consisted of the '66 Telecaster, the '65 SG Junior, the '62 ES330 and the '69 Custom. Of the four guitars I brought with me the one that was in demand most consistently was the Custom. One of my friends is an SG guy (and has an older '61 Reissue that he's had for nearly 20 years now) and I knew he would be all over it - but the others are more into offsets than SGs - yet even they weren't immune to it's charms!

I ended up playing the ES330 for the day - I was surprised by how little love that received. I think the Gibson wide/flat early '60s necks really aren't for everyone. I know that I struggled with the ES345 at first (identical neck profile to the ES330) - even though it has the standard Gibson nut width it felt wider due to the flatter back feel. The general consensus seemed to be that the '69 Custom had the perfect ratio of width to neck thickness.

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:53 am

Kev, I always meant to ask...how wide is the nut on those post-'65 Gibsons?

I've never played one, but many people throw out terms like "pencil thin"....is it true?

Or are they basically like a pre-CBS Jazzmaster neck as far as width goes?

I've never come across one as I don't really go to guitar shops much (well, at all!), so I have always wondered :)
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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by Despot » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:11 am

They're narrower than the McCarthy years Yannis - but it's 2/16ths of an inch. That being said, McCarthy era nut width can vary by 1/16th of an inch too according to Charlie Gelber's ES-335.org site (and his site has got to be one of the best resources for this sort of thing online).

I haven't had a chance to measure them myself, so I'm only going on feel ... but I know that there are specific years that I find too skinny. There seems to be a period in late '67 and early '68 where the nut feels especially narrow ... now, again ... I haven't been able to measure this, but I know it when I pick one up and play an open chord (usually an E). I've almost always been able to call the year of the guitar as soon as I feel the E being cramped for me - and it's almost always that period between '67 and '68. This holds true for electrics and acoustics - I've tried it on SG Juniors, Standards, a Hummingbird from '67, my old ES335 from '68. There was a transitional width in 1965 as well - sort of half way between the 'standard' wide Gibson nut and the later narrower nut.

The reason why I say that I measure this on feel is because people say that there was no narrower nut in '67/'68 - and I haven't been able to measure, so I don't know. I think Charlie Gelber has and iirc he said that the only change to the narrow nut was in '65 when they had that half way point between McCarthy years and later years. But what will influence that 'feel' is the neck shape. The '67/'68 guitars have a very skinny neck at the nut a lot of the time - so it feels narrower than it probably is. Necks from '65 and '66 can be quite chunky, so a lot of the time purely based on feel I'd call them as being wide nut when in fact they're narrow nut width - the thickness of the neck seems to take away the cramped feeling for me.

The SG Custom has a big old neck - it's not quite as baseball bat as the '65 Junior (which is a real chunky C shape), but it's pretty substantial. I can tell that the nut isn't as wide as the McCarthy years, but it doesn't cause any problems. I think it's very close to Fender width ... maybe 1/16th narrower than a Fender B width. So ... if you think of it that way, a B width Fender is the mid point between narrow Gibson and McCarthy wide Gibson (aka modern wide Gibson).

I've shifted guitars before because of cramped nut spacing getting to me - I've wide/big hands and spacing is a problem for me if it's too narrow (which is why I've never been able to bond with a Rickenbacker). That was why my '68 ES335 ended up going. I don't have that problem with the Custom - thankfully!

Another thing occurred to me - and maybe this will lead me to check it ... but given the fact that Customs have bigger headstocks (because of the binding and need to make space for the split diamond) does that factor at all into the nut width? I'd imagine not - but if there was even 1/32th of an inch increase due to the binding it would be enough to feel I think ... given that when people talk about neck thickness they're usually talking about a difference of 1/10th of an inch between super skinny and chunky feeling necks ... clearly that relatively small fraction makes a difference in feel in the neck ... so why not in the nut too?

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:18 am

I think you may be onto something with the difference in Custom models...it could be that they end up a bit wider.

I am so used to Gibson 50s necks nowadays that whenever I play early 60s profile Gibson guitars it feels odd to me. I adapt quickly to the shallow feel...but a post '65 narrow nut is a deal breaker for me...interesting, maybe I should look at '69s more closely...I've been wanting to get an SG for a while but I always shy away due to the neck profiles being so different across the 60s.

Some say late '63/'64/early '65 should be like what I would want, but it is so hard to buy guitars from abroad nowadays, so I end up not really looking into an SG seriously.

I already blew my guitar budget last summer so it's a bit of a bummer I am tapped out at the moment. I am flying to Nashville tomorrow (well, it was meant to be today but my flight got canceled due to the bad weather in NY), so I'll be at Gruhn's and all the other famous shops...maybe I'll be able to try a few different SGs there and get a better feel for the profiles.

