SG Vs Stratocaster – What Should You Choose?

Over the many years of the electric guitar history, there are two companies that have always been in the competition on who is going to make a better guitar. Ever since the competition started between Gibson and Fender, to this day, it never ended. One of the most famous guitar models by these companies is the Fender Stratocaster and Gibson SG. 

These two guitars share very little. Stratocaster models are heavier than SG models, and the pickup configuration of each is completely different. You would not be wrong when you say that these guitars are made to satisfy different purposes. 

The SG models are perfect for rock sounds with pronounced high and mid-range tones. On the other hand, the Stratocasters are the chameleon among the guitars. The major reason behind its versatility is the SSS pickup configuration. Still, the SG models hold their position rather well when it comes to the variety of tones. 

The SG and Stratocaster are the two models that are of the representatives of their companies. Both of the guitars are the first step towards a more sophisticated instrument, and many young guitarists dream of owning one of these. While there are many differences between these guitars, they are still worth comparing.  

Fender Stratocaster Gibson SG
Body ShapeStrat-styleSG Standard
Body WoodAlderMahagony
Neck ShapeDeep CRounded
Neck WoodMapleMahagony
Neck ConstructionBolt-onSet Neck
Fretboard MaterialMapleRosewood
Scale Length25.5″24.75″
Number Of Frets22, Narrow Tall22, Medium Jumbo
Frets MaterialNickel SilverNickel Silver
Type of Bridge3-Saddle Top-load String-through body with Brass Bullet SaddlesNashville Tune-O-Matic with Stopbar
Tuning MachinesFender Standard Die-castGrover Rotomatics
Pickups3 x Fender V-Mod II Single-coilDual 490R and 490T Humbuckers
Pickup Selector3-way blade pickup switch3-way toggle switch
Controls1 x master volume, 1 x master tone (push/push series)2 x volume, 2 x tone
Weight8 lbs (3.6 kg)6 lbs (2.7 kg)

Fender Stratocaster History

The Fender Stratocaster is part of the most famous guitars ever made. It was introduced in 1954, and the major part of its design originated from the design of Telecaster models. You can consider Stratocaster as the younger brother of Telecaster. 

Since the Telecaster is an older model and it was one of the first mass-produced instruments, people will eventually find flaws and some drawbacks. Here came the Stratocaster. What Telecaster lacked, the Stratocaster model was there to fulfill. 

Over many years, its design will mostly remain the same. Stratocasters today are available in almost any finish, and every hardware combination there is. This model will live through the most important eras for guitar and music in general. It has been and still is played by the greatest musician in the World. 

Gibson SG History

Gibson SG is the guitar known for its great sustain and iconic design. This guitar has its roots tangled with the Gibson Les Paul model. The name of this guitar is short for “Solid Guitar”. Since Fender introduced lightweight guitars such as Stratocaster, Gibson responded to these guitars with the SG model. 

The first model was introduced in 1961, and the original models had Les Paul’s name on the headstock, which Gibson will eventually remove at Les Paul’s request and rename the model to “SG”. Since its introduction, it will remain in production to this day. 

Over the many years of its existence, it will grow to the heart of many people and will be used by some of the greatest musicians ever, as well as used for recording the greatest songs. 

Bodies Compared

When you compare these two instruments, there is not much that they share. The body of the SG is made out of Mahagony, and the body of the Stratocaster is usually made out of Alder. Visually these two guitars do not look alike.

The only thing you can say these guitars share is the double cutaway design. Another significant difference is in weight. The Stratocaster is heavier at the weight of 8lbs or 3.6kg, and the SG is lighter at the weight of 6lbs or 2.7kg. Considering the SG is lighter than Stratocaster, it has a much slimmer body than the Stratocaster models. 

Neck & Scale Length Compared 

Like with the body, the necks of these guitars are quite different. The neck of the Stratocaster is bolted onto the body, and the SG neck construction is set neck. The Neck shapes of these guitars are also different, with Stratocasters having deep C and the SG having rounded neck shapes. Both models have 22 frets, with SG having Medium Jumbo and Stratocaster having Narrow Tall frets. 

The fretboard and the neck material of Stratocaster models are made out of Maple, while the SGs neck is made out of Mahagony as well as the fretboard. The scale length is also different. The scale length of Stratocaster models is 25.5,” and the Gibson SG models have a 24.75” neck scale length. 

Hardware Compared

The Stratocasters have a 5-way pickup selector and a two-tone and one-volume control. On the other hand, the SG is more like Les Paul, with two tone controls and two volume controls. For both guitars, this selector and control configuration allowed for great versatility in the tone. 

