Gibson B.B. King Lucille 65th Anniversary
Gibson Memphis celebrates the 65th birthday of Lucille by releasing a special anniversary model for 2014.
Gibson 50th Anniversary 1963 ES-335
The company calls this guitar "a luxurious take on the ES-355 format tricked out to the tastes of the King of Blues himself".
Interestingly, the first guitar to get the name Lucille was not even an ES-355, but was a Gibson L-30 with a DeArmond pickup. B.B. King bestowed this same name to many of his guitars, the most prominent being the black ES-335 with no f-holes model.
"Lucille" was derived from a woman's name, and it has an interesting story to tell. Since it is Lucille's 65th Anniversary, Gibson allotted a space to tell the story behind the name.
The story goes that Lucille was the cause of a fight between two men at one of B.B.'s gigs. The brawl resulted in flaming liquid spilling onto the venue which eventually burned the building. King was able to save his guitar from the fire and named it after the mysterious woman, a reminder to avoid fights over women and burning buildings.
65 years after the incident, Gibson Memphis releases a new Lucille B.B. King Signature to commemorate the event. Its distinguishing mark is the truss rod cover with gold-engraved "65 years".
The guitar has a semi-hollow body and shape consistent with the ES-355, in case you are wondering the original ES-355 is known for being the premium version of the ES-335, with the block fretboard inlays being its most distinct visual feature. The top and back were made from 3-ply Maple/Basswood/Maple wood, and features multiple binding.
The neck of the guitar is made of mahogany, but its most intriguing part is the Richlite fretboard. This paper-based laminate fretboard is commonly used on affordable guitars, so I was quite surprised to find it on the spec sheet. The only reason I can think of for this type of wood to be on the neck of an expensive guitar is that it may have been a preference of B.B. himself.
The pickups used are the same as the previous version, having a 490R humbucker on the neck and a 490T in the bridge. They are routed to a traditional four-knob control section with a 6-way Varitone switch that provides tonal variety. Another special feature of the guitar is its stereo output.
Wrapping up the features of the guitar are gold plated hardware that include the Tune-o-matic bridge, TP6 Tune Stop Bar Tailpiece and Grover tulip tuners. The new Lucille comes with traditional Ebony finish.
The new B.B. King Signature Lucille has an MSRP of $3,799. Visit Gibson for the complete specifications and other details.
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