The Gibson SG: Fueling Rock’s Alternative Nation
Yes, Gibson SGs are fantastic guitars. Initially more associated with 70’s Heavy Rock, it has also found it’s niche amongst alternative bands. Here’s an article from Gibson.com Lyfestyle, from a while back, which is worth a look!
When looking back at the musical climate of the ’90s, a lot of things come to mind, including flannel, goatees, and Fred Durst in a red baseball cap urging people to “break stuff.” However, no matter what sticks in your head about that fabled decade, there’s no question that the Gibson SG informed much of the sound on many of the era’s most iconic albums. Here we take a look at four of the most influential alternative acts from the ’90s and explore their love affair with this classic double-cutaway guitar.
Though they never achieved widespread mainstream success, Fugazi pretty much invented (and perfected) the genre of “post-hardcore” via albums like Repeater and In on the Kill Taker. Sporting a 1970 SG Standard, former Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye channeled hardcore’s aggression and combined it with an angular pop sensibility to create a vibrant sound that was as raucous as it was riveting. Moreover, Fugazi exemplified the D.I.Y. ethic by putting records out on their own label, Dischord, rarely granting interviews, and only charging five dollars for their shows—now that’s punk rock.
Smashing Pumpkins may be undergoing a revival of sorts, but it’s doubtful they’ll ever recapture the brilliance of their classic ‘90s output such as Gish and Siamese Dream. While Billy Corgan was the de facto leader of the band, co-guitarist James Iha did a fair share of writing and single-handedly crafted many of the band’s most memorable sonic textures. His style─a mix of grunge, progressive rock, and shoegazing noise—is difficult to define, but above all he proved you could stand in the background and still shine bright. Oh, and his guitar of choice? You guessed it, a Gibson SG.
With his high cheekbones and wavy long hair, the Lemonheads’ frontman Evan Dando may have been the aesthetic opposite of James Iha, but his band was equally as influential on the Alternative Nation. Though the band’s commercial breakthrough unexpectedly came via a cover version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” in 1992, these former punk rockers channeled their anger into saccharine-sweet pop anthems throughout the ’90s and managed to stay relevant throughout countless musical genres and trends. Come to think of it, you could say the exact same thing about the cream-colored Gibson SG that Dando used to record most of the band’s output.
Greg Hetson is a true punk rock icon—and his battered Gibson SG has the battle scars to prove it. Although he’s technically been playing with Bad Religion since 1984, the band didn’t crossover into the mainstream until the release of 1994’s Stranger Than Fiction, which contained the radio staples “Infected” and “21st Century Digital Boy.” While Hetson’s playing wasn’t flashy, his simple power-chord progressions were the backbone of Bad Religion’s unique brand of melodic punk rock, and over the past three decades he inspired countless punk enthusiasts to give the SG a whirl. More significantly, thanks to the guitar’s lightweight body, his posture is still intact.