:)
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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by Despot » Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:46 am

Check out the neck profiles and, in particular, heel shapes between 1965 and 1969 (pre-volute). The heels varied quite a bit over the years both in shape and bulk. That will effect balance a bit too.

For what it's worth Yannis I actually prefer later '60s big guard SGs to the earlier '60s Les Paul Custom/SGs. While I love the wider Gibson neck in general I cannot love the sideways vibrola at all - it just looks huge and intrusive. The combination of large guard and lyre vibrola works for me from a design point of view - I view the earlier versions as leading up to that as the 'right' design. I also think that PAFs in a SG do not work as well as they do in an ES or LP - whereas patent number t-tops work perfectly.

If you like a '50s neck then look out for later '68s and '69s - anything pre-volute. The neck on mine is a three piece mahogany neck with no volute ... and it feels chunkier than the '59 ES345 that I played in a store in Dublin a few times. That being said I think ES345/ES355s changed to slimmer '59 profile necks before Les Pauls and ES335s in 1959 ... the slimmer neck being seen as a premium feature back then (like the fretless wonder board on the 355) reserved for higher spec models.

The other ones to try if you like small guards are the transition '65s - the ones from just after the McCarthy era when they were half way between wide and narrow ... these guitars all seem to have big chunky necks and you'll be saving yourself a substantial amount of money because they're not technically 'wide nut'.

You know that the only guitar still on my GAS list is a vintage ES355 - that would probably lead to me selling the ES345 as the ES355 has always been the top of the line end game for me. I have a very specific version that I want too ... the same vintage model as the custom shop one I traded for the SG Custom (lyre vibrola, varitone ... though I can live with stereo wiring as a mono would drive the price up). The lyre only came in around '64 iirc (on the ES355 - the sideways lingers for a while through '63) - and the nut narrowed in '65. So for me a transition nut '65 ES355 would be ideal - it's going to be cheaper than a McCarthy era, but it'll have the same pickups as a '64.

Enjoy the trip - and let me know how you get on in Gruhns! I've long promised myself a road trip between Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans and Austin ... but it'll be a few years before I manage to swing that I fear...

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:09 am

Many thanks for all the info!

I’ll see what I can find. If I get something it’ll have to be later in the year, but it’ll be nice to try some stuff.

You should definitely do that trip. I went to all these places about 10 years ago when I did a coast to coast road trip. This time it’ll be just Nashville and a bit of Memphis. It was meant to be an 11 day trip, but now I’ve lost a day at Nashville already and tomorrow we will arrive late in the evening. That leaves us with 9 days...

Still it should leave enough time for guitar spotting

I went to the old Gruhn shop years ago, it’ll be nice to see the new one
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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by Despot » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:10 am

zhivago wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:09 am

You should definitely do that trip. I went to all these places about 10 years ago when I did a coast to coast road trip. This time it’ll be just Nashville and a bit of Memphis. It was meant to be an 11 day trip, but now I’ve lost a day at Nashville already and tomorrow we will arrive late in the evening. That leaves us with 9 days...
Rumbleseat music in Nashville have a '65 in stock at the minute Yannis. Just saying...

It's a very very nice and clean small guard. Probably a bit pricey (there's a neck repair for sale from Imperial vintage in CA for 4k euro that's otherwise original) ... but worth checking out.

EDIT: sorry ... it's a '64 ... which is probably why the price is so much higher.

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by sookwinder » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:20 am

Yeah this Gibson neck nut width thing always brings up contradictions.

A lot of people (even those at well know vintage guitar shops) generalise way too much.. like saying the nut went from 1 11/16" to 1 10/16" in 1965. The did not use CNC machines back in the day so there are huge variations even within necks of the same model built in the same week . Yes around 1965 the nut theoretically went to 1 10/16" but as you can see in some quick data I just measured on my acoustics, there is a large variations.
The 65 Hummingbird I have has the same width as the 64 J45, yet the J50 feels like a smaller neck/nut. This is because of the shape of the neck.
As the nuts became narrower, the profile become "less flat" more rounded.

The 67 Riviera I have has a 1 19/32" nut and is quite a bit narrower than my 65 Riviera (which is 1 21/32") but after a few minutes, the extra roundness in the neck profile makes up for it.

while I have largish hands, they are not gorilla size (Yannis, Kevin ?) but I do have flat ended wide fingers (maybe that is why I am a piano player) and I cannot use three fingers to play the standard A chord on any size guitar. There is not enough room for my fat fingers... So no matter what the neck shape/profile 40mm is the minimum nut width for any Gibson/Epiphone guitar I will consider (the 66 Texan I show below with the 39.9mm nut is the guitar I won on the REVERB competition... and maybe the longer scale length of the Texan helps me a little with the below size nut.

