SG Wiki

This page is a list of popular artists who use an SG and what model they use.

Angus Young

Photo Credit:

Arguably the most influential SG player is Angus Young of AC/DC, who was fittingly one of the first artists to have a signature model SG produced by Gibson, and long before that, was featured in advertisements for the SG-62 and '61 Reissue.

Angus 75.jpg

His first SG, and number one guitar throughout most of the Bon-era (before getting retired to studio use in 1978) was a late-1970 or 1971 Standard in Walnut. It is commonly mistaken for a '67/'68 model, as are many '69-'71 SGs. Angus himself has said in interviews that he does not know the actual model year, and while previously thinking it was a 1968, people have told him it may be a later model. One obvious sign of its vintage is the large volute, a feature only seen on late 1970 and 1971 models (because the volute did not grow to its full size until the end of 1970). Another is the Walnut finish, only offered from 1969-1971.

Angus 78.jpg

Naturally, this guitar was seriously damaged throughout its use from 1975-1978. You can see in the photo to the right, Angus had already removed the neck pickup cover by 1975. Also notice how shallow the beveling is.

By 1978, he'd removed the vibrola entirely and fitted what appears to be a Schaller 455 wraparound bridge and has duct tape holding the plug in. He also had a cavity cut out of the back to fit the receiver for a Schaffer-Vega wireless system. This affected his tone by adding a clean boost, compression and companding to the signal. He even used the system to record in the studio. But this would be the last year he'd use the guitar live. It was retired to studio use until the For Those About To Rock album at the latest. He said in later interviews that the neck was warped beyond repair from his sweat (and also that his pickups would need to be rewound/rebuilt frequently for the same reason) so it was then retired fully from all use.

Rare sg 3.jpg

There is one SG Angus used heavily from 1981-1986 that is something of an enigma. At first glance, it appears to be an early '60s Standard fitted with a stopbar. But upon closer inspection, the details make it clear that it is not. Most critically, the Gibson logo is the squared style that first appeared in 1970. Also, the pickguard has a longer, more rounded point than any '60s angel wing ever did, and along with the truss rod cover, has a standard bevel angle. This more resembles the pickguards/TRCs used after 1972. Other little details are off, like the tenon cover shape and lack of tapered horns. But it also has noticeable differences from late '70s / early '80s SGs; a small heel, deep beveling, the neck set further out, trapezoid inlays, and obviously a different control layout from the 1980s SGs. The most likely theory is that Angus had Gibson make him a pseudo-reissue of a '64 Standard around 1980. This guitar would be a one-of-one and the first ever attempt at an SG reissue by Gibson, long predating the SG-62.


Another notable SG he uses is one with lightning bolt inlays and a batwing pickguard. In the early 1980s, Angus' tech would bring his guitars to U.K. luthier John Diggins for any major work needed. Well, one time they brought him Angus' third or fourth SG (also a '70/'71 like his first, and likely the one used often on the Back in Black tour with a cream switch ring), which was destroyed. He started by replacing the neck but says he ended up rebuilding the whole thing. According to Diggins, the only original part left was the Gibson headstock overlay and logo. My research suggests he may not have rebuilt the body, however. The body of this SG stands out due to the stripey nature of the grain. The work on this guitar was completed in late 1982 and I've been able to confirm that the one he uses today is the same guitar, by matching the woodgrain. This was the SG with lightning bolt inlays that was the basis for his Gibson Custom Shop signature SG. Ironically, his signature is a copy of an SG not made by Gibson! He does not appear to use the Custom Shop replicas live, although he owns some of them and took promotional photos with a pre-production model in 2008.

Tony Iommi

August 1969 (Credit: Ellen Poppinga, Getty Images)

There could be no more fitting torchbearer for the SG than the father of heavy metal, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath.

Note unusually deep outer treble side bevel

Iommi started out playing a Stratocaster, with a right-handed SG Special that he string upside-down as his backup guitar. From there, the common story goes that after his Stratocaster's pickup failed on him during the recording of Black Sabbath's debut album, he grabbed the SG and recorded the rest of the album with it. Shortly after, he ran into a right-handed guitarist with a left-handed SG Special, so they traded guitars and he ended up with the 1964 or 1965 SG Special that would go on to be known as the "Monkey SG" because of the fiddler monkey sticker he added over the knobs. However, this timeline is contradicted by photographic evidence that he had the left-handed SG as early as August 1969, two months before the debut album was recorded. So while it may be true that the Stratocaster's pickup failed, he already had the left-handed SG by then and was already using it live.

This SG would be extensively modified by luthier John Birch. The first modifications were done shortly after he obtained the guitar, which included deeper beveling (which would have required a complete refinish) and a new tenon cover and redesigned pickguard to match the beveling. The neck pickup appears to have the plastic cover removed, suggesting it may have been rewound or otherwise altered at this point.

By 1970, Birch had designed a new neck pickup, rewound the bridge pickup, made custom mounting rings for the pickups and modified the pickguard and tenon cover to fit around them. He also added a zero-fret, a stopbar tailpiece and finished the fretboard with a coat of clear polyurethane.

By 1975, Iommi replaced the bridge and tailpiece with a Leo Quan Badass wraparound bridge/tailpiece.