In the history of all music, there has never been a guitar associated with one musician quite like blues legend B.B. King is linked to his beloved Lucille – a custom-built Gibson ES-355 manufactured exclusively for the true “King of the Blues” since 1980. And B.B. King is not only the most renowned blues musician of our time; he’s also one of the most important electric guitarists of all-time. His singular bluesy style has influenced generations of players across genres, and his powerful and distinct songs have appeared on the charts more than 70 times, from blues to R&B to pop. He’s done it all, and at over 80 years of age he is still considered the hardest working man in show business, maintaining a pace many younger artists dream of keeping up with.
While King played many different guitars throughout the early part of his career, the King of the Blues has played a varied mix of Gibson guitars since the late 1940s, including the ES-175, ES-330, ES-335 and ES-345. He finally made the Gibson ES-355 semi-hollowbody guitar his trademark instrument in the early 1960s, usually stuffing the sound holes to eliminate any chance of feedback.
Body and Finish
In 1980, King joined the Gibson family as a signature artist, and has played a custom-built ebony ES-355 ever since. Today’s B.B. King Lucille from Gibson Memphis is made to exactly the same specifications as the guitar played by King himself. The most outstanding qualities that make this instrument his own include a body with no F holes and a fine-tuner tailpiece. The body consists of plain laminated maple top, back, and rims, with multi-ply binding on both the top and back. The neck is a three-piece maple neck with Gibson’s traditional rounded profile, a scale length of 24¾-inches, and a 22-fret ebony fingerboard that is outlined with single-ply binding and adorned with genuine pearl block inlays. It is available in King’s traditional Ebony finish and Cherry.
Other standard appointments include all gold hardware, metal tulip tuners, a Nashville Tune-o-matic bridge and TP-6 tailpiece. As is customary with the ES-355 there are two volume, two tone knobs, and a three-way selector switch, Vari-tone switch, and both stereo and mono jacks. The B.B. King Lucille comes with the standard Gibson Memphis case and certificate of authenticity.