Spot the dud - '61 RI SG

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by grownupboy, May 7, 2008.

  1. grownupboy

    grownupboy Member

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    i managed to find a new 61 reissue sg in classic white at a local store. kinda dig the guitar from a looks and sound pov - also plays pretty nice, but what do i know? hehe...

    here's the deal. i'm a fender guy and i know what to look for on fenders as tell-tale signs of bad construction. but what should i look for in the sg? my understanding is that gibson's quality control can be "a funny thing" at best so i wanna make sure this guitar isn't gonna be a problem in the future.

    there's little things that i can see, like the finish on the neck not being perfectly smooth (which doesn't bother me...) but is there any large scale issues i should watch out for?

    i know the drill - play it and if you like it buy it. but that's not what i'm asking... what kinds of things do you guys look for (apart from sound and the ultra personal "playability factor") when you're evaluating a new sg?

    that thing looks pretty nice in classic white....

    k
     
  2. TheHog107

    TheHog107 Member

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    I'd pay close attention to the neck, look down the end of the neck , to check for any warping. I'd also check where its attached to the body, I've seen some guitars that were glued incorrectly and the neck can never be perfectly straight with the body, so permanent buzzing at anything but very high action. Also make sure the frets sit down on the fretboard with no spaces. (sloppy fret work)

    PS: I just bought a Gibson Studio. A great guitar except the setup was wrong wrong wrong. The intonation was out by a mile, the pickup height was waaaay bad and action was height. The nut was also cut wrong. Luckily I just started getting into some Luthiering, so no problem for me to fix.

    Good luck!
     
  3. mprvise

    mprvise Member

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    I'm kind of on the look out for an SG as well, most likely used. When I find one I like I'm taking a tech friend with me to check it out. He's had customers send several back to Gibson - oh the horror stories. The last few had a dip of some sort in the neck/fretboard around the 3rd or 4th fret.

    Also, I have a friend who bought a '61 reissue recently. He's a pretty intense player, the G string kept popping out of the nut the last time I saw him play it live. Sounded amazing, but he was quite frustrated.
     
  4. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

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    In addition to the above excellent advice...tune it up to pitch, then carefully play the G string from the 10th to the 15th fret and listen for any note (usually around the 12th fret) that dies away quickly. If you hear this, and the sustain of that note is markedly different than it's neighbors..you may want to keep looking.

    Many SG's exhibit this, but the better ones do not. It could still be a great guitar in all other respects.
     
  5. teleking36

    teleking36 Member

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    Do the VOS (plekked) models suffer from any of these issues? I'm shopping for an SG as well. Consdering the '61 RI, '62 RI Standard (GC Exclusive), and the VOS Standard with lyre vibrola...
     
  6. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

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    As far as any sustain probs that I mantioned above...the accuracy of fret leveling has no impact either way...unless of course the lack of sustain is due to a hi or low fret.

    The situation that I noted is due to phase cancellation.
     
  7. billstets

    billstets Member

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    Do you know what causes it?
     
  8. ahab

    ahab Member

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    I am not trying to derail this thread, but...
    I just want to pay a compliment to Terry McInturff for offering his input and knowledge on a guitar that his company doesn't even build. That's really, really cool.
     
  9. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

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    It's been somewhat of a mystery for some time. Here is what I have determined is going on:

    When the string is struck, the string AND the neck vibrate. When string and neck vibrate at nearly the same frequency, they can be vibrating 180 degrees out-of-phase or nearly so. When this happens, the vibration is cancelled..or greatly reduced.. at the frequencies that are out-of-phase.

    The fact that this cancellation can be more obvious on some aspects of the overtone series than on others can be demonstrated thus;

    If a "dead spot" is obvious on the G string around the 12th fret area,
    play exactly the same pitch on the B string, let it sustain, and listen carefully; you will hear the overtones shift to one an octave higher.

