Product: Gibson SG-90 Double
Features : 9
My first "real" axe (I had an Ibanez roadstar) - a direct ordered 1988 Gibson SG90 Double with the optonal Steinberger locking Tremolo. I've owned this guitar since it was new - over 17 yrs now and I will never get rid of it. P/U config. is S/H - It has the rather strange "Stacked coil" single to humbucker pick up in the neck and had an open coil 490 type humbucker at the bridge that burned out within the first 6 months of owning it. I replaced it with an S&D "Hot '59er" Humbucker and its worked great ever since. The controlls are two Black roller knobs with a three way switch in the middle. The one knob has a push pot under it that controls the Stack Coils single/double sound. The neck is a the std. 24 fret thin/fast profile that SG's are legendary for and it has an ebony fingerboard with the nice split diamond inlays. This guitar is completely stock except for the replacement Pickup. The headstock has Grover tuners and under the Gibson logo it has the "crown" inlay. Of interest, mine says "SG" in white letters on the truss cover - I've never seen any other SG90 Double with that - only Standards. It came with the brown Gibson hard case with the pink fur lining. An interesting note on this guitar - I originally ordered it in "Heritage Red" with a black pick guard, but they messed up and shipped me the "Sea Foam Turquoise" with a hideous white swirl guard - I fell in love with it immediately!.
Sound : 9
As far as sound goes - outstanding. No buzzes, no wierd harmonics - nothing. Over the years I've used a few different set ups - but right now Mainly I use my little Marshall MG10CD for practice and a Laney TFX300 1x12 on top of my ancient Sano all-tube Twin 2x12 combo for gigs. As far as effects go - I'm no tech guy. The TFX300 has all I would ever need and I usually play through Drive 1 with a little of everthing on for effect. I do use a Boss "Blues Driver" pedal through the Clean channel for certain styles. I play mainly Heavy Blues/Rock - (think Alvin Lee meets Tony Iommi and they spit out SRV for a baby) and through this rig I get spectacular results. For normal playing I pretty much never use the quirky Stack Coil pick up in its single coil configuration at all and keep it with both P/U's on humbucker. For leads I will sometimes push the pot to single coil mode for a more ringing "Strat" sound but it can be hum noisy. It sort of gives me a "best of both worlds" type instument - singing Strat meets Gibson playability .... well, you get the picture.
Action, Fit, & Finish : 8
From the factory, the action was right on and has remained that way to this day!. This is, without doubt the fastest neck of any guitar I have ever played, hands down and it almost plays itself. As for its finish, again, nothing of note except for the fact they sent me the wrong color. It has held up great over the years so no problem there. Fit - well ..... As I said before, the humbucker went out on me right away. The Steinberger tremolo was a problem from the first day I got it though (I know I should have ordered the Floyd Rose instead). Basically put, its a flawed design that could never really work well. It uses a single, heavy spring with a built in "lever" adjuster that either tightens or losens a threaded rod into a backing plate as a way to set the spring tension. The problem is, after only a little use, it strips out the backing plate. I had it repaired once only to have it do it agian almost right away. Luckily, Steinberger was thoughtful enough to include a bridge lock that locks it into a neutral playing position, which is where its remained for me for the past 16 or so years. Ok, so I have a fixed bridge now but with micro adjusters and a locking nut on the head - should work good right - wrong. The micro adjusters are no more than string snappers. They are designed so that all they do is push down on the string in the channel to change the tuning. The little knobs are rounded on the bottom and this causes the strings to get pushed to the side and into the treads where they - "ping" snap. It works well with the wound strings - but they never go out of tune anyway, so its pretty much useless. I keep the lock nuts loose on the neck and use the Grovers. I have had a problem with the toggle wearing out, but I will attribute that to normal wear and tear. 10 on the action, 9 on the finish, 6 on the fit.
Reliability/Durability : 8
All I can say is this guitar has lasted me 17 years now of nearly constant playing, its was my only stage guitar and it has never let me down live. Now I switch between my Les Paul Special Humbucker so a back up is never an issue now. I do love this guitar but it has had its share of problems problems over the years. I have had to replace the three way switch once before and now its due for another again. As was mentioned before - the 490 Humbucker shorted out on me right away and had to be replaced with the much better S&D '59 and the Steinberger tremolo is nothing more than an expensive fixed bridge with a cool name to me.
Customer Support : 9
Dealt with Gibson on the Humbucker, Tremolo problems - Nice people as I recall. They wanted me to send it back to them, which I refused - So we struck up some sort of deal where they would cover the replacement value of the 490 and labor at the shop I got it through. I knew the tech at the shop pretty well and he wired in the then $89 Seymore Duncan '59er (vs $38 for the 490) and covered the difference with labor (I know, not fair). As far as the Steinberger goes - I never used it anyway so I didnt persue it.
Overall Rating : 9
Overall, for some reason, I love this guitar and will never trade it in. Having played probably hundreds of different guitars over my 21 some odd years of struming (from $5000 collector Pauls to $100 Harmonys), it really is the fastest, easiest playing neck ever to touch my hands. As a testament to how much I love it - I didn't own another electric guitar until I bought my 2002 Gibson Les Paul Special Humbucker. It wasn't for lack of money - just I didn't want anything else.