1965 Gibson SG Junior

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Killer P90 pickup, great tones, playability, weight, cool looks, simplicity and purity, OHSC

Thumbs down: Large neck, finish crazing, sanded headstock sides, not everyone likes a vibrato

Decree: An awesome rock guitar with a fantastic sound, not pristine but that’s a sign of a well‑played guitar

Model Description:

Gibson first used the Junior name to classify a budget single pickup Les Paul from 1954, first in single and then double cutaway design. When the upmarket single cutaway Les Paul models underperformed, a replacement was needed. The radically new SG (Solid Guitar) model was designed by Gibson President Ted McCarty with assistance from engineer Larry Allers, and introduced in 1961. The model was initially called the Les Paul Junior until the arrangement between Gibson and Les Paul ended in 1963 and the model was formally re‑designated the SG Junior. Common to all SG models is the thin, flat‑topped solid mahogany body with sharp double cutaways and extensively bevelled edges. The neck joint was also designed to join the body at the 22nd fret to make playing at the upper neck more accessible. However, the mahogany neck proved vulnerable to neck breaks and many vintage guitars have suffered neck problems as a result. The base model of the SG range was the low‑cost and relatively simple SG Junior. From the outset, the SG Junior sported a single ‘dog ear’ P90 bridge pickup and simple volume and tone controls. From 1966, the model was revamped with a larger pickguard and ‘soap bar’ P90 until the Junior was discontinued in 1971. Gibson reissued an SG Junior for a couple of years in 1999 and it has appeared on and off in a more classic incarnation since 2011. Compared to its more ‘grown‑up’ relations, vintage SG Juniors are still relatively (?!) good value‑for‑money on the vintage guitar market.

Guitar Description:

There are some great guitars and then there are some GREAT guitars. There is something very special about good examples of early 1960s ‘small guard’ Gibson SG Juniors and this one is no exception. That powerful single P90 pickup, positioned near the bridge can cut through anything. It is one of those rare guitars where just picking it up and playing it becomes addictive and, dare I say it, inspirational. The unique feel is possibly partly aided by the chunky ‘baseball bat’ neck, so you can really dig in and play hard without risk of harm. The tone from this guitar is staggering for such a ‘simple’ design – talk about more than a sum of the parts! The twin-pickup SG Special, nice as it is, just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard like the simpler SG Junior. To me, the Maestro vibrato adds something to the mix, although many people have taken them off through the years and used the bridge as a wrapover tailpiece. Thankfully, this one is untouched in that respect. There are no breaks and no major issues. However, there is extensive typical finish crazing, some pickguard shrinkage and a few minor nicks and bumps but, seriously, what do you expect after so many decades of playing greatness? At some point in its life, an ‘idiotic’ previous owner seemed to think it would be a good idea to sand the finish off the edges of the headstock for no logical reason – go figure! Ultimately, it is a minor cosmetic issue, nothing more. The unfaded original cherry finish and shiny chrome hardware over the single piece mahogany body is simply gorgeous. It has had replacement tuners installed at some point and the originals have since been reinstated. Overall, this is a classic mid‑1960s Gibson, including the original hard shell case. For once, the hyperbole are warranted. I can’t sing its praises enough; it is a truly wonderful and hugely desirable guitar. It is, perhaps, my favourite guitar to pick up and play, especially when seeking (craving?) an injection of magical mojo motivation. There is not really a great deal more to say than that. Classic.


  • Made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A. in 1965
  • Cherry nitrocellulose finish with plenty of finish crazing
  • Single piece solid mahogany double cutaway body
  • Mahogany set neck with deep ‘U’ shape
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24¾” (629mm)
  • Vintage Kluson tuners (has had alternatives at some point)
  • Chrome hardware
  • Original scratchplate
  • Original single ‘dog ear’ P90 single‑coil pickup with plastic cover
  • Original knobs, strap buttons and jack socket
  • Original ‘lightning bolt’ compensated bridge and Gibson Maestro vibrato tailpiece/arm
  • Original Gibson hard shell case

Detail Gallery:

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