09 Aug 1968 Gibson SG Standard “Blackie”
Many claim – including me, previously, being fooled into it – that their vintage Gibson SG is a 1968 Standard.
They’ve been told so by their vendor or have made their own research. That’s what i had done as well, failing (yes: FAIL!).
True Gibson 1968 SGs have a particular feature – maybe two or three – that are only found in 1968 and a bit earlier, definitely 1967.
Is there something special about the year 1968? No. For SGs, it was a good year, seemingly, and that’s all.
Much of the “myth” (if any) running around year 1968 (for SGs!) is probably related to Angus Young and Gibson itself.
Gibson in fact claimed that first Angus’ Gibson Guitar was a 1968 (see here for an in depth analysis).
It wasn’t. It was a 1970/1971.
So why stir the water around it so much? Probably, just because 1968 is considered the last year of collectible, good production for Gibson guitars. It’s main a collector thing, a vintage elite that tends towards this fact (George Gruhn, well known vintage expert, claimed it so himself several years ago).
I could check personally that great guitars are not related to their year of production, and I have said so already several times.
Still, even for me, there was something special about year 1968. Probably because I was born in 1968, probably because it was thought that Angus’ first SG (and most preferred, that’s why) was dated back in 1968, I got curious about it.
So when chance came, I bought one mystical 1968 Gibson SG Standard.
This guitar (see images below) has had a number of modifications over the years.
The two most striking are the lack of the vibrola and its color (body only), black.
The moment I have seen it – on ebay – I liked it. But with all the modifications that were done to it, I offered a lot less than what was asked for it and finally, after a month of offers and counteroffers, I got it at 3k USD.
Not cheap. But not much at all, considering what good condition 1968 SG standards fetch. When you find one that truly is a 1968.
So, let’s look at the defining elements for a 1968 SG Standard:
– deeper cutaway carvings
– peculiar neck joint
– logo positioning
– Gibson logo font
As you see, I am not even mentioning the serial numnber. Gibson serial numbers of that era are completely unreliable.
Many times, experts go and check the potentiometer writings and codes, that have a specific code by which the production year (of the potentiometer alone) is identified.
Even then, I was led into error as I do have a 1969 Gibson SG standard – sold to me as a 1968 – that I later found out was in fact a 1969 and not a 1968 by means of the neck joint.
The potentiometer codes on the 1969 are though referring to 1968. This was simply because many potentiometers were bought by Gibson at given times and then, stored even for years to come.
So, when you are checking the approximate date of production of your vintage Gibson SG, never trust the serial number alone, but do a cross check with all the features mentioned above.
So this is how I got the guitar, more or less (the switch tip was non original and the switch ring was black: replaced those two immediately with a non original white switch ring – a la Angus – and a correct, original white switch tip:
And this is what it looks like now (changed the bridge with an original one, with the nylon saddles: these nylon saddles DO change the guitar tone AND playability. I now tend to opt for nylon saddles as they seem to soften the bends and dim the string strikes. I also added a non original pickup cover in the bridge position and I plan on changing both of them with an original set. The neck position pickup cover is also non original while both pickups are original, Patent Number/T tops of that era):
So, we mentioned the “peculiar” neck joint of 1967/1968: here you are:
Here an example of a typical, very common 1969 neck joint. completely different (note that also, 64/66 neck joints are different, and so are 1970/1971 SG neck joints. It’s confusing at first, but an incredible giveaway to date a vintage SG).
Neck joint of a 1969 Gibson SG Standard
Despite the black color, I tried to shoot a few pictures that might show the deeper (deeper than later years) cutaway carvings:
(I’ll soon provide comparison images and will review ALL of my guitars with tons of details).
Also note how the stopbar was placed (incorrectly) once the vibrola was removed. It is way back. This was probably due to the fact that the person who modified the guitar at the time, didn’t want to drill other holes into the body and chose to use the existing (Maestro) vibrola holes instead.
The headstock decorations are also different. The logo in the center of the headstock is shorter and fatter, while the Gibson font is older looking and sports the famous “dot” on the “i” (as opposed to 1969 that lacked the dot and had a rougher font).
Note of the author for the more ‘particular’ reader: these articles on SoloDallas’ gear are not intended to be egotistical, neither am I intending to show off. They are for passion, documentation/information and sharing pleasure with those who have a similar interest. Thanks for your trust and understanding, SD
rallandrPosted at 10:42h, 30 April
Hey, thanks for all the nice work !
