I was going through a hardcore late 70’s Black Sabbath phase when I built this. That was a pretty straightforward proposition as Gibson released a set of Tony Iommi humbuckers. This is my first SG style build and true to form, it’s a light guitar!
SG Guitar Kits Aren’t without some nuances
The guitar kit itself was unique to me for two reasons. First- the wiring featured a soder-less setup so that made wiring it up a cinch. Second- it did not have pre-drilled holes for the bridge or the tail piece. I thought about adding an old school SG vibrato to it but upon reading some reviews of the tuning instability of those things I opted not to. I had a drill press handy (note- DO NOT attempt to try to drill those holes with a hand drill) so off I went. I had to drill my own hole for a ground wire- which I ended up doing straight to the bridge posts (I’m not sure if that’s the proper way to do an SG or not-it just worked best for me). There’s really not much to that- make sure the holes are deep enough for the bridge pieces and off you go. This video does a good job of showing how to measure and drill these correctly (note- there’s plenty of videos on YouTube that show guys trying to do this a hand drill—you do that at your own peril)
The only piece of the guitar that isn’t stock to the kit is the aforementioned Tony Iommi Humbuckers. Those warrant a review in and of themselves but suffice it to say I LOVE These. For frame of reference- they are a little brighter than what I suspect Tony had in his guitars in the 70’s. This would be more Mob Rules era sound. But the clarity and the overall punch of them are excellent. This is my go to axe for hard rock sounds. They clean up real easy too so if you’re the sort that likes to ride the volume knobs, those pickups will serve you well.
On the kit itself, the electronics are fine, the tuning pegs work pretty well and I haven’t had any issues with the frets- other than this being a thin guitar and having some inherent challenges that come with that (I’ve had to set and re-set the intonation a few times). There were some blemishes with the body– you can make out on the upper horn what appears to be some filler used to smooth over a part. This wouldn’t have been an issue if I had just straight up painted it.
I finished this with a red dye and clear lacquer. Color-wise I’m really happy with it- who doesn’t like a fire engine red SG?! That was a pretty straight forward process–I didn’t use anything to accent the wood grain or anything- just rubbed a few coats of dye and started clear coating.
This is a great kit if you’re new to guitar building and have a drill press handy (I knew a guy who owns a shop so I just took it there). There’s plenty of SG kits that have pre-drilled holes too. If I had to do this again I probably would have gone ahead and painted it a solid color as the body has some noticeable problem spots. Nothing that seems to affect the tone though. All I all, I built this for around $350.
Want to do something like this? Here’s what you’ll need:
SG Style Guitar kit– This is what I used. It’s a mahogany body just like what a Gibson would be
Tony Iommi Gibson Pickups – These look and sound amazing in this guitar! Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Gibson makes them anymore so you’ll have to hunt some down on Ebay or Reverb or some such. Note- Gibson also put out an Angus Young signature pickup and it’s AWFUL. Fizzy/bright and not at all what Angus’s tone is (I have to think he’s just hording pickups from the late 60’s / early 70’s anyway). You can also get this pickup in black if that is your thing.
Gorilla Wood Glue – You’ll need this to glue the neck
Guitar Wood Dye – Pick the color of your choice!
Clear Nitrocellulose Lacquer – Depending on how you build this up, you’ll probably need two cans to do this
That’s about it! This can be a great rockin’ axe with a pickup upgrade, even if you don’t use the Tony Iommi ones.