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B B kings tone?

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how does he achieve that strange tone? I love his tone and I want to build a guitar like his Lucille however I haven't the foggiest clue what his tone comes from. Playing with thumb maybe? Tube amps? I dont think all of it comes from his guitar. although that nice semi hollow contributes. From the gibson site it says that he uses alnico magnets *** my first guess was 57' classics if anything but alnicos??? those are biting if im not mistaken and kings tone has always been very smooth. can someone fill me in?

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I would have figured him for a tube man...

I would bet that nyjbkim is right. His distinctive one finger vibrato is the key to his sound. Lucille probably is a big part of it too, but I would bet he could pull it off with just about any guitar.

A Peavey rep once told me that he heard Eddie play through a little practice amp and it still sounded like Eddie...

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Hollow body guitar, no F holes, varitone doohickey, humbuckers. Hate to say it, but if you really want the BB sound, you might have to buy one.

But another question: When you say BB or EVH sound, do you mean the guitar/amp combo, or the playing style which has a HUGE impact on what you hear. BB or EVH on an accoustic guitar or a Tele will still sound pretty much like BB or EVH.

BTW: BB calls his one finger tremelo "the butterfly."

Guitar Ed

Arrogant and proud of it. :D

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From what I've read over the years, one of the biggest parts of BB's sound is that his HB's are wired out of phase (or he has a switch to do it) and he always uses the same position (2, both pkps on, all the time)

Wire yourself up a 2-HB semi-hollow guitar, using the exact same pkp for both positions, nothing very hot, and wire them out of phase, with the amp set for clean, highs down a bit.

You'll hear BB. There is a particular tone that out of phase HB's give off that doesn't sound like anything else, especially mixed with a semi and an amp set for clean. NO DIRT!

The downside is this: if you wire your guitar up so that you can switch it in and out, or you simply just use one pkp by itself, most people won't give the OOP sound much of a chance because when you switch to normal, or one of the other pkps, it is WAY louder, WAY fuller, WAY more dynamic, and much more robust in comparison, so most will write the OOP sound off very quickly.

BAD mistake if you like blues. In this instant satisfaction world we live in, no one is willing to set it and forget it and explore the OOP sound for a few days straight, no chaser.

But if you just leave your guitar in that position and play that way for several days, you will really understand the beauty of the OOP sound.

The best way is to take one semi-guitar and wire it that way with no other option. It's a person's perceptions between the two sounds that kills off interest in the OOP sound, but it's a kind of unfair comparison.

If there was some way to compensate for the volume loss the same instant you flicked the switch, so the OOP sound was as loud as in the other positions, I think more people would take notice of it. It's almost like you have to get over your own concious thoughts to 'stay' with an OOP sound for more than a few minutes, but it's only because you think you're getting so much more in the other positions. Which is a wrong assumption if you give it a chance.

Someone tell me when they ever saw BB reach up and hit his selector switch...NEVER! :D (at least I'm pretty sure!)

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They are sensing the string in opposite ways, cancelling out certain frequencies.

It's not weird at all, just not that popular these days. It's one of the most basic pkp mods you can do when wiring.

Actually, since I use a lot of different pkps in the same guitar sometimes, hell, almost 1/2 the time when I wire one of those modded puppies up for the first time, I almost always wind up with a pkp that's OOP and have to go back in and switch the wires back around.

It's just alien-language to you Metal and Shred-heads! :D

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Sorry Snork, great blues tone is all in the fingers my man.

HB OOP is an acquired taste, I don't think I'd recommend it for you just yet.

For a basic good blues tone, just stay away from hot pickups and buy something that actually has some tone and dynamics to it, a set of Lace Hot Golds or Holy Grails or Lawrence 280's or what TSL recommended (Van Zants?)

Don't make it harder than it is, you don't need to be a pickup nazi to find a good blues tone in pkps, with the offerings out there today you will almost fall over them, you just have to stay away from ultra-hot pkps (which is hard for you young'uns)

And don't make the common mistake of trying to make your very first guitar do everything under the sun, it's a waste of time to do that. Just stick with solid winners as listed and move on to the next dept.

PS, that thing with the munkey-grip is a BLUES guitar?


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Guest Litchfield Custom Gutars

Here's my suggestion. Lucille has a Gibson 490R 498T set if I recall correctly. The Varitone is alot the same as the push oull pots on the Jimmy Page Les Paul. I'd go for that wiring. IMO, it is easier and more versatile. The other option is a 5 way HH setup ala Ibanez RG.

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Jeesus. My first impression:

"Ya actually gonna play some music on that thing or land it on a runway?"


I stopped being into those knob-dickin' guitars years ago, 9 out of 10 of those options all sound the same 1/2 the time. Some people are just attracted to knobs, the more, the better, keeps them from actually concentrating on playing...

I would say that most guys go thru a phase where they want a guitar that can do all that crap until they own it long enough to find out that there's only 2-4 really good usable sounds, then they go find a guitar that makes those 2-4 sounds.


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they usually mean with personal gain in mind...as in to add it to your own wiring book or adding it to a site that you make money off of...

And Litch, I think you're WAAAAAAAY off track with that diagram in reference to BB King's tone. Read the topic, listen to a BB King record, then look at your posted pic again.

Just think about it for a minute...or two. B)

BB's tone (like the man) is simplicity itself. BB is the last person in the world to try to use a setup like you listed there, that picture does not say to me 'BB King tone' at ALL.

You take 2 HB's, 2 wires apiece, switch one of them around, and BANG, you've got it. No need to complicate things. :D

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yeah he is a simple player with a simple tone. but i just am trying to find out what makes that awesome tone. i think you guys have pretty much answered it thank you all for your input! but i think im going to build a zakk wylde-esque les paul custom next. then the bb king. then a 7 string archtop.

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