1991 Gibson USA BB King Custom “Lucille” guitar

The Blue Book Says:

ELECTRIC: B.B KING SERIES
The first B.B. King models were introduced in 1980 with two variations: the B.B. King Standard and the B.B. King Custom. Rather than true signature models, these guitars were regular production models with King’s personal touches, and only later became part of the Gibson Custom Shop Collection in Memphis. The B.B. King models are based on a Gibson ES-345 with Varitone stereo electronics. Each model was renamed in 1981, respectively as the Lucille Standard and Lucille Custom. The Standard was produced through 1985, in 1986, the Lucille Custom was changed to the B.B. King Lucille, and up until 2002, there was only this variation of the B.B. King. In 1999, Gibson added King’s requests and personal appointments to their small-bodied Blueshawk and called it the Little Lucille. In mid-2002 (according to Gibson’s price list) production of the B.B. King models was moved from Nashville to the new Gibson Memphis factory, and a new model was introduced called the B.B. King Super Lucille. They also began to offer a signature fingerboard option (Special order with B.B. King or Lucille inlayed in mother of pearl on the fingerboard) on the B.B. King Lucille until circa 2004. In 2006, the Gibson Custom Shop produced 81 B.B. King 80th Birthday Lucille’s in honor of King’s birthday (King took ownership of Prototype #1) and that same year produced 150 B.B. King “King of the Blues” models that were exclusively sold through Guitar Center stores. The author would like to thank Eric Dahl for his contributions in the B.B. King section.
B.B. KING STANDARD/LUCILLE STANDARD
– symmetrical double rounded cutaway ES-335-style semi-hollow body, arched maple top, maple back and sides, no f-holes, multi-ply top and back binding, maple neck, 22-fret bound rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlays, black headstock overlay with pearl Gibson logo and Lucille inlays, three-per-side tuners, tune-o-matic bridge, TP-6 tunable stop tailpiece, raised layered black pickguard, two covered humbucker pickups, stereo electronics, four knobs (two v, two t), three-way pickup switch, two 1/4 in. outputs, chrome hardware, available in Cherry or Ebony finish, mfg. 1980-85.

This model was originally called the B.B. King Standard, and in 1981, it was renamed the Lucille Standard.
B.B. KING CUSTOM/LUCILLE CUSTOM/B.B. KING LUCILLE (MODEL ARLC)
– symmetrical double rounded cutaway ES-335-style semi-hollow body, arched maple top, maple back and sides, no f-holes, multi-ply top and back binding, maple neck, 22-fret bound ebony fingerboard with large pearl block inlays, multi-ply bound headstock with black overlay and pearl Gibson logo and Lucille inlays (1980-circa 2007) or custom B.B. King inlay and graphics and a gold “Lucille” inscribed truss rod cover (circa 2007-present), three-per-side tuners, Nashville tune-o-matic bridge, TP-6 tunable stop tailpiece, raised layered bound black or tortoise pickguard, two covered humbucker pickups, stereo electronics, four knobs (two v, two t), Vari-Tone rotary tone knob, three-way pickup switch, two 1/4 in. outputs, gold hardware, available in Beale Street Blue (2002-04), Cherry/Wine Red, or Ebony finish, 24.75 in. scale, mfg. 1980-present.

 

I say:

I am the third owner of this guitar, and the second owner used it extensively for 20 years!

Due to the fact that this has been used it concurrently carries the badges of a life spent in use rather than in a case – I particularly love the “wire and gaffa tape” handle!

The guitar has a relatively unmarked headstock, gold plated gibson tuners, engraved “Lucille” logo and brass “BB King” truss rod cover.

The Ebony fingerboard is in great condition, and the frets only show minor signs of fret wear.  There is one minor chip in the neck just behind the second fret, and a dent in the lacquer at around the 13th fret.  Having had a few of these now I was surprised by the “full” neck on this guitar, it is no baseball bat, but is definitely not a skinny  neck.

The front of the body has a few dents, but is generally still shiny and clear – no marks through to the wood.  The reverse of the guitar carries a similar array of dents, and some “buckle rash” as would be expected from a guitar that has actually been used.  The control cavity cover is rather interesting  – in that it lies proud of the body, I originally thought that this was  a poorly made replacement – however on removing it I see no screw holes in the routed area where it would normally sit, thereby suggesting that it is an original fitting.

The gold hardware shows the usual signs of use – removal/thinning on the points where the hand rests on the bridge. The original bridge is in the neck pocket, but is quite corroded – I suspect that owner #2 had acidic sweat! The currently installed “Tonepro’s” Locking bridge is a great replacement.  The original TP6 tailpiece is in great condition and although the “fine tuners” do show some minor signs of age – all is in full working order.

Over the years the guitar has been modified slightly.  The Volume pots have been replaced (originals are in the neck pocket), and seem to have some form of “treble bleed” capacitor added.   All electronics are fully functional and crackle free.  The “varitone” switch provides an amazing tonal palette upon which a wide range of sounds can be built.

The guitar case as shown is worn but functional.  As mentioned  – it has lost its handle, and the rather idiosyncratic replacement does make me smile.  One of the catches has also lost its retainer bar – as pictured.