The Stratocasters have a 3-Saddle Top-load String-through body with Brass Bullet Saddles, and the SG models have Nashville Tune-O-Matic with a Stopbar type of bridge. The tuners of these guitars are also different. Stratocasters have Fender Standard Die-cast, and SG models have Grover Rotomatics tuners. 

Pickup Configuration Compared

The first difference every guitarist will notice with these guitars is the pickup configuration. The Stratocasters usually come in SSS pickups configuration, in some cases with HSS as well. On the other hand, the SG models come with the HH pickup configuration. 

Considering the nature of the humbucker pickups, SG models are much less susceptible to feedback issues and give out a louder signal output. On the other hand, the single pickups of Stratocaster are there to provide great high and mid-range perfect for crisp and vintage electric guitar sound

Fender Stratocaster Tone 

If you played guitar long enough, you would be able to recognize the iconic sound of Stratocaster. Many guitarists will agree with the statement that the Stratocaster is one of the most tonally versatile guitars. But this is not the reason why so many people gravitate toward it. 

Without any modifications, Fender Stratocaster has a warm and glassy tone. Out of all electric guitars in the world, Stratocasters are considered to have the most natural tone one electric guitar can have. 

The major part behind its tone is the pickups. Most Stratocasters come with an SSS pickup configuration and, combined with the 5-way pickups selector, give you the ability to achieve a wide range of tones. For many guitarists, when it comes to tonal variety, this is the go-to guitar. 

Gibson SG Tone

Gibson SG is a guitar that shines in the treble and midrange. It is usually more appealing to guitarists who are keener to go with a bright sound. Still, it can get quite versatile in terms of tone. The neck of the SG is flexible, and you can get some great effects by pushing or pulling the neck. 

The SG guitars are the holy grail for rock musicians. The reason behind its tone is the light weighted body as well, of course, the pickups. This does not mean that the SG is made purely for rock music. It has enough versatility to cover major parts of the music genres. 

Fender Stratocaster Feel & Playability

The Fender Stratocaster is, without a doubt, among the most comfortable guitars to play. Fender made sure to balance the instrument as well as possible in terms of the body-neck weight ratio. Combining this with great sound, this guitar is must-have for every guitarist. 

Its double-cutaway design allows you to access the upper fret with ease and play with enjoyment. Fender made sure to have the body of the guitar contoured as best as possible so that comfort, as well as looks, were the number one priority. You cannot go wrong with the Stratocaster when it comes to comfort. 

Gibson SG Feel & Playability

The SG model feels great in the hands and makes the guitarist’s life much easier when it comes to guitar playing. A big part of the design of the SG is taken from the Gibson Les Paul. What they did is changed the weight of the instrument and shorten the neck scale.  

This resulted in a comfortable guitar that is easy to play. The double cutaway design makes it easy for players to access the upper frets. The only bad thing in terms of the feel is the body-neck weight ratio. When standing up, you will notice quite a neck dive with the SG models. 

Fender Stratocaster Look

What most people think of when someone says “electric guitar” is the Stratocaster. This guitar has one of the most legendary designs ever. It has a beautifully contoured body that is in great balance with the neck.

Today, you can get them in almost every finish out there. The look of the Stratocaster has not changed all that much since the introduction of the guitar. With different series of instruments, you may get different types of the headstock, but the essence of the instrument is there. 

Gibson SG Look

The look of the Gibson SG is beloved by many players, and they have nicknamed the body shape of it the “Devil’s Horn.” With the body shape, red nitrocellulose finish, and woody finish Gibson made this a great-looking guitar. 

Gibson also made sure to please everyone’s taste and introduced the SG model with different types of finishes. Today, you can get them in traditional red nitrocellulose, black, and natural wood finishes. 

Famous Fender Stratocaster Players

Jimi Hendrix

It is a fact by now that Jimi Hendrix is the most famous guitar player that ever existed. This many was the hero of the heroes and was an inspiration for many generations. Jimi had, for almost the entirety of his career, used a Stratocaster. 

Jimi was a left-hand player, and flipping his guitar the other way around really made him stick out of the mass. His go-to setup consisted of a Fender Stratocaster, a Marshall amp, and Jimi’s innovation, the Wah-Wah pedal.

One of the reasons why Fender started the left-hand guitar manufacturing line is Jimi Hendrix himself. His playing of the Stratocaster is the prime example of the tonal versatility of this instrument. 

Eric Clapton

Among the greatest guitar players ever is Eric Clapton. He has been seen with almost every guitar there is, but what really stuck to him is the Fender Stratocaster. Throughout his career, he will always gravitate toward it. 

