Gibson 2014 SG Special review

The rock solidbody with Special forces

  • £699
  • €999
  • $1634
If the Butterscotch finish doesn't appeal, more traditional Burst and Heritage Cherry options are also available

MusicRadar Verdict

Offering superb value, classic rock tones and modern versatility, this SG is special indeed.


  • +

    Excellent tones and value for money. Nice blend of tradition and modern convenience.


  • -

    Not much at all.

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The traditionalists among you will be relieved to see that Gibson's 2014 SG Special features the standard dual-humbucker pickup line-up, and does away with the Min- ETune and boost systems so prevalent on the firm's latest ranges.

While the Butterscotch finish on display here might not seem so traditional, the SG Special also comes in Heritage Cherry, Desert Burst, Ebony, Fireburst and Walnut. So, with experimentation and tradition on display in equal measure, let's find out if 120 years of guitar building have been put to good use..

"Whack up the amp gain and strum a few open chords using the bridge 'bucker, and you'll hear echoes of countless SG legends"

The SG holds on to a modern convenience in the form of discreet coil-split options, so single-coil-style tones are within reach. What's more, the '60s slim-profile neck is practically identical to Gibson's new Futura models, which makes the 24-fret fingerboard just as classic and satisfying to speed across, with easy chording and soloing across the 'board.

Although the SG Special has one of the lower price tags among its 2014 brethren, the tones emitting from its pair of 490 humbuckers are anything but cheap - these are rich, meaty aggressors, and they're here to rock. Whack up the amp gain and strum a few open chords using the bridge 'bucker, and you'll hear echoes of countless SG legends.

Given a bit of drive and a few tweaks of the flexible tone control, the neck humbucker hones in on Clapton's legendary 'woman' tone, while fans of clean sounds will love the way the coil-split lessens the low-end and ups the sparkle, providing a lower yet sweeter output.

Compared to the aforementioned Futura series, the SG Special has perhaps the best combination of tradition and innovation, with tweaks in all the right places, and all the sounds you want from an SG - and more besides.

Michael Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.