Although the Gibson SG and the Epiphone SG are two of the most well-liked electric guitars available, they vary in a few key ways. Due to their double-cutaway design and sleek profiles, both guitars have a distinctive appearance.
However, these guitars’ tone, playability, and price vary depending on the materials and methods of manufacturing used. To assist you choose which one is ideal for your needs, we will compare the Gibson SG vs Epiphone SG in this post.
Gibson has been producing guitars for a long and is well-known in the music business. They produce some decent guitars. The Epiphone Company was established in 1946. Although they produce some extremely fine instruments, Epiphone isn’t as well known as Gibson.
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Difference Between Gibson SG And Epiphone SG
Let’s compare both guitars and their parts to see which is suitable for which kind of player.
These guitars come in different categories, but they share the same characteristics under the SG category. Both versions have the classic “devil horn” SG Standard body form constructed of mahogany, which the Gibson SG and Epiphone SG share.
The flat top and smaller body of body shape, along with the double-cutaway design, offer easier high-fret access for lead guitar playing. Because of the lightweight mahogany wood, both guitars weigh between 6 and 6.7 pounds.
Because the guitars are lightweight, they are wonderful alternatives for musicians who prefer to move around with the instrument. The finish is the sole variation between the body constructions. The Gibson SG standard has a nitrocellulose finish, whilst the Epiphone has a shinier polyurethane lacquer.
In general, the Gibson SG standard uses higher-quality materials in its construction, as well as finer intricacies and elegant aesthetic enhancements. The necks and bodies of both guitars are made of mahogany. However, they use different materials for the fingerboard, with Gibson using quality rosewood and Epiphone using pau Ferro on a budget.
It is worth noticing that they do not appear to be significantly different when viewed from a distance. Only a skilled craftsman’s acute eye can tell the difference between rosewood and pau Ferro.
Pau Ferro possesses the same acoustic and textural properties as rosewood, making it a more cost-effective option. The form of the headstock and pickguard on the guitars also differs somewhat. Again, inexperienced guitarists will never spot the difference.
The finish is the topmost layer of a guitar. It is the most visible surface and, therefore, determines how the instrument looks. The quality of the finish will vary depending on the price and brand. A high-quality guitar can cost hundreds of dollars, while the low-cost ones sell for tens of dollars.
Gibson and Epiphone both offer excellent guitar finishes. The only difference between the two is the cost of the guitar and the quality of the finish. Gibson’s finish is a bit shinier and more expensive than Epiphone’s. The finish is applied to the guitar in several layers. Each layer adds a slightly different look to the finish.
The Epiphone SG Custom sports a polyurethane gloss appearance. The Gibson SG Tribute has a satin nitrocellulose finish. These two finishes are indeed types of varnish that may be applied to preserve and enhance the timber of a guitar.
They also have somewhat differing characteristics, which some players believe might affect the tone of your guitar. Nitro varnish is thinner and less durable, but poly varnish is thicker, far more durable, and less expensive. Poly offers more resistance to dampness and scratches, although others believe that it lowers resonance and sustain. Nitro fades with time, but it has a more organic feel to it and is claimed to increase sustain and resonance.
While the Epiphone SG may not appear to be different from the Gibson SG custom, its sound quality must be considered. Because both guitars are made of mahogany, their sound performance is determined by the pickups that they include in their construction.
Gibson’s bridge and neck pickups are the tried-and-true 49oR and 4goT humbuckers, respectively. These humbuckers offer the Gibson SG incredible tonal qualities, easily killing hard rock and heavy metal while still allowing for versatility in blues and jazz. The 49oR/T configuration matches the warm warmth of mahogany tonewood while minimizing the boomy and muddy tones associated with the incorrect tonewood-pickup combo.
Epiphone, on the other hand, employs a pair of Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers. Considering the price, these pickups provide high-quality sound. Surprisingly, the manufacturer decided not to employ its ProBucker series of humbuckers, which are well-known for generating sound quality comparable to the original Gibson SG’s 49oR/T series.
Both guitars come complete with a three-way selector switch, tone control, and volume controls. On the other hand, the Gibson SG’s electronics and hardware may be expected to be of good quality. The good news is that Epiphone has made significant advancements over the years to bridge the gap.
