Epiphone SG Special (VE) Best Beginner SG Model Guitar Review

Hello there and welcome back to another honest and long-term review of an excellent SG model electric guitar by Epiphone, SG Special (VE).

This model, just like its Les Paul equivalent, Epiphone Les Paul Special II (VE), is aimed at beginner or intermediating guitar players. And again, just like Les Paul Special II (VE) is one of the most reasonably priced guitars that money can buy! During my service in the musical instruments industry, I witnessed Epiphone SG Special (VE) had been always a top-seller model among its competitor models even though SG body guitars are less likely preferred comparing to Les Paul body models.

As I have mentioned once in my “Epiphone G-400 Pro Ebony Electric Guitar Real SG Experience” review, I really like the structure and design of SG guitars, especially in terms of being extremely comfortable playing in the upper register. To be honest, I have never come across any other guitar design that felt this comfortable with upper register noodling.

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However, there is another thing to mention about SG design guitars that this body design shifts the centre of gravity and it tends to be unbalanced. But everyone knows SGs have a unique timbre and character so some people can bear this tiny drawback! 🙂

During my service in the musical instruments industry, I would have a chance to play at least 20 Epiphone SG Special (VE) model electric guitars in a year and never experienced a structural problem. And if you have difficulties understanding why I am able to claim such facts, please have a look at my solid reasons on why you should trust me!

Before we get into more details about this beautiful instrument, let’s hear it in action!

This first video features a concept that we came up with back in the day! It was called “Pişti” in Turkish which is kind of a slang word derived from a card name meaning when you witness two identical things or event happening at the same time. Imagine how many of SG Specials we used to sell that we most of the days had 2 or more on the same day! 🙂

This video was recorded with obviously 2 Epiphone SG Specials me (lead player) going straight into Fender Pro Junior valve amp, and my colleague into Marshall AVT50 amp + an old Boss SD2, all sounds were captured with Rode VideoMic Pro.

As you can they sound great out of the box and pretty playable guitars. Note that these guitars were Epiphone SG Specials and they have kill pot on the tone pot which is an extra feature. At the moment, I strongly believe it’s very difficult to find Epiphone SG Specials, instead, they are pushing Epiphone SG Special VE models which are almost an equivalent of this model. If you are one of my regular visitors, you are probably aware of me having mentioned this many times. After CITES regulations have hit guitar manufacturers, they have come up with similar or almost identical alternative woods to rosewood.

So you won’t have the kill pot with Epiphone SG Special VE models, on top of that VE versions are not glossed finish guitars but satin or worn as they call it. At the moment, you can still find the Epiphone SG Special model on the Epiphone official website, however, I have been watching closely some online music shops and noticed this model has been disappearing slowly. To be honest, I don’t really know what kind of strategy Epiphone has, but I have noticed this with many guitar manufacturers that they have come up with new models that have slightly different specs to replace the initial pre-CITES models.

Let’s continue with the second video of the Epiphone SG Special! This time recorded with Marshall JVM205C valve amp + Shure SM57 microphone to present the sounds of this instrument can produce with a non-biased approach.

If you listen to the sounds with different gain settings on different channels in the above video, you will notice that it still has a vintage vibe to it even on high gain channels. This is not a bad thing actually, but beware that this guitar is not made for super hi-gain, contemporary metal music, rather it is an authentic instrument that aims to produce SG sounds.

Tech Specs of Epiphone SG Special

BodyPoplar with Mahogany Veneer* / Mahogany
NeckOkoume*, 1960's Slim Taper D Profile
FingerboardRosewood or Okoume*
PickupsEpiphone 650R and 700T
Controls3-way Pickup Selector, 1 Tone and 1 Volume Pots, Kill Pot*
Frets22, Medium Jumbo
BridgeLockTone Tune-O-Matic
Nut Width42.86mm
TunersPremium 14:1 Ratio

As you can see from the tech specs above, I have put * marks next to the components that might differ depending on which stock you will be buying this model from. The ones you have listened to here in this review are supposed to* be made of the mahogany body, neck and rosewood board. Well, it’s not really possible to know exactly what kind of woods they use.

As mentioned above, you won’t be able to find Epiphone SG Special easily, I have done my research and have not been able to find them in stock on the online shops both music stores and general e-commerce stores. So this enforces my theory that SG Special has been replaced by SG Special VE which is more or less the same guitar.

Do I still recommend it? Yes, why not? At this price range, there are no other alternative SG models to Epiphone SG Special VE. During over 2 years of my real field experience, I have played dozens of these guitars and there were no problematic ones that arrived in our store. I would say 9.5 out of 10 was in excellent condition and almost ready to ship without even touching. But remember, a good setup and a new set of strings will always make a huge difference, even for an expensive instrument too!

If you have a limited budget and you still want an SG, Epiphone SG Special VE is probably the best option you will have! However, if you are a bit more flexible with your budget, I would go for Epiphone G-400 Pro since it’s better quality and built with more sonic options.

Originally SGs and LPs come with covered pickups and I believe it changes the sound a lot! Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better but in order to capture the vintage vibe, covered pickups are a better option for you. If you want to find out how covered vs uncovered pickups sound like, I highly recommend you to read my “Covered vs Uncovered Humbuckers A/B Comparison Test” article and listen to the sound samples.

I hope this has been a helpful and honest review as promised! Please do not be a stranger and do not hesitate to post your questions below, I’m always up here to assist you with any kind of information! Thanks for reading and see you in the next review!


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