What’s Better: Fender Stratocaster or Gibson SG?

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

Two of the best and most reputable guitars on the market are the Gibson SG and the Fender Stratocaster. Musicians prefer both these guitars because of their ability to produce a sound that is ideal for any musical style you can imagine. Although both guitars have identical body designs and are equally versatile, the key distinctions between them can be boiled down to their tones, playability, and designs. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the characteristics, features, and reputation of the Gibson SG and the Fender Stratocaster so that you can pick the guitar that best suits your preferences and playing style.

Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster

Facts About The Fender Stratocaster

You might be surprised to learn that the Stratocaster wasn’t initially Fender’s most popular electric guitar. Instead, it was the Fender Broadcaster, which was later on quickly relaunched as the Telecaster. 

In 1954, the Stratocaster made its debut as a stylish and futuristic guitar. Its capability to move around three different pickups and an incredible vibrato arm referred to as a Tremolo made it convenient for guitarists to play. The Stratocaster’s rigid body construction resolved the negative criticism guitarists have regarding previous Fender electric guitars that feature a hollow and semi-hollow body. Despite improvements in materials, design, and features throughout the years, the Stratocaster nevertheless upholds its reputable history. Owing to its simplicity, usability, and convenience of setup, it has established a reputation as one of the most durable and best electric guitars available.

Stratocaster’s Major Features:

The Fender Stratocaster has various series and models, but here are some of its general features:

  • Player series pickups specifically made for Fender’s genuine tone 
  • Twenty-two (22) fret neck
  • Two (2) point tremolo bridge
  • Traditional classic body radii 
  • Tone control for the bridge pickup
  • Fender stamped neck plate

Stratocaster Specifications

The Fender Stratocaster has various series and models, but here are some of its specifications that generally apply to all its models. 

MaterialAlder, Ash
FinishGloss Polyester
ShapeModern C-shape: Stratocaster Modern and PerformerClassic C-shape: Stratocaster ClassicModern Deep C-shape: Stratocaster AcoustasonicThin C-shape: Stratocaster HMModern D-shape: Stratocaster American UltraSoft V-Shape: Stratocaster Vintera 50s and Stratocaster American Original 50s
FinishSatin Urethane Finish (Back) and Gloss Urethane Finish (Front
Fingerboard MaterialMaple or Rosewood
Scale Length25.5 inches or 64.77 milimeters
Fingerboard Radius17 inches (Stratocaster HM) to 7.25 inches (Vintera 50s)
Number of Frets21 frets: Stratocaster American Original, SRV, and Vintera 50s 22 frets: Stratocaster Player, Ultr, Acoustasonic, Performer24 frets: Stratocaster HM
Fret SizeTall Vintage-Style frets: Stratocaster American Original 50sMedium Jumbo frets: Stratocaster Ultra and VenterJumbo frets: Stratocaster Performer, SRV, and HM 
HeadstockStreamlined Headstock or CBS-era headstock 
Nut MaterialSynthetic bone
SwitchingClassic 5-way selector switch
Bridge PickupPlayer Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil (Stratocaster Player)Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat (Stratocaster American Ultra)Fireball Humbucking (Stratocaster Player Plus)6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo (Stratocaster American Performer)V-Mod II Single-Coil Strat (Stratocaster American Professional II)
Additional PickupsS-1 switch (Stratocaster American Ultra)Greasebucket Tone Circuit (Stratocaster American Performer)
BridgeFender Synchronized Tremolo

Famous And Successful Players Who Use Stratocasters:

Stratocaster’s Sound

Generally, Fender Stratocasters are without a doubt fantastic and versatile electric guitars. By adjusting its 5-way switch, it controls its three single coil pickups and enables its players to instantly use a wide range of sounds. The well-known guitarists mentioned above used the Stratocaster’s tonal pallet during their performances because of the instrument’s exceptional sounds, which go well with all musical genres. 

In fact, even those who are unfamiliar with guitars are likely to recognize the Stratocaster’s pickup placements. The bridge pickup is often used for recordings with a bright, crunchy, classic rock sound; the neck pickup is typically used for recordings with a focus on round, glassy tones; and the middle pickup is commonly used for blues and country songs. 

Despite the amazing sound of the three single-coil pickups, guitarists who play harder styles like metal and hard rock usually prefer playing Stratocasters with humbuckers. These guitars have a bridge that is perfect for producing the broad and aggressive tones that these genres demand.