I am confused, I have a very nice SG standard, everything matches with a 1968 (bevels, neck joint, pots, even the angled heel, which you don’t mention and is a nice distinctive feature), except that there is no dot on the i of the logo, and the serial number 538*** (even if not quite relevant) indicates 69… I’ll be happy to provide pictures if needed ! My intuition is it’s some kind of transitional model, I’ll be happy to ear what you think about it.
AngusrocksPosted at 21:51h, 14 September
Hi everyone, i`m looking for the original capacitors of an old late sixties SG.
I know that there must have been orange drops and i like to buy some, but it confuses me that some orange drops have 0,22 uf and some 0,022uf. What is the difference and what are the originals for an old sixties wiring ???
RyleyPosted at 15:29h, 14 September
Fil, can you post some new pictures of this guitar? as i recall you said you had it refinished / repainted?
RhythmaniacPosted at 14:54h, 09 April
hey fil, what’s the difference between a 60’s neck and a 70’s neck?
SGStandard68Posted at 14:51h, 20 January
I would sell my soul for it. By the way Fil, I am looking for a new bridgepickup for my SG Special. Would you either recommend buying the Angus Young Signature Pickup or an Gibson 498t or an PAF copy like the Seymour Duncan SH-1B
Looking forward to an answer,
PS: Sorry for bad English. I am German
solocaliPosted at 19:13h, 17 November
hey fil I was just wondering do you still use the angus young signature pick up in your reissue sg because you haven’t used it in a long time and you seemed really happy when you got it and you said you highly recommend it but I know its probably not as good as your vintage pick ups. also love the black sg and site keeps getting better good job 🙂
SoloDallasPosted at 19:21h, 17 November
I don’t, but not because it isn’t good enough (it’s actually fantastic). The reason is that it is still installed on a guitar that is stripped down. I was wondering in fact to install it somewhere else soon. Thanks I am loving the site, I really am 🙂
GoodDoseOfRockPosted at 17:21h, 17 November
Hey Fil, I recently bought an SG Standard 2005 edition in black and it’s great I love it. One thing though, I am eventually hoping to do gigs with this guitar and because I sweat a lot on stage from running about (like Angus!) I am wondering how badly this will affect the guitar.
SoloDallasPosted at 17:28h, 17 November
Heh. Somehow it will. Aesthetically, in a good way. I like well worn instruments tons more than flashy new ones. I used to be proud of my dirt, sweat and even blood on my guitars when I played live (I often knocked my right hard against hardware and bleed all over the guitar when playing live). I left it often in those conditions for months. I too sweat MASSIVELY, and I mean, soaking wet. The ONLY important thing is that all the sweat doesn’t permeate the control cavity and the pickup cavities. Try and avoid that. That is, on the electronics. All the rest, be proud of your sweat, especially if it is of the “acid” kind like mine, which corrodes metal hardware quickly and gives your guitar a vintage look sooner than you know it 😉 (a cloth around the control and pickup cavities right after the whole performance or during it, as you see fit will be enough).
GoodDoseOfRockPosted at 17:50h, 17 November
Thank you! I was just worried because I intend to keep this guitar until I die but I’d rather that I died before it does!
SoloDallasPosted at 17:58h, 17 November
No worries, you’ll see, it takes a LOT of abuse to kill a guitar. Angus did it, but we hardly will 😉
GoodDoseOfRockPosted at 18:19h, 17 November
haha that’s alright then. By the way, is it true that Malcolm still uses his Gretsch from 1974 to play his live gigs and albums? I know he had a white Gretsch for Back in Black and for part of the show they played here in Glasgow but from what I’ve heard he still plays the exact same guitar. Do you know if it’s true?
SoloDallasPosted at 18:27h, 17 November
Oh yes, it’s true. It’s a 1963 FireBird. He has more like that one, and from the same year(s), but that one is still his favorite one. He has many guitars. A lot more than we can imagine. And many brands and types, acoustics, Gibsons, … we just don’t see him with those, but still, he does play them.
GoodDoseOfRockPosted at 18:43h, 17 November
Malcolmyoung01Posted at 11:47h, 21 September
Did you remove the Tremolo ?
LedSabbathPosted at 05:23h, 07 November
No he didn’t. The only reason I know that is I have seen this SG numerous times on eBay and it was exactly the same.
OldSchoolRocker666Posted at 10:38h, 13 August
Hey again, and thanks alot for the answers, was really helpfull , and i’am patient so it’s not an issue haha
Well about ”perfect instruments”, can there really be ”perfect” ones, and perfect is a relative term, depends on how you define ”perfect” really, but ye i agree at some points there.
