Updated: January 25, 2020 by Richard Cole
Ever since Gibson opened up their custom shop, they have delivered some pretty awesome guitars.
The one we are going to take a look at today looks so bold and ridiculous that many will wonder what’s the point.
We are of course talking about the Gibson SG Custom 3 Pickups. If you are not familiar with this guitar, it’s basically you standard SG from Gibson, but instead of having two pickups – one at the neck and one at the bridge – this guitar has an additional one in the middle.
Just how good this SG is, and what kind of tonal variety you can expect from it is going to be the topic of our article. It’s always fun to deal with unusual guitars such as this one. Its weird design raises many questions, but also looks promising.
Without further ado, here’s Gibson SG Custom 3 Pickups
To an average guitar player, seeing so many pickups bunched up together may be a cause for alarm. After all, how do you even get anything that resembles a decent tone from such an odd configuration.
On the other hand, there are people who swear by this design, saying it’s among the best things Gibson ever released. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
The general body shape is the same old Gibson SG we grew to love over the years. It’s a mahogany solid body with a nice maple top depending on which finish you choose.
The neck is a ’60s slim design made of mahogany and is set to the body, like we are used to. The fretboard comes in form of a bound ebony piece with standard SG inlays.
In terms of hardware, you are looking at a regular ABR bridge on one end, while the other side sports a set of Grover tuners. The color of hardware is nickel.
Now for the most interesting part – the electronics. Gibson SG Custom 3 Pickups, as its name states, comes with three Custom Bucker Plus pickups. These are connected in series, and are controlled by two sets of volume control and two sets of tone control. The middle pickup’s volume is adjusted with the neck volume knob. There is a three way switch, so no coil taping or splitting going on here.
This is where things get weird. The three way pickup select switch allows you to activate only one pickup at any given time. The bridge pup is great for driving rhythms, and has a lot of range.
The middle one is rather mellow, and gives a bit of variety to the tone of this guitar. It’s not dark, but it’s almost there. The neck pickup is somewhat average in terms of performance, which is definitely fine as it falls nicely within the tonal framework of this SG.
Gibson SG Custom 3 Pickups is very playable. The neck is smooth and fast just like you would expect it to be on an SG, and there is enough of meat on it to play comfortably. Bridge and tuners are doing a great job at keeping everything in tune even if you go a bit wild on the bends. In all ways that matter, this guitar performs great.
What we like
The audacious HHH configuration caught a lot of people by surprise. There were some reservations in relation to what kind of results the pickup configuration could deliver, but that was all cleared up once the guitar was released. For an old model such as it is, the Gibson SG Custom 3 Pickups can be called a success.
What we don’t like
Nothing in particular comes to mind in terms of flaws. The guitar is unusual, but it packs a decent punch.
Gibson SG Custom 3 Pickups is a testament of the type of designs Gibson Custom Shop is capable of delivering. Their curiosity brought us a great model once again, and we can only expect to see even more daring designs in the future.
Whether or not you should go for one of these depends on your playing style and preferences. It can be off-putting to some, so if you can try one out that would be an optimal way to approach this issue.