The bridges are another notable distinction. The Gibson SG features the well-known Nashville Tune-O-Matic with Stopbar bridge, whilst the Epiphone SG has the Epiphone with an ABR Tune-O-Matic bridge. Gibson’s Nashville bridge is a higher-quality bridge than Epiphone’s ABR, although they both operate perfectly.
The neck of the Epiphone SG Custom is made of mahogany. The Gibson SG Tribute features a maple neck. The neck of the Epiphone SG Custom is Slim Taper “C.” The Gibson SG Tribute has a Rounded “C” neck.
The type and form of wood used to make a guitar neck will have a considerable influence on the tone of the guitar. Gibson’s SG Tribute is a very nice-looking guitar. There are two types of necks on this guitar. There is a maple fretboard and an ash fretboard. Each neck is slightly different. The maple neck has a beautiful wood grain that gives it a classy brown look and an additional warmth to it. The ash neck is similar to the maple neck. It has a very classic look to it. It looks like a piece of fine furniture.
Both guitars have decent hardware, with a modest quality differential in favour of the Gibson SG standard. The first visible parts of the hardware are the varied headstock designs and tuners. Gibson’s Grover Rotomatics are nickel-plated, whilst Epiphone’s Vintage Deluxe Tuners have an 18:1 ratio. Both tuners operate nicely and keep the tuning consistent; I have no complaints about either of them.
An electric guitar’s electronics is what really offers the instrument its reputation. However, since they are buried within the cavities of its body, they are frequently overlooked. Controls, switches, capacitors, and resistances all contribute to a guitar’s electronics and impact the ultimate tone and tones available to the player.
They can make the difference between a good and a great guitar. Both Gibson and Epiphone has a reputation for making great electronics as they offer a wide range of great products. It’s no surprise to learn that Gibson makes great guitar amplifiers. Gibson has been doing this for many years. Epiphone has also been around for decades and knows a lot about electronics.
The Epiphone SG Custom features conventional electronics, two volume controls, two tone controls, and a three-way toggle switch. The Gibson SG Tribute features conventional electronics, two volume and two tone controls, and a three-way toggle switch.
A guitar’s scale length is the distance between the nut and the headstock of a guitar. A longer scale length gives a fuller sound. A higher-pitched note plays with more volume than a low-pitched note. The shorter the scale length, the higher the pitch. There are two standard scale lengths for electric guitars: 25.75″ and 24.75″.
The scale length indicates the length of the resonating section of the string. This is calculated from the nut to the bridge, and the halfway point is always the 12th fret for intonation requirements. Different sample lengths have varied effects on string tension and, of course, fret gap sizes.
The scale length of the Epiphone SG Custom is 24.75′′ while the scale length of the Gibson SG Tribute is 24.75′′. The 25.75″ scale length is most common among players who prefer a rich, full sound and are looking for that signature Gibson tone.
Guitar tuners have little direct influence on how a guitar sounds. Their quality, on the other hand, will be a deciding element in your playing experience. It is critical that your guitar possesses high-quality machine heads to stay in tune.
A tuner allows you to adjust your guitar’s intonation. The Gibson SG has a standard tuning system that uses a set of open tunings to achieve the proper intonation.
Most guitars come with a standard tuning mechanism, which is basically a metal post located at the top of the guitar’s neck. This post fits into a peghead and is secured by a tuning machine. To tune the instrument, the strings are strung up to the correct pitch and tension and are pulled back toward the peghead until they stop. The strings are adjusted as needed so that the guitar stays tuned.
The Epiphone SG has a standard tuning system using open tunings to achieve the proper intonation. The Epiphone SG Custom features Epiphone Deluxe tuners with Ivory Plastic buttons. Vintage Deluxe tuners are used on the Gibson SG Tribute.
A bridge is one of the most important parts of a guitar. The bridge is where the strings are attached to the guitar. Gibson SGs use a fixed bridge, which means it doesn’t move. Epiphone uses the floating bridge.
The floating bridge is used to adjust the strings’ pitch. The adjustable bridge allows you to change the string height. A fixed bridge only allows you to play one string at a time. An adjustable bridge is good because it allows you to play more than one string. You can adjust the height of the strings by moving the bridge up or down.
The bridge of a guitar is one of two places of engagement between the strings and the body and neck. It is essential for the propagation of vibrations through the guitar and also dictates several critical playability parameters such as string spacing and action.