Yes i refered to ebony fingerboards/frets, got the word wrong there haha.
I’am back later if i can find some questions 🙂
TylerPosted at 23:15h, 12 August
Fil, does it matter where the stopbar is placed, is their any increase or decrease in sustain. I always wondered about some of the old les pauls and sg’s specials that they used to make with only a stopbar piece and no bridge.
OldSchoolRocker666Posted at 09:43h, 11 August
Great guitar, would be nice to own one of those as a first ever SG 🙂
I would like to ask some questions, but please bear with me if they seem weird or something, i’am not an ”expert”, but i’ll do my best 🙂
Ok , here they come.
Which SG year model had the deepest cutaway carvings?
And how much would an real SG from the ”classic” years 61-70- cost, generelly?
Did the SG’s ever came with ebenholtz fingerboards?
Is it true that the old SGs had better quality in sense of craftsmanship than (Most) of the reproduction SGs?
Is it true that older instruments(and guitars in particular) have a tendency to ”change” overtime as they become older? (like that they will change somehow depending on how you treat, play and take care of the guitar)
And if so, why?
I’ve heard the vibrato’s of the old SGs wasen’t popular of reason i dont remember , and that they weren’t used as much because of some reason, is this correct?
What’s the advantage of the pre-68´ year model necks (like 67´ and earlier) over the 68´ and newer year models necks?
Does the reproduction pickups like 57´Classic and similar pickups ”stands a chance” soundwise in compare with the likes of the old pickups of the classic SGs of the 60s and early 70s? (hope this isn’t a weird question, bear with me plz)
Does layers of colours affect the sound of an guitar? And if so, how?
Does the ”new” VoS Standard Reissue come available with Ebenholtz fingerboards, and in compare with the likes of their other SGs, like the 61´ Reissue, is the Standard Reissue ”better” in some senses than the 61´ Reissue?
If someone would like to obtain an old SG , any year model between 61-70- , is there any ”recommended” year model based on generall price range, that the condition dont have to be PERFECT, it gotta be non-damaged(like that the neck have never been broken), original pickups is prefered and that it must be more of the Faded Cherry colours, is there any year model that is recommended with all these aspects in mind?
Ok that’s all 🙂
Great guitar once again 🙂
SoloDallasPosted at 17:32h, 12 August
Sorry for not replying to you earlier. VERY good questions. Let’s see what I can answer:
a) 1961 SGs have the deepest carvings.
b) SGs ranging from ’61 to ’71 carry very different prices. Top is with 1961 Standards up to 20k USD, down to 1971 Standards now around 4k USD
c) Don’t know those fingerboards
d) Yes. Older guitars from that era (late ’50s, early ’60s is generally referred to as the golden era of the electric guitar. Good woods – in some cases – and good craftsmanship. I think some custom shops today are on par with that and maybe, superior. But one has to be able to choose and have the money for it. USA standard SGs (and other models) definitely do not have the quality there was back then. At times though, there are exceptions. One must try MANY guitars before he buys one.
e) Yes. Older guitars – any guitar made of wood or organic material – changes in time. Also, the more one plays the instrument, the better that instrument will turn (there ARE always exceptions, with awful instruments of all eras who are dead and will sound dead no matter what you do to them). So, the getting older per se won’t guarantee an instrument getting better. You need to play that instrument. The reason is not a magical one: playing an instrument frequently, rounds the edges, makes the wood more used, bent, the metal parts tend to melt together. The whole instrument loosens up and all the parts vibrate together better. It’s just evidence. Magnets get a little weaker and assume characteristic tones. Very fascinating. It is also thought that the sonic vibrations will cause the wood to mutate its resonance. Also, wood will dry as time goes by and again, resonance will gain quality.
f) Vibrato levers were never great tools with Gibson. Different story with Fender. Vibrato – vibrolas – were just meant to be used very slightly to add that typical 1950s vibrato you hear on clean guitars on certain songs/records. That was that. If you used/use it more intensely, with guitar will simply and immediately go out of tune. No workaround for this.
g) No advantage in necks prior or after ’68s for SGs. I mean, some people prefer some necks, some other people, other necks. We could generally assert – again – that workmanship up until ’68 was at least slightly better – and so the materials – therefore, the prior ’68 instruments are thought to be slightly better. I can confirm this with my own experience, but I have to add that still, post 1968 Gibson guitars sound marvelous, too. At times, I DO prefer post ’68s to prior ’68s! So, necks in ’61 were VERY slim. Then they became a bit fatter circa in 1964. After ’64, at least two different types of neck were available on SGs, a fatter one and a slimmer one. I like both. I have both. I really like – as an example – the fatter necks that came post 1968, namely in 1970 and 1971.
