Gibson Sonex

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Gibson Sonex
Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe under repairing.jpg
Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe (under repair).
Manufacturer Gibson
Period 1980–1984
Body type Solid
Neck joint Bolt-on neck
Scale 24.75"
Body Resonwood
Neck Maple
Fretboard Rosewood
Bridge tune-o-matic adjustable
Pickup(s) Zebra Humbuckers
Colors available
Offwhite, Silver, Candy Apple (Red), Ebony (Black)

The Sonex guitars were a range of budget Gibson electric guitars launched in 1980. They were made from a material called Resonwood, and manufactured with Multi-phonic body construction. There were four models: Deluxe, Standard, Custom and Artist.

They replaced the Marauder and S-1 guitars. Like these two instruments, the Sonex took its styling from the Les Paul guitars that had been popular for the previous decades, but using Resonwood instead of mahogany, bolt-on necks instead of set (glued-in) necks, and far less ornamentation.

  • Note: "The Sonex Multi-phonic™ body is composed of Resonwood surrounding an inner tone wood core. The tone wood core not only acts as the anchor point for the neck, it also adds acoustic resonance and exceptional body resilience. The Sonex body is so resilient, that its structural properties survived extreme testing in temperatures ranging from −40 °F to 180 °F."

Thus, the Resonwood was a coating used on a solid, usually mahogany body.

At its launch in mid 1980, the Sonex 180 Deluxe cost $299 which was Gibson's cheapest instrument. The Standard was $375, Custom $449.

There were four guitar models to choose from in the Sonex Series, all with the Gibson single cutaway design. The Sonex-180 Deluxe featured a rosewood, dot inlaid fingerboard and adjustable exposed Zebra Dirty Fingers Humbuckers. All came With a three-position pick-up selector switch, Tune-0-Matic Bridge', stop bar tailpiece and volume/tone control speed knobs.NOTE: The Sonex Deluxe, the lowest price model, used Velvet Brick humbucker pickups, not Dirty Fingers. The Bricks were designed by Bill Lawrence, working for Gibson. They feature a unique steel mounting plate on the back of the pickup that differs from ALL other Gibson pickups, and has 2 height adjustment screws on one side and one on the other side. They are also black and cream coils, although some were made with the neck pickup in a single color.

In 1981, the Standard was dropped, replaced by the Artist series which was priced at $749. By 1982 the Custom had been discontinued. By 1984 only the Deluxe was left priced at $419.

The Standard and Custom models featured the same Dirty Fingers pickups with a coil tap switch. The Custom has a three-piece maple neck and ebony fingerboard. The Custom was available in white finish, as well as ebony.

The most common finishes were (in order): ebony, white, burgundy, silverburst and solid-color silver. Less than 100 (by factory record) solid-color silver units were produced, making it the rarest of the Sonex models.

Notable users of the Sonex included Allan Harper of the Limitations, ca 1987-1990 who played the Sonex through a Gallien Kruger aluminum cone combo to achieve a trademark tone.

Notable users of the Sonex included Allan Harper of the Limit, ca 1987-1990.