Adventures of the 335 Guy in SG Land

Here's what I got. The neck join sure looks good but I'd like to know how the darker paint got on the bass horn. This is a 62 Les Paul SG. My contention is that SGs don't have darker paint anywhere.

No, I’m not turning into an SG guy, nor am I going to start writing about SGs and change the name of the blog. But I really like SGs and they have recently dropped in value like a lead balloon. They ran up quick and they ran down even quicker so they can nbe had for a reasonable price. One of the reasons I like ES 335s and their brethren is because people don’t mess with them. The harness is too scary to pull out, so folks leave them alone. Not so with SGs and Les Pauls. But beyond that, SGs have their own set of unique problems and, since I’ve acquired a few in the last month or so, I’ve become an “instant expert”. That means I’m not an expert but I’ve started doing a lot of research. The elephant in the room for an SG is the neck join (or joint if you prefer). There are at least 4 different neck join types used from 1961 until 1969. maybe even 5 types. What seems to make them so prone to breakage is the fact that there really isn’t a true tenon. The neck attaches to the body (into 1966, anyway) with a flat”tongue” of sorts. A Les Paul and a 335 neck is glued to the body on three sides. The SG has only one glue surface and it isn’t that strong-OK, there are 3 surfaces but the “sides” are so thin that it doesn’t do much to strengthen the join-most of the glue is on the underside. Sometimes, the glue gives up and the neck is held on by the strap button screw. Other times, it takes a shock and breaks, usually right where the neck attaches to the body. So, a lot of them are repaired or reset. What’s the difference? ┬áIn my mind, a reset means there was no broken wood-only broken glue and finish. A reset SG can still bring some serious coin but it should always be disclosed. A repaired SG is subject to the same market devaluations as most vintage guitars. The hard part is determining just what, if anything, has been done. I’ve already told the story of the broken 64. This is the story of a 62 that is in beautiful shape that I bought as a “never broken, never repaired, never reset” husk with some parts (everything but the electronics and the bridge, actually). When I got it, it looked beautiful and I was pleased. There was no sign of any break. But I noticed that the area around the neck join was darker. It didn’t bother me at first since you see that on red 335’s all the time. But when I took out my other SGs and looked at photos of others I’ve owned, I saw that none of them had a darker color finish at the neck join. I also thought about why a 335 would have it and I came to this conclusion: On a 335, the neck join is a piece of maple (plywood) attaching to a piece of mahogany. You will see the change in the way the wood takes the paint/dye unless the finish is made opaque at that point. A sunburst 335 is usually black at the join and a red 335 is darker red. No reason to do this on an SG-its all mahogany. So why the color change on this one. I did the black light and it was inconclusive. So, I looked with my own two eyes. The “tell” here was a bit of darker paint that hit the treble horn on its way to the neck join. You can clearly see where the original paint (dye) ends and the overspray begins. A magnifying glass and a few macro photos helped. I need a better camera for macro work, however. Anyway, my conclusion is that the neck was reset. There is no sign of a break and the work is near perfect-a beautiful job. But I know it was worked on and I paid for an original piece. I paid a good price but still, I didn’t get what I thought I was getting. I contend that SGs have no dark paint at the neck join while the seller of the guitar (a dealer) contends that some SGs have this feature. We aren’t at each others throats, it’s just a dialogue-as it should be. I’m certain it will be resolved amicably-dealers are used to this. The truth is every time I play an early 60’s SG, I remember why I like them so much. Every time I buy one, I am, reminded of why I’m a 335 guy.

This is the neck join on a 63 I had for awhile and sold. One of the best of the best I've had. Great neck. No dark paint.

Slightly different joint configuration on this all original '62 but, again, no dark paint

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)