The other thing to remember is that sometimes wide 1 11/16 necks were produced after 1965.
I have a 1965 Gibson winging its way to me now with a 1 11/16" nut
My 1967 335 has a 1 11/16" nut, but for what ever reason the profile is not as rounded as say the 67 Riviera.

This is why I ask dealers to accurately measure the nut width when ever I am discussing a possible purchase... to just say 1 9/16" may actually be closer to 1 10/16"

inches mm
1.5______1 8/16"______38.1
1.5625___1 9/16"______39.7
1.625____1 10/16"_____41.3
1.6875___1 11/16"_____42.9
1.75______1 12/16"____44.5

63 Cortez : 41.51mm
64 J50 : 42.7mm
65 Texan : 41.35mm
65 Frontier : 41.75mm
65 Cortez : 41.94mm
65 Hummingbird : 42.71mm
66 Texan : 39.9mm
67 Cortez : 40.5mm
68 B25 : 40.17mm
relaxing alternative to doing actual work ...

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:05 am

Despot wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:10 am

Rumbleseat music in Nashville have a '65 in stock at the minute Yannis. Just saying...

It's a very very nice and clean small guard. Probably a bit pricey (there's a neck repair for sale from Imperial vintage in CA for 4k euro that's otherwise original) ... but worth checking out.

EDIT: sorry ... it's a '64 ... which is probably why the price is so much higher.
Cool, I'll have a look...they also have a cool looking white Jr that had a headstock crack, but it is a bit pricey.

I'll try and hit most guitar stores so let's see what I can try out :)
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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by zhivago » Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:08 am

Interesting variations David...I have long but thin fingers, so sometimes I can get away with a thinner neck...but it always depends on the overall profile.

I guess Gibson went to the thinner necks to make the guitars play faster?
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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by Despot » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:58 am

David - I meant to respond earlier, but it's been manic this week.

I think we're in the same boat - my hands aren't huge (in old school glove sizing I'm a 8 1/2 or 9 ... which puts me between medium and large), but my fingers are wide and flat ending. Same as you, I can't make an open A chord with three fingers - I use the top part of my index finger with some weird hard-coded technique to hold the middle of the finger up when I do this to clear the high E. It works. And has done since I was a teenager. But my fingers do make it impossible to play around the nut with guitars that are 'too narrow' - like Rickenbackers.

Sorry ... not impossible. I can still play them, but they're very hard to play cleanly and frustrating. They're not fun at all ... and usually it takes a bit of time with a guitar for me to figure this out as when I'm trying it out I'll usually find a way to play anything - it's only over time that it'll get to me. This was what happened with the '68 ES335 - I liked the sound of it so much that I overlooked the nut width for ages until, playing it unplugged as I tend to do most often with guitars, I realised that it just wasn't working.

Thankfully I don't have that problem with either the Custom or the Junior. I've played both quite a bit now and gotten past that point that would usually tell me whether or not a guitar was working for me.

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by HorseyBoy » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:48 am

God, that's lovely! I don't own a guitar with humbuckers at the moment but had a friend jamming through my Da Vinci/Magnatone 413 amp with a Custom Shop SG a week or so back and it blew my mind. It really is a gap I need to fill and I've always preferred SGs to Les Pauls so it has to happen one day…
About Gibson neck widths: I have large hands and prefer a wider fretboard. I have a 67 SG Jr that I love but the nut is narrow and it does bug me whenever I'm playing open chords (which is not often). Otherwise the neck is great - really quite chunky, very different to my Firebird and every early 60s SG I've ever played.
In terms of collector/resale value, an SG from 1965 or earlier will always be worth more, partly because of the nut width "thing". And the necks are a little different. As others have said, they're not always consistent, but every 61 to 64 Epi Wilshire and SG I've ever played has had a very similar if not identical neck profile: wide nut, relatively shallow all the way along. I absolutely adore those necks so if you get a chance to try one, zhivago, do it!
Last edited by HorseyBoy on Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NGD - 1969 Gibson SG Custom

Post by Despot » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:06 am

Yeah - before '65 the variation tends to be between models rather than years I think.

The Specials (in my experience) all tend to have a wide/flat neck - my old '64 Junior had the same neck as my '62 ES345/ES330 - wide/flat not especially thick. I've never played a Standard from those years - but I believe they align to Specials from what others have told me.

Juniors on the other hand are different. Every SG Junior that I've played from before 1965 has a variation on a thick neck. It's just a question of how thick ... not whether or not it'll be thick. I haven't played one from '62 ... so maybe they're different ... but I've played a '63, four '65s, a '66, and I've owned a '64 Junior (the beater cherry red one). All had big necks - the '64 had a great big chunker of a neck, but the biggest I've ever played is my white '65 Junior. I've played a couple of real '59 necks (an ES345, an ES335 and an ES330) and while they were round and full, they weren't nearly as hefty as that white Junior.

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