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First released in 1961 as a heavily revised "Les Paul" model (the Les Paul name was later dropped at his request), the Gibson SG ("Solid Guitar") has stood the test of time and become one of the world's most famous guitar models.
There is some debate as to what motivated Les Paul to request that his name be removed from the new design -- some say it was because he was going through a divorce at the time and he didn't want to have his wife claim a share of the royalties, while others say Les just didn't care for the look of the new guitar as much. Regardless, after 1961, the model officially changed its name to SG. The SG does have several differences from previous Les Pauls. Gone are the typical Paul's arched maple top cap and body binding, leaving a lighter and thinner solid mahogany body with double asymmetrical cutaways and beveled edges. These beveled edges prevent the sides of the SG from "digging in" to the player's waist and further add to the increased player comfort. For those who feel a Les Paul is a bit heavy to wear over the course of a long gig, the SG makes a great alternative. In addition to the thinner body, a slimmer neck was also introduced with the SG -- what we now know as a "60s profile" neck. The neck attaches to the body at the 19th fret, as opposed to the 16th fret on Les Paul models. This gives the SG player great access to the upper frets, and helps to explain the guitar's popularity with lead guitarists.
The electronics are very similar to what is available in the Les Paul line. Some models feature dual humbuckers, while others substitute dual single coil P-90 pickups. As with the Les Paul, SG Junior models were also released that had only a single P-90 pickup, and SG Custom models were also shipped with three humbuckers installed, along with the Custom's block neck inlays and other visual upgrades. The sound of the SG tends to have more focus in the midrange, depending of course on which pickups you opt for, but the voice of the guitar is well suited to rock and metal styles, and it has been a mainstay of players in those genres for decades.
Famous SG players include Eric Clapton in the Cream days, Angus Young of AC/DC, Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi, "Revolver" era George Harrison, Elliot Easton, Ian MacKaye and Derek Trucks.
Today Gibson offers several different SG models with a wide range of features and options, such as different pickups, faded finishes, VOS (Vintage Original Spec) cosmetics, different colors, tuners, hardware and inlays, as well as various fixed and vibrato tailpiece options.