Apologies in advance for such a long post. New guy here so I guess I'm a little enthusiastic lol.

This guitar was far from perfect when I received it but rather than send it back, I made the decision to change/ fix what I didn't like. The fact is that I LOVE the SG shape and this one in particular had a feature that intrigued me ( the soloist neck width). Honestly, just picking the color was difficult. I love the iconic cherry finishes but I continued to be drawn to the vintage sunburst so that was ultimately what I decided upon.

What I loved upon receiving/ playing:

> The neck width: This guitar has a wide neck ( 1.745 at the nut). I do a lot of bends and there are times that narrower neck widths bug me. Maybe this reflects my playing style or maybe the fact that I also play 7-string guitar but in any case, I just LOVE this neck width and shape! Back of the neck is also very pleasing to the touch... satin smooth yet a little less refined than many other guitar necks that I've played on... Just feels fantastic to me.

> The 490R/ 498T pickups: I'm guessing that the Custom Buckers and '57 Classics sound better in some instances but for my particular rig, these pups sound fantastic. Double vol/ tone controls genuinely compliment these pickups.

> The selector switch: Generally that's not something worth noting but this particular switch is so nice that I felt inclined to mention it... solid, looks great, secure engagement, and quiet. The pots also feel smooth and roll off evenly/ cleanly.

> The adjustable zero-fret titanium nut: I'm not convinced that this is absolutely necessary but I have to say that it's pretty cool to be able to fine-tune string height at this end of the board. I also like that you can adjust it higher/ lower towards the top/ bottom strings. I have it adjusted to where the low E is a little higher than top e... Just seems to work well, keeping action low while reducing bottom string vibration.

What wasn't so great:

> The neck dive: This was SO bad that it almost had me returning the instrument at first. The main reasons obviously were the G-Force tuners combined with the very lightweight body and strap-button placement. Also the neck itself is a bit heavy. This dive really bothered me but I knew that I could reduce or eliminate it so I didn't get too discouraged.

> The fret-board: I've owned and played a lot of guitars and this fret-board was one of the absolute WORST in terms of roughness. Gibson really dropped the ball on this one. Less rough down towards the head-stock but gradually rougher towards the body. This was completely unacceptable. For what it's worth, some of the fret-ends towards the upper register were also a bit sharp/ unfinished.

> The G-Force tuning system: Couple years ago I looked at an LP with these tuners and I did not care for them. Maybe it just seems like a bit of a hassle or maybe it's just rather unnatural to me... dunno. I also sometimes feel the need to fine-tune to pitch and these tuners just don't allow that. I haven't weighed the G-Force system but it is extremely heavy. All in all, I appreciate the concept and I can understand how some players like it but for me, I just couldn't quite jive with it. The system does indeed work well and offers alternate tuning capabilities which is nice, but again... just not for me.

> Chrome pickup ring covers: Looked cool but on the bridge side, the ring added too much height subsequently causing the palm of my picking hand to noticeably contact the corner of it.

> Chrome plated plastic bell-shaped knobs: These looked too modern for such an iconic instrument to me. They also felt a bit slick and combined with the shape, were slightly uncomfortable to use efficiently. I initially replaced them with metal chrome dome-shaped knobs ( as seen in the "before" pic) but ultimately wasn't satisfied with those either.

> Slanted ( angled) bridge and neck pickups: Both humbuckers had a noticeable angle to the rear and while it's been debated whether or not this effects sound/ tone/ output, I simply didn't like that they weren't flat/ level from an aesthetics standpoint. I believe that the springs that Gibson uses are either too long or too rigid causing the apparently common condition.. not sure.

> Finishing flaw around stop-piece anchors: I could see raw wood and even a bit of exposed anchors. This bugged me and I thought that it should be addressed.

So... Here's what I did:

> Removed tuners, strings, pickup rings and pickups, knobs, back-plate, and tail-piece/ studs.

> Completely re-finished fret-board with 0000 steel-wool, cleaned and conditioned 2x with Guitar Honey and re-finished all sharp fret ends. I also polished all frets while I was at it. All silky smooth and quenched now.

> Used matching dark-wood touch-up paint to finish the raw area around the tail-piece anchors. It wasn't all that noticeable with the stop-piece in place but a 100% improvement now that all of the finish is consistently colored.

> Replaced the OEM pickup springs with silicone tubing. I've heard all kinds of ways that people have leveled these pickups with foam, shims, cutting springs, etc... but the silicone tubing seemed like the best route to go. It fits over the screws perfectly and shouldn't crack, deform, split, or deteriorate in any way. Took a couple tries to get the perfect length, but both pickups are absolutely level now and height is still adjustable.

> Replaced the G-Force tuners with Gotoh locking tuners with traditional-shaped keystone buttons in chrome to match. Drilling the pilot holes for the screws was a bit scary without a press but they came out perfectly. Very very happy with this mod and it obviously REALLY reduced the neck-dive. These new tuners seem very stable to boot.

> Replaced the modern and slightly cumbersome chrome bell-shaped knobs with chrome dome-shaped metal knobs before eventually settling on traditional Gibson top-hats... very comfortable to use and I think that they look much more appropriate.

> Added several ounces of stick-on lead weights to the inside of the back control-cavity cover. This was to further reduce neck-dive and along with some of the other modifications, the issue is barely noticeable now... almost perfectly balanced.

> Replaced the original cream-colored pickup rings with black rings. Also replaced the chrome pickup-ring screws with black screws.

> Replaced the original cream-colored bat-wing with a custom-made black/ white/ black scratch-plate from WD Music. Also replaced the chrome pick-guard screws with black screws.

> Replaced the silver/ aluminum truss-rod cover with more traditional black/ white/ black blank bell-shaped Gibson TRC. Also replaced the chrome screws with black screws.

> Added black poker-chip to toggle switch for a more traditional look.

*** I think that's it lol. I absolutely LOVE this guitar now. I dig the vintage aesthetics along with the modern touches. It plays like a dream and sounds great. Now I finally have a USA made Gibson in the stable which feels awesome! Thanks so much for checking out this [long-winded] thread.

Before and after pics: