HENSHAW, OH—With a Cherry Gibson SG nestled in his lap, Dr. Ricky Fromus settles into a chair behind a cluttered desk in his home office. There, Fromus, 36, has spent the better part of a decade researching the Gibson SG, in an effort to prove it unequivocally as the world’s most powerful guitar. Claiming an advanced degree in audio engineering, but declining to mention from where, Fromus works out of a guest house-cum-laboratory situated 40 feet from the home of his parents, with whom he lives.
“I’m closing in on the SG’s secret,” Fromus says, tapping a guitar pick to his lip. “The sleek body, the slender neck profile, the sharp cutaways—aesthetically and functionally the SG is perfect. Conventional wisdom says the SG has the fastest neck in the world, and based on my research, it’s absolutely true. And, relative to its size, there’s nothing out there with greater warmth and bite. But where does all that power come from?”
Fromus has made it his life’s mission to answer that question. His lab, which is jumbled with several gutted SGs, is evidence of this obsession.
Turning to face his computer monitor, Fromus pulls up a YouTube video of an early AC/DC performance. Wailing on an SG, guitarist Angus Young duckwalks across the screen, circa 1974.
“I’ve found that certain guitarists have acquired methods to accentuate the SG’s inherent power,” Fromus says. “Some sort of telepathic communication appears to be involved. Whenever Angus Young duckwalks, the decibel level of his SG rises dramatically. It’s as if the SG understands the duckwalk, and responds accordingly.”
"Whenever Angus Young duckwalks, the decibel level of his SG rises dramatically,”
says Dr. Ricky Fromus. “It’s as if the SG understands the duckwalk, and responds accordingly."
Fromus then searches for another YouTube clip, this one featuring Who guitarist Pete Townshend. “The same is true of the windmill motion employed by Townshend,” Fromus says, gesturing wildly. “I’ve studied the early live footage. Townshend’s SG, when ‘windmilled,’ responds with an explosive power that can’t be explained merely by the force with which the strings are struck. More study is required, in that regard.”
Excitedly, Fromus explains that early in his research, he conducted one of his most important experiments to date. He fitted himself with electrodes designed to measure changes in vital signs, while he played his SG.
“When I’d hit the high notes, my body temperature and pulse rate rose dramatically,” he recalls, recoiling slightly at the memory. “It was bizarre. It was as though I was intoxicated.”
Today, Fromus feels compelled to forewarn guitarists to approach the instrument with proper respect, saying, “After so many years of research, the SG still eludes me. But I’m sure of one thing—this instrument packs more power per square inch than any other electric guitar. I can prove it.”
Gibson SG Standard