Modding a Vintage Gibson SG Jr.

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by stratguy23, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. stratguy23

    stratguy23 TDPRI Member

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    I have a '65 Gibson SG Jr. I am considering modding. First, let me tell you about the guitar before I dive into my mod ideas. Let me say, if this guitar was a clean, all original, I would not consider modding it (and I would not own it because it would be too expensive). I paid under $1,000 for the guitar because it has been heavily modded already. The tuners were replaced with ones off an '80's Les Paul, the bridge was replaced with some weird Japanese bridge from the '70's, and it has a bad refinish. The knobs were also not original to the guitar. It doesn't have any cracks that were repaired as far as I was told or that I can see (the finish is transparent). The original whammy bar is gone as well (you can see where the holes for it were filled). I was told it was owned by a group of 4 different guys in Georgia who all sold it back and forth to each other and modded it every time they owned it. It also smelled like an ash tray when I got it and took quite a while to get that smell out. The case isn't original either.

    Here are a few pics of what it looked like when I got it:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    When I got it, the guitar didn't stay in tune, so I replaced the tuners and the nut (which was in horrible shape), and I put on a proper wraparound bridge. Putting on the wraparound bridge, I realized why the bridge was swapped, the posts were drilled too close to the neck, so it is not really possible to intonate the guitar correctly.

    I was thinking of doing the following: I would either redrill the bridge holes further back or convert it to a tune-o-matic, or maybe even add a Bigsby B5. I would also refinish the guitar because the current finish is bad, the refinish (probably in polaris white or pelham blue) could also cover up the extra holes and things that have been drilled in the guitar (from moving the bridge, and the old whammy bar). The most blasphemous mod I am considering is I really want an SG with humbuckers. Instead of buying a newer Gibson that is hit or miss on quality (and I dislike most of the necks on current Gibson SGs I've played), I figured I could mod this one for dual humbuckers (and again the refinish could cover up the wood I would have to add at the ends of the P90 route). It is a guitar I know I like the feel of, but is this a horrible idea considering everything that has already been done to it? The bridge issue and finish really could use fixing, so that is part of why I thought to do this, in addition to wanting an SG with 'buckers.

    I doubt I will sell the guitar because I really like the neck on it, but can the value really drop much more if I further modded it? I paid just under $1,000 for it like 3 years ago, so it was well under market value because of the heavy modifications to it. Would a better refinish and moving the bridge (without routing for humbuckers) help or hurt the value do you think?
     
  2. fidopunk

    fidopunk Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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  3. LowCaster

    LowCaster Tele-Afflicted

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    That's not blasphemy, to me that's BS. I want a Junior, and even more a vintage one. You want an SG, not a Junior. Find the SG that suits your hand and your wallet. If "vintage" and "original" are not important for you it should be easy.

    This is a Junior, I can't tell what it's worth, but if it's a guitar from 1965, that is something. Being a player guitar means that if your really have to reposition the bridge, an refinish once more, and put any tuners you want it's Ok, but please don't butcher that poor piece of wood with HBs.
     
  4. dented

    dented Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    I love my Melody Maker D in Tobacco burst. The wood is beauty after 50 years. No modding it. The sound of the P90's and that wood is unique. You still have a unique guitar. You can buy an SG with humbuckers for under a grand easy. I have seen the split coil ones for 650.00 and much easier to mod those to big daddy HB's. Just a thought.
     
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    If you go over to the EverythingSG forum there is a very popular thread about people searching for SGs with P90s. After owning P90 guitars myself I can say that going to humbuckers solved the hum issue but cost a lot of real tone. Maybe look for a humbucking P90 to put in there (Lollar might have something, if not others).

    The bridge issue seems like a real problem that needs addressing. Usually I find when a guitar gets traded around like you say this one has it points to a major 'structural' issue that each owner cannot figure out. I have a relic strat-like-object that previous owners gave up on and reliced before trading off. The problem there was the frets needed leveling and a new nut with correctly cut slots. Plays like a dream now and I don't worry about scratching it. Perhaps other owners of these or regular SGs can measure where those posts are supposed to be relative to the nut and 12th fret and you can check yours. Then get a wraparound bridge or keep what you have (if it has enough throw to intonate). A bigsby could be fun but that doesn't solve the bridge location issue on its own.

    I have an Epiphone SG G400 with dual humbuckers, they can be fairly inexpensive as used player grade ($150-$250) and will certainly cover that humbucker need. If you have a choice go with a 2015 or newer used model as they upgraded the stock pickups such that you may not feel a need to upgrade.

    This is my favorite video about Juniors, and why to own a Junior platform.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
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  6. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

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    I wouldn't do the HB mod either. What is it that you are after in playability? Because there have been very different SGs throughout the years.