He is the blues player, maybe even the best one, and the Stratocaster is the perfect guitar for the genre. Eric Clapton is a guitarist who excelled in a variety of styles, from rock to soft blues, as well as acoustic playing. The only guitar that responded the best was the Stratocaster. He preferred the Strat over practically all other options.

Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck had a great influence on the popularity of the Fender Stratocaster. Like many guitarists who are using the Stratocaster, he is very versatile in his guitar playing. You can see him jump from one genre to another in the majority of his songs. Without a Stratocaster, that would not be as easy to accomplish.

Jeff Beck is rarely seen with guitar other than the Stratocaster. Interestingly, like Eric Clapton, he came from the same group, the Yardbirds. This group hade gave birth to many great Stratocaster players. 

David Gilmour

David Gilmour is a guitar player famous for his perfect feel and amazing string-bending skills. As well as having amazing guitar skills and a feel for the instrument, this guitarist will write some of the most beautiful songs for his band, Pink Floyd.

The guitar behind his sound is the Fender Stratocaster which really responded great to his playing. The fact that Stratocaster is a beautiful guitar to play and hold, and he was able to get his own unique sound. You will be able to hear his black finish Stratocaster in almost every Pink Floyd recording.

Ritchie Blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore is the man behind one of the most famous riffs every guitarist knows how to play, the “Smoke on the Water” riff. This riff was created and recorded on a 1968 Fender Stratocaster. Ritchie Blackmore is a truly unique guitar player.

He was one of the neoclassical pioneers and the first guitar to have a scalloped fretboard. For most of his career, he would use a Stratocaster. Later in life, he will orientate toward the folk rock scene, which is mostly acoustic-driven, but still, you will see him using a Stratocaster guitar. 

Famous SG Players

Angus Young

The lead guitarist of AC/DC is rarely seen without his Gibson SG guitar. You would be wrong to say that he is one of the most recognized SG guitarists. He bought his first SG back in 1971. He has been playing the SG model for nearly 50 years and still continues to do so. 

His iconic duckwalk dance would not be as easy to do for him if he had not used the Gibson SG model. He was able to perform the dance on stage without falling over because of the guitar’s lightweight build and double-cutaway design, which also made it easy for him to play around the neck.

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa is the man who used his SG model more often than other guitars such as Les Paul or Stratocaster. He is often seen with two specific SG models during live performances. The specific models are the “Baby Shake” and the “Roxy” Gibson SG models. 

Since Zappa is quite fond of extreme modifications, these models are heavily modified to achieve a wide range of tones for live performances. The “Baby Snake” has a preamp and phase switch integrated with the 23rd fret. The “Roxy” model has a mirror top, preamp suite, and phase switch, and it is active. 

Pete Townshend

The lead guitarist of the famous rock band “Who” is rarely seen without a Gibson SG in his hands. The “Who” is also famous for their ritual of smashing their instruments live on stage. What makes Pete stand out from the crowd, apart from great guitar skills, is the iconic windmill strum which he mostly did on the SG model.

Townshend will eventually stop using SG models once Gibson starts changing the design. He’ll begin to use different Gibson and Fender models more frequently.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Today Sister Rosetta Tharpe is considered to be the nexus for rock n roll music. We can consider her to be one of the most important guitarists of the 20th century. She gave a direction for the rock n roll music we know today.

She has been seen and recorded with many different types of guitars during her career, but the SG model with three humbuckers which she got in 1963, is usually mostly connected to her. This guitar, along with the distorted amplifiers, is the main reason behind her tone. 

Derek Trucks

It is not easy to compare Derek Trucks to any other player due to his unique guitar-playing skills. He is probably one of the greatest slide guitar guitarists, and his weapon of choice has been mostly the SG model.

Ever since he came out of the incognito zone, he gravitated toward the Gibson SG models. The models which he is mostly seen with are the 2000 Gibson SG ’61 Reissue with a stop-tailpiece, a Dickey Betts signature model, and his own signature SG model. His beautiful melodic playing would probably not be where it is without the SG model. 

Conclusion

Both of these guitars represent the most famous guitar models ever made. There have been many famous guitar players that have used these guitars to create some of the greatest songs ever. It is not easy to answer the question of which is better and which one you should choose.

The short answer is that it all depends on the type of guitar player you are. Tonally, these guitars are quite different. If you are looking for a guitar that will have a great rock sound with heavy tones, the SG model may be the perfect pick for you. On the other hand, the Stratocaster is the chameleon of guitars. You can use the Strat in almost every genre there is. The blues and softer rock genres are where this guitar shines. 

The correct answer for every individual guitarist would have to be discovered by themself in the guitar store. Hoping down to the local music store and trying both of these guitars is the fastest way toward the correct answer. 

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Jacob

I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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