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Gibson SG Custom

The finest guitar in the SG series

Gibson SG Introduction | Vintage SG adverts | SG forum posts | SG timeline 1960s | 1970s

models Gibson SG Standard | Gibson SG Special | Gibson SG Junior | Gibson SG Custom | Gibson SG Deluxe

A closer look: 1963 SG Standard | 1969 SG Special

Gibson SG Custom

ModelGibson SG Custom
Available1961-date (not continuous)
PickupsThree Gibson humbuckers, gold covers
Scale 24 3/4"
Body Mahogany
Neck Initially one-piece mahogany, laminated mahogany by 1970. Ebony fingerboard, with block inlays. Split diamond headstock inlay.
Hardware2 volume, 2 tone, gold hardware throughout
FinishesCherry, White, Walnut, Wine Red, Tobacco Sunburst

1972 Gibson SG Custom

The 1972 Gibson SG Custom was quite different from earlier and later versions. See the 1972 Gibson Solid Bodies catalogue

1962 Gibson full line catalogueFrom the 1962 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue

At this early stage, the SG Custom was still called the Les Paul Custom Now it's more wonderful than ever with new body design and new features. Ultra thin, hand contoured, delicately balanced, it adjusts into a natural comfortable playing position for any guitarist, with or without strap
1963 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogueFrom the 1963 Gibson electric guitar and bass catalogue

Ebony fingerboard, deluxe pearl inlays... Three powerful pickups with unique wiring arrangement... New Deluxe Gibson Vibrola

Gibson 1966 Full Line catalogueFrom the 1966 Gibson full line catalogue

Players call it the 'Fretless Wonder' for it's extremely low frets and fast action. Now it's better than ever with new body design and new features

1970 electric solid bodies catalogueThe 1970 electric solid bodies catalogue

The 1970 solid body catalogue was the first to show the SG Custom in Walnut finish; the colour that defined the Custom in the early 70s

1972 electric solid bodies catalogueThe 1972 electric solid bodies catalogue

This catalogue shows a dramatically restyled SG line, the SG Custom being no exception. This look was fleeting; by 1973 the line was restyled again.

1973 Gibson solid body leafletThe 1973 Gibson solid body leaflet

Gibson gives you the most with it's new SG Custom. Three extra "hot" super humbucking pickups capture every subtle string vibration

1975 Gibson solid body catalogueFrom the 1975 Gibson solid body catalogue

Contoured solid mahogany body. Double cutaway design. Gold-plated, wide travel bridge with stop tailpiece (Bigsby tailpiece optional)

1978 Gibson catalogueFrom the 1978 Gibson catalogue

This was the last appearance of the SG Custom in a Gibson catalogue, before being reissued after Gibson changed hands at the beginning of 1986

The SG Custom was the top of the Gibson SG range: three Gibson humbuckers, and gold-plated throughout. It had the high-end split-diamond headstock inlay, and mother of pearl block fingerboard markers in an ebony fretboard. It was initially a redesigned Les Paul Custom, and was named as such initially. Like the other SGs it was mahogany throughout with a set neck. 6346 SG Customs were produced between 1961 and 1979, after which it was dropped from the Gibson price lists and catalogues. There were some cosmetic changes over the years, but little that stops this guitar from being one of Gibsons most recognizeable models. Famous users include: Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Ollie Halsall, Lenny Kravitz and Sister Rosetta Tharpe - all of whom played white SG Customs.

SG Custom Controls

Just like the other SG models, the Custom had two volume and tone controls, and a three way switch. This selected front pickup only, middle and back pickups together, or the back pickup only.


Each of the three humbucking pickups were identical: neck, middle and bridge, and they were the same pickups as used in the SG Standard, ES-175D and numerous other Gibson guitars, though with gold-plated covers.

The part that changed most noticeably in this model is the tailpiece. Several different versions were used, early examples are fitted with Gibson 'side to side' vibrato, or inlaid ebony block vibrato, followed by the Gibson deluxe (lyre) vibrato, which is probably the best known. From June 1973, Gibson started advertising the SG Custom with a Bigsby vibrato, or an optional stop tailpiece. As the decade wore on, it became very much the Bigsby that was the option.

One big change occurred around 1971/72, when the controls started to be mounted on a semi-circular control plate, rather than (via a back cavity) through the body wood itself (See the 1972 Gibson Solid Bodies catalogue). This attempt to reduce production costs was being introduced in numerous Gibson solid-body models - it was a time of real crisis for the American guitar industry, with heavy competition from cheaper overseas imports. It was not popular on high end instruments, and was dropped in the SG Custom within a year. It did continue in numerous other Gibsons throughout the 1970s.

SG Custom finishes

Initially, white was the only listed finish, and it is this colour that is most associated with this guitar. The gold hardware stood out against the white body giving this guitar a very flashy appearance. But by the end of the decade, White was dropped in favour of Walnut. The September 1969 price list is the first to list Walnut as the stock finish. This continued until 1975 when both Walnut and White were offered, with Wine Red being added briefly in the June '75 price list. This was replaced by Cherry for a short time, with Tobacco Sunburst also very briefly listed. The last price-list of the 1970s saw just White and Walnut available, before the SG Custom was discontinued in the 1980s. Despite these other colour options, the majority of 60s SG Customs are finished White, and the majority of 60s Customs are finished Walnut. As always with Gibson, there are exceptions - even when not listed, Cherry seems to have been available.

Back to the GIBSON INDEX | comment

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There are 2 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
U.W. Comment left 28th February 2013 21:09:40
I have a Gibson SG Custom, with gold hardware. Pressed into wood of the peghead is a 5 digit serial#(99***)"NO" MADE IN U.S.A Grover tuners,block pearl inlay,22 frets,(3)P.A.F's tune-o-matic bridge w/wire ,full scratch plate (like the '65's - ? )and the numbers on the potentiometers are 13773 and if there are other numbers on the pots they may be covered by the solder and are not vissable. and the color is "T.V" Yellow (dull and aged in comparison to the reissues) I would really appriciate any input in response to my discription, as my Grandfather Charrished it, and my Grandmother despised it.
mike Comment left 1st June 2014 16:04:26
would anyone know how many sg customs were produced in 1973? and how would one break down the serial# to find out what month, what batch as ive read they were produced in batches of 40.was wondering if there was any more definitive info one could retrive on ones guitar.I pirchased mine at Bills music in catonsville,md in 1984 in its original hardshell case and am very passionate about being fortunate to have it and would rate its condition very good a feww dings at best

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