Epiphone SG Standard '61 Electric Guitar
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Epiphone SG Standard ’61 Electric Guitar review

This Epiphone SG Standard is easy to play and has a powerful tone, making it seem like a rock legend’s guitar without the astronomical price tag. With the Epiphone SG Standard, Gibson’s little brother continues to demonstrate that it is in the midst of a guitar-making renaissance, making some of the finest instruments in recent memory.

Despite being overshadowed by its more famous flame-topped sibling, the SG has been responsible for some of rock and roll’s most recognisable electric guitar tones. In fact, this Solid Guitar is Gibson’s best-selling instrument, and by a wide margin, too — sorry, Les Paul!
In addition to its distinct sound compared to its single-cut counterparts, the SG is known for its playability and aesthetic appeal.

In today’s market, even while a Gibson SG isn’t the most costly guitar available, it will still run you well into the four-figure range, making it out of reach for many people. If you want to play like Angus Young (lead guitarist for AC/DC and the world’s oldest high school student), Tony Iommi (the “Godfather” of modern metal), or Gary Clark Jr. (a modern blues hero) without breaking the bank, the Epiphone SG Standard is the instrument for you.


  • LockTone ABR Tune-o-matic bridge
  • Mahogany body
  • Nickel plating and finish
  • Body Style: SG 
  • Body Finish: Gloss 
  • Neck Profile: 60s SlimTaper
  • Fingerboard Material: Indian Laurel
  • Frets: 22 Medium Jumbo
  • Bridge: Epiphone LockTone Tune-O-Matic
  • Pickups: Epiphone Alnico Classic Pro


ColorRed, Brown, Black
Top Material TypeMahogany
Body MaterialMahogany
Back Material TypeCherry Wood, Mahogany Wood
Neck Material TypeMahogany
Fretboard Material TypeMahogany
Guitar Pickup ConfigurationH
String Material TypeNickel
Hand OrientationRight
  • Great feel
  • Superb tone
  • Very well finished
  • Not everyone gets on with the off-kilter feel of an SG

Epiphone SG Standard Review

Our review unit arrived in a wickedly beautiful Vintage Cherry finish, but this SG also comes in Alpine White and Ebony. For as long as we can remember, we’ve had a soft spot for Epiphones, and this Vintage Cherry Epiphone SG Standard is no exception. This instrument’s finish may not be nitrocellulose like its more expensive sibling’s, but its stunning gloss gives it the appearance of being far more expensive than it actually is.

The updated Epiphone headstock, trapezoid inlays, vintage-style Epiphone premium tuners, and the iconic “bat-wing” pickguard round out the appearance. Together, they create a guitar whose beauty exceeds the sum of its components.

Now that we know this Epiphone SG Standard is good-looking, the question becomes: how does it sound? This instrument has the filthy midrange you expect from an SG and more, thanks to its set of Epiphone Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers and CTS pots. The crisp and controlled bass end helps this Epiphone sound balanced and focused.

However, the pickups lack some of the high-end sparkle typical of SG-style guitars. We’re not claiming the instrument has a muddy or gloomy tone; rather, we’re pointing out that it lacks the high-frequency shine of something like a Gibson 57 Classic or 498T. Particularly when compared to our own Gibson SG Standard, which is fitted with 490R/498T pickups, this becomes clear.

This is a small complaint, and you can easily fix it by tweaking the presence control on your amplifier. When it comes to tone, this guitar more than holds its own at this price point, sounding great whether you’re playing hefty down-tuned riffage or light, delicate clean parts.

Playability of Epiphone SG Standard

Now we can discuss playability. The 60s Slim Taper neck shape was chosen because it is the most common and most comfortable for guitarists. The neck is narrow, yet some may perceive it to be wider than the term suggests. We find that the width is about right, providing a comfortable playing surface without being overly wide. Despite its lack of resemblance to our Epiphone SG Standard, this replica of the Gibson ’61 Special is a dead ringer for the original.

The review unit we received was fully operational right out of the box with no hiccups to speak of. It came as a pleasant surprise that none of the strings became lodged due to the Graph Tech NuBone nut’s precision cutting.

Final Words

There’s a good reason the Epiphone SG Standard has become a classic rock guitar. It’s stunningly beautiful, and that’s before we even get to how well it plays and sounds. So while this more affordable model may lack the glitz and glamour of its more expensive sibling, Epiphone once again demonstrates that you don’t need to pay big money to obtain big sound.

The affordability makes it an excellent electric guitar for beginners, but a few chords will show you that it’s capable of so much more. Any guitarist on a tight budget who wants to play an SG will want to pick up this instrument because of its high quality construction and gorgeous finish.

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