    Ahab...thanks very much for your very kind comment; I am interested in all things "guitar" and I thoroughly enjoy talking about such things (there are limits after 31 years on the job tho! :)
     
  10. grownupboy

    grownupboy Member

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    wow - that's some great advice so far! thanks a ton guys!

    one thing i noticed right away, the frets are totally flat crowned. like perfectly square with maybe the slightest round edge. and i mean slight - big square frets. the sales guy i always deal with said "that's the way they did the frets back then" but i'm dubious. hehe...

    any thoughts on that? i had a tele that had mostly flat crowned frets and it played flat above the 5th fret. hated it...

    k
     
  11. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Supporting Member

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    Yes Gibson frets are flat like that. Seems you're worried too much about internet lore regarding Gibson's QC issues and looking for something that's not there. If you cannot see any obvious problems with the guitar then I doubt you need to go looking for any based on advice from other people who don't have your guitar in front of them and who might have a more critical eye than you. Most QC complaints leveled at Gibson are related to fit & finish, frets, and other minor nuances depending on your tolerance for imperfections. If there's nothing standing out to you on your guitar I'd just enjoy it.
     
  12. grownupboy

    grownupboy Member

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    tattoedcarrot,

    i think you're misunderstanding. i'm not asking anyone to judge the particular guitar i'm looking at. i'm asking for people's points of views on the kinds of things to watch out for. it's a reasonable request that has been met wiht excellent advice and suggestions - and no quality control lore at all.

    thanks for your input though...

    k
     
  13. billstets

    billstets Member

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    I think his point was that you sound pretty knowledgeable about what to look for on Fenders, but you're probably asking specifically about Gibsons because of the reputation they have here. There's at least one thread a week, usually more, that devolves into a discussion about Gibson quality. So I understand why you would ask the question. However, I agree with TattoedCarrot that the rep is overstated and in my experience there isn't anything specific to look for on a Gibson that you wouldn't look for on something else.

    Having said that, I took an interest in the thread because my '61RI SG does have a dead spot on the G string, 9th fret. After reading this thread, I did some searches on TGP and HC and discovered it is a common problem with many makes and models, including very high end acoustic guitars. I've never had it on any other Gibsons. My R8 has no such problem. It doesn't bug me too much at this point, as the SG is otherwise great. I bought it used and didn't notice it when I bought it.
     
  14. TheHog107

    TheHog107 Member

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    I noticed the same thing about my Gibson Studio. Its like they didn't bother to dress the frets properly. I rounded them and put a nice polish on them. I had read that flat frets will inadvertently effect sustain and intonation as more area will be in contact with the string. I don't think this is a flaw per-say, just how Gibson seems to do it.
     
  15. uOpt

    uOpt Member

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    Flat frets can't work right because then the string random shuffles between the front and back end.

    I think this must be a result of the fretboard being heavily leveled (due to prior bad fretwork and/or neck deformation) and then skipping the fret dress. You can't level without dressing, errr make that I guess Gibson can.

    The paint imperfections near the neck/fretboard joint are so normal that buy now they prove that it's a U.S. made Gibson and not a Chinese copy ;)

    Still, if you get a good one they are great. Keep looking. Or get 30% off.
     
  16. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    If the binding already shows major cracks in sync with the frets, not a great sign. Play an open low E and turn the guitar sideways and listen for a major change in pitch, if you hear that ,don't buy. Wear the guitar with a strap, with the strap hooked behind the neck- if the guitar hangs neck heavy don't buy.

    The pathetic flattopped railroad tie fretwork is unfortunately SOP for Gibson under current ownership.
     
  17. grownupboy

    grownupboy Member

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    thanks for the tips - i tried a strap on a heritage cherry flavored 61 at the same store and it was so neck heavy it was impossible to deal with. the white one was so much better!

    the low e trick - is that to check for neck flex?

    k
     
  18. TattooedCarrot

    TattooedCarrot Supporting Member

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    That's all I meant, he just says it nicer. I tend to be a bit abrassive ;)
     
  19. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Neck flex and tuning stability. With light tuners might be less of a problem.With heavier tuners like Grovers, or on a Firebird- banjo tuners- rubber neck tuning stability can be a pain.
     

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