B.B. King’s 80th Birthday ‘Lucille’ Gibson ES-345 Guitar Sold at Auction for Nearly $300,000

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King had a special relationship with his guitar — so much so that he called it Lucille. The instrument was a calling card of King’s, so to speak, as were the emotive sounds that he culled from its strings for decades.

A sleek, black “Lucille” Gibson ES-345, which King received as a gift from Gibson for his 80th birthday, happened to use frequently in performances during his later years prior to his passing in 2015, was the marquee item featured in Julien’s Auctions’ Property from the Estate of BB King, and it recently sold for $285,000.

The online auction, which runs until Sept. 30, boasts an eye-popping array of artifacts and memorabilia from his life and career:

This auction will feature a collection of personally owned items such as wardrobe, amps, jewelry, road cases, photos, posters, records/LPs, awards, collectibles, personal items and more from the legend’s celebrated career spanning six decades.

The auction is now online for advance bidding and the auction will start closing in real time and in lot order for live bidding at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on September 30th, 2019.

The “Lucille” model that sold for nearly $300,000, meanwhile, was estimated to go at auction for $80,000 – $100,000 per Guitar World, so it definitely exceeded expectations.

As for what his signature guitars meant to him, King told Rock Cellar’s Ken Sharp in an archival interview just what it was that made them special:

It has a long, thick neck on it. I’ve got big fat hands and I’m a big guy. During the early years, it was hard to get a good guitar. It was really hard.

I hear people talk about today its hard to find a good guitar, but today guitars are like insects to me, there’s so many of them.

At that time, I couldn’t make enough money to buy one. I did try many kinds. Whoever designed the Gibson guitars in the beginning did a really good job. One of the things I like about it is if the neck stops to warp—if I take my hand and my hand is like that (demonstrates), but after awhile it starts to do this—the guitar neck does.

Well, they put a rod in the Gibson guitar. And when it starts to bend a little bit, there’s a little wrench you have that you can tighten it and it straightens it back out again. That’s another thing I like about it. If you notice my fingers, I don’t have big corns on them like some other people ‘cause I keep the action pretty close to the frets.

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