Epiphone launches the Tony Iommi SG Special, a more affordable version of his famous 1964 ‘Monkey’ model

Epiphone has unveiled the Tony Iommi SG Special, a more affordable replica of one of the most important, if not the most important, electric guitars in heavy metal history. 

Based on the Black Sabbath co-founder and guitarist’s heavily customised 1964 Gibson SG Special, the iconic ‘Monkey’ Model, this Epiphone shares much of that Frankenstein mojo of the original – a guitar that heavy metal a sound, and put that sound to work on some of the greatest riffs of all time.

Like the guitar that inspired it (which itself was released as a signature guitar by Gibson in 2020), the Tony Iommi SG Special is built to riff. There is something prehistoric about the SG Special's appeal, as though it would be the guitar of choice for the Cro-Magnon player – a stripped down rock ’n’ roll machine with dot inlays instead of trapezoids making it look a little more utilitarian.

A pair of Epiphone PRO P-90 pickups occupy the bridge and neck positions and are housed in a two-piece solid mahogany body that’s finished in Vintage Cherry. 

The mahogany neck is bound with cream, and has a rounded profile and is topped with a 12” radius Indian laurel fingerboard. Many of the appointments and dimensions here are classic Gibson/Epiphone. You’ll find 22 medium jumbo frets, a 24.75” scale length, a 43mm Graph Tech nut. 

The controls for the pickups are the standard two volume, two tone, with a three-way pickup selector mounted in the usual position, and this wiring is all hooked up with CTS pots and Orange Drop capacitors, so that when you actually turn those tone and volume pots things taper just as you want them to.

But the signature flourishes mark this out as something a little different, such as the chrome covers on the P-90s, giving the mid-section of the guitar a vintage automotive look, and the aftermarket Grover Rotomatic tuners come affixed with contemporary-style buttons. 

Iommi's signature graces the rear of the headstock, and there’s the all-important Monkey sticker inside the case that you can apply to make it look just like the original. 

As with Epiphone’s top-of-the-line instruments, the Tony Iommi SG Special comes in a hardshell case, and hovers just under the grand mark at £949 / $999. And with Iommi being one of guitar’s most-famous southpaws, we are glad to say that there are left-handed models available.

For more details, head over to Epiphone.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.