Red Gibson SG (Monkey)

This is the original SG that was used on the majority of the original line-up albums and tours. It has been identified by Gibson as a 1965 SG Special. It has a Gibson P90 pick up in the bridge position that was fitted into a metal case by John Birch. The neck pick up is a John Birch custom P90 type single coil. The finger board is finished with clear polyurethane.

Instantly identified by the cartoon monkey sticker, this guitar became the main instrument when the bridge pick up on Tony’s white Stratocaster failed after the band recorded ‘Wicked World’ on the ‘Black Sabbath’ album. It was not, however, without its problems. Due to the thin neck profile at the heel, there were always tuning stability problems and the single coil pick ups were always susceptible to picking up interference.

The guitar was donated by Tony to the Hard Rock Café organisation (as seen in their documentary ‘Hard Rock Treasures’). At the time of writing it is on display at the Times Square location in New York City.

4ba3991e7a136 4ba3993009c51 4ba39940975f2


  1. The best sounding guitar I’ve ever heard, especially live! The song, A National Acrobat, contains growling, throaty guitar chords unlike any that come out of guitars equipped with humbuckers having massive gain. How can a P-90 become a sawtooth or a square wave generator and sound so good? Then there is the Straightener instrumental at the end of Wheels of Confusion…. Thank you!

    • What the heck…P-90 is the best sounding pic-up. Flexible “musically” etc.
      But the contex must be right. The right guitar, musician etc. Look how Keith Richards change Tele many times to Les Paul Junior with P-90!

      • P90’s are the king of all guitar tones, it’s what also underpins Leslie West (Nantucket sleighride, Tired Angels, Mississippi Queen) and Tom Scholz (More Than A Feeling, Feelin Satisfied) guitar tones.

  2. This is the reason I stopped using humbuckers and went to single coils. And for my style of music that I perform most guitarist look at me and shake their heads…….that is until that hear the ferocious sound that comes out. All thanks to Tony

  3. One of my Favorites! This guitar set me off on the P90 path, thanks Tony and Happy Birthday! From Spirex

  4. Would someone please…tell us all, where/when/why the monkey sticker happened? Did he put it there? And…why in God’s name he left something so hideously ugly and stupid on His personal guitar! I’d have cut that off with a butter knife if I’d owned it; no matter the damage!

  5. What is the name of the pickup is used on the SG on Loner? It had 18 screws on the bridge pickup…

    • The pickups in that guitar is a pair Jaydee Old Boy pickups. I built that guitar from Tony

    • Looks to me like one of John Birch’s pickups….

  6. I have just got one of these except mine is a 1964. Absolutely love this guitar!

  7. the best sounding guitar..

  8. Hello Tony, I wanna thank you for everything you’ve done to the Music, I love black sabbath, I’ve got a Sg and I’m making some modifications on it so it can looks and sounds more like Monkey Sg, and I gonna take your music to everyone till the day I die. Thank you so much from a great fan in Brazil.

  9. When looking at the photos of Tony from ’72-73, the pickups on his “Monkey” SG are not what you see in later years…eg: John Birch’s neck pickup with 9 screws.. The earlier pickups only have 6 screws and are slightly smaller, more crude looking. You can clearly see the neck pickup in the inner gatefold of Vol 4 album. Would love to know the story on those. Thanks!!

    • @Peter Stroud
      Yes exactly. I’ve been yelling from the mountain tops to tell people that the simplex and P90 positions were reversed up to at least the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath tour to no effect. It’s funny the tone everyone is chasing is from the 1970 to 1974 era and despite all the money people pay to get it, they didn’t count the pole pieces….

  10. Managed to get #8 Left Handed Gibson custom shop model. Looks stunning, sadly I’m right handed but its a collectors piece.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>