Gibson SG

Gibson SG Sitting On Guitar Stand

Facts About The Gibson SG

The legendary and timeless Fender Stratocaster is believed to be responsible for the success of the Gibson SG, which stands for “Solid Guitar.” Gibson SG was initially produced as the Gibson Les Paul, which was launched in 1952. However, it failed to compete with the Fender Stratocaster in terms of sales and popularity. This was mainly due to the Stratocaster’s lightweight design and versatility, which were much preferred then.

The company was left with no choice but to redesign the Les Paul – now Gibson SG, so they could compete with the Stratocaster. From rounded and thinner double-cutaway designs, it transitioned into the straightforward-cutaway body that we know of now. This was of course favored by many guitarists because it makes the fret access convenient. Les Paul himself, however, disapproved of this design and even asked Gibson to remove his name from the model. 

Because of this, Gibson changed the name of their Les Paul guitar to SG, short for Solid Guitar. With these modifications, the Gibson SG began to gain recognition and was appreciated by musicians. Following its success, Gibson began to work on a single-cutaway version of the SG, which was given the name Les Paul. 

Nowadays, along with the Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster, the Gibson SG is also widely recognized as a dependable and spectacular performing electric guitar.

Gibson SG Specifications

The Gibson SF has various series and models, but here are some of its specifications that generally apply to all its models.

ShapeSolid Guitar (SG)
FinishGloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer
ShapeRounded: SG Standard, SG Standard Bass, SG TributeSlim Taper: SG special, SG Junior, Standard ‘61, Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola,  Standard ’61 Sideways VibrolaAsymmetrical Slim Tapered: SG Modern
Fingerboard MaterialMahogany or Rosewood
Scale Length24.75 inches or 628.55 Millimeters
Fingerboard Radius12 inches or 304.8 Millimeters, except for SG modern that is -0.039 inches or -1.0 Millimeters 
Number of Frets20 frets: SG Standard Bass22 frets: SG Special, SG Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola, SG Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola, SG Standard ’61, SG Junior24 frets: SG Modern
Fret SizeMedium Jumbo
Nut MaterialGraph Tech
Switching3-way Toggle (SG Special)
Bridge PickupP-90: SG SpecialBurstbucker 61T and 61R: Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola,  Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola, Standard ’61P-90 Dog Ear: SG JuniorLead SG Bass and Rhythm SG Bass: SG Standard BassBurstbucker Pro Lead + and Burstbucker Pro Rhythm: SG Modern
Controls2 Volume, 2 Tone, Hand-wired with Orange Drop Capacitors: SG Special2 Volumes, 2 Tones & Toggle Switch, Hand-wired with Orange Drop Capacitors: Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola,  Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola, Standard ’611 Volume, 1 Tone, Hand-wired with Orange Drop Capacitors: SG Junior2 Volumes & 1 Master Tone: SG Standard Bass2 Push/Pull Volumes (Coil-Tap), 2 Tones & Toggle Switch: SG Modern
BridgeCompensated Wraparound: SG Special, SG JuniorABR-1 Tune-O-Matic: Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola,  Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola, Standard ’613-Point Adjustable: SG Standard BassNashville Tune-O-Matic: SG Modern 

Famous and Successful Players Who Use Gibson SG:

  • Angus Young
  • Tony Iommi
  • Derek Trucks
  • Pete Townshend
  • Frank Zappa
  • Dickey Betts
  • Samantha Fish
  • Frank Marino
  • Gary Rossington
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Gibson SG Sound

Due to the influence of well-known guitarists like Angus Young and Tony Lommi, the majority of the contemporary metal community has opted to play with the Gibson SG Special. The ability to produce solid and aggressive sounds and the ease with which it can be maneuvered are two of the key strengths the SG has over its close relative, the Les Paul. 

The Gibson SG is a sensible choice for guitarists who enjoy playing jazz, rock, and heavy metal, but you may use it to play any genre of music you like. The tonewoods and the pickups used are primarily responsible for the main acoustic differences between the Stratocaster and SG sounds.

The Gibson SG provides richer and deeper sounds because it uses mahogany wood and humbuckers in its body rather than the three single-coil pickups. On the other hand, despite having a humbucker, the alder frame and maple neck of the Stratocaster limit it from producing tones of the same depth as a Gibson SG.

Main Comparison Between The Fender Stratocaster and Gibson SG

Here is a side-by-side comparison of Fender’s Stratocaster and Gibson’s SG in terms of the instrument’s neck, body, electronics, and hardware. 