h) no. For me it doesn’t. I can’t stand newer pickups. Zero. I hear them immediately and put the instrument down. I like new pickups ONLY when they’re well made, as in the case of some boutique builders.
i) Yes. Colors and their materials DO influence the guitar resonance big time. It’s simple: put a tight shirt on and try to move freely: harder. Put a shirt that will loosen up easily and when you move, you can stretch it better. REALLY the same thing with paints for guitars.
j) Have no idea, do not know the Ebenholtz fingerboards (unless you mean ebony fingerboards? Yes, generally speaking, the Vos reissues are better than other reissues not made in the custom shop. The ’61 made in the custom shop is great.
k) I would buy massively ’69/’70 and ’71 SGs now. They are pretty much around and still moderately low prices in the likes of 3k up to 6k. This will change and these guitars will go up. Earlier models are already unaffordable UNLESS you buy – like me – “issue” instruments that is, guitars with problems. That destroys their value and you buy them cheaper. You then have to have them fixed though, and that is a cost as well. So far, I was always very happy with project guitars or issue guitars. They’re my greatest satisfaction.
I never buy perfect instruments.
Please make sure you understand what I told you and if you think it is not enough, come back to me with no hesitation. Thanks, Fil
whiskeyontherocksPosted at 18:06h, 12 August
What are newer pickups that you would recommend?
SoloDallasPosted at 18:11h, 12 August
I’d go for old pickups in general. I’d search ebay for T-tops for example. There’s many. OR I’d buy boutique PAFs, there are several vendors out there.
tjtristanPosted at 06:00h, 13 August
Once in a video you said that you could better buy a ’57 classic (plus?) pickup then an AY signature. i’m thinking of putting a ’57 classic plus as bridge pickup in my 2003 Gibson SG. But now you recommend something else. I know it’s also possible to buy pickups from late 60’s SG’s but they are very VERY expensive. and the ’57 classic plus is affordable (110$ or so).
So anything in that price range that’s better than that?
Accadacca100Posted at 05:36h, 11 August
Hey (Again) is it just my or is the Stopbar moved away from the bridge, i mean there is a big space between Stopbar and pickup
Accadacca100Posted at 05:31h, 11 August
Hey Solodallas, I must say i’m not much of an reader but this is really interesting. All thoose vintage guitars, it’s so amazing. Do you have an correct number on how many guitars you have.
sorry my bad english
HagusYoungPosted at 14:07h, 10 August
where did you get that covers ? the recent gibson covers have these “sharp” edges, they just dont look “vintage” even on the VOS guitars.
SoloDallasPosted at 15:18h, 10 August
I have no idea! I have a lot of pieces laying around. I used to own a recording studio (you can see it in my earlier videos, was shooting from there) and I used to own circa 100 guitars. I had a lot of pieces laying around, replacement parts, original parts, … I still have plenty of those parts and I do add them to the guitars left every now and then, to make them sound better, look better, etc. It’s true, the newer pickup covers differ from the older ones. That is a meant feature, to avoid confusion with vintage instruments.
KrisPosted at 15:30h, 10 August
Hey, are you the Hagen I have been talking to?
HagusYoungPosted at 16:33h, 10 August
yes i am 😀 hi there kris
KrisPosted at 16:55h, 10 August
Hey 🙂 Did I tell you we have bought the “basis” of the new rebuild project (i.e. the guitar)?
sgmanjasePosted at 20:50h, 09 August
Juat wana say thanks 4 all your info on your guitars. I admire how passionate you are about these guitars and the music and you are an inspiration to me thanks
SoloDallasPosted at 20:51h, 09 August
And thank you for letting me know. To know I am inspiring, it’s like gasoline to me: let’s me keep on going and going and going…
tjtristanPosted at 20:09h, 09 August
Thanks a lot for the info on this guitar, looks great :-).
One question, were there ever made original Gibson SG Standards with the Cream colored switch ring?
Because when i search for SG’s from 67/68/69/70/71 i can’t find any with a cream colored switch ring. except the ones that Angus uses, did he put it on himself, or did gibson put them on any of their original SG’s?
SoloDallasPosted at 20:23h, 09 August
Nope, cream switch rings were not for SGs (they were for LPs). It’s a little thing, like putting a colorful tie on: it’s a custom little thing that Angus did, a little modification of his own 🙂