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Author Topic:  Gibson SG for Slide - Recommendations?
Chris Bauer

 

From:
Nashville, TN USA
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2013 3:59 pm    
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I'm getting the itch after all these years to try an SG for slide parts and have exactly no experience with them. Given that there's a mile long list of models and options - and given that tone is a widely and wildly personal thing - who can give me some ideas of what to expect tonally from different models and pick-ups?

Even knowing that I'll ultimately need to just sit down with a raft of them and see which one(s) I like, I'd be interested in any recommendations you all might have in the meantime.

I'm looking for more of singing sound than crunch if that helps in any kinda way...
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2013 4:20 pm    
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I like P-90s for slide. You might take a look at some Jrs too. I prefer them for slide. Just my opinion tho.
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Tom Snook

 

From:
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2013 4:21 pm    
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I bought an SG in 2009,traded it for a Les Paul in 2010.I couldn't get used to the longer neck.Go with a Les Paul IMHO.
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Tom Pettingill


From:
California, USA (deceased)
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2013 4:56 pm    
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John Billings wrote:
I like P-90s for slide. You might take a look at some Jrs too. I prefer them for slide. Just my opinion tho.

P90 Jr's are a blast Very Happy
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Dean Parks

 

From:
Sherman Oaks, California, USA
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2013 6:46 pm    
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Duane Almond and Derek Trucks have had good luck with an SG, front pickup with Derek. Humbuckers.
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Stephen Cowell


From:
Round Rock, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2013 7:05 pm    
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I use a P100 on my '61 SG Jr... I need the noise immunity a humbucker gives; you'll find that if you use drive/gain you need less noise.

I converted it from dog-ear to soap-bar, not that hard to do... gives you much more output when the pickup is close to the strings. It makes a great slide guitar... just don't let it fall over!
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 7 Sep 2013 7:28 pm    
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" just don't let it fall over!"

And that is an important point. SGs are quite fragile. I know, I have an early one.
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Steve Lipsey


From:
Portland, Oregon, USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 9:23 am    
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look in the want ads on the forum

http://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=251983

the faded models are great - sound fine, look great, and cost a lot less than the regular finish...
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Kurt Kowalski

 

From:
Kendall, NY USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 9:47 am    
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Hey Brother Chris,

Try this out... for the price, ya cant go wrong experimenting, and it is short scale.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/guitars/laguna-le50-short-scale-electric-guitar

my best,
-kk-
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Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 10:21 am    
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I use an SG/LP '61 reissue every day,Chris...the best slide tone I've ever gotten...you need the humbuckers to play slide because of the gain you gotta have...I used a Nobels ODR-S pedal for years,but they are really cheaply made and sometimes refused to work at all...I noticed that all the guitar players I was working with every day had OCD pedals...so that's what I'm using...much better!

I have the bridge jacked up on mine as high as it will go(leaning a little bit)...

I opened the gig bag one day and the headstock was just about broken off...Joe Glaser glued it back together for me and so far it's been fine...

I got this guitar in 1999...Randy Travis had a single out with a slide solo and we were going to NYC to do Letterman...a call was made from the office and I went to the back gate at Gibson and picked it up(?)...

I've never changed the strings until they broke...the top two are the ones that came on it...they are getting pretty shiny...
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Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 10:24 am    
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Oh yeah,the tuning keys are terrible...I've had to replace 3 or 4 of them...

I use a Coricidin bottle,the fake ones...I had a real one but I don't know what went with it...

I'm gonna change the tailpiece on it to a lightweight aluminum one...I really like the sound of those,and I've changed all my Les Pauls to them...they
weigh a lot less than the zinc ones they went to in the Seventies...
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David Mason


From:
Cambridge, MD, USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 10:39 am    
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Quote:
"Duane Almond?"
How nutty... Laughing
I was on a serious Allman disciple trip for a while there, 14 to 19 years old or so. I used to wear a Coricidin bottle to high school (and nobody laughed, there was a group who could sing Duane's solos off "Live at the Fillmore.")

I eventually ended up with the "right" 50-watt no-master volume Marshall head, a "pretty close" 1968 SG, some pretty close JBL speakers (Duane used Altec-Lansing). And for some reason, not only did I not sound like Duane Allman, I didn't even sound good to me. In a long process, I discovered that I needed a much brighter start to my chain in order to come out with a tone in that rounded-Duane vicinity. Brass slide, single coil neck pickup.

