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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!
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