Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar Review – 2021 Guide

Craig
| Last Updated: January 20, 2021

Gibson always had the interest to recreate original models that made them become what they are today. Besides legendary Les Paul, there is another model that seems to have a bit of underdog status - the SG Standard. 

You probably heard about it, but, did you know that Gibson had its tremolo bridge system as well? No? Well, it’s because it couldn’t keep up with Fender stability.

Anyway, if you’re looking for collector’s items, stay with us and find out a bit more about SG Standard ‘61 Maestro.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Double cutaway body for better neck reach
  • Long 22-fret and taper neck design
  • Burstbucker Gibson pickups is included with the guitar
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PROS

  • Vintage sound
  • Hardshell case included 
  • Unique Maestro vibrato tailpiece installed
  • Gibson Custom shop made in the USA craftsmanship 

CONS

  • Limited color finish
  • No coil-splitting installed
  • A bit expensive for most users

Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar Specs 

Type of Guitar: Electric Guitar

Body Size and Type: Double cutaway solid body, 1961 SG body type

Number of Strings: 6-string model

Tonewood: All Mahogany with Gloss finish

Orientation: Available only for right-hand players

Neck Profile: 1960 Slim Taper profile with set-in joint and 43mm wide GraphTech NuBone nut

Fretboard: Rosewood with Acrylic Trapezoid inlay and 22 Medium jumbo frets 

Scale Length: 24.75 inches 

Bridge: Tremolo ABR-1 bridge system with Maestro Vibrola tailpiece

Color: Cherry Red

Pickup Type: Dual HH setup with BurstBucker 61R on the neck and 61T on the bridge

Weight: 9 lbs

Pros

Here are the positives of this guitar.

Gibson Custom Shop Made in the USA Craftsmanship 

Gibson guitars have a premium quality craftsmanship as they are being produced in Gibson Custom Shop in Memphis, USA. While there is nothing wrong with the overseas models in terms of build quality, Gibson USA guitars were always considered as the Holy Grail and the same is multiplied by the rarity of the SG Standard ‘61 Maestro model.

This guitar comes not just with the unique 1964 Maestro Vibrola tremolo system, but it’s also a true and faithful replica of the original 1961 SG Standard.

Vintage Sound

Humbuckers installed on this SG Standard model are made upon original humbuckers made in 1961 so you’re getting as vintage as possible. It will sound more pleasant and warm, some may relate to such a sound as fat and round. But anyway, it’s one of those sounds that can blend into any mix without causing havoc. 

Unique Maestro Vibrato Tailpiece Installed

It’s rare to find a Gibson guitar with the vibrato tailpiece and Maestro is the word you will need to find if you feel interested.

Hardshell Case Included 

Yes, Gibson guitars are expensive. But you may forget that those guitars usually come with a hardshell case provided in black and brown color. Just like with the guitars, those cases are premium quality and come with 4 heavy-duty latches and with the key for the center latch, so you can be sure your guitar is stored in a safe and secure place.

Cons

This guitar has some drawbacks too including:

A Bit Expensive For Most Users

Gibson is unfortunately well-known for a specific flaw - they tend to overprice their products. 

Sure, they have the unprecedented build quality and especially quality control, but the end-users have that bittersweet feeling when they aren’t not getting the quality that matches the price that often.

No Coil-splitting Installed

It feels like a let down not to provide a coil-splitting option for those premium pickups. It would significantly improve this guitar and the price tag would be justified with so much more content than by its rarity and appearance.

Limited Color Finish

Unfortunately, this guitar comes with only one color finish. Yes, it is beautiful, but we would like to see some options here as we can’t deny that it looks simply gorgeous. White or all-black models would be very nice to match with this chrome Vibrola plate instead of a stop bar tailpiece.

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers describe the vibe that resonates around this guitar as everything you would ever want from Gibson. There is no vintage guitar player who didn’t fall in love with the tailpiece design and those who had a chance to see both guitars in person say it looks pretty much like the original guitar model from 1961 and there are reports that comment it has even a bit better playability.

But on the other hand, it shares the flaws the original design had as well so better be sure you want this guitar.