In order of importance, I think you need hi-fi speakers, not distorted "guitar speakers" like Celestions. Like JBL's, Altec-Lansing, Eminence "PA" speakers, or Black Widows are fine; a really cranked power amp section of the Marshall variety, with EL34 tubes, and a minimally-cranked preamp section. That saxophone/harmonica tone is ALL power tubes, and it may be easier to get with a Duncan Twin-Tube pedal or some of the other myriad devices. And then I'd say a slide light enough to play with some nuance, fairly light strings, and a guitar with a strong midrange and bass output, at least with the provision to roll off a lot of highs.

The Allman Brothers were Duane's band from day one, and their songs and music were specifically built to compliment what he was doing. This may be the most important of all. The majority of modern slide played by non-specialists is played with much more high-end preamp distortion, to "cut through the mix" generated by backing musicians who are also trying to generate excitement with their tone. NO-body wants to be the mix.... Crying or Very sad

If you want to hear a masterful job of "arranging for slide guitar", Sonny Landreth's "Elemental Journey" is one of the best I've ever heard. This Kevin Breit guy out of Canada is amazing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RG-QjAmdaU&list=PLXNWhrSnVuhH2vPhWBNkWiOssYjA3dGGa&index=6
He's been playing in the same band at the same bar for 14 years... And Derek Trucks has been killing it the past few years - standing on a stage next to Warren Haynes, knowing your slot is coming up...
you don't dare cover this song without the cojones to back it up:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZYM7ipgVlE
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Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 2:01 pm    
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Duane didn't start using the SG till later on in his career...I think he traded Dickey a Strat or something for it...his most famous slide work was done on Les Pauls...the cherry sunburst one he used on the Fillmore album,and the goldtop he played on the"Layla"album...
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Chris Bauer

 

From:
Nashville, TN USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 5:12 pm    
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Thanks all. Keep 'em comin'!

Among the things I'm interested to hear is the comment about lighter strings. I'd have thought that the heaviest strings the guitar can take without bending the neck in two would be the ticket for both meaty tone and sustain.

Steve - sounds like you change strings on your SG the way I change them on my steels... Wink
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 5:17 pm    
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I used 11s on my Tele. 15's on my National archtops that I use for dedicated bottleneck. I play fingers and slide. My personal opinion is that there are a lot of better guitars for slide than an SG.
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chris ivey


From:
california (deceased)
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 6:15 pm    
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rock out chris! you get yerself good enough on that thing and you can audition for my band, 'Old Men in Baggy Spandex!'
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Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 7:33 pm    
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Chris,I don't KNOW what gauges are on my SG...whenever one breaks,I get whatever looks right out of my session bag and put it on there...
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Steve Hinson

 

From:
Hendersonville Tn USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 7:37 pm    
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As far as"a lot better guitars for slide than an SG"...the three guys I try to sound like all played them...Duane Allman,Gary Rossington,and George Harrison...good enough for them,good enough for me...not to mention the Badfinger guys,Sonny Landreth,and Derek Trucks...
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Stephen Cowell


From:
Round Rock, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 8:21 pm    
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I use 11's on my '61... and I've never changed them that I can recall. Something about slide and new strings just don't get along... it had Grovers when I got it, btw, and the frets are very flat, another plus. SG's with neck pickups are more fragile, so Jr's are best for stability, really... a full-on SG has a built-in vibrato bar, known as the neck.

I use a bottle neck with some radius to it... flat slides leave me cold. Mr. B makes a good slide... I found another cheaper brand, but they started leaving the end of the bottle on there, not good. Broke my favorite one... a blue Mr. B (he won't do blue anymore)... that hurt.

http://mrbsguitarslides.com/shop/

I'm using a Brian May Special Vox practice amp modeled after his Rangemaster/car radio setup... it's kinda grindy, but for cheap transistor practice it's the best I've found. I don't like my FT '69 for this... I'll probably get one of those OCD's as Steve recommended. I don't have the Fillmore to practice in, so Superleads with Altecs (open back!) is right out... but slide without lots of hook-up just doesn't work, you'll need a good box on the floor.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania and Gallatin, Tennessee
Post  Posted 8 Sep 2013 9:42 pm    
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I don't get to play a lot of slide these days, but did for a long time. I like an SG fine for slide, but probably prefer a Gold Top Les Paul or Les Paul Special with P90s. I love Juniors, but if you're going for a Duane or Derek Trucks vibe, I think two pickups are important.