    What is the neck angle like? Cause that could be the source of your intonation issues.
     
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  7. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    I would address tuners and bridge.
    I can live with funky finished, but if it isn't original and you don't like it go ahead.
    I implore you not to hog this guitar out for double buckers.
     
  8. rze99

    rze99 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Get out of here with your bucker idea.

    It's a P90 guitar.
     
  9. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I wouldn't mod it. I'd get another SG with humbuckers and leave that old slab of wood be.

    - D
     
  10. Dennyf

    Dennyf Tele-Afflicted

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    My greatest, and possibly only, guitar-related regret is hacking out a ‘65 SG special for DiMarzio HBs. I was a kid, and had no idea what I had. (Sniff)

    Bonus misery note: I bought it for $150. This was about 1976-77.
     
  11. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    Are you sure that's a refin??? It sure looks like an original cherry on mahogany to me....many of you out there probably can tell better than me. Although....where's the serial number? I believe that would have been the stamped ink number, which could have been taken off with refinishing. All in all, though, I would leave finish alone, replace with modern repro tuners (the old Klusons were often unreliable) and of course address the bridge issue. I would like to know if fidopunk's suggestion of the Stewmac compensating bridge would work without re-locating the bridge studs. Otherwise, it looks like a very desirable Jr. Good luck, and please keep us up to date.
     
  12. dented

    dented Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Love Phil X

    raw.gif
     
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  13. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    Dennyf....not trying to one-up your story, but I may have been stupider than you....I hacked up my 1960 Les Paul Jr. for a neck pick-up....not with a router but with a drill and flathead screwdriver for a chisel....and pretty much made a mess of it.

    And MY bonus misery note: I paid $60 in 1969....with the original faux alligator case....and the guitar was almost pristine....:(

    P.S. I still own it and it sounds AWESOME.
     
  14. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Now that you mention it, it does look factory. I'd leave it, vibrola patch holes and all.

    My SG Junior might be the most extreme example of 'leaving it as is' - mine was in a house fire, and while the electronics (minus the P-90 cover) were unharmed, the lacquer bubbled up on it. I thought about getting it refinished for a day, then decided I actually liked it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So yeah, I'd leave that one alone. :)

    - D
     
  15. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

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    Today with the internet you can find anything to restore an old instrument to original specs accept one; removing wood that will diminish any instrument to a greater extent than finding say vintage looking tuners!! An SG with humbuckers is a very easy thing to find. Sell what you don't want and get something that you do.
     
  16. jgordito

    jgordito TDPRI Member

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    Sounds like you should sell it to me and use the money for an sg with some humbuckers :)
     
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  17. ReaL Madras

    ReaL Madras Tele-Afflicted

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    Another in the, don't do the routing camp!!
     
  18. stratguy23

    stratguy23 TDPRI Member

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    The response has pretty much been what I expected it to be. I want to say I do not dislike the sound of the guitar as is (in fact I do like it), I've just been getting into multiple bands that play SGs with humbuckers. The problems I'm having with current Gibson SGs are: there different neck pocket constructions, and it seems like the one I like never is paired up with the neck shape I like. Additionally, I prefer SGs with the smaller pickguard, but the ones that do have the small pickguard (like the '61 RI) have a neck I don't like (wide and thin). I also haven't been able to find any of the higher end SGs locally to just try out, so my experience is mainly with guitars like the SG Faded (hate the finish and has the big pickguard) or SG Standard. I also figure the old wood in my Jr. likely blows away the wood used in any current production Gibson. If I were to buy a current Gibson, I would have to do so much work (refinish on a Faded for example) that my rational was why not the work to a guitar I already love the feel of that I know is a great sounding guitar.

    I was told the guitar was refinished even though the color does look right for the era.

    I have tried a Pigtail compensated bridge on it and could intonate every string except the G was just a little off.

    I may end up selling it, which would be sad because it is a great guitar that I really love. But, that brings up the question of value. I know I got it well below market value. There is a 1966 Jr. on Reverb right now that was routed for a neck mini humbucker and had the dogear P90 replaced with a mini humbucker as well (link here) and has replaced tuners that is listed for $2,000. If I did sell this guitar, what would be a good price to list it for?
     
  19. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    Can't help you on price, but yeah man, sell it and get the one that already is what you want it to be rather than compromise your own desire AND a fine vintage guitar.
     
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  20. tigger

    tigger Tele-Meister

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    I have a '04 SG classic which is not a good match obviously for the P-90's (BKP-91s in mine, amazing pickups, especially driving an amp), but it has a great neck from my point of view. I misplaced the measures somewhere but I think it's .85" at 1st fret, ~1" at 12th. I think the standards of those years would be similar.
     
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