1970 SG Special ‘Hell Boy’


You know Tony Iommi’s ‘Old Boy? Meet Tony Guitarnerd’s ‘Hell Boy’!

A few weeks/months ago, I posted a story about my newly acquired 1970 SG Special, which I was thinking of modifying as a tribute to the Wizard of Doom, Tony Iommi. I couldn’t afford a Jaydee Old Boy… or wait for 16 months for one to be built and Lou Moritz wasn’t making any more Moritz Monkey’s, so this seemed to be the way to go. The pickups had been replaced with cheap P90’s and the bridge was off a chinese Epiphone, so this guitar was a great candidate for my evil plans.

First thing I did was contact John Diggins from Jaydee Guitars and pleaded with him to sell me a set of Old Boy pickups, which he hand makes for Tony Iommi. He said fine, but there would be a bit of a wait. I didn’t mind, as that gave me time to chase another part I needed.

After searching eBay for a while, I came across what I was after. A Schaller two piece micro tune bridge, like Tony has on his Old Boy. This one was from the 80’s so was nicely worn in and didn’t look too shiny. When I tried to fit it, the original 70’s SG posts were two narrow, so I replaced them with the ones off my 80’s SG… which had been taken off when I had the Bigsby fitted. The bridge then fitted perfectly and was perfectly intonated. Plus it certainly looked the part.


While I was waiting for the pickups, I played a gig with my SG through a friends Orange AC30. The guitar was amazing… perfect balance and weight, a beautiful neck with fantastic fret access and even though those P90’s were cheap and nasty, it sounded superb. It was at this time that I realised that my favourite Tony Iommi guitar sound was from the first 4 albums, which were made using his P90 equipped ‘Monkey’ SG. I was starting to have some second thoughts about the Old Boys… then a few days later, these turned up.


I was in awe. Hand made by the guy who makes Tony Iommi’s guitars. And the workmanship was flawless. They are beautifully made… and weigh a ton. True heavy metal. They felt… ominous.

I brought the guitar around to Tim at Tym Guitars. Originally the plan was to cut a new plate and slip in the Jaydee’s, but I showed Tim the John Birch modified SG which had inspired me, and he agreed that the pickup covers should go on top of the guard.

He also let me know that he thought I was nuts… him being a Pete Townsend fan and this being a Pete Townsend SG. But I’ve never been much of a Who fan. It’s always been Sabbath for me.

A few days later and the guitars was done. Tim emailed me and said that the pickups sounded massive. The photo he sent me blew me away. It certainly looked like that John Birch SG!


I had to wait until the weekend to pick it up, and the suspense was killing me. I plugged it into the Tym Lemon and a VERY 70’s distortion roared out. Tim said ‘That should be crystal clear. No guitar has made that amp distort before! That things a monster.’

I wanted to try and get that early Sabbath sound, so I asked Tim if we could plug in one of his treble boost pedals. I plugged it in and hit a chord. That amp shat itself for a second, spluttered to life and then a heavily fuzzed Sabbath chord reluctantly came out. I hit another chord and the same thing happened. I asked ‘Is that the pedal shitting itself?!’. A look of confusion crept onto both our faces. Tim said that shouldn’t happen. He’s had pedal upon pedal loaded into that boost and it’s never done that. Those pickups are honestly insane.


The bridge pickup sounds like if a mini Gibson humbucker got trapped inside a lab and was hit with insane amounts of Gamma radiation. And every time you hit a chord… it explodes in fury, turns green and grows little purple pants. After which it destroys whatever poor amp it’s plugged into.


I read a recent interview where Tony Iommi walked into the studio while recording ’13’ and there was a vintage Laney Klipp amp waiting for him. He warned the technicians that he would probably blow it up. They laughed at him. Within the hour it was a smoking mess. I can now see why.

The neck pickup is a bit of a strange one. It doesn’t have much character… I don’t want to say dull but it’s going to take some figuring out to use correctly. I remembered that Tony Iommi was continuously adjusting his volume onstage, so after a bit of experimentation I found that if you roll the volume and tone down to 7, a lot more of its voice comes through. Plus then if you play with both pickups, you get that true warm 70’s Sabbath sound. It’s a grower. But man it looks cool. Pure vintage John Birch.


I’ve also realised that this SG was built the same year that the first Black Sabbath album was released. It’s just made it all fit perfectly. I think it’s really got that Birmingham spirit in it now… a true Doom Bringer. I am blown away with how it’s all turned out. As a Sabbath nut, I think it’s one of the coolest guitars ever.