Don’t tell anyone, but there are some pretty cool things happening at the cheaper end of the Gibson line. They may be feuding with the US government over wood imports, and the Firebird X may not have flown quite as high as they hoped, but when it comes to the simple matter of gluing two bits of mahogany together and screwing on some hardware, the ‘Big G’ are still the masters.
The SG ’60s Tribute is one of a number of recent releases from the Nashville factory that have followed three key principles: it’s a solid guitar with no fancy flourishes, its design has strong echoes of Gibson’s past, and it’s fitted with the most underrated pickup in the world, the P90. On paper, this is a perfect recipe for gritty rock tone – at a price that undercuts pretty much every other US-made guitar on the market.
And does the recipe work? Not half. Looking mean and sleek in its black satin finish, this SG is a super-lightweight guitar that begs to be thrown around on the strap – and while our review sample did have a few slightly rough frets (as usual), it felt like an easy and enjoyable player even before plugging in.
Through an overdriven amp, the '60s Tribute lives up to all of its promise: it rocks hard but with a tight, snappy character that you just can’t get near with a Les Paul. And if anything, the clean tones are even better: the neck pickup is smooth and soulful, the bridge pickup is clear and crisp, and the middle setting is sweeter than a bowl of late-summer strawberries. What this guitar has, above all, is character – lots of it. Please, Gibson, make more like this.
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier, closed-back 2x12 cab with Celestion Vintage 30s
£649 UK, €699 Europe, $1,239 US
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