Keith Richards' 1963 Gibson SG CustomReady to Ramble
Jim Carlton - Vintage Guitar magazineKeith Richards with the '63 SG Custom onstage with Bill Wyman and the
Rolling Stones in New Zealand in February of 1973.
photo Lloyd Godman.
In 1961, Gibson introduced the double-cutaway Les Paul to replace the original version, which had been endorsed by guitarist Les Paul since being developed in 1952. Redesigned in response to falling market demand in the face of competition from Fender's lighter, curvier, more-contoured Stratocaster, the guitar was re-named SG (for "solid guitar") during the 1963 model year; part of the confusion over when exactly the name was changed revolves around the fact Gibson continued to use truss-rod covers engraved with Les Paul's signature until the supply was gone.
The new design was greeted with mixed reaction. While the guitar sold reasonably well - Gibson says the Les Paul SG sold more than 6,000 units, compared to the total of 1,700 single-cuts sold from 1958 to '60. But, as session guitarist, guitar historian, and former Gibson designer/clinician Mitch Holder recalled, "Les never liked the new design and joked about how people could injure themselves on the horn-like cutaways!"
When Gibson's contract with Paul ended in '62, he was in the process of divorcing Mary Ford, so beyond Paul's dislike for the new model, Holder added, "He didn't need any extra income on the table."
Like the original "Black Beauty" Les Paul Custom, the SG Custom was given lower/smoother frets and marketed as the "Fretless Wonder."
This SG Custom resides at the Hard Rock Cafe's home-base "Vault" in Orlando. Once played by Rolling Stones co-founder Keith Richards, it bears the requisite Custom specs - 24 3/4 ? scale, mahogany body and neck, bound ebony fingerboard, pearloid block inlays beginning at the first fret, triple-bound headstock, split-diamond peghead inlay, and pearloid Gibson logo. It sports gold-plated hardware and its three humbucking pickups bear early patent numbers and are controlled by the familiar two Volume/two Tone knob arrangement. Other appointments include a three-way toggle switch mounted to the pickguard, a Tune-O-Matic bridge, and a Maestro Vibrola with a lyre and logo on its cover plate.
Grabbing his calipers, Hard Rock guitar tech Kip Elder measured its nut width at 1.67? and its thickness at .800? at the first fret (dramatically narrower than the single-cut Les Paul once owned by Mick Taylor that also resides in the HRC Vault), graduating to .094? at the 12th fret.
Elder also noted that the pickguard-mounted toggle switch acts as a phase switch - a mod confirmed by Andy Babiuk, author of the definitive Rolling Stones Gear, who said the toggle "has something to do with the third pickup."
"In 1972 I doubt if Keith had a series/parallel thing going on," noted HRC curator Jeff Nolan. Whatever its cryptic purpose ,the mod is unimportant to the guitar's history in the hands of "Keef."
"It's cool because he used it for a brief time in '73, including on the Exile on Main Street tour," Babiuk said. "He also used it at the L.A. Forum benefit show to aid survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua, and during the subsequent Pacific tour, particularly on 'Midnight Rambler,' which he played in standard tuning with a capo on the seventh fret."
The Hard Rock acquired it from Marshall Chess, a music and film producer who in 1970 was hired by the Stones to run the band's new label, Rolling Stones Records; he'd been acquainted with the band since they recorded a few songs at Chicago-based Chess Records - the label founded by Marshall's father, Leonard, and his uncle, Phil - in the midst of a U.S. tour in '64. He stayed with the band's organization until '77.
Richards installed this switch, perhaps to alter the phase of the guitar's middle pickup. Keith Richards' SG Custom: Tina Craig.
This article originally appeared in VG May 2016 issue.
++++++++ Rolling Stones - Western Springs New Zealand - February 11, 1973
++++++++2006 GIBSON SG LES PAUL CUSTOM W/ MAESTRO LYRE VIBROLA! WHITE HISTORIC SHOP! 1963 REISSUE - $3,499.002006 Gibson SG Les Paul Custom in White w/ Original Maestro Lyre Vibrola!
Beautiful 2006 Gibson Custom Shop Historic SG Les Paul Custom in White. 3-pickup model with gold hardware. Real EBONY fretboard. Maestro Vibrola. Very nice reissue model. Not sure if this is classified as a 1963 Reissue but basically that's what this is. The guitar comes with the original hardshell case and case candy as shown. The guitar is very clean overall except a few checks in the usual spots for this model. Very well-cared for overall. The guitar has no breaks, repairs, or changed parts except for one push-pull pot to allow for single coil sound and likely the strap buttons. Very nice 3 pickup SG LP Custom with factory Maestro tailpiece!
photos by Philip Morris
In February 1973 the Rolling Stones returned to Australia for the first time since 1966 as part of their Pacific tour.
The band performed in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney, treating Melbourne and Sydney audiences
to two concerts each.
This set of Photographs contain live images from The Rolling Stones concert at Randwick Racecourse, Sydney on 26th February 1973.
The collection of photographs also contain posed & candid pictures from a party celebration
at a restaurant in Sydney called the 'Spaghetti Factory'.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2022-06-26 16:48 by exilestones.