Baked maple Gibson SG Standard Limited

29 Dec Baked maple Gibson SG Standard Limited

Hello, solodallas.com folks. This is Renato, I’m 40 years old and I have been a member of the site pretty much since its inception, but untill now I had not thought about writing anything about my gear – my gear has been pretty basic, low-end, so there has been nothing much to speak for. But, having finally gotten a Gibson SG Standard Limited this Christmas, and because it’s a slightly different model from years past – in particular with its baked-maple fretboard (here’s a link to the Gibson page) – I thought I’d share some of my impressions and pictures with the nice folks here. 

But first, some background…

I started playing (again) about 2 years ago; I got bitten by the contagious ‘Fil bug’ like many-a-bedroom rockers here. Since I started, I’ve gotten by with what I think is an excellent starter’s low-budget gear: an Epiphone G-400 and Guitar Rig 4 (GR4). I basically did not want to invest a good chunk of money until I was sure I’d be serious about it. I had given up playing guitar when I was teenager, after convincing my dad to get me a guitar, and I felt bad about the whole thing and didn’t want to repeat. Well, this time around, I’m sticking with it for the long run: I’ve found information and motivation that were simply not available when I gave up playing the first time around, thanks to the Internet and folks like Fil and others here.

Anyway… with my ‘budget gear’ I’ve managed to go over the beginner’s hump and play some of the songs I honestly felt were beyond what a chap like me could ever play. So I finally gave myself permission to splurge, so to speak, and ordered an SG standard for Christmas. I mean, my wife gave it to me as a gift :) While it was sitting there in its shipping box, waiting to be opened only on Xmas day, my stingy side couuldn’t help but think: did I really need to buy this? I mean, my Epiphone was alright, a few issues here and there, but overall, nice.
Well, when I finally opened it, looked at it, and played it, I got my answer – a resounding YES. There’s another article in this site on Epi vs. Gibson and I won’t go deep into this discussion, so let me put it this way: I really like my Epi, it’s been great to me, it’s got a special place in my journey. But I like this new Gibson much better. It’s much easier to play, the action is great – the strings are very close to the frets, the plek’ed nut probably helps give it a tight action. It takes much less effort now to play – a nice benchmark for me is the F chord, it’s almost effortless now. The guitar is much more balanced and doesn’t do the crazy neck-dive that my Epi does. It sounds better, even unplugged. And it looks awesome, yes, that’s important!
So, back to the fretboard. Gibson has had major problems with the US government regarding their use of Rosewood, and this 2011 “Limited” line seems to be their first response to this issue. The fretboard is so-called ‘baked maple’, where the high-temperature baking process is supposed to make the wood tighter and more robust. Plus it gives it a darker color. My Epi has a rosewood fretboard, so I can compare the two, with some pictures to help. First, color-wise, baked maple is significantly lighter than rosewood, no question. Some people will just not like this; I find it to be a nice color, and I like it. Well, it’s a matter of personal preference. Second, baked maple is finer-grained – it’s very smooth, very nice to play. I like the feel. Third, tone-wise… it’s near impossible for me to isolate what impact this wood has on the tone and compare, so I won’t go there. But I can give you a sample of the tone so you have an idea:
Gibson SG limited aged cherry (right), Epi SG-400 cherry (left)
Close-up of baked maple fretboard
The pictures above show the difference in color between cherry Epi and aged cherry Gibson – as you can see, aged cherry is much darker. It seems close to the AY custom signature color, but I don’t have one to compare to. It’s a beautiful finish. You can also see the difference in color and texture of the fretboards. I also took a picture of the back of the two guitars to confirm a point member Hyce had made to me earlier, which has a huge impact – the positioning of the neck strap peg. With the same strap, my Epi neck-dives right away, the Gibson doesn’t, simple as that.
I’m still using Guitar Rig 4; my next investment will be an amp, but that’s going to take a while, maybe next Christmas. Until then, cheers!
Renato
avatar
Renato Figueiredo
rjofig@gmail.com

Renato @ Florida; I bought and started learning to play guitar about two years ago, a bit late in life (I am 39). Still a beginner, but motivated and inspired by Fil and other 'bedroom rockers'. I've been posting a few videos here and sound bites on soundcloud, as sort of a logbook with snippets of how my playing (hopefully) evolves, and it may help inspire others who love music to take an instrument, practice, play, and have fun. To contact me by email, my gmail.com username is the same as my username here.

