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Old May 12th, 2013, 11:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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BB King's Lucille with F holes?

I apologize if this was discussed here before...

Ran into some videos of BB playing a Lucille with F holes, all in '79... here's a couple





I believe the Lucille model was introduced in '80, so could this be a prototype? Even the inlays are different.

Here's a pic of that guitar, you can see Lucille on the headstock



Anyone have any info?

Thanks!

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Old May 12th, 2013, 11:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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In 1949 BB ran back into a burning bar to save his guitar. The fire was started, somehow, during a fight between a couple of guys over a woman, Lucille. BB referred to his guitar as Lucille as a constant reminder to himself to never do anything as foollish as to get into a fight over a woman, or go into a burning building after a guitar. Or, so the story goes, I think.

My understanding is that Lucille isn't a particular guitar, but the guitar he is playing at the time. I know he played an ES335 variant for years, I think that's what this is.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 11:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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BB played 345 and 355 mainly. Gibson made the Lucille model in '80 and it's still being made today. So yes, Lucille is a particular guitar.

The guitar shown is NOT a 335, do you see the Varitone?
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The pairing of B.B. King and Lucille has become so iconic that some of the latest special editions don't even have Gibson's name on the headstock.

What's the source/date of that last picture of him in the baby blue suit?

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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
So yes, Lucille is a particular guitar.


Okay, I stand corrected. Gibson invented the Lucille as the result of a bar fight in 1949, and never put Varitone controls in any ES335s. The Lucille has remained unchanged for 60+ years.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
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What's the source/date of that last picture of him in the baby blue suit?
The pic is from American Bandstand in '79. Here's another with Dick Clark



Found a couple more with that same guitar...



Lucille was designed with no F holes cause BB requested it, to reduce feedback. I find it weird that this guitar says Lucille with no F holes and it's before the current Lucille model was introduced.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Okay, I stand corrected. Gibson invented the Lucille as the result of a bar fight in 1949, and never put Varitone controls in any ES335s. The Lucille has remained unchanged for 60+ years.
Dude I'm talking about the specific Gibson Lucille model, not the fact that BB named all his guitars Lucille to remind him not to be stupid again! That specific Gibson model was introduced in '80, here's more info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_(guitar)
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Old May 12th, 2013, 12:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Dude...
Dude, you corrected something that didn't need to be corrected. The story (as I remember it) came directly from BB King's lips, from a concert a year or so ago. I assume he's the best source of information on the matter. Or, he could be jivin' too.

The original Lucille was an old Gibson acoustic. Early Lucilles even included a Telecaster, but were also ES155s, ES335s, and probably countless others. The 355 variant is relatively recent, and the version with no f holes is even more recent.

The 'no f hole' was done to control feedback. In fact, during the most recent show we saw him perform at, he was having feedback problems, and he was weaving picks into his strings to try to control it.

Apparently the OP was used to seeing the modern Gibson Lucille, and hadn't run into the (countless) early ones that had f holes. This is why I told the story I did, having heard it first hand, rather than referring him to a Wikipedia article that is at odds with what I assume to be accurate.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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We seem to be having a communication problem... I've seen BB many times and heard him tell the story, I know all about it. I posted this to discuss the Gibson Lucille model, not the name that BB gave his guitars.

Lucille was based on the 355 that BB was playing at the time. There are no Lucille model with no F holes that I'm aware of. Yes there are 355, 345, 335, etc... with F holes, but not the Lucille model. The pics and vids from '79 are the only ones I was able to find. It must've been a prototype before the final model was released in '80.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Also, please take a look at the inlays in this pic



I haven't seen this on any 335/345/355. The 355 has block inlays while the 345 has the parallelogram inlays. I have no idea what those are in the pic!

Maybe this was a birthday gift to BB from Gibson in '79. In the pic with Dick Clark you can see a guitar cake... I believe the show was in September, same month as BB's birthday. Must find the show and watch it!
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I know all about it.
Okay, I give up. Sorry to have intruded.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Perhaps Mr. King had a luthier or even had Gibson (before the custom shop) take a pre-1980 ES-355TD-SV and inlay the Lucille script in the headstock?

One thing to note, the official Lucille models have Maple necks, not the mahogany of the normal 355. Got any pics of the back of the neck?
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Perhaps Mr. King had a luthier or even had Gibson (before the custom shop) take a pre-1980 ES-355TD-SV and inlay the Lucille script in the headstock?
Possible... they also changed the inlays on the fingerboard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zuzax
One thing to note, the official Lucille models have Maple necks, not the mahogany of the normal 355. Got any pics of the back of the neck?
LOL lemme see what I can dig up.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 01:57 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This site has a few of BB with that same guitar

http://urbanimage.photoshelter.com/s...ch&I_DSC_AND=t

Good to see BB playing through a Fender you can see he's plugged in to both channels with the stereo cable.



This is the best I could do showing the neck

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Old May 12th, 2013, 02:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The neck appears to be painted in that pic, so we will probably never know. I'd guess that he wasn't buying/playing his guitars straight off the rack back in the '70s anyway, so there was probably a fair amount of custom work going into them before they spec'd out what would become the official Lucille model.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 02:48 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I would have to agree. This seems to be the first 355 with "Lucille" in the headstock.
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Old May 12th, 2013, 03:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I would say one of two possibilities:

1. A custom one-off ES355 built for BB with the special inlays

OR

2. Prototype of the Lucille model with features that didn't make it to production
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Old May 12th, 2013, 09:42 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Yeah those are the two possibilities I had in mind...

Not sure if the date of this video is correct, it says '78, and he's playing that same guitar.



Sure is purty!
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Old May 15th, 2013, 05:25 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Well that Lucille is obviously a prototype of the current Lucilles. I have one of the lucille variants which is a ES347 with F-holes and shares all the hardware of Lucille, including the TP-6 tailpiece, gold plating, Ebony fingerboard, tulip Grover tuners and a lot more binding than a ES-335. It does not have a Varitone switch, a holdover from the ES-345.

That guitar is the first Lucille. the production model was made to BB's specifications. As Gibson put it:

In 1982 B.B. King Lucille signature model was based on a Gibson ES-355TD-SV, but it had no f-holes. King eventually wanted a solid top to help reduce feedback.
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Old August 5th, 2013, 04:20 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Prototypes

Quote:
Originally Posted by John C View Post
I would say one of two possibilities:

1. A custom one-off ES355 built for BB with the special inlays

OR

2. Prototype of the Lucille model with features that didn't make it to production
3. What happened to the prototypes-I have one that was imported into England in the early eighties which is numbered 1 of 8 made on the same day.
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