“A stunning-looking guitar that covers pretty much any musical base”: Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1963 SG Custom review

Epiphone’s collaboration with blues maestro Joe Bonamassa continues unabated, with this sexy take on one of JoBo’s own favourite axes. But is a grand and a half just too grand?

Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1963 SG Custom
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

Whether or not you think the price is on the high side, we have to concede that between them Epiphone and Bonamassa have created a stunning-looking guitar that not only makes a powerful visual statement but also covers pretty much any musical base you can think of.


  • +

    Beautifully built with top-quality materials, electrics and hardware.

  • +

    A stunner that sounds like something costing much more.

  • +

    It is way more versatile than its looks might suggest.

  • +

    A great collaboration.


  • -

    Some will think $/£1.5k for a Chinese-made SG is a bit rich. SGs simply don’t agree with some guitarists.

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    Others find triple-humbucker guitars too much of a challenge.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The first decent electric guitar that this reviewer put his pennies away each week for was a white SG Custom, inspired by Alice Cooper’s original guitarist Glen Buxton on the band’s rendition of Under My Wheels on The Old Grey Whistle Test. The SG never materialised, but that’s another story. 

While Buxton’s Custom was the later 1966 to ’71 style with the large scratchplate, Joe Bonamassa’s own Gibson SG comes from the middle of the 1961 to ’66 era, with the small pickguard and ‘lyre’ engraved long Maestro Vibrola that appeared in ’63, just as the twin-cutaway Les Paul model changed its name to SG. 

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Neville Marten

In the late '70s and early '80s Neville worked for Selmer/Norlin as one of Gibson's UK guitar repairers, before joining CBS/Fender in the same role. He then moved to the fledgling Guitarist magazine as staff writer, rising to editor in 1986. He remained editor for 14 years before launching and editing Guitar Techniques magazine. Although now semi-retired he still works for both magazines. Neville has been a member of Marty Wilde's 'Wildcats' since 1983, and recorded his own album, The Blues Headlines, in 2019.