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1967 Gibson Melody Maker SG - Love & Historic ’57 PAF Pickups

by vaughn skow January 21, 2015 3 min read

1967 Gibson Melody Maker SG with Vaughn Skow '57 PAF Pickups

“Big, little, short or tall, wish I could have kept them all … Lord I loved them every one”.  This is a line from a Conway Twitty hit country song in the 80s; when Conway sang this line he was speaking of ladies, but for me it would be GUITARS.  To me it’s like this … one person can look at a dog and say “that’s the ugliest dog I ever saw”, and someone else (usually the dog’s owner) will say “no, it’s the cutest dog in the world”.  When it comes to guitars, I'm always the latter, what someone else may call ugly, I call awesome.  To me, EVERY guitar is beautiful in its own way.  I am particularly drawn to guitars from the golden period of the late 50s through the late 60s … and here’s where it gets weird, I actually love those unlovables that have many battle scars and owner hacked “modifications”.  I call it “personality”.

Okay, so that brings us to today’s topic, a 67 Gibson Melody Maker SG that I recently found in a little junk shop.  Here is a list of what owners have done to her over the last five decades:

  • The original single coil pickups had been replaced with humbuckers.
  • A “SG” like pickup switch had been added, and the original removed.
  • Originally Pelham blue, she had been painted black, a long time ago from the looks of it.
  • The Mastro Vibrola had been removed and a tune-o-matic stop tailpiece bridge installed
  • Strangely, the nut had been re-positioned further forward.

So, interestingly enough, the only really BAD thing that had been done was the nut re-positioning.  It essentially left the guitar incapable of playing in tune, because the spacing from the nut to the 1st fret was wrong. It would also prove to be the most challenging issue to fix, as I actually had to graft a small piece of rosewood in to the fingerboard to put the nut back where it belonged!  As far as all the other mods go … well, I liked them, although I probably would have liked the original pelham blue.

So, having fixed the nut issue I proceeded to get to know the old gal.  I can flat tell ya that there ain’t anything that feels as sweet as a good Gibby neck that’s been played for 50-ish years or so.  Sweet!  But the sound … well, it was thin & ugly.  Not a real problem as I was planning to put a set of my own PAFs in her anyway; so, it was time to open her up.  Inside, I found the good … the bad … and the ugly!

1967 Gibson Melody Maker SG on bench Vaughn Skow '57 PAF Pickups

The good:  The pickups were a nice set of PRS McCarty Archtops, which I quickly sold on eBay for a nice little bit of change.

The Bad:  Of the four pots, only ONE was a proper 500K!  The two volume pots were 100K (probably from Radio Shack in the 70s or 80s), and one tone pot was a 50K.

The Ugly:  Well … everything I found inside!  Some of the ugliest soldering I’ve ever seen and a real hack-job on enlarging the pickup cavity!

The cure for this old gal’s internal injuries was a set of four new Alpha 500K pots and new orange-drop tone caps … and a set of my Historic ’57 PAF pickups … aged to perfection!  I’d also like to note that I wired the guitar using the earliest Gibson Les Paul wiring scheme from the mid-late 50s.  Over the years, the value and position of the tone capacitor has changed several times.  Most true Les Paul players swear by the original system, and I agree.  The interaction between the four controls when in the middle position is extreme … but once you get used to that, it becomes an asset rather than a hindrance. Google modern vs. 50s Les Paul wiring to research the difference.

1967 Gibson Melody Maker SG with Vaughn Skow '57 PAF Pickups

The result:  a super-sweet vintage SG that sounds second to none, plays like a dream, and is a true one of a kind.  Best part?  My total investment was under $500 … and several long nights at the bench.

Here’s a video of my Gal strutting her stuff. Check it out!

1967 Gibson Melody Maker SG with Vaughn Skow '57 PAF Pickups

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