Iommi's John Birch Custom SG
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By John Diggins "I was first introduced to Tony back in 1970 when working with John Birch, who was a pioneer of custom made pick-ups making them in such a way that they were mechanically noiseless. In those days Tony used a beautiful Gibson cherry red SG special that had been fitted with some of John’s early pick-ups in the stainless steel covers. It was this guitar that I used as the blueprint for the contours on our own SG. In the following years Tony and I became good friends as I was able to solve some of the niggling intonation problems that he had suffered for many years. He aslo had some of the early prototype John Birch guitars, such as a 24 fret Les Paul shape (pictured) and the first 24 fret black SG with crucifix inlays and stainless steel scratchplate, which he used up until about 1980. I couldn’t make the guitar in John Birches time so I made it at home. It was made on the kitchen table and was completed in about 2 weeks. The lacquer was still soft when it was taken to the US, and it was this factor combined with severe changes in temperature and humidity that caused the paint to crack and flake off, giving the ‘Old Boy’ the well worn look that it has today. The guitar was not given a proper unveiling until I had produced the pick-ups that could deliver the sound that Tony was happy with.The Jaydee ‘Old Boy’ SG has become one of Tony’s favourites and it is still used today.
I grew up listening to Sabbath, and like so many other fans ended up playing the guitar. When I got my first job I knew that I had to get an SG, although a Gibson was far out of my reach. Through the ‘Buy and .
Described by 'Hard Rock' organization as the single most important piece of music history through out their humongous dazzling collection of memorabilia , this historic beautiful cherry red Gibson SG was bought by Tony Iommi sometime around 1966-1967 , Tony Iommi was originally using a white fender strat professionally as viewed on his very short stunt with Jethro Tull on the rolling stone film ‘The Rock N Roll circus’ , during the recording sessions of Black Sabbath’s debut album and after tracking ‘Wicked World’ , the bridge pickup failed and since it was really difficult to get any guitar treatment at time Tony Iommi used this spare Gibson SG 1965 special guitar to finish up recording the rest of the album and ever since became his main instrument on the majority of Sabbath’s early albums and tours. The guitar was used on the Black Sabbath albums ‘Black Sabbath’ , ‘Paranoid’ ,’Master Of Reality’,’Vol.4’ and ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ , it can easily be seen on all early 70’s Sabbath videos specifically on Sabbath’s memorable show at ‘California Jam’ 1974.The guitar which was nicked ‘The Monkey’ guitar due to the distinctive and instantly recognizable monkey guitar on front of the guitar was heavily edited by legendary guitar lutheir Martin Birch , he replaced the neck positioned pickup with a Simplux ( a P90 like single coil pickup) and custom wounded the P90 pick up at the bridge position as well.The guitar was donated by Tony Iommi to ‘Hard Rock Café’ organization as seen on ‘Hard Rock Treasures’ DVD and viewed in the picture gallery of this post .The guitar is currently at New York Times Square Hard Rock.