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The Legacy of B.B. King & Lucille
His main squeeze "Lucille”, widely known as a f-hole-less Gibson ES-355, is now a legendary axe that has been reissued under both Gibson & Epiphone monikers. However, King has bestowed every one of his guitars with the Lucille name ever since he rescued his Gibson L-30 from a fiery inferno that was started by two men at the club fighting over the same woman. That woman's name—you guessed it—Lucille.
The seductress herself, Lucille.
Lucille has become one of the most famous instruments ever (if not THE most famous) but in the early days you would most likely find B.B. King in the studio playing a Fender Esquire or Telecaster.
The man himself!
Although B.B. used this guitar during the early 1950’s, a few years later he switched back to using semi-hollow Gibson guitars exclusively. It’s rumored that he continued to use this Esquire in the studio for a few recordings, but he stopped appearing with it publicly live and in promo photos by 1952.
King may've switched back to Gibson guitars but he would continue to use Fender amps almost exclusively in the '60s and onward. Most often you'd see him onstage with a Fender Super Reverb or the classic Twin Reverb. Although Fender tube amps tend to have that quintessential blues tone, B.B. was often spotted with a Solid-State Lab Series L5 amp which he would go on to give to fellow bluesman Eric Clapton in the '70s.
FENDER VINTAGE REISSUE '65 TWIN REVERB
FENDER SUPER REVERB-AMP 4X10" COMBO 1967
BUT WHAT ABOUT LUCILLE?
Gibson produced the B.B. King Standard model from 1980-1985 while Epiphone has marketed a low-cost foreign-made option of the famous Lucille model. In 1999, Gibson launched the Little Lucille, a version of the Blueshawk guitar with a Tune-o-matic bridge and a TP-6 stoptail (the same that is found on today's Lucille models).
No matter which "Lucille" is your favorite there's no denying the legacy this guitar has left behind. It would be nothing without the man behind the axe. One reason this is a brief history of B.B. King's gear is that he didn't overcomplicate things. He stuck with the gear he loved and continued to use it until he passed away in 2015. We will always appreciate the blues and B.B. was truly the king of the blues.
While the guitars from the Murphy Labs at Gibson Custom Shop now showcase Tom Murphy’s work in developing the painting and aging techniques Gibson Guitars uses to replicate the finishes...Read more