41 Comments
  • avatar
    Ant
    Posted at 17:59h, 16 February

    Question Ren, :) Do you get any noise while not playing? also if you leave the guitar then touch any metal part (even the cable at the audio interface) does it go “tick”?

    i have this problem with my setup, i assued it was a grounding issue but its sure its well grounded!

    Cheers!

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 14:37h, 17 February

      Ant, no, I don’t get any noise in mine; I don’t think I get any ticks either.

      I guess it could be a grounding issue, but it’s hard to say from afar. Do you have an ohm-meter? If you open it up and start checking the resistance along different paths you might spot a clue.

      Is this the SG or the other guitar you’ve had? I hope the SG is doing alright…

      cheers!

      • avatar
        Ant
        Posted at 14:42h, 20 February

        any guitar, i suspect its the house im in has poor grounding :(

        occationaly i dont get the noise and ticks, it could be the laptop im using will further investigate 😉

        SG doing fine :) hows yours?
        thanks!

        • avatar
          rjofig
          Posted at 15:04h, 20 February

          Hmmm, any guitar, that’s weird – if it’s a laptop that you are using, next time you notice this you can try to unplug it from the power supply and leave it on battery only and see if there’s a difference. Might be a problem with your GR4 pre-amp?
          Hope you find out what’s going on. Cheers!

          • avatar
            Ant
            Posted at 16:54h, 20 February

            im starting to suspect my laptop or GR4 :(

  • avatar
    clapton51
    Posted at 13:27h, 13 February

    I just ordered one of these myself in the naturalburst and I thought I might mention that you can in fact oil these fretboards. This will give it a much darker color and will look like rosewood/ebony afterwards. I played one of these in the store and I didn’t feel like there was a huge difference. It felt more like my guitars with ebony than rosewood.

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 21:45h, 15 February

      Congrats! The natural burst is a beauty too.
      About using oil, I’ve read the same comment posted by a luthier on another forum a while ago. I haven’t tried it myself – the oild I have explicitly says “no maple” in the bottle so there may be different kinds.
      Cheers

  • avatar
    Max
    Posted at 16:41h, 12 January

    Well, the kind of rosewood used in the original SG’s is Brazilian Rosewood, which had a very tight grain and was more similar to ebony in the sense that if you break it it splinters-off in chunks..
    Brazilian rosewood is extinct and no-one uses it anymore.. worth noting that EVEN Ibanez guitars had real brazilian rosewood in the 80’s…

    the rosewood used more recently is Indian Rosewood which is cheaper, has a more open grain, and the latest kind of rosewood is really cheap compared to the original stuff from the 70’s and before.. being lighter in color and basically full of pores… in this regard the maple is a more perfect solution for the neck..

    but the green laws are quite a pain in the butt… the laws say that you have to ‘work’ the material in india and not in the USA.. which is weird and political-sounding.. not so much a question of wood species but wanting to control where things are made..

    sound-wise, you might get a slightly different sound, but then the rosewood used today also sounds different than the old rosewood anyway, so…

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 18:10h, 12 January

      Interesting, thanks for the explanation! I didn’t know the original SGs used Brazilian rosewood. Cheers!

  • avatar
    Fred07
    Posted at 12:33h, 31 December

    By the way, the only negative point is that it won’t keep tuned very long… Is it because it’s new, the strings are new, I don’t know. Maybe it will get better with time or I will have to think to change the tuning pegs by better ones. Any advice ?

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 17:08h, 31 December

      Congrats on your guitar, Fred!

      I remember my Epi used to get out of tune more frequently when it was new. Over time it got better; I also began to stretch the strings when I re-stringed it, and I think that may have helped.

      One thing I noticed in this Gibson though is for the D string, it looks like the nut may still need some lubrication – once in a while I hear a little snap when I’m tuning it. I’ll try to lubricate it with graphite; I wanted to put 09 strings in it anyway, let’s see how it goes.

      Cheers!

