The Gibson SG is a true design classic that has stood the test of time, remaining popular for over half a century. Numerous incarnations have been available, all with the double cutaway 'batwing' body style in common. SG, of course, stands for 'Solid Guitar', as the SG evolved from the first Gibson solid, the Les Paul. In fact the earliest Gibson SGs were actually sold as Les Pauls, despite the new body design, and simplified mahogany-only construction. The list of SG players is a who's who of the guitar. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Pete Townsend, Carlos Santana, Angus Young. And so on.
The SG Custom and the SG Standard were available first, debuting in early 1961. The high end Custom had gold plated hardware, 3 pickups and pearl inlays throughout. A very fine guitar. Both models sold well. A letter to Gibson dealers from late June 1961 explains "The New Model Les Paul Custom ... AND the New Les Paul Regular ... are enjoying tremendous acceptance. Sales of both models have already passed last year's entire output."
This sauces lead naturally to the addition of more models to the range: SG Junior, SG TV, SG Special, ranging in price from low to high. Even the Melody Maker was redesigned from it's popular body style to the SG shape. The number of SG models available fluctuated, reaching a peak in the early 1970s when there were also the SG Deluxe, and entry level models SGI, SGII, SG100, SG200 and SG250.
The SG is a Gibson staple, and hasn't changed significantly in nearly four decades. But of course there have been changes in hardware, neck profile, construction methods and so on - common to all Gibson instruments made in a factory always trying to improve upon its designs whilst remaining profitable over the long term. Models came and went. Have a look at the Gibson SG 1960s timeline and the SG 1970s timeline for some examples of these variations.
1965 Gibson SG Custom Image Heritage auctions
The SG Custom was the finest model in the SG line, with gold plated hardware and three humbucking PAF pickups. It was offered (initially) in white only, though later Cherry and Walnut. See more about the SG Custom here.
Or have a closer look at these SGs
Print advertisements for some of the various incarnations of the Gibson SG, 1961-1980
Electric guitar advertisements originally published from 1961 onwards. Click on the images for larger copies. Check out other vintage Gibson advertisements
Gibson SG custom - Solid Hit (1961)
The first advertisement for a true icon in the world of guitars; the Gibson SG (although still known as the Les Paul at this time). The advertisement features Les Paul and his then wife Mary Ford, ...
Gibson SG standard - Gibson lets you feel what you play - so you can play what you feel (1972)
Your guitar has to have feeling too. Gibson SG Solid Bodies have a consistent and comfortable freedom across the fretboard that lets you add your own personal touch to each note. Going from one e...
Gibson SG standard - Already Standards, Always Special (1973)
Full page early seventies advert for two Gibson solid body guitars: the redesigned Gibson SG Standard (below, Cherry finish, Bigsby vibrato) and SG Special (above, Walnut finish).
Gibson SG standard - The Moment of Truth (1973)
The truth is, most rock recording artists play Gibson's "SG" solid body guitars. And they play them when it really counts... at the crucial moment when they have to put their reputations on record....
Gibson The SG - An SG. For Half A G (1979)
Here's a great old guitar tradition for a grand old price. Actually, half a grand. $499.50 to be exact. "The SG" guitar by Gibson.
Gibson SG guitars have been playing sellout concerts and hit ...
Gibson The SG - Gibson Guitars. To the Tune of $399 and Up (1979)
Gibson electric guitars begin with the Marauder at $399. And it begins where most of its competitors leave off—with high power electronics, a full range pan pickup potentiometer and the same craf...
Gibson The SG - The Firebrands. Hot New Brands at a Price that Doesn't Burn. (1980)
Advert for two new versions of two established Gibson models: "The SG" Deluxe and "The Paul" Deluxe. In 1980 Gibson decided on a new branding concept for its instruments; there would be three serie...