For an SG, I'd get the heaviest, most stable, and most traditional SG without any type of vibrato arm on it - just a tune-a-matic, or even better yet, a wraparound bridge. Big, fat neck, heaviest, most stable SG body I can find. I had a '63 SG Standard for years - but like the bonehead that I sometimes am, I sold it 15-20 years ago. Best SG I've ever had in my hands, but they're crazy expensive now. The '61 Reissue SG Standard is good - really, any of the more traditionally-made SGs are fine by me. Standard, Special, whatever I can find reasonable that meets those specs. I picked up an SG Special (gloss top w/ humbuckers) with the large (66-69) pickguard and 490 pickups from a big-box store very reasonable (I mean cheap) earlier this year. The 490 (Alnico II) humbuckers are a bit scooped for me, but still sound good. If I was really gonna tweak it, I'd put in the '57 Classics. The neck is pretty fat, the guitar is stable, and it sounds and plays good. I think that particular model is now out-of-production, but they can be had pretty reasonable used. I prefer these over the faded SG Specials, and I got mine in that same price range.

Again, I really like P90s. But for humbuckers, unless I could find a nice vintage 'player-grade' SG or, let's say, some old patent number pickups, I'd get the '57 Classic humbuckers for a new Gibson humbucker. I've tried lots of different humbuckers, and they're really, to my ears, the most like the old ones of any modern Gibson humbuckers I've tried. Of course, guys like Lindy Fralin and many others wind a good PAF-style pickup, you can go crazy fooling around with pickups.

I don't usually use much gain, but just use an amp small enough that I can just crank it up, maybe with a little overdrive if needed. Tweed Deluxe or something like that, unless it's gonna really be loud, in which case perhaps a tweed Bassman. I just picked up a used THD BiValve, pretty nice for slide. The THD Flexi 50 with a pair of EL-34s is pretty nice too - of course, a 50-watt Plexi or JMP Marshall is great too, but louder than I can deal with these days. One of the 18-watt Marshalls is great, and the volume is workable. I have a couple of different Duncan Twin Tube pedals if I need to get more gain in the front end, let's say to play through a silverface Fender.

I use fairly heavy strings for slide, another reason I really need a stable guitar - a light-duty SG with a pencil neck and questionable neck joint can really be problematic with heavier strings. I use at least 11-48 for Open E, or maybe 12-52. I'd use 12-52 or 13-56 if I'm using a lower tuning like Open D. The heavier strings let me set the action a bit lower than I otherwise might - I like to be able to set it just low enough to fret with my fingers. I generally prefer pure nickel-wrap strings for slide, and usually turn the tone control down some. Those pure nickel-wraps just sound sweeter to me - don't really care for them for standard guitar applications except archtop, but I find they fatten up the sound for slide. Ernie Ball makes 11-48 Power Slinkies in pure nickel wrap, but I usually wind up with John Pearse Acoustic-Electric pure nickel wraps for 12-52 or 13-56.

Probably more than you wanted to hear, but just another guy's take. Good luck.
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Chris Bauer

 

From:
Nashville, TN USA
Post  Posted 9 Sep 2013 2:46 pm    
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Duplicate post. Sorry about that!

Last edited by Chris Bauer on 9 Sep 2013 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chris Bauer

 

From:
Nashville, TN USA
Post  Posted 9 Sep 2013 2:47 pm    
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All I can say is keep on keepin' 'em comin'. I appreciate all the input.

Since I'm already inviting every manner of argument anyhow, anyone else have amp recommendations along with more SG lore?

I'm flooded with OD pedals but haven't actually used the OCD despite all the raves I keep hearing about it. Might need to break down and finally put it on the wishlist.
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James Nottage

 

From:
Indiana, USA
Post  Posted 9 Sep 2013 4:52 pm    
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Jeff Garden


From:
Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 9 Sep 2013 4:55 pm    
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Gibson solid bodies and Marshalls always seemed like a perfect match to me. I had a Les Paul back in the 70's and it was just too darn heavy (so was the Marshall stack!) - switched to an SG which didn't seem to sacrifice a whole lot of tone for a much lighter body. I still have a newer SG (1980's) paired with a Marshall 50w JCM 900 (2 celestion 12's) which seems to get the job done. And much like David Mason's post, back in the Allman Brothers years, I spent hours and hours with my turntable on half-speed trying to figure out Duane and Dicky Betts' leads on Live at the Fillmore and Eat a Peach. Still probably my all time favorite band...nothing like the Brothers kicking off a hot summer nite outdoors with Statesboro Blues Smile
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Chris Bauer

 

From:
Nashville, TN USA
Post  Posted 9 Sep 2013 5:11 pm    
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Okay - another SG novice question... Since there seem to be a zillion or so models and changes over the years, if looking for "the heaviest, most stable" models, which would those be?
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