1963 Gibson SG Custom (Les Paul Custom) Solidbody Electric Guitar

Alright, yikes. There are still instruments that, when presented with an old case with unknown contents, take my breath away and make me blush when opening the lid. This is one of them. Fancy old Gibsons like this are just not around much. They come in from time to time for minor setups, but only rarely for sale and so I don't get to spend a lot of time with them.

For fun, here are two more videos of the guitar but used as an "amp demo" for a couple of small-box amps:

Through a '59 Premier Twin 8 above...

Through a '63 Silvertone amp-in-case above...

This is an iconic model -- Sister Rosetta Tharpe anyone? Jimi Hendrix? -- and it's also gorgeous. The white has aged to a gorgeous cream, the gold hardware has faded just-so, and all the important stuff is original and correct. Its only replacement parts appear to be the (same-era) Grover Imperial tuners (it looks like it originally had Kluson wafflebacks), perhaps a couple of the knobs, and a hardware screw here or there. Everything else checks-out.

My work on this was just a glorified setup, but post-adjustments it plays perfectly and is a super-fast player at that. The neck is slim front-to-back but it has the full nut width, as you'd expect. The frets are the super-low, factory "fretless wonder" stuff, but as you can see in the demo video... I'm not having too much trouble getting around on it! It takes a second to get used to it, though... but sliding chords are so much fun with these.

It does have its share of smaller flaws (which I'll detail down the post), but overall it's in fantastic condition for its age. It's rare to find old electrics that haven't been molested too much or with their original "quirks" not ironed-out. This still has the oddball neck, out-of-phase-bridge-and-middle, and bridge positions on its three-way switch. I love it because it gives you a bit of an "emulated Strat" sound when in the middle position. Folks who want a little chime and jangle for strumming chords will enjoy the heck out of that.

If you've already browsed the photos, you will notice that I've turned the bridge around from "normal." That's because the posts were set at enough of an angle at the factory that the strings were buzzing against the intonation set-screws when left "stock" and the intonation set correctly. There was just enough room in the saddle movement with it turned-around like this to get it playing spot-on and buzz-free and so this, to me, was a better solution than yanking the posts and adjusting their placement.

Repairs included: the mildest fret level/dress, cleaning, minor adjustments, and setup.

Body wood: mahogany

Bridge: ABR "gull wing" low profile original, plastic saddles

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: mahogany

Pickups: 2x original PAF humbuckers, 1x original Pat-No humbucker

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (fast!) with room to adjust at bridge
String gauges: 46w-10

Neck shape: slim C

Board radius: ~10-12"

Truss rod: adjustable

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: low/small

Scale length: 24 5/8"

Nut width: 1 11/16"

Body width: 13"

Body depth: 1 3/8"

Weight: 8 lbs 15 oz

Condition notes: there's so much to talk about but, as I mentioned above, it's mostly unmolested. Let's do the rundown, though...

Pickups: these are original -- two are Patent-Applied-For versions (bridge/middle) and one is a Patent Number (neck) version. Please see the pics.

Electronics: these appear to be 100% original.

Knobs: two of these are silver-topped "tone" knobs and the other two are confusing -- one has a gold-top insert and the other one is missing its top insert. I'm guessing that at least two are replacements but all are period Gibson stock.

Bridge and tailpiece: the whammy ("sideways Vibrola") and bridge are original and the bridge posts, too.

Neck binding, inlay, strap buttons, truss cover, nut: all original... though the neck binding on the bass side (with the dots) has a few cracks in it (at the dots) as usual.

Tuners: these are not original, I think, unless they were an add-on at the factory to replace the original Kluson waffleback tuners which left an imprint on the back of the headstock. These Grover Imperials look period, though -- they're definitely old. See pictures of the back of the headstock, by the way -- there's a teensy hairline crack running from the top G-string tuner screw-mount to the edge of the headstock. It's tight and doesn't expand when the screw's pressure is applied so I left it as-is as it's not a structural issue and someone might want to deal with the cosmetics in whatever way they choose.

Frets: these are the original "fretless wonder" low-and-small stuff. They were untouched when it came in but I gave them just the lightest level/dress job I could to get them feeling a little better. See pics for the "as they came in" shot of the frets.

Finish: the finish is completely original as far as I can tell, but it does have a little hairline finish-cracking here and there (around the horns, near the back of the headstock, and one finish crack along the heel) and definitely some scratching/usewear mostly on the back. There's also mild weather-check/clearcoat cracking throughout and some small dings/flake-outs here and there where pictured. The worst offender, though, is an ugly patch on the back of the neck that you can feel when playing, though it doesn't bother me much. I'm assuming this is where either a chemical reaction (strap in case, maybe?) or a big ding occurred. It looks like someone "touched it up" with something like... nail polish? It's weird but I'll leave it to the next owner to decide what to do about it. Last word about the finish... the nut was removed for setup work in the past and just now and so the finish is removed on the sides of the nut. Originally it would have been sprayed-over on the sides.

Other hardware: the hardware mounting-screws all seems to be original save the tuner-mounting screws, but some of them have lost their gold plating with age.

It comes with: a presumably-original hard case that's in good order. It also comes with the presumably-original strap, an old Fender pick, and the original case keys.


Nick R said…
I can remember one of these that was owned by Andy Latimer of the band Camel- I had a twang on it about 40 years ago! Then there is this one that was apparently owned by Mary Ford no less!

Stick this into You Tube

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