More experienced users explain that Vibrola was a Gibson replacement for the vibrato that didn’t turn out so well back in those days. And while it feels improved, it seems that it still has that tuning problem when put under extreme usage of vibrato bar and may require a different bridge system type.

What Are The Components of the Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar?

This guitar has a standard SG body shape with a double-cutaway made and a small black pickguard beneath the strings. The body is made from the nitro-finished solid Mahogany body along with Mahogany neck with set-in joint, 1960 Slim Taper profile, and standard 43mm wide GraphTech NuBone nut. The fingerboard is made of Rosewood with standard Acrylic Trapezoid inlays, 22 Medium Jumbo frets, and a 12-inch radius. The scale length is 24-75 inches and the headstock has vintage-style Nickel tuning machines and a standard Truss Rod cover.

What Type of Bridge Does Gibson Maestro Guitar Have?

Gibson Maestro comes with an ABR-1 tremolo/vibrato bridge system with Maestro Vibrola tailpiece with nickel finish.

What Kind of Pickups Are in the Gibson Maestro Guitars?

Gibson Maestro pickups are passive vintage dual humbuckers made upon original 1961 models named Gibson Burstbucker 61R for the neck position and BurstBucker 61T for the bridge position. It comes with typical individual volume and tone control for both pickups and a standard 3-way switch placed beneath the strings.

What Kind of Strings Come With a Gibson Maestro Guitar?

This guitar comes with the Gibson unbranded stock strings made by D’Addario with 0.010" - 0.046" string gauges.

Where Are Gibson Maestro Guitars Made?

The Gibson Maestro is made in Gibson Custom Shop in Memphis, USA.

When Did Gibson Start Making Maestro Guitars?

Maestro usually refers to the tremolo system, the one that may resemble Bigsby style tremolo. But it’s because the reason why this model carries the number “61” is that the SG body shape is from 1961. Originally that guitar came with a bit different tremolo bridge system, though. 

When Did Gibson Use the Maestro Vibrola on an SG?

Gibson SG guitars used this type of tremolo for the first time in 1964. Later on, they ditched it and continued experimenting until they eventually completely got rid of it.

What Makes the Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar Stand Out From the Competition?

Gibson guitars are not so famous for having a vibrato, so, this may be a quite interesting model for those who never even knew this brand had models with such a feature. 

And it’s not just about vibrato, the whole tailpiece gives this instrument a wonderful vintage appearance so it will look gorgeous on any stage.

So, the pickups are premium, the whole body design is true to the original SG Standard ‘61 model and craftsmanship is second to none just like with any Gibson made in the USA so it is a true showcase of how excellent Gibson guitars may be.

Comparison Overview

Let us compare SG Standard ‘61 Maestro with other corresponding guitars from the Gibson:

Photo Credit: Guitar.com

Gibson Les Paul vs SG Standard '61 Maestro

Soundwise, Gibson Les Paul usually comes with the Maple top instead of having all Mahogany bodies like SG. Except for Les Paul Custom and Special, of course. 

The rest of the physical differences correspond to the differences between all Les Pauls and SGs. There is a double-cutaway on SG Standard and a single-cutaway body shape on every Les Paul, the pickup position is on the bottom instead of upright. And there is the elephant in the room - the Maestro tremolo system missing from Les Paul.

In general, when you think of Gibson, you think of Les Paul sound. The Maple top generates that typical Gibson tone everyone loves. As for SG Standard, well… Think of AC/DC instead. This guitar made Angus Young's career.

Gibson SG vs Gibson Maestro

When you find a shortcut saying Gibson Maestro, they are probably referring to our SG Standard ‘61 Maestro model.  And this guitar belongs to a higher price tier than Gibson SG. Maestro is twice as expensive.

So, besides rarity, is there any significant difference? Well, besides more cosmetic than practical Maestro tremolo, there is one important difference - pickups are different.

Gibson SG comes with 490T and 490R humbuckers while the Maestro version is equipped with BurstBucker 61R and 61T. These pickups will generate a bit more vintage and authentic sound.