      • avatar
        banane
        Posted at 17:52h, 31 December

        Ah yes, this. I had this issue too when my 2009 SG was new. Here it was the nut slots, they were a bit too tight. Had the same snap when tuning. So I used a nail file and gave every “snapping” slot one or two short strokes with the nail file, just removing a very tiny amount of material. Snapping gone, guitar stays in tune.

        • avatar
          rjofig
          Posted at 18:39h, 31 December

          I see – did you file the top or the sides?
          I’ll try the graphite first, and with thinner 09 strings it may not be an issue anymore.
          Cheers

          • avatar
            banane
            Posted at 18:47h, 31 December

            Yes, its better to try graphite first before working on the nut. Maybe it’s even not needed to file them.
            I filed only the sides and kept care not to deepen the nut slots.

          • avatar
            06AngusSG
            Posted at 19:30h, 31 December

            Congrats Renato!!!!!

            I played one of these at Guitar Center a couple days ago and I have to say I’m a little jealous. 😉 Nice choice.

            For the nut…. I had the same problem on my “G” string. Since graphite can be black and messy I use this stuff.
            http://www.guitarcenter.com/GHS-A94-GraphitAll-Guitar-Lubricant-423700-i1759656.gc?&source=4WFRWXX&CAWELAID=29475026

            As it says a tiny drop will do. This solved ALL of my tuning problems!!!!!

            Congrats on the SG again!!!!! 8)

            • avatar
              rjofig
              Posted at 20:50h, 31 December

              Thanks! I went for it online without seeing/playing first, a bit scary but worked out fine!
              I just restringed and penciled in the nut for the problem strings, seems to be working alright now. I’ll check out the product you suggested, thanks for the tip!
              Cheers

              • avatar
                Fred07
                Posted at 11:07h, 01 January

                Thanks to all of you. Im’m going to try this product too.

                And happy new year to all the community !

  • avatar
    Fred07
    Posted at 12:23h, 31 December

    I bought myself the same guitar for Xmas, my first Gibson ! I use it with GR4 as well, and it gives me full satisfaction. What a great sound, nothing to compare with my previous cheaper guitars. And it’s beautiful as well.

  • avatar
    Kev
    Posted at 10:54h, 30 December

    Congrats, Renato! It’s a beautiful guitar, enjoy it =)

  • avatar
    OldSchoolRocker666
    Posted at 23:34h, 29 December

    Nice guitar man, hope you enjoy it! 😀

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 02:03h, 30 December

      Thanks, man – I’m already enjoying it lots, I’m glad it got in during a break :) Cheers!

  • avatar
    frankjoss
    Posted at 23:14h, 29 December

    Way cool Renato,
    thanks for the post, I can use it to influence the family for future purchase, easy to play and all that. Nice SG, I’m sure you’ll just fly with it.
    As we seem to share the same guitar “history” (tried, stopped, reached the forties and picked up the damn thing again after “meeting” Fil, ) it just makes me feel chuffed that, half way across the globe, there’s a sort of mirror image who’s saying the same things as mayself( Do I deserve it? Am I good enough for it to matter? Will it make a difference? Am I just a big kid at heart wanting a new toy? Would the money be better off spent on a new set of snow tires for the car and double glazing on the kitchen window?) and best of all, we can converse about.
    Can’t wait to hear her in action. Love the color, looks like a vampires dream of cherry jelly.

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 02:11h, 30 December

      Thanks, Frank :)
      Yeah you’re never alone, there’s always someone with a similar story out there. All I can tell you is, to me it was the right time to get it, and I’m happy I did; it feels better to play it, just for that it was well worth it. And my kids will inherit the Epi, hopefully one of them will pick it up. The other *has* to pick up drums :)
      Tell your wife, hey, could be worse, you could really want a red sports car :) The color is beautiful, I like red and I like dark, to me it’s ideal. Kinda pushed me over the edge to buy when I saw it released :)
      Cheers!
      Renato

      • avatar
        frankjoss
        Posted at 23:30h, 31 December

        One thing I was wondering, (and this goes out to all SoloDallas members with kids)… How on earth are our children gonna get on our nerves when they’re 14 or 15, we’ll probably be (statisicaly ) listening to and playing louder music than them, ( no stereo alive can compete with a 100 W valve)… I’m sure they’ll think of something though 😉

        • avatar
          banane
          Posted at 00:15h, 01 January

          Hehe, my stepdaughter is often upset when I play too loud while her boyfriend finds it rather cool :)

        • avatar
          rjofig
          Posted at 00:57h, 02 January

          Rap, I tell ya!
          Just kidding :) myself, they’ll have a hard time getting on my nerves music-wise, I think my taste is pretty eclectic. Cheers!

