Fender Stratocaster VS Gibson SG (Comparison)
Our pick: The Gibson SG, but it depends...
While we personally like the Gibson SG a little better than the Fender Stratocaster (the SG is a little more versatile, in our opinion), this comparison depends almost entirely on your preferences and style as a guitar player. In short, the Stratocaster is better for lighter playing styles and lead (think blues and light rock), while the SG is better for rhythm and heavier musical styles.
When comparing a Fender Stratocaster VS Gibson SG, it's important to remember that there are multiple versions of each guitar. Particularly with the Stratocaster, you have a wide range of models and quality tiers that can go above or beyond your typical Gibson SG.
Read more: Best Fender Stratocasters
For our comparison, we've chosen the Gibson SG Standard and the Fender American Professional Stratocaster (version 2).
Both these guitars are similar in terms of quality tiers, and both retail for approximately the same price.
And while there are some obvious differences like the pickup arrangement (single coils VS humbuckers) there are some subtle stylistic differences as well.
Use our comparison tool below to get a feel for the main spec differences between the two guitars, then we'll go into more detail about each one.
Fender Stratocaster VS Gibson SG Comparison Tool
Fender American Strat
Gibson SG Standard
Aside from specs, there's the issue of style between the two guitars. Stratocasters, by design, are better for lead guitar while Gibson SGs are typically viewed as a rhythm/lead hybrid, or just more rhythm. When you're comparing these types of guitars, it's important to understand the differences between single coil pickups and humbuckers, namely the following:
- Gibson SG Standard Humbuckers: Heavier, built for rhythm and thicker tone profiles
- Fender Stratocaster Single Coils: Lighter, built for lead and brighter tone profiles
This simple distinction explains a lot of the general differences between the two guitars.
But what about the finer details of each one?
Fender Stratocaster American Professional
Stratocasters use a tremolo bridge and - in the case of the American Pro Strat - a Fender-brand single coil V-mod pickup set. Together, this gives the guitar a distinctly lead-focused set of tools, ideal for brighter tones, high-register fretboard playing, and bluesier playing styles.
While it can still function as a rhythm guitar, it's typically not known for that style.
In most cases, people who go with a Stratocaster are more focused on lead playing styles or at least appreciate the brighter tones and chirpier sounds a Stratocaster provides.
It produces a far less menacing tone that favors the higher end of the EQ and will make it harder to get those heavier, bass-leaning tones that you get from guitars equipped with humbuckers or active pickups. That's why Stratocasters tend to be bad fits for metal and heavier playing styles.
Gibson SG Standard
The humbuckers and stoptail bridge on the SG Standard make it far less about lead guitar and more about heavy chord progressions and percussive riffs. We'd also consider the SG more of a vintage or classic rock-focused instrument, where the Stratocaster tends to be a bit more versatile.
Guitarists who gravitate towards the SG are typically into the classic rock style, and play more of a hybrid between rhythm and lead.
The humbuckers combined with the Gibson body design give it the ability to hang somewhat in both camps.
The differences between the American Strat and SG Standard are entirely a matter of preference, and not an issue of quality concerns with either guitar. Think in these terms when comparing the two:
- Musical style: Classic rock/blues/versatility
- Playing style: Lead/rhythm/hybrid
It's a question of whether you like the lead-focused features of the Stratocaster, or if you want something more balanced like we get with the SG Standard. From there, we'd recommend playing both for yourself and trying them out before you buy. The body styles feel different and you might be more physically comfortable with one over the other.
If you have questions about either of these guitars, or about our Fender Stratocaster VS Gibson SG comparison, feel free to drop them in the comments section below and we'll help out as much as possible.