by Jef | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
Gibson USA 2018 lineup

Gibson USA 2018 lineup  ·  Source: Gibson


The new Gibson USA 2018 lineup is now being advertised with dealers placing adverts left, right and centre listing all the new models. I covered the new Les Paul models for 2018 over the weekend and now it is time to look at some more instruments, including the new SGs, Firebirds and Explorers.


Is this enough?

As I said over the weekend when we looked at the new 2018 Les Paul models, I think that Gibson’s pricing is way too high on many of their new guitars. Yes, Gibson is seen by many players as a premium brand, I get that, but I think they aren’t consistently giving us a premium product any more.

This year’s offerings feel to me to be a bit lacklustre and on some of the new models, I think they are missing the mark. Of course, it is not all doom and gloom, as there are a few great looking models in the line-up. But I feel as though I have seen a lot of this before and none of it really excites me as a buyer/player.

SG 2018 – Same old, same old?

The 2018 SGs are divided into the Faded, Special – which comes loaded with mini-humbuckers – Standard and Standard HP models. They all have the new Slim Taper asymmetrical neck pattern, the cryogenically treated frets across the whole range (first introduced back in 2014 on selected models) and some new colours, mirroring the new 2018 Les Paul range.

Honestly, apart from the aforementioned 2018 updates applied to all models, the specifications across the ranges haven’t really changed much at all compared to last year’s models and there is nothing really outstanding across the 2018 SG range as far as I can see.

They are still putting the – in my opinion – useless G-Force tuners on the Standard HP (High Performance) models. They also feature the titanium adjustable nut and Gibson Access heel joint for better upper fret access and the ugly massive aluminium knobs, which make the flame maple top look even gaudier than usual!

I’d rather buy the regular SG Standard myself, as I feel the HP version does nothing that spectacular for the extra money.


Price-wise, you are looking at very similar prices to some of the equivalent 2018 Les Paul models. This seems a bit too high to me, as a lot more goes into making a Les Paul compared to an SG, so I don’t see how they can justify the pricing on some of these models.

Even so, I think the 2018 SG Special with mini-humbuckers does look really nice and if I was in the market for another Gibson SG (yes, I am actually the proud owner of a Gibson SG Standard which I love and am not a Gibson hater in any way, though it may not sound like it sometimes), then this is the one I would probably buy myself.

2018 SG Standard – GBP 1199

2018 SG Standard HP – GBP 1699, 

2018 SG Faded – GBP 799

2018 SG Special – GBP 849

Gibson SG 2018 USA

Gibson SG 2018 USA

Gibson SG 2018 USA

Gibson SG 2018 USA – More of the same?

Firebird, Flying V and Explorer

What we have here are what I often feel are the ‘cool kids’ of the Gibson range. Those players that dare move away from the more traditional shapes of Les Paul, 335 and SG are often rewarded by some great tones. Sure, these designs hark back to the ’50s and ’60s, but I have a sweet spot for all three of these models and so I’m hoping they will sound and play as great as they look.

The 2018 Firebird has the Slim Taper neck profile, a Torrefied Granadillo fretboard and is loaded with a set of mini-humbuckers, whereas the 2018 Firebird Studio is loaded with P90 pickups instead. The 2018 Explorer is loaded with more traditional full sized BB2 and BB3 pickups and so is the 2018 Flying V.

2018 Firebird – GBP 1399

2018 Firebird Studio – GBP 1199

2018 Explorer – GBP 1199

2018 Flying V – GBP 1199

Gibson 2018 Flying V, Firebird and Explorer

Gibson 2018 Flying V, Firebird and Explorer


Gibson in 2018

I don’t see a huge difference in the 2018 line-up and would probably not be tempted to part with my money for any of these new models. I think they are too expensive, on the whole.

Yes, there are a few nice ones in there (The SG Special with mini-humbuckers for example), but nothing that’s amazing. Sorry, Gibson, but I think you haven’t really hit the mark with the 2018 range for me. Of course, we all have different opinions and I haven’t actually played any of these yet, but my first impressions are a bit ‘meh’…

Gibson main site

Image Sources:
  • Gibson SG 2018 USA : Gibson
  • Gibson SG 2018 USA - More of the same? : Gibson
  • Gibson 2018 Flying V, Firebird and Explorer: gibson
Gibson USA 2018 lineup

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7 responses to “Gibson 2018 line-up: Are these enough to save the brand?”

    KC614 says:

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with the G force tuners. I can take them or leave them but I have a 2015 model and they are fine. People get their panties in a wad about the silliest things. They are completely an option now so why gripe?

      Jef says:

      Of course, personal taste comes into play here. Just I have not had any good experience with them myself and thought that they performed erratically at best on my 2015 LP Junior.

    MaxLecompte says:

    The Faded-series guitars are real bargains for US-made guitars.
    Also, the G-Force tuners are far from useless. They’re optional.
    I have a set on one Gibson and I like them except when it is
    time to change strings.

    It’s very handy to strum once and watch your guitar tune itself
    in a few seconds. You don’t want that experience? Turn it off and
    you can still manually tune. Or better yet – just don’t purchase
    a Gibson that has GForce tuners.

    PunkKitty says:

    The Gibson brand will survive. But it won’t be under the ownership of Henry J. It might become a branch of FMIC though. Or maybe the new owners of Heritage will save the Gibson brand and move the custom shop back to the Kalamazoo factory. Granted, that’s pretty far fetched. But it’s an interesting thought to consider.

      Jef says:

      I’m sure the brand will survive, in one form or another, but once lawyers, accountants and shareholders are involved, it will all get rather messy.

    Nigel says:

    On paper / the press releases you are probably spot on with your conclusion (especially with the fancier / more expensive models), but there are two points I’d like to add (in case anyone reading your article may be instantly put off):
    – Firstly, don’t get too hung up on the headline prices – I for one shopped around, and like with new cars, the cheaper model I liked was at just a quid below £900 at my local store, but a quick browse of the net revealed that some retailers had the same model up for £665 – Big difference right? – As with all new things, the stores often put the guitars straight in at their RRP, but after a few months tend to drop the prices – but this isn’t always equal across all brands – no doubt due to franchise agreements, etc.
    – Secondly, I found that there was quite a range of actual physical weights to the same model (wood is wood naturally) which made some guitars feel much nicer in the hand than others (don’t suppose even Gibson can have trees grown to order), and then having found the actual guitar I wanted I was able to make use of the ‘price-match’ offer most retailers offer now to get the particular guitar I wanted at the lowest price out there!!
    I had only two days before pretty much decided against the model I just purchased having auditioned a similar one from a previous year via a well known second hand website, and been shocked that it weighed a lot more than I thought it should, and disliking the heavy neck dive (that feeling then reinforced by trying a few copy brands versions in the local store to where I worked), but on a whim I popped into the store near to where I lived, and the first one I looked at and was drawn to try felt totally different – well balanced / light weight & resonant – reminded me of the most comfortable guitar I remember ever owning many, many years ago (yes, sadly I am that old!).
    What does this illustrate? Well, like all things you handle, you really need to try and feel these guitars before you make your mind up about how they actually stack up against other models & brands, and if they are an improvement on previous offerings – and the headline price may lead you to compare at a certain level, but the price you can actually buy a particular model for can vary a great deal from brand to brand, and from one store to another, and can have a big bearing on your value perception.
    Happy hunting..

    Gaty says:

    I own this guitar and it’s absolutely one of the nicest instruments that I’ve had the privilege to play. I will admit that it does suck having to pay so much money to enjoy a top of the line guitar.

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