  • avatar
    Ant
    Posted at 20:51h, 29 December

    God Dam Ren you lucky son of a gun, nice article!!!

    Im so happy for you :), such a beauty! just the kind of SG im looking for 😛

    I didnt get one this christmas been biding my time and keeping a close eye on ebay.

    Cant wait to see your next video, your on your way to the next level 😉

    Congrats Renato!
    Ant

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 21:05h, 29 December

      Ant, mate, thanks!
      I’m sure when you get yours you’ll be very happy with it. I hope it works out for you soon!! I got lucky on mine with a 15% discount, free shipping, and no tax – Christmas deal, helping the economy here :)
      Cheers!
      Renato

      • avatar
        Ant
        Posted at 10:05h, 30 December

        wow thats a good deal. you purchased it new?

        I would considder buying new but the price is way higher than that of the ebay SG’s 😛

        • avatar
          rjofig
          Posted at 17:24h, 30 December

          Yup, it’s brand new; I was surprised with the discount too. I bought it online – a bit of taking a chance, but there’s no Gibson dealer carrying it around here so I went for it.
          Cheers!

  • avatar
    jonassweden1
    Posted at 20:33h, 29 December

    Congratulations, great!

    Going into this amp issue is tricky I know, but for 500 Euros or
    so, to play home/out, clean/old rock n roll, I’d go with Peavey Classic 30. Great amp, check it out. Ciao from Stockholm – Jonas

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 21:01h, 29 December

      Thanks, Jonas! Yeah before I get an amp I’ll take my time to do some research. Right now it’s home playing, mostly on headphones, and GR4 works pretty well for me, so I’m not hurrying. Ciao!

      • avatar
        Hyce
        Posted at 22:01h, 30 December

        I’d recommend you check out Blackheart amps. I’ve got their 5 watter, the “Little Giant.” For the head and cab it was like $300 USD; but it’s all tube, and the tone proves it.

  • avatar
    Hyce
    Posted at 19:43h, 29 December

    Congrats on the Gibson Renato!

    I did the same change. Went from an Epi G-400 to an SG standard last year at Christmas as well. It’s a much better guitar. Interesting about the fretboard, I’ve been hearing about the US government seizing their fretboards for some reason. My SG was new-old-stock from 2008, so it still has the Rosewood. Wonder how the maple affects tone/playability?

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 20:59h, 29 December

      Thanks, Hyce! Yeah I guess many people are in the same position, owning an Epiphone considering a Gibson.
      The playability and tone are both great on this guitar, but I don’t have a rosewood Gibson to compare against. It’s a pretty smooth fretboard.
      Cheers,
      Renato

  • avatar
    banane
    Posted at 19:01h, 29 December

    Great posting, Renato! And congratulations to your new guitar!
    I’m very impressed by the fretboard, the fretboard wood of my 2009 SG isnt that fine grained, though the fretboard of my 1969 SG is.
    Thats a funny thing, it could really be that these fretboards are an improvement.

    • avatar
      rjofig
      Posted at 19:26h, 29 December

      Thanks Franz! I think it can be an improvement but I don’t have enough expertise to judge :)
      I forgot to mention, the baked maple smells of fireplace :)
      Cheers!
      Renato

      • avatar
        banane
        Posted at 20:38h, 29 December

        I really think so. Maple is harder than Ebony or Rosewood and often used for guitar necks, and has great acoustic characteristics. And baking would improve this even more though I believe they did it mainly for colouring.
        And if it smells good, even better then :)

        • avatar
          rjofig
          Posted at 21:09h, 29 December

          I think the darker coloring was indeed a motivation for baking, in addition to improved robustness. Still, it’s not very dark as you can see; die-hard fans may be turned off by that.
          Cheers!

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