Hows about this insanely rare 1973 Gibson SG Custom in factory black finish?
The 70’s weren’t so kind to Gibson under the Norlin banner. Models were chopped and changed as the company strived to simplify and standardise production. The SG lost much of its angular shape and the deep chamfered edges were replaced with much more sedate cut aways. Even with these changes of design, the Custom still retained that majestic look, resplendent in gold with the now classic three pickup combination. Even its more drab walnut finish didn’t seem to diminish it as it fought to stay relevant into its teenage years.
Nothing screams Custom more than that classic combination of black and gold and this nearly mint SG Custom is an exemplary piece. The deep black finish has retained its gorgeously glossy finish and is set off so exquisitely by the gold hardware and white binding. There are a few minor dings but nothing that takes away form the overall look.
The gloss finish continues up the neck which isn’t skinny as you might expect from a guitar of this period. The medium C profile is very comfortable in the hand and this combined with a sympathetic refret makes this a very well playing guitar. The ebony fretboard looks stunning combined with the large block mother of pearl inlays and white binding. The iconic custom headstock really is the icing on the cake, splendidly set off by the gold Kluson ‘Waffle back’ tuners.
The gold plated hardware has worn as you’d expect, with most of the plating having worn from the pickups though you still ‘sense; the gold there. The Schaller ‘Harmonica’ bridge gives the guitar a distinctly 70’s feel and again the plating has worn here too.
The plastics are in good shape. You might notice that the pickups have been moved nearer to to the end of the fretboard which is to make pickguard manufacture easier. Electronically all solder joints are undisturbed, the pots are dated at 20th week 1973. The tarback pickups are unmolested too.
If you look in the neck pickup cavity you will see a ‘factory scrape’ which we sometimes see on the thinner bodied SG’s, Firebirds and Flying V’s from the 60’s and 70’s, especially ones with the thicker paint finishes. This was to enable the electrical components to fit better and was done post finish and at the final assembly stage, at the factory. Looks like they had a bit of a struggle fitting the neck pickup in this one and had to scrape some of the finish off the cavity to ease it in.
The guitar comes with it correct black Tolex hardshell case with purple lining.
As was traditional with Customs of the first few decades, this guitar would have had the low profile ‘fretless wonder’ frets, an arrangement that divides players. This guitar has been refretted, as previously mentioned, though the work has been carried out sympathetically with suitable fret wire. This means that it plays very well with a slinky action thats a breeze to play.
The pickups are wired from the factory with the the middle switch position giving us middle and bridge pickups out of phase for that classic Isley Brothers sound. The other two poison give us the neck and bridge pickup independently and here we’re in classic SG territory, that slightly scooped sound that so influenced a young Brian May whilst he was building Red Special and that lit up the stage under the fingers of a certain Angus Young
This is an insanely rare finish and you’d be hard pressed to find another in this condition. A must have for any SG or Custom fans.