Electric GuitarBody StyleBody MaterialBody FinishBody Structure
Fender StratocasterDouble Cutaway (Contoured Body)Alder or AshGloss PolyesterNot Symmetrical
Gibson SGDouble Cutaway (Flat Body)MahoganyGloss Nitrocellulose LacquerSymmetrical
Electric GuitarNeck ConstructionNeck MaterialFingerboard MaterialScale Length
Fender StratocasterBolt-onMapleMaple or Rosewood25.5 in or 647.7 mm
Gibson SGSet and GluedMahoganyMahogany or Rosewood24.75 in or 628.5 mm
Electric GuitarSwitchingPickupsControls
Fender StratocasterClassic 5-way selector switchPlayer Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil (Stratocaster Player)
 Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat (Stratocaster American Ultra)
 Fireball Humbucking (Stratocaster Player Plus)
 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo (Stratocaster American Performer)
V-Mod II Single-Coil Strat (Stratocaster American Professional II)
S-1 switch (Stratocaster American Ultra)
Greasebucket Tone Circuit (Stratocaster American Performer)
Gibson SG3-way Toggle (SG Special)P-90 (SG Special)
Burstbucker 61T and 61R (Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola,  Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola, Standard ’61)
P-90 Dog Ear (SG Junior)
Lead SG Bass and Rhythm SG Bass (SG Standard Bass)
 Burstbucker Pro Lead + and Burstbucker Pro Rhythm (SG Modern)
2 Volume, 2 Tone, Hand-wired with Orange Drop Capacitors (SG Special)
2 Volumes, 2 Tones & Toggle Switch, Hand-wired with Orange Drop Capacitors (Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola,  Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola, Standard ’61)
1 Volume, 1 Tone,Hand-wired with Orange Drop Capacitors (SG Junior)
 2 Volumes & 1 Master Tone (SG Standard Bass)
 2 Push/Pull Volumes (Coil-Tap), 2 Tones & Toggle Switch (SG Modern)
Electric GuitarBridge
Fender StratocasterFender Synchronized Tremolo
Gibson SGCompensated Wraparound (SG Special, SG Junior)
ABR-1 Tune-O-Matic (Standard ’61 Maestro Vibrola,  Standard ’61 Sideways Vibrola, Standard ’61)
3-Point Adjustable (SG Standard Bass)
Nashville Tune-O-Matic (SG Modern) 

Fender Stratocaster or Gibson SG: The Ideal Guitar For Specific Genres


The Fender Stratocaster is a superior guitar to use for playing blues than the Gibson SG, mainly because every pickup position on the Stratocaster is appropriate for blues music. 

Although the Gibson SG is capable of playing blues, the Stratocaster just so happens to be better suited for the job.


In terms of jazz, the Gibson SG is superior to the Stratocaster. Jazz is played flawlessly thanks to SG’s round neck pick-up and richer tones. Both instruments can play jazz very well, but the SG is more favored.

Classic Rock

Compared to the Stratocaster, the Gibson SG is more suited for playing Classic rock. Due to its bridge’s thick and crunchy bridge design, it can produce the deeper and fuller tones essential for this genre.


The Gibson SG and Fender Stratocaster are both excellent instruments for playing country music. The player’s comfort and preference are what matters in this musical genre.

Hard Rock

The Fender Stratocaster is the superior guitar to select for Hard Rock music.

This genre calls for a great humbucker in the bridge position, a convenient neck, and a Floyd Rose Tremolo, all of which a Stratocaster possesses.


Both the Stratocaster and SG will be ideal guitar models for Metal songs. However, professional musicians favor the Stratocaster for lead roles and the SG for rhythm roles, based on the qualities and specifications of both guitars.


Choosing between the Gibson SG and the Fender Stratocaster is genuinely challenging. Even experienced guitarists find it difficult to decide definitively as to which electric guitar is far superior to its competitors. 

Instruments, in general, cannot offer everything, and each has unique benefits and drawbacks that contribute to the product’s uniqueness. Both the Gibson SG and the Fender Stratocaster are exceptional instruments that have a strong reputation in the industry. The decision all comes down based on the player’s preferences and specialized genre. 

The Stratocaster is ideal for playing cleaner tones since it produces sounds that are crisper and brighter than the SG’s. The Gibson SG, on the other hand, produces warmer tones, which makes it perfect for playing rock and metal genres. 

Overall, both guitars are unquestionably top-notch and capable of playing any style. Therefore, choosing between either the Fender Stratocaster or Gibson SG is surely a win-win situation.