Unless you’re interested in collecting rare models, we don’t see any reason why you should pick Gibson Maestro over the Gibson SG Standard.

Photo Credit: Reverb.com

Fender Stratocaster vs Gibson Maestro

Fender Stratocaster is a legendary guitar that defined the world of guitars. If you would take a look you would think that Gibson Maestro should be Gibson try to compete with Fender and you wouldn’t be very far from the truth. Unfortunately, the Fender tremolo bar is much more versatile than Vibrola that Gibson Maestro has.

And we can say something similar soundwise, too. Stratocaster comes with a triple single coil pickup system that might be a bit more thin and noisy as it’s a single coil setup, but it’s simply capable of much larger tone versatility than Gibson Maestro’s dual HH configuration.

So, unless you’re a true Gibson collector, between those two models, Fender Stratocaster seems to be a better and more reliable overall choice.

Conclusion

This guitar won’t be the one you’re going to play everyday, but it’s going to be one hell of a collector's item and a beautiful model to appear in any video. Also, if you need for any kind of vintage rhythm sound, you may find the humbuckers installed on this model ideal for such call.

People Also Ask

Now that you know a bit more about Maestro guitars, let’s break down some mysteries about tremolo, whammy and vibrato terminology and also explain a

Is Tremolo a Whammy Bar?

Well, at one point someone made a complete mess about these terms and it became a standard.

Yes, the whammy bar is a tremolo bar in general. But, here’s the catch, the effect that tremolo bar produce is a vibrato, not a tremolo. Applying pressure on the bar causes the pitch change. This effect is called vibrato, not a tremolo

Photo Credit: Guitare-Tablature.fr

What is Vibrola?

Vibrola is a name that Gibson decided to give for all vibrato tailpieces under the Maestro series. It works the same way as Bigsby but it was Gibson's way to cut their costs as they could make it instead of buying it. They originated from ES-335 and SG series first.

What is a Humbucker Pickup?

The humbucker is a pickup invented by Gibson. Its name derives from the feature that’s occurring only in dual-coil pickups, also known as “to buck the hum”. Coils in both pickups are aligned slightly out of phase so when the phase cancellation initiates instead both coils are adding a portion of the sound and the rest of the “hum” noise is canceled.  

Is the Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar Hard to Play?

Gibson Maestro isn’t any harder to play than any other Gibson SG Standard guitar. It’s just that you have to be a bit more careful with applying pressure on Vibrola than you would with the typical tremolo bridge system.

How to Care for a Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar Guitar

Cleaning strings after each play is something that should become the routine for every guitar you have. Same goes for storing a guitar into 

Where is the Serial Number on a Gibson Maestro

On the back side of your headstock, close to the top, you can locate a serial number. This serial number can be used to find out a bit more about your instrument, so feel free to type the number you’ve found on the site.

Photo Credit: JediStar.com

How Much is a Gibson Maestro Worth?

Based on the fact if we are talking about Gibson or Gibson Custom models, the Maestro series can range from $2,000 for the SG Standard ‘61 Maestro up to stunning $6,700 for the Les Paul SG Custom 3-Pickup Reissue. There are also Firebird and Flying V Maestro guitars as well.

What Types of Music is the Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar Best For?

As this guitar belongs to the SG series, it will suit all kinds of music that shares the rock origins in general - hard rock, heavy metal, punk, prog rock. But, we don’t see why it wouldn’t work well for any pop song that asks for a guitar and even some modern rock music.

What Ages and Skill Levels is the Gibson Maestro Electric Guitar Suitable For?

While this guitar is suitable for users of all skills, because of its price, probably only advanced and adult players will afford it. Vibrola isn’t so familiar with keeping the guitar in tune so you have to be extra careful with it. It might be a bit heavy and bulky for children and teenagers though.

Craig

Hi there, my name is Craig. I took over Gear Savvy in mid-2019 and have had a blast writing content about music ever since. My role here is to steer the ship and ensure readers have the best information available for learning a thing or two. When I’m not working on content, I’m a husband and a dad. I enjoy spending time with my family, playing guitar, or messing around in my woodshop.