Gibson SG vs Fender J-bass

When I was a kid, I saw Jack Bruce (in concert with West, Bruce and Laing) playing his Gibson SG bass and ever since then, I’ve wanted one . . . :slight_smile:

Of course, we all know that it’s not the guitar, it’s the guy playing it and I really like that bright, clear, “Fender-y” sound :+1: I’m also very happy with my Squier bass, and after watching a number of videos, I keep coming away with the impression that the Gibson is just way too dark and muddy-sounding. I’m also aware that Gibson just doesn’t seem that popular these days . . . unless someone is looking for a short scale bass, and even then, the Epiphone is about $1000 cheaper. I can’t think of anyone playing one today except for a link that @Gio posted:

So . . . does anyone here have one? . . . I’m just curious whether or not the Gibson sound could be brightened up a bit.

Post your thoughts here!


I don’t have one, haven’t played one and can’t rightly recall if I’ve ever heard one. :smile:

But it’s an electric instrument with magnetic pickups so there is a lot of tweaking you can do. Most obvious probably is changing pickups to something brighter. You could also use higher resistance pots (like going from 500k to 1meg). You can also put a .047uF capacitor in series with the pickup’s hot wire to remove some of the bass frequencies.


How easy is it to mod pots, pickups etc? Much scope for wrecking ones gear? :grimacing:


Thanks @Korrigan and @Chris . . . :slight_smile:

I guess you could replace or tweak pups and pots, but I think the darker tone has a lot to do with the scale length (which of course can’t be changed).

Was thinking that with all the advances in amplifier technology, the tone could be modified via the amp settings.

Anyway, that Gibson DOES sound mighty fine in the video . . . :metal::metal: . . . and If I ever get a second bass, I’m leaning toward the SG.

Thanks again and all best, Joe

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Yeah, that’s the sound of a big ol’ pickup placed in that position. Because it’s even closer to the center of the string (length-wise) than a P bass pickup, you get a lot more fundamental response (subby/bassy sound) and less growl (mids), because there are less harmonics toward the center of the string.

It’s the same effect you get by moving your plucking hand around - if you pluck over the 12th fret, you hear mostly fundamental, and as you move your hand towards the bridge, you hear more and more overtones, which makes it sound more defined - growly, punchy, quacky, bright, and other words like that depending on your setup.

So it’s not a good pickup to try to brighten up, IMO, just get a bass with a pickup closer to the bridge!

All that said, I LOVE the sound of those big fat super necky pickups. I just played a couple 60’s Gibson EB0’s in a vintage guitar shop a few weeks back (More Music in Santa Cruz CA), and they were really really fun to play, and I love the super bassy sound. But not a good bass for trying to get another sound out of!

Actually, there were two EB0s in the shop, one with flatwounds and one with roundwounds… and the tone was so dark that I literally couldn’t hear the difference (and neither could the guy working at the shop). Crazy dark.

It can, but it’s hard to add information that isn’t there in the first place. If your bass only produces frequencies up to 1kHz, then boosting it at 3kHz on the amp isn’t going to do much. It’s easier to darken a bright signal, because there’s more info to work with.


That’s a really good point, @JoshFossgreen . . . I hadn’t considered that. Just figured that the shorter scale provided more bass, but yeah, that, plus the larger pickup moved closer to the neck gives it that sound. Good for you! :+1:

In conclusion, I guess you could say that the Gibson SG doesn’t have the versatility that the J-bass has, right? :wink:

Nonetheless, if/when I get a second bass, I’d be interested in the SG . . . I’ve always liked the sound of Mountain and The Cream, and that bass might make a complementary addition to my Squier.

All best, Joe


Where’s your sense of adventure Josh? I think it’d be a fun challenge to rewind a pickup. :slight_smile:


Ha-ha! . . . or maybe to unwind one just to see what’s at the end? . . . :yum:

All best, Joe


Jazz bass, have you considered a Fender P J setup? It has a lot of tone options. I like the aerodyne.


Thank you, @nicholas.richino . . . :slight_smile:

But I’m very happy with my Squier Jazz bass . . . I was just curiously wondering why the Gibson SG tone is so dark and if it could be lightened a bit. They don’t seem to be as popular as they were years ago, either. I’ve always liked them though, and might be interested in getting one later on.

And who knows? . . . they might become a real collector’s item! :wink:

Thanks again and all best, Joe


Hey guys . . . I’m really excited to tell you!

I just bought a Babicz Bridge . . . attached to a Gibson SG! . . . :wink:

It hasn’t arrived yet, but here’s a stock photo of it taken by the guy who sold it to me:

It’s a 2015 model in excellent condition (a few scratches and some buckle rash) and has been set up and equipped with RS77 short scale flatwounds:

I’d like to thank @gio, @JoshFossgreen, @eric.kiser, and @howard for a number of suggestions you guys made in various threads (buying used vs new, trying a similar model in person before buying, not worrying too much about what others think of Gibson, etc.)

