Pete Townshend appears to have owned at least two, or possibly three Polaris White Gibson SG Specials. This guitar, and another version that is documented in photographs of The Who on stage in Holland, 10th March, 1973, are distinctive because they both have three holes on the body where the tailpiece has been removed - this version has three holes that form a triangle on the body whereas the other version has three holes in a straight line below the bridge.
Photographs taken by Robert Ellis at the Odeon Theatre in Newcastle on 6th November, 1973, the second of three nights in Newcastle during the Fallout Shelter Tour, show Pete Townshend prior to going on stage holding the guitar in this Lot [see photograph above] and photographs from the same night show Townshend on stage with the guitar [see front cover photograph].
The Gibson SG is the model of guitar with which Townshend is most associated. He used this model almost exclusively on stage between 1968-1973. He tended to use SGs dating between 1966-1970, which are identified by their full black wraparound pickguard. Gibson changed the SG's specification in 1971 - according to an interview with Townshend published in Guitar Player magazine, May/June, 1972: ...They took the old SG off the market like about a year ago, so we used up every old SG in the country...I raided every music store in the country practically, looking for old SGs... When supplies of 1966-1970 models began to dry up, he then briefly switched to pre-1966 models with the smaller pickguard such as the guitar in this lot. Subsequently, at the end of 1973, he switched permanently to using a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe.
Townshend often took off the tailpiece and tremolo arm on his Gibson SG guitars as, according to him, the guitars ...were a bit weak, which was the only problem; I could actually break them with my bare hands. But that's when I started to develop that technique because you didn't need a tremolo arm. You could do it by just shaking the guitar...
In the late 1970s, the vendor obtained this guitar from a former employee of The Who who was learing to play, and to whom Townshend had given the guitar in the mid-1970s.