Epiphone B.B.King Lucille Archtop Review – Guitar Fit For A King?
Lucille is an all-round excellent blues guitar, based on B.B. King's own design – with gorgeous looks, huge versatility, an endless array of tones, and precision tuning. For under $700 this is a great purchase for any blues player.
B.B. King – he wasn’t called ‘King of the Blues’ for nothing! One of history’s greatest blues guitarists, carving many a famous lick with his recognizable guitar Lucille. Now Epiphone make her available for an affordable price, allowing you to recreate the King’s smooth tones at home.
Epiphone’s Lucille is a gorgeous looking instrument and instantly recognizable. What’s more, B.B. designed this model himself.
It features a curvy, double cutaway laminated maple body, which is true to the original ES design – albeit without the ‘f-holes’, which B.B. removed to cut down on feedback. The body is a deep ebony, highly glossed and well finished. It looks great with the all gold hardware, and is dressed with a nice multi-bound tortoiseshell pickguard, featuring a metal E badge.
The hand-set C-shaped neck is made from hard maple, with a 24.75” scale and 1.68” nut width. This neck features a rosewood fretboard with 22 medium jumbo frets and traditional pearloid block inlays.
Finishing the look is Epiphone’s Sloped Dovewing headstock, gold Grover tuners, and a gold metal truss rod cover with B. B. King’s name engraved – not that you’ll forget who inspired this beautiful guitar – and Lucille’s name stamped onto the headstock itself.
Lucille is not just a looker – she features some unique electronics and excellent hardware that really makes her stand out as a premium blues guitar.
Firstly, there are two gold-covered Epiphone-designed Classic Alnico passive humbuckers at the bridge and neck. By themselves these are pretty good, but the electronics and controls that accompany them really make them sing.
In particular, the intriguing six-position VariTone switch. This alters the frequency and changes the voicing of the pickups, and also gives you the option to split the humbuckers into single-coils. On top of the VariTone, there’s a straightforward three-way pickup selector switch that can be used with the bypass engaged (position one on the VariTone). Finally you also get four volume/tone control knobs, two per pickup.
Another unique feature – there are two outputs on this guitar: a mono output for using both pickups together (or solely the neck pickup in Stereo mode) and a separate stereo output (for the bridge pickup).
Finally Lucille features Epiphone’s LockTone Tune-o-matic bridge with a first-class TP-6 fine-tuning stopbar tailpiece, allowing precise intonation and tuning. So, a lot of equipment.
It goes without saying that this should be one of your first picks for blues rhythm or lead, as well as classic rock n’ roll. There’s great sustain, and the pickups produce a warm and clear tone when played clean or with a mild crunch, but can also handle distortion well (not that you’ll really want to be shredding on this).
There’s so much versatility thanks to the VariTone switch, pickup selector, output jacks, and tone controls – the range of sounds you can get is incredible. It’s worth noting that position two on the VariTone was B.B.’s favorite sound. And while you may not use the stereo output jacks that much, they are always there should you need to add another dimension to your playing.
The body is quite large and relatively heavy to hold for longer periods, but the SlimTaper neck is fast and comfortable, whether playing chords or soloing along to one of B.B.’s smooth classics.
- Beautiful looking guitar with iconic design
- Wonderful craftsmanship and great finish
- Packed with features that offer a huge variety of tones
- Excellent tuning stability, with Grover tuners and TP-6 stopbar
- Quite big and heavy to hold
- It doesn’t come with a case or gig bag