Silver Supporting Member
I'm looking at 2 SG's, one I think is an 89 another is a 91 custom. I haven't seen them in the flesh yet but am wondering what the quality of Gibsons from this period were like?
Wow, very interesting story mate, thanks for sharing.Hi- I worked in the white wood machine dept at Gibson during 89-92. I served in a few capacities; neck fitting, routing and spindle sand, and neck fill- color selection. I also served as QC for both neck and body lines as well as white wood machine. I personally assembled the husks of all firebirds and thunderbirds during that time.
Gibson was a different animal at that time- we only built about 175-190 guitars in total a day at that time. Henry was struggling to bring the brand back to prominence. If it were not for guns and roses sweet child o mine and the brilliantly conceived Les Paul Classic ( designed by JT Riboloff) , Gibson might have been a much different ( and marginal ) company in the ensuing years!
To address certain points discussed here:
The finishes ( specifically bursts on Les Pauls) : there is a reason for this, world famous relic pioneer ( and dear friend) Tom Murphy was the lead painter back then, virtually living in the booth, and spraying all those guitars. He strove to make them more realistic, and in fact did the first realistic vintage style burst on any les Paul at the end of 89, on a reissue owned by yours truly. The second one was for Joe Perry of aerosmith, who saw mine on the line during the visit and wanted it. I said no dice. So, Tom and Edwin Wilson picked out one with a similar top ( I skipped lunch to fit the neck) and Joe got that one. Tom went on to perfect his pioneering style of relic work and later ( as his talent and importance to the company became perceived by management) worked quite closely with R&D to develop the historic program. These were stunning guitars!
Secondly- during that time our reissue les Pauls only differed from regular standards on these ways; the head veneer, which had a fifties script pearl ( oddly with no dot over the I) and the material they were made of, only the prettiest grades of maple, mahogany, and rosewood we had on hand- weight was not the biggest factor then. To note, these guitars featured the same rocker tenon as the regular production.
Third, QUALITY- sensible not afford dis satisfied customers, dealers , or warranty claims at the time. I destroyed many hundreds of guitars due to very minor issues during those years. There were no seconds, etc. We did let out minor flaws on guitars heavily stamped " artist use only- not for resale" on back of headstock. I personally stamped these guitars and serialized them whenever artist and repertoire dept needed something for a player . This was very rare. The guitars had only the most minor cosmetic flaws. I doubt a handful of these have ever made it to the public. Many times the artists were required to return them. I know I destroyed quite a few when they came back.
I believe that during that time we laid the groundwork for the great custom shop Gibsons that followed. Most of our equipment now resides in the CS, having been replaced by CNCs in the USA plant. I am very proud of what we did back then and treasure the guitars I bought directly from the factory at that time.
Very cool info.I meant also to comment on SG guitars during that time, being the OP is interested in those. We stopped making the SG 62 in 89, replacing it with the thinner necked 61 reissue. This neck profile was derived from the Les Paul classic. The thinner neck was quite en vogue at that time due to hard rock, metal, and shredder styles. We adapted it to the reissue SG, firebird, 67 V, and 76 Explorer simultaneously .
The 30th anniversary SG Custom was identical to the regular production SG Custom reissue in all respects other than the inlay on the fretboard proclaiming 30th anniversary, and if course the TV yellow finish specific to that guitar model.
As to quality issues- all guitars produced during those years were held to the same very strict standards. From the Les Paul Jr to the Super 400, all had to be top quality to pass final inspection. All of our electrics were treated the same- SG guitar of all models were quite in demand at that time, we made many hunndres of them. The 30th Anny model was quite expensive new, the top of the model line. All materials and workmanship were of absolute best quality.
The TV Yellow one?In my experience (7 guitars from that period, mostly LPs), these are very good guitars. The single exception for me was my 30th Ann SG/LP Custom. It was beautiful and I loved the neck, but that guitar put me completely off of SGs for 15 years. Neck was VERY wobbly and the thing would not stay in tune if you soldered the strings to the bridge and nut after tuning! After wanting and searching for one for several after they came out, it was such a hassle that I dumped it within a few weeks. That never happens.