Some bridges also have other functions. The LockTone ABR Tune-O-Matic bridge is used on the Epiphone SG Custom, while the Nashville Tune-O-Matic bridge is used on the Gibson SG Tribute.
What is SG?
The name stands for solid guitar, which relates to the instrument’s body shape. The warmth and sound quality of the SGs are comparable to those of other excellent guitars. Rock musicians like the SG due to its more expressive “snap” and appealing ringing tone at the high end.
Because the neck now joins the body at the 19th fret rather than the previous 16th fret, it is more flexible to play. This makes it ideal for solos and upper-register fretwork since it is relatively easy to play. It has a narrower flattop body that is lighter and easier on the shoulders, making it ideal for long concerts and sessions. Because of the reduced weight and thinner construction, the guitar is more reactive and vibrant.
Some Historical Background Of Both Guitars:
Now that we have discussed the features of both guitars in detail let’s look at their historical background.
Gibson SG is a solid body electric guitar. It is considered one of the most popular Gibson guitars in the world, mainly due to its low price, versatility, and sound quality. The SG is designed to be played with the right hand.
It has two pickups on the top and bottom of the guitar that are wired into the bridge, and another pickup that is in the middle of the guitar. The bridge pickup is usually used for rhythm, and the neck pickup is used for soloing. The very first Gibson SG was introduced in 1958 and has been around ever since. They come in different models, colours, and configurations.
Gibson Les Pauls were and continue to be among the most recognizable guitars in rock history. However, after dominating the market in the 1950s, their sales were dramatically declining in the early 1960s.
As a result, Gibson created a new Les-Paul type model with a flat top and a contoured slimmer body with a double-cutaway design for easy access to the higher frets. Gibson also relocated the neck joint three frets forward to enable access to the higher frets more simpler. The result was a one-of-a-kind guitar with a narrow neck profile and tiny heel, which Gibson marketed as the world’s quickest neck. Because it was the new Les Paul model, the guitar was first called Les Paul.
However, Les Paul did not love playing the guitar and opted to remove his name from it, requesting a new label from Gibson. As a result, Gibson altered the name to SG, which stands for Solid Guitar. As a result, history began to be written.
Many renowned guitarists favoured the Gibson SG for its outstanding tone, easy playability, and iconic appearance. Guitarists such as Angus Young, Tony Iommi, Pete Townshend, and many more frequently played Gibson SG models, making the guitar an iconic and renowned instrument.
The Epiphone SG model was made famous because Gibson made a guitar with a narrow neck profile and tiny heel, which Gibson marketed as the world’s quickest neck. It was called the Gibson Les Paul, but after a few months of using the guitar, Les Paul removed his name from it, requesting a new label from Gibson. The label was changed to SG. After Les Paul’s departure, the SG became the first model of Gibson electric guitars. The SG has been popular among musicians ever since.
In the middle of the 20th century, Gibson chose to buy the Epiphone brand, its main competitor in the archtop guitar industry at the time. However, Gibson did not interfere with Epiphone production, enabling the company to continue manufacturing its own instruments for many years.
In the early 1980s, Gibson adapted Epiphone to produce low-cost replicas of Gibson guitar models. As a result, Epiphone evolved into Gibson’s younger brother, manufacturing famous Gibson models with more cheap materials and construction processes for players who could not afford high-end Gibson models.
Gibson had Epiphone at the time, just as Fender had Squire. Epiphone has been making several Gibson SG models at its plants in China and Korea since 1989.
Epiphone electric guitars are often regarded as the point of entry into the Gibson collection. Both companies created large hollow body archtop guitars in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s for the era’s many jazz musicians.
Gibson manufactured a series of Epiphone-branded electrics in the late 1950s and early 1960s that are today regarded as some of the best guitars of all time. These guitars have tone qualities and playability that have increased their resale value over the last few decades.
Unfortunately, Gibson compromised that tradition by shifting Epiphone manufacture to Japan in the 1970s. While a ’70s Epiphone may technically be called “vintage,” using adjectives like “classic” is overkill. Necks with bolts, wiring of poor quality, low-cost hardware, and not much to be proud of there.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Gibson didn’t always create its greatest work throughout that time period. Gibson and Epiphone have had their fair share of quality highs and lows over the last 40 years.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we will answer a few questions to clear your mind further.
