date_range 1998

John Frusciante’s 1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom

According to John, this SG can be heard during the breakdown section of ‘Otherside’ (if you’re listening to the studio version of the song, this part comes at around 2:52 time mark), but most people will probably remember it for its appearance in the music video for the song ‘Fortune Faded’. At this point, we don’t know whether the guitar was actually used during the recording session for ‘Fortune Faded’, but given the heavier sound in that song, it is highly likely.

(talking about ‘Otherside’:)For the breakdown section, I used a ’61 Gibson SG Custom into a cranked Marshall JCM 800. I think that’s the best kind of distortion – a humbucker into a Marshall, like Eddie Van Halen. [Guitar Player (UK), September 1999]

A little bit about the guitar itself – John’s 1961 Gibson SG features a cherry red finish on a solid mahogany body, a sideways Vibrola tremolo, three PAF pickups, and a white pickguard. Interestingly, since the guitar was made in 1961, it’s actually a Les Paul and not an SG. The model was only renamed to SG (meaning Solid Guitar) by Gibson in 1963, after Les Paul requested for his name to be removed from this new model. Apparently, when the SG model was introduced in 1961 as a direct replacement for the Les Paul model, which at that point was not doing so well in terms of sales, most of the people (including Les Paul himself) didn’t like the new version.

Be that as it may, the production of the first version of the Les Paul was on halt for whole seven years, until 1968. Given that many popular guitarists at the time, including Kieth Richards, Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff, and Jimmy Page, started using the discontinued model, Gibson felt pressured, and put the old model back into production. The SG model was sold as a completely separate product from 1963 and even managed to surpass the Les Paul as the company’s best-selling model.

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