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Vintage guitar of the week #10 - 2008 Gibson SG '61 Reissue

Yes, I know this is not technically vintage, but it's still better than the real thing.

The 2008 Gibson SG '61 reissue is now 7 years old. The price? Pretty darned low, and I'll tell you exactly why.

The '08 reissue is not a bad guitar, nor did it have any quality issues. In fact, owners of the '61 RI say nothing but glowing things about it.

So why is the selling price of the '61 SG RI so low for what it is? Two reasons.

First, it's a reissue, and reissues typically don't hold all that much resale value because it's a copy of a classic and not the actual classic itself. (Note: Perfect condition '61 SG guitars are usually north of $10,000 as the time I write this.)

Second, it's an SG, and I'll talk about that a little more.

The SG in Gibson's lineup pretty much sits where the Jaguar sits in Fender's lineup in the respect it's absolutely not the most popular guitar made by the brand, but it does have a smaller, very dedicated following.

Incredibly, Gibson prices a new USA Standard SG far below the price of a USA Les Paul Standard (the SG is literally less than half the price of the Paul!) In fact, the 2008 '61 RI mentioned above is only about $200 less than a new one.

However, the 2008 RI is the more traditional of the two. The '08 doesn't have that seriously dopey "Les Paul 100" logo on the headstock, nor does it have the dopey robot tuners either. For some, that alone makes the RI the better guitar.

Better than a real '61?

Easy answer: Yes.

A '61 SG is over half-a-century old, and the SG is not exactly known for being stable as it ages. What that means is that even if you were able to get your hands on an absolutely mint condition '61, the guitar will barely be able to hold its tune because the neck will be weak and the tuners will probably be showing major signs of disintegration due to age.

As a player's instrument, a real-deal '61 SG is an awful guitar because you have to treat it so gingerly.

The 2008 '61 SG RI on the other hand has at least 25 years to go before it starts to develop age-related issues that the real '61 does now.

Simply put, the '61 reissue is a great player's SG. It's built right, it's a bargain and it's a totally "correct" SG. A cherry red SG with the "half" black guard on the bottom is absolutely the proper look, and is a straightforward, no-nonsense electric.

I'll say it another way. The 2008 '61 SG RI is what should be the USA Standard SG now. This is the SG that fans of the guitar want more than anything else. This is the SG that gets everything right.

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