Less, Les Paul more SG

Less, Les Paul more SG

“Lick of the Week” with Keith Amyx

This week’s comes from a special guest, my friend and guitar instructor Keith Amyx. Keith gives us a nifty open string lick in the key of C on his slicked-up Schecter t-style guitar. Keith is a big supporter of Guitar Gavel and thanks for the shoutout! (Keith, you “done” good my brother, I’ve signed you up for another one.)

The tablature for this lick is at the end of the video. Here’s a nifty hack, watch it in full-screen and take a picture of the tab with your phone or grab a screenshot :-).

In the Summer of 69’, both Carlos Santana and Pete Townshend went to town on a SG Special at Woodstock. Santana’s was a 61’/62’ model, but Townshend played a 1969 Special, just like the one being presented here for auction.  

This original Gibson SG Special, serial number 819981, was purchased by the current owner in 1971 from his guitar instructor and famed jazz guitarist Linc Chamberland. Linc personally did the setup on this guitar which included changing to aftermarket Grover tuners. Otherwise all parts are original including the functional Maestro Vibrola tailpiece. 

The guitar shows pretty normal wear and tear for a home-player's instrument, but nothing outrageous as you can see by examining the picture of the guitar back. The three-way switch tip is missing and clearly there are wood-filled holes and impressions where the original strip tuners were located. As a student, the current owner would tap his tuning fork on the tailpiece cover so there are some dings in places. Relatively speaking, this guitar is in good to very good condition and includes the original case. 

The SG as we know it today didn’t come about until 1961, but the origins of the SG actually began in 1958 when Gibson introduced the double cutaway Les Paul Junior, TV, and Special. Gibson rebranded the TV and Special the following year to the SG TV and SG Special. Furthermore, 1960 brought the discontinuation of the original single cut Les Paul and in 1961 the pointy double cutaway body appeared. That 1961 body style is what we understand to be a SG. However, Les Paul’s name remained tethered to the guitar until his contract expired with Gibson in 1962. 

Gibson used P-90s in the SG Special from 1959-1971 before switching to mini-humbuckers in 1972. Also the neck went from a one-piece mahogany to a three-piece mahogany in 1970, certainly a move by Gibson’s new owner, Norlin. 

This 1969 SG Special truly is special. It was the last year of unobstructed Gibson manufacturing before Norlin started taking the wheels off. Woodstock was over, Townshend and Santana had worked their magic, and things were going to be a lot different in the next decade.      

1969 Gibson SG Special specs: 

  • Mahogany body and mahogany set neck
  • Brazilian rosewood fretboard
  • Grover tuners (replacements)
  • Dual Gibson P-90 pickups
  • TPBR-85 bridge
  • Maestro Vibrola tailpiece
  • Two volume, two tone controls
  • 3-way switch

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