SG '61 Reissue
In 1960, Gibson initiated a thorough and major redesign of the iconic Les Paul Standards of the late 1950s. It was a bold move at the height of Gibson’s original Golden Era, and it paid off. The result was the 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul (later renamed the SG Standard), now painstakingly recreated as the SG ’61 Reissue. The debut of the SG announced a new, radical design for Gibson and the world. Short for “solid guitar,” the SG featured a much thinner body, distinctive twin cutaways, pointed horns, and beveled edges. The ’61 Reissue sports the original’s period-correct smaller pickguard, and nickel-plated hardware, along with a pair of Gibson’s ’57 Classic humbuckers, with Alnico II magnets and balanced coils to deliver unmistakable vintage tone. A traditional, 22-fret mahogany neck with Gibson’s classic ’60s slim taper profile and Indian rosewood fingerboard rounds out this faithful recreation of a legendary instrument. Available only in Heritage Cherry.
Applying a nitrocellulose finish to any Gibson guitar—including the SG—is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitar-making process. A properly applied nitro finish requires extensive man hours, several evenly applied coats, and an exorbitant amount of drying time. But this fact has never swayed Gibson into changing this time-tested method, employed ever since the first guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish dries to a much thinner coat than a polyurethane finish, which means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. A nitro finish is also a softer finish, which makes it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can’t do the same on a poly finish. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous in nature, and actually gets thinner over time. It does not “seal” wood in an airtight shell—as a poly finish does—and allows the wood to breathe and age properly.
The Gibson Logo
The most innovative and revolutionary stringed instruments of all time have carried the name Gibson—the Les Paul, the ES-335, the Explorer, the Flying V, the SG. The list goes on and on. There is no mistaking the classic, hand-crafted mother of pearl logo, inlayed into a pressed fiber-head veneer that is then glued to the face of the mahogany headstock. A thin coat of lacquer finishes the process. It is the most recognizable logo in all of music, representing more than a century of originality and excellence. There is simply no equal.
The angled headstock is another example of Gibson’s industry-changing way of thinking. Every Gibson headstock is carved out of the same piece of mahogany as the neck then fitted with Gibson’s traditional wing blocks. It is not a “glued-on” headstock, and the process takes craftsmanship, time, and effort. But the rewards are worth the effort. The headstock is carefully angled at 17 degrees, which increases pressure on the strings and helps them stay in the nut slots. An increase in string pressure also means there is no loss of string vibration between the nut and the tuners, which equals better sustain.
Adjustable Truss Rod
The adjustable truss rod is a Gibson innovation that revolutionized the guitar. Before this ground-breaking discovery in the early 1920s, the truss rod was used only to strengthen and stabilize the neck. By making it adjustable, the truss rod now allows a guitar to be set up using a variety of string gauges, as well as string heights. This easily accommodates any style of playing, and allows a limitless range of set-up options. And by placing it at the base of the headstock, the adjustable nut is easily accessible, even while the strings are still on the guitar.
’60s Slim-Taper Neck Profile
No guitar neck profiles are more distinguishable than the neck profiles employed on the Gibson models of today. The ’60s neck profile—found on the SG ’61 Reissue—is the more modern, slim-tapered neck most commonly associated with the Les Paul and SG models of the early 1960s. The neck is machined in Gibson’s rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. But once the fingerboard gets glued on, the rest—including the final sanding—is done by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. So while it still has the basic characteristics of its respective profile, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct but traditional feel.
22-Fret Rosewood Fingerboard
Rosewood has always graced the fingerboards of the world’s finest stringed instruments, including many of today’s Gibsons. The fingerboards on Gibson SGs are constructed from the highest grade rosewood on the planet. The rosewood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the factories to be fitted onto the neck of the SG ’61 Reissue. The resilience of this dense and durable wood makes these fingerboards extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note unparalleled clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates “dead” or “choked out” notes, common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses.
Nickel and Silver Alloy Fret Wire
The fret wire on the Gibson models is a combination nickel and silver alloy (approximately 80 percent nickel and 20 percent silver) specifically designed for long life and superior wear. Gibson’s traditional “medium/jumbo” fret wire is first shaped by hand, then cut to an exact 12-inch radius. After hand pressing it into the fingerboard, a machine press finishes the job to eliminate the gap between the bottom of the fret wire and the fingerboard.
The classic trapezoid inlay is one of the most distinguishable features of many traditional Gibson models, including the SG. A figured, swirl acrylic gives these inlays that classic “pearl” look. They are inserted into the fingerboard using a process that eliminates gaps and doesn’t require the use of fillers.
Like all classic Gibson guitars, the necks on SGs are distinguished by one of the more traditional features that have always set them apart—a glued neck joint. Gluing the neck to the body of the guitar ensures a “wood-to-wood” contact, no air space in the neck cavity, and maximum contact between the neck and body, allowing the neck and body to function as a single unit. The result? Better tone, better sustain, and no loose or misaligned necks.
Solid Mahogany Body
Probably the most central of all SG features is its solid mahogany body. The SG’s slim mahogany body indulges players with a weight-reduced guitar alternative, with absolutely no compromises in tone, sustain, or performance. The mahogany goes through the same rigorous selection process as all of Gibson’s woods, and is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson’s team of skilled wood experts before it enters the factories. Inside the Gibson factories, humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees. This ensures all woods are dried to a level of “equilibrium,” where the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and controls the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to reducing the weight. It also improves the woods’ machinability and finishing properties. Consistent moisture content means that the SG will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
TWO ’57 Classic Pickups
Among the qualities that make Gibson’s original “Patent Applied For” humbucking pickups so unique are the subtle variations between coil windings. For the first few years of their production—1955 to 1961—Gibson’s PAF humbuckers were wound using imprecise machines, resulting in pickups with slightly different output and tone, desirable to players who wanted to mix and match and explore a complete spectrum of tonal possibilities. The ’57 Classic and ’57 Classic Plus pickups are the result of Gibson’s drive to capture and recreate this renowned characteristic. Introduced in 1992, the ’57 Classic provides warm, full tone with a balanced response, packing that classic Gibson PAF humbucker crunch. The ’57 Classic Plus is the perfect bridge-position companion to the ’57 Classic, inspired by those original PAFs that received a few extra turns of wire. Both are made by Gibson to the exact same specs as the original PAFs, including Alnico II magnets, nickel-plated pole pieces, nickel slugs, maple spacers, and vintage-style, two-conductor braided wiring. Instead of enamel-coated wiring, Gibson added poly-coated wiring—which improves consistency by eliminating thin or thick spots on the wire—and wax potting, which removes all internal air space and any chance of microphonic feedback.
The Tune-o-matic bridge was the brainchild of legendary Gibson president Ted McCarty in 1954. At the time, it was a true revelation in intonation, and set a standard for simplicity and functionality that has never been bettered. This pioneering piece of hardware provides a firm seating for the strings, allowing the player to adjust and fine-tune the intonation and string height in a matter of minutes. It also yields a great union between the strings and body, which results in excellent tone and sustain. It is combined with a separate “stopbar” tailpiece, essentially a modified version of the earlier wraparound bridge. To this day, the Tune-o-matic remains the industry standard. It is the epitome of form and function in electric guitar bridge design, and is one of the most revered and copied pieces of guitar hardware ever developed.