Ed Kuepper's Gibson SGs
As those of you who follow me know I've done a bit of stuff with Ed over the years, which is a HUGE honour for me as I consider him to be "patient zero" for the music I listen to and love.
I won't bore you with the details again but the Saints were one of the most important bands in history and working on these two SGs, which I've worked on before over the years, for this tour is something very special indeed.
Over the years I've done pedals for Ed in the form of the (Tym) Stranded and the Club 76, released a 7" on Tym records, serviced Ed's touring amps, moded his guitars and Ed has done instores and use my studio but getting these SGs ready for the upcoming Aints tour was very exciting.
Ed plays a lot of different types of guitars with his back catalogue being so eclectic and diverse. When I saw the Saints play at Pig City and ATP he was using his Strats, which to a nerd like me was .... wrong. The Saints were a Gibson SG band. Plain and simple.
When this tour was announced I wondered if Ed was going to venture back into SG territory for it. We had discussed a lot of details about that early Saints stuff over the years and in my head, that old SG was so iconic to that Saints material that I was hoping he was going to use on for this tour.
Ed rang one day and said he wanted to get the SGs serviced, as he hadn't used them in some time and wanted to take them out for the Aints stuff. YES !!!
We discussed tunings and string gauge as Ed had been using flatwounds on the SGs before putting them away and he decided he was going to try roundwounds again for this application as he'd used rounds originally. I think the jury is still out on that one until after rehearsals but I set both SGs up with 11-54 rounds in standard tuning.
As some of you already know, the original Saints parts from around '76 onwards were all recorded and played in F# standard, with the SG tuned up to give more string tension. This is of course different from just putting a capo on as the guitar, and notes react differently with more tension.
Ed's original early 60's SG that was used for all the Saints stuff after he retired his little hollowbody Hofner was stolen at a Laughing Clowns show in Sydney in 1981 but Ed had removed the original Bigsby vibrato after he was having tuning issues. It had sat in a cupboard for 16 years waiting for an opportunity to live again and this was it's chance.
Ed had mentioned to me in the past that he still had the Bigsby but didn't know where it was so when he told me he'd like to find it, and put it on his early 70's SG to use on the tour, I was elated. This was a piece of memorabilia from the time. This Bigsby had been there through it all. All the vibrations of all those songs had travelled through it to produce all this great music. Ed just had to find it.
A couple of days later Ed dropped the guitars off and was holding an old, corroded Bigsby ... There it was.
We talked about what effect the Bigsby would have on tone and sustain and Ed decided it was a go.
The older SG here, which dates to around mid '72 had already had a Bigsby on it which had been removed and the holes crudely filled, and Ed was liking the thinner neck a little more than the '61 re-issue so it was decided that guitar would sport the old Bigsby.
Once I got it on the bench I realised pretty quickly that it originally had a Gibson branded Bigsby, which Gibson were using a lot during this time period. They have a different screw pastern so the original holes didn't line up. I emailed Ed and he said "go ahead anyway"
The great thing about a Bigsby is there's no routing or modifying and apart from 4 small holes, they go straight onto something like an SG. I was going to clean it up and polish it but then I thought it would just stick out like a sore thumb and this was exactly what Ed gave me to fit to the guitar, so I put it on looking like a 55 year old piece of guitar hardware.
Both guitars took the 11's easily and sounded great. I could drop the action slightly on the re-issue but the '72 needed to sit just "slightly" higher to play great. The necks on both are fast and straight with the re-issue having a thin, but wider neck like Ed's original and the '72 having a thin all round (especially at the nut) very comfortable neck.
I'm a big fan of these early 70's SGs and in fact my favourite SG is from this period and was given to me by Adalita from Magic Dirt. It may be my favourite SG because of who gave it to me but quite a few people have hired and used it and everyone agrees it's a good one. Evan Dando used it for a Lemonheads tour and wanted to buy it off me as he said it felt EXACTLY like his early one and he hadn't found another like it.
Anyway, I digress.
I had fitted Brierley B-90's to Ed's re-issue some time ago which he loved and while Ed wanted to play the '72, he preferred the tone of the bridge B-90 in the re-issue but liked the neck humbucker. I removed the original humbucker from the '72 and fitted it to the neck of the re-issue and put a B-90 in the bridge of the '72. The sharp, focused tone from a P-90 SG has always been a favourite of Ed's (and mine) and we have discussed the guitar tone on Live at Leeds at length, which was of course an SG Special, and glorious.
The two SGs came up a treat and Ed has them in rehearsals now for the upcoming Aints tour where he will be playing early Saints material ('73-78) with a full band. There's going to be a few surprises in there too, as if you needed more reason to go and see these amazing songs performed 40 years later by the guy who wrote them.
These songs are as important and great now as they were back in the mid 70's. They're timeless rock n roll and seeing Ed Kuepper in full flight, with an SG, ripping through these songs will be a sight to behold. Get your tickets and see some amazing music performed by an amazing man. You won't be disappointed.