My ‘custom’ Gibson SG


My SG has gone from being one of a million to one of a kind…

I come from a small country town in NSW that loves AC/DC, muscle cars and footy. My 1985 Gibson SG spent most of the 80’s and early 90’s doing service in a local AC/DC covers band. It was originally cherry red, and had led a very hard life before I got it. The finish had mostly been scratched off with years of belt buckle abuse and there had been so many open A chords played on it (EVERY AC/DC song has an A chord in it!) that a finger sized hole had been dug into the fretboard at the second fret. The binding was also falling off and the headstock had been snapped off… it looked pretty worn out.

As the guitar was an 1985 model, it wasn’t exactly a collectable in the first place. Gibson had in the years changed the classic SG design which most SG fans didn’t appreciate. The pickup selector was moved to a weird spot below the bridge, and the body shape looked a little ‘wrong’…

1986 SG frontCU

My guitar repairer friend Anthony Biondo decided to resurrect this ACCA/DACCA soldier, and started by fixing the headstock and refinishing the guitar in white. He then refretted the neck with the BIGGEST fretwire I have ever seen and for something different bound the neck in pearloid instead of the classic ivory-type binding. It then sat in this nearly-finished state for about a year until I saw it. I’d always wanted an SG and asked Anthony if he wanted to do a trade for a japanese Fender Tele Thinline, which he was keen for.

The first thing I did when I got back to Brisbane was I got down was to get to frets filed down, as they were so high it was like playing a Yngwie Malmsteen scalloped fretboard. Straight away the SG was transformed into the best playing guitar I had. I played the guitar like this for a few years and was pretty happy with it.


But after a while to me it looked like just ‘another’ SG and I wanted to personalise it a bit more.

I got the body stripped of all it’s parts and brought the body to my friend Ben Lander, who is an awesome hot rod pinstriper in Perth (now Melbourne). I left the guitar with him for a few months and said I wanted ‘a few stripes on the front’… These are the photo’s I got back:


I was stoked but pretty shocked. He had covered the guitar head to toe, front and back.If you look closely at the back you can see the devil’s head and claw… It was a work of art!

When I got the body back to Brisbane, I brought it over to Tym’s for assembly. I was happy with the bridge humbucker, which was a nickel covered Gibson ’57 Classic, but I hated the stock Gibson neck humbucker. After the build of the Swami Scimitar I was impressed with the sound of Danelectro lipsticks, so I asked for one to be fitted.

I’d also been mucking around with a Rickenbacker and loved the way that you can blend the neck and bridge pickups with the blend dial, so asked for that the be put in as well. This solved the problem of the weirdly positioned pickup selector in mid 80’s SG, as I simply asked for a rotary pickup selector to be put where the bridge tone control would be, and made the neck tone the master tone. I replaced the original Gibson witchhat knobs with knobs that came off a guitar pedal that I had lying around.

Last of all I asked for a Bigsby, as I wanted this guitar to sort of be a Fender-type Gibson, so I needed a tremelo. To fill the holes from the stop-tailpiece, I fitted a replica ‘Custom Made’ plaque like Gibson fitted to their Bigsby guitars from the 60’s that i found on eBay.

After playing it for a while I fitted some locking tuners to help with tuning.

Here are the final results:


The guitar has become my #1 workhorse. It sounds awesome with the lipstick & humbucker working together to get any sound I need. The Bigsby is a pain to restring, but helps with the balance of the guitar and it just looks cool.

The pinstriping started coming off as soon as I started playing it, which worried me at first. I actually became too scared to play the guitar, which was frustrating.


I finally gave up and now think the worn away pinstriping looks awesome. It helps make this guitar look like a 60’s hot-rod, which is what I wanted.

Here’s me in action with the SG…