Which guitar is better? Gibson or Epiphone?
You would undoubtedly notice a huge difference if you held up an Epiphone and a Gibson built in the US side by side. A Gibson will almost always have better quality, setup and finishes. But compared to a few decades ago, mass production instruments are far better now.
Both guitars come complete with a three-way selector switch, tone control, and volume controls. On the other hand, the Gibson SG’s electronics and hardware may be expected to be of good quality.
The good news is that Epiphone has made significant advancements over the years to bridge the gap. The bridges are another notable distinction. The Gibson SG features the well-known Nashville Tune-O-Matic with Stopbar bridge, whilst the Epiphone SG has the Epiphone with an ABR Tune-O-Matic bridge. Gibson’s Nashville bridge is a higher-quality bridge than Epiphone’s ABR, although they both operate perfectly.
What is the difference between the Epiphone SG and the Gibson SG?
There are two main differences between the Gibson SG and the Epiphone SG. The first difference is that the Epiphone SG is more affordable than the Gibson SG. The other difference is that the Gibson SG is generally considered to be superior to the Epiphone SG.
The Epiphone SG is cheaper than the Gibson SG. You may not need to spend much money on the Epiphone SG. This is because it is a low-end instrument. On the other hand, the Gibson SG is more expensive. The price of the Gibson SG tends to vary a bit, but the average cost is around $400.
The biggest distinction between the two guitars, despite their striking similarities, is that whereas Epiphone SGs are made in Asia, China or Korea, depending on the model, Gibson SGs are made in the United States.
The quality and pricing are, therefore, the two main factors that differ. The Gibson SGs contain excellent sounding 490R Humbuckers, but the Epiphone has less than stellar Alnico Classic PRO Humbuckers which lack the refinement of the Gibson pickups. This is where the quality difference between the two guitars is most noticeable.
Is Epiphone as good as Gibson?
Epiphone is also a reputable brand producing good-quality guitars. However, when we compare this brand with Gibson, it is slightly cheaper than that. There are many reasons for that.
One of them is Epiphone being produced by China and Korea, while the United States produces Gibson. The Gibson SG and Epiphone SG have similar features, such as a single-coil bridge pickup, tremolo, and a 12-inch neck. However, the Gibson SG is generally considered to be a higher-quality guitar than the Epiphone SG.
What does SG stand for?
SG stands for Solid Guitars. These guitars were first called Les Paul and these were produced by Gibson. However, Les Paul did not like that guitar and asked the company to remove his name from Gibson guitars, so their name was changed to Solid Guitar.
Gibson Guitar Company first released Gibson SG in 1952. Since then, this model has been a bestseller. It has been highly rated and received a lot of recognition from fans.
Does Gibson own Epiphone?
In the middle of the 20th century, Gibson chose to buy the Epiphone brand, its main competitor in the arch top guitar industry. Gibson purchased Epiphone in 1957.
Epiphone, which has essentially become Gibson’s “cheap brand,” is the only business in the world that can manufacture formally recognized Gibson designs. However, Gibson did not interfere with Epiphone production, enabling the company to continue manufacturing its own instruments for many years.
Epiphone has been making several Gibson SG models at its plants in China and Korea since 1990.
Is Epiphone made in China?
Epiphone SG is made in China, although Gibson bought the Epiphone brand in 1954. In the late 1970s, Gibson started importing Epiphone solid-body guitars to sell in the United States market. As a musician, you will know that Epiphone guitars are not that expensive. They are affordable instruments and have a variety of models.
Gibson started manufacturing guitars in 1894, but that year the company lost its headquarters. They moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan and the company began to manufacture guitars again.
Gibson made the famous solid-body electric guitar, Gibson Les Paul, in 1952. Over time, the Les Paul became so popular that the company decided to call their own line of Les Paul guitars the Gibson Les Paul. The Gibson Les Paul has been produced in different variations since then.
In summary, both the Gibson SG and the Epiphone SG are superb electric guitars with unique advantages. The Gibson SG is a more expensive, higher-quality guitar with superior components, workmanship, and tone, but it also costs a lot more money.
The Epiphone SG, on the other hand, is a more cost-effective alternative with comparable appearance and a reasonable tone, making it a wonderful option for people on a budget. Hopefully this comparison of Gibson vs Epiphone is helpful for you. Good Luck!