Guitar Aficionado

Rick's Picks: 1962 Gibson SG Special

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By Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

I usually don’t go for instruments that are in pristine condition because, in my book, the adage “If it’s too perfect, then it’s too much” applies to most vintage guitars. For example, if someone tried to sell me a 1963 Fender Stratocaster in mint condition, I wouldn’t be interested—there are so many of those guitars out there that there’s not much reason to pay a premium for a super-clean one.

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But when I saw this “TV” 1962 SG Special listed at George Gruhn’s shop in Nashville a few years ago, I knew that I had to have it, even though the fact that it was “museum quality” meant I was going to pay top dollar. I always try to wheel and deal a little bit, but when I asked George if there was any wiggle room on the price (which was north of 10 grand), he answered, “Rick, this is the best price, and if you aren’t willing to pay it, somebody else is going to get the guitar.” In all my years, I have never seen another SG Special in the TV finish (George himself has only seen two), so I knew that it was time to step up to the plate. I didn’t want to miss out on something so cool because somebody else was going to pay $50 more for it.

This guitar plays and sounds great, and I just can’t get over how cool it looks. I’m a big fan of Gibsons in the limed “TV” finish and have collected them since way back, because I always felt that Les Paul Juniors and Specials in this color had a certain distinction lacking in the more common sunburst and cherry varieties. I like that, a lot of the time, the guitar almost looks like it has a natural finish and you can frequently see a lot of the wood grain and player wear. Come to think of it, maybe liking “TV” finishes is what got me hooked on korina, my most expensive guitar addiction of all!