The Gibson Les Paul Special was first introduced in 1955 to fill the gap between the Les Paul Junior and the Goldtop. The Special's bound fingerboard and pearl logo placed it above the budget Junior model, although it still had dot inlays. The Special’s two pickups gave it all the available tones of the goldtop and of the Custom models.
The Special model survived the change to the SG body shape in early 1961, and continued to occupy the the same niche in the new SG family as it had in the Les Paul family. The Special’s two P-90 pickups were an alternative to humbuckers, and the Special was favoured by guitarists like Carlos Santana (who played both an SG Special and a Les Paul Special) and Pete Townshend (who played an SG Special before switching to Les Paul Deluxes).
In 1962 the Maestro vibrato became available as an option. In 1963 this model was renamed the SG Special.