1963 Gibson SG Special Guitar
Appraised Value: $6,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:27)
Director, Fine Musical Instruments
GUEST: I don't even play music. I don't know how to play music. It was just a whim to buy it.
APPRAISER: Did you ever try to plug it in?
GUEST: Well, no, my husband did. He plays and sings, and I thought, "Well, this would be a good present for him."
APPRAISER: So you bought this guitar at an auction sale.
APPRAISER: How long ago?
GUEST: About a month ago.
APPRAISER: A month ago; so it's brand new?
GUEST: It's brand new to me, yes.
APPRAISER: Can I ask you how much you paid for it?
GUEST: Yes, I gave $1,000 for it.
APPRAISER: A thousand dollars?
GUEST: $1,000, and it's probably not worth nothing.
APPRAISER: That was a tremendous leap of faith on your part, wasn't it?
GUEST: Yes, it was. There was another fellow bidding against me, and afterwards he told me that he had another guitar almost like it, and he wanted it as a double.
APPRAISER: Oh, okay.
GUEST: But when I go to an auction and I want something, I usually just... that's what I want and I get it.
APPRAISER: You have that determined look that would scare off even a professional.
GUEST: Well, I hope so. (both laughing) I hope so.
APPRAISER: It's called an SG special. The Gibson company of Kalamazoo, Michigan, had a line of guitars designed by the guitarist-- the late guitarist-- Les Paul. And it was a line that was very radical for its day. It didn't quite catch on, and after about ten years, they decided to actually change the design without consulting him.
APPRAISER: So starting in 1961, they started with this new body design, what we call a double cutaway. Okay. And they modernized it and they gave it a new style. Problem was, he didn't authorize that change and he said, "Take my name off of that guitar." So, starting in 1962, they had to call it the "SG," rather than the Les Paul model. It's a beautiful design that we recognize as sort of iconic to the 1960s, and they're still making it to this day. The whole body and neck of this guitar is made of mahogany, a very thin piece for the body and a very long, narrow piece for the neck. The reason that this very guitar is special is because it's from the year 1963. Gibson was experimenting with a new design, a very slim design, and what happened was they found out that so many of these broke. This is one of the most fragile electric guitars ever made.
GUEST: Oh, is that right?
APPRAISER: And it's even worse because they sold it in this case. It's a very cheap cardboard or chipboard case. It was only about two years before they completely changed the design of that neck joint.
GUEST: Is that right?
APPRAISER: And they made it much stronger. So what happens? It becomes a collector's item.
GUEST: Oh, wow!
APPRAISER: Because there are so few of these left, and when you're talking about a Gibson SG, which is usually common, to find one from that year in drop-dead gorgeous condition is very unusual.
GUEST: Well, that's what I liked about it. The back is just phenomenal.
APPRAISER: Right, it's hardly got a scratch on it.
GUEST: And it just looks good.
APPRAISER: In a retail or a replacement value situation, this would be about a $6,000 guitar.
APPRAISER: Just because of its condition.
GUEST: Wow! That's great.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.