Howard, I saved at least $500-600 by shopping around and choosing used vs new. I wasn’t too keen about not having a warranty, but . . . oh well. All the bugs have been worked out of this one.

And Gio and Josh, I did try the closest thing to it at our local GC (an Epiphone EB-0) which I did not like because it felt so cheap and flimsy. But I guess there’s a world of difference between a $1500 and a $269 bass, right?

Eric, I’ve always admired Gibson guitars, and I could go into a lengthy explanation, but I was very careful, did my homework, and researched thoroughly before I bought this one, so I am 100% confident it will be ok.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with short scale vs long scale, different tones, and expanding my knowledge

But, most of all I’d like to thank @joergkutter’s friend (whoever he is :wink: ) because that encouraged me to listen to my friend who finally convinced me to go for it! . . . :+1:

I’ll post up my own pics later on in the “Show Us Your Basses” thread.

Wish me luck!


wow @Jazzbass19 , it’s gorgeous.

I must say that I don’t like Epiphone at all (very very cheap, those instruments just disgust me to play … I’m serious, I can’t play an Epiphone ! I just want to let it on its stand and do something else). I don’t like Gibson very much either, I just hate what the brand is (a lot of very bad decisions about environment and law, and an overall very very bad price/quality ratio). That’s the sad part. The good part is that some Gibson are amazing. It’s relatively rare but great Gibson exist, and when they’re great, they’re F**KING GREAT. I used to have a 93’ Les Paul Standard (guitar), it was amazing. I compared it to some custom shop Les Paul (yes I have some fortunate friends) and my LP was far superior. that’s not very normal.

The thing with Gibson is that you play a lotery. If you’re lucky, you will have a killer instrument. If not, you will have a mediocre one at best.

About those SG, I really love the look, but they sound very dark/muddy. That’s not a bad thing, depending on what sound you want.

I really hope that your SG will be a good one. If it resonate/sounds as good as it looks, I bet you will love it :slight_smile:


Whoohoo, awesome, @Jazzbass19! This is a classy looking bass! I have zero experience with Gibson guitars, but I hope this will bring you lots of fun and good times!!

And… let’s hope you get it really soon now!

PS: It’s good to have “friends” and friends when going through these decision making processes… and, of course, the collected wisdom of this forum!

PPS: not sure about those flatwounds… but give it try. In any case, this is something fixed easily!!


Thanks, @terb . . . I tried to find a “real” Gibson SG to try, but there weren’t any around, so I tried the Epiphone just for the size and weight, which was okay. But you are right, the quality was terrible.

Yes, I realize that. As my second bass, I thought it would make a nice complementary addition to my Squier . . . short vs long scale, mahogany vs maple, darker vs brighter tone, etc.

Turns out that during 2015-2018, Gibson built them with the Babicz bridge which is a huge improvement over the old 3-point bridge, easier to adjust and better tone.

We’ll see :wink:

All best, Joe

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it will make a huge difference from your JB, for sure. the thing is 2015 is not at all in the best era for Gibson, quality-wise. from about 2000 there has been a huge drop in quality (wood choice, assembly quality). the bridge is very secondary to that. but you will see, again that’s a lotery. Your SG might be a really great bass. (or not, then you could always sell it)


Thanks, @joergkutter . . . :slight_smile:

Should be here in a few days. I’ve been in touch with the seller, and I think I made a pretty good deal with him. Also included is a hard-shell case.

You can say that again! I really do appreciate all the little comments and ideas that you and others put out on the forum . . . also the great camaraderie :grin: I love it here!

The Gibby is something I’ve always wanted, and if I don’t like it, it’ll still make a great piece of art as Gio suggested!

Yes, NOW it’ll be easier with that Babicz bridge! I don’t know how people could stand the old 3-point one: to adjust intonation, the screws are on the inside and hard to reach :roll_eyes:

All best, Joe


Gibson design … :grimacing: everything is wrong with Gibson design … except the fact that it sometimes sounds awesome :grin:


Yes, thank you again, @terb . . . I did a lot of digging around on this, and there seems to be a range of opinions. With the 2019 model, Gibson went back to the 3-point bridge. :roll_eyes: I think they’re still struggling and trying to make a comeback, though. My sales guy at Sweetwater claims there has been a drastic improvement in quality since James Curleigh took over, but it’s way too soon to tell . . . (of course, he’s biased, I’m sure :slight_smile: ).

Anyway, it’s a “bucket list” item of mine, and I’m glad I finally decided to get it. I will keep everyone posted on everything I discover about it, in case there are others out there wanting to walk on the “dark side”. :wink:

Cheers, Joe


that’s perfectly fine :slight_smile: again you play a lotery, and if this bass doesn’t match, you could ever sell it ! you’re not playing your life here :grin: but again you might be lucky and have a good instrument. good Gibson are relatively rare but exist ! they even sometimes are really, really great !

I think they just try to make the most money from what is left from their heritage of being a good instrument brand in the past. I would be curious (not that much in fact) trying a 2019 model …


Well done! Love the woodgrain look.