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
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 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