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How to get good tone with Lucille


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I have a 1997 Gibson B.B. King Lucille that just had fret work and a complete set up performed by a very reputable luthier, so, there are no issues with the instrument. I play through a 1965 reissue Fender Deluxe Reverb for recording. I am having trouble getting it to sound like a typical ES-355, i.e. B.B. King or Freddie King. Instead it sounds more like an acoustic guitar or jazz guitar.


I set the Varitone switch at either 1 or 2, with the toggle switch in the middle. I generally set the amp with the bass low and treble high through the normal channel with volume about 7 or 8. Even with a Tube Screamer I am not getting much grit.


The amp is not the problem as it sounds great with my Gibson SG. I use strings starting with .010.


Does anyone have a suggestion? Please don't tell me that I am not B.B. or Freddie - I know. I am not talking about the sound that comes from their fingers :).


Thanks.post-67613-009932400 1450668890_thumb.jpg

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I might say typical BB King sound might be neck pup, and the amp not set bright. I think also, maybe some use of the tone control on the guitar.


Personally, I find Fender Blackfaced amps real bright. Seldom do I have the treble up on them. The reissues are quite a lot brighter, especially when loud.


I don't think BB and Freddie have the same sound, but I think I can see where you might be coming from. Both tend to play clean, and didn't have much use for distortion or fuzz, or a Tube Screamer.


In regards to the TS, whether it is on light or heavy, it does have a lot of mids, and those mids make a "mean" tonality. I can't imagine that working well for the tone of either of these guys. My take on the TS is that when it's on, it has a sound that's hard to get away from, as opposed to being able to sound natural. It does what it does, and when it's on, it might have a good sound, but it isn't easily tamed when trying NOT to sound like you have a TS in there.

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I too, have a Gibson "Lucille,"(Year 2002 model) and can get the BB sound (or, what he seems to use, most often) via both pickups

on (middle toggle position), and Varitone on 1. Bright and darker tones, I get with the tone control(s) (backing off, or increasing

tone settings, on either pickup, depending on how bright or dark I need it. Decent/substantial amp volume, for that

"sweet spot" natural tube overdrive, and sustain, and...most often, with centered=neutral EQ.


He did use the bridge pickup, and neck pickup, independently, as well. But, a lot of his work was done in the "middle"

selector switch position. "How Blue Can You Get," was a good example of the thinner, brighter bridge pickup tone, or

possibly middle position, with the Varitone on 2? Not sure. He's said he used the Varitone on 1 or 2, most often.


BB (generally) used either Fender Twin Reverb's, or Gibson "Lab Series" (solid state) amps. So, you should be able to get very close,

with your Deluxe Reverb, with proper volume, and EQ experimentation, for what works best, on that amp.


Here's a clip, of "How Blue Can You Get" and it appears his toggle switch is in the middle, and the Varitone on 2!



Good Luck, and have fun "experimenting." [thumbup][biggrin]




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