What guitar did B.B. King play?

B.B. King famously played the iconic Gibson ES-355 guitar, which was a part of his signature style and sound for much of his career. He received this particular model as a gift from Gibson in 1969, which he christened Lucille, after an incident at a blues club fire where he risked his life to save it during a fight between two men over a woman named Lucille. The Gibson ES-355 was very popular among blues musicians due to its semi-hollow design that produces warm and resonant tones.

The Gibson ES-355

Guitar legend B.B. King was known for playing an electric guitar, most famously the Gibson ES-355. This beautiful instrument is a testament to the kind of music that the King was capable of creating and performing. From country blues to modern jazz, this guitar had it all in terms of sound and style.

The design of this iconic instrument was inspired by both Fender guitars and Les Pauls from the early 1950s. Its slim neck made it easier for players to hold down chords with ease, while its double cutaway body provided plenty of access to its higher frets. The two humbucker pickups also allowed for multiple tone variations depending on how they were adjusted and amplified; these attributes make it possible to achieve an incredible range of sounds from clean jazz tones all the way up to dirty rock’n’roll growls.

This wonderful piece of musical machinery has been used by many different artists throughout its history – some notable examples being Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page who are all well-known devotees of the Gibson ES-355’s unique sound capabilities. As such, it has become one of the most sought after models in history and still remains popular today among players looking for a classic sounding electric guitar with a vintage feel yet modern performance potential.

Specs and Features of the Guitar

When it comes to musical instruments, guitars remain one of the most popular choices for a myriad of styles and genres. The legendary blues guitarist B.B. King was no exception, as his iconic guitar often symbolized his career-long dedication to the craft of playing and writing music. His most famous instrument was a Gibson ES-355 model that has become renowned for its tonal quality and playability – an ideal combination for those wanting to replicate King’s classic sound.

The Gibson ES-355 boasted several defining characteristics that made it stand out from other guitars on the market in the mid 1950s when King acquired it; these included twin humbucker pickups and individual volume controls with three-way toggle switch selector which allowed him to fine tune each pickup’s tone level. Also featured were gold Grover tuners which gave excellent intonation accuracy allowing for precise pitch control, perfect for intricate licks or subtle bends alike. The body itself was crafted from two pieces of maple wood, giving an even sustain response and sustaining clarity all over the neck when struck with fingers or pick.

The guitar also included many aesthetic features such as multi-ply binding around the top edge of its body along with a tortoiseshell pickguard and sunburst finish creating a unique look sought after by numerous aspiring players today. Although hard evidence is scarce as to how much King modified his beloved Gibson ES-355 over time, many believe he installed custom electronics not found on stock models at the time – details we may never know due to his passing in 2015 at age 89 years old.

B.B. King’s Customizations to the ES-355

B.B. King was renowned for his ability to evoke emotion and connect with audiences through his playing, but the instrument he used to accomplish this feat was just as important as his skill. He famously played a Gibson ES-355 guitar throughout most of his career, but he customized it to make it truly unique and give him a sound like no other player had.

King modified his ES-355 in several ways, including adding two additional volume controls which allowed him to create subtle variations on sounds from one phrase or solo to the next. He also moved the toggle switch from its standard position so that it wouldn’t get caught in clothing while performing and further customised the bridge by having a local technician build an adjustable brass saddle system which improved sustain and increased resonance – ideal for creating warm, vibrato-laden riffs.

The pickguard was also customised, engraved with ‘Lucille’ – King’s affectionate name for all of his guitars – along with crowns and hearts symbolising love being at the centre of music. This iconic finish gave fans something tangible they could associate with King’s signature style; something they could look at and feel connected to the music he created even when sitting far away from the stage.

Legacy of B.B. King’s Guitar Choice

B.B. King was renowned for his mastery of the guitar and is often considered to be one of the greatest blues players in history. His beloved instrument, Lucille, remains an iconic symbol associated with him. What makes this story so unique is that Lucille wasn’t a customized model or custom built – it was merely a stock Gibson ES-335 purchased from a music store during the late 1950s.

King’s choice to play such a widely available instrument offered immense inspiration to aspiring guitarists everywhere as they were able to more easily replicate his sound if they could purchase the same model he did at any local store. Even today, decades later, players can still find vintage models of Lucille around and purchase them – both on and off the internet marketplaces – allowing them to achieve B.B.’S classic blues sound without having to break their bank accounts in pursuit of similar but more expensive alternatives.

This mass accessibility even made way for entire lines dedicated exclusively to paying tribute and homage to B.B.’S signature tone, such as Gibson’s own “BB King Lucille” series released back in 2008 featuring newly constructed designs based upon his original ES-335 model along with various other merchandise inspired by this legendary player who continues to live on through his own music and those whom he has influenced throughout the years.

Impact on Music Industry and Future Generations

B.B King’s influence on the music industry and its future generations can not be overstated. His style of playing has revolutionized blues, rock and jazz, setting an incredible precedent for what was to come in the decades ahead. As a true master of improvisation and a pioneer of modern guitar techniques, his contributions are still felt today, even though he passed away in 2015.

Through memorable performances with iconic songs such as “The Thrill is Gone” and “Sweet Little Angel”, B.B King forever changed the landscape of American Music with his extraordinary talent on guitar. His Gibson ES-355 semi-hollow body electric guitar was so integral to his signature sound that it became almost synonymous with him. The way he blended elements of blues, gospel and jazz into something unique captured the hearts of many fans around the world – a testament to his formidable skills as both a performer and composer.

In addition to these musical accomplishments, B.B King also left behind a legacy that will continue to inspire future generations for years to come. By taking risks within genres like blues and R&B that had long been seen as inaccessible or too complex for general audiences, he opened up new avenues for exploration by musicians who followed in his footsteps; further cementing himself in history books as one of the most important innovators ever to pick up an electric guitar.






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