Gibson (ES355) BB King Custom Shop (USA, 2007)

I primarily bought this earlier model to get a proper ES355 style ebony fretboard (it does make a difference) and the additional attention to detail of the Gibson custom shop. It was the first 'as good as new' Gibson I had bought for many years, and was not disappointed after seeing several Gibsons over that time that did not have the mojo. The last comparable semi I bought was a Gibson ES347 back in the 80s, with the fine tuning tail piece, and this BB King is every bit as well put together.

I have tried to do some research on this model and it appears to be a less blingy custom shop version of the limited edition 80th Birthday Anniversary model, which Gibson released the previous year. No idea how many of these custom shop models were made, but I suspect not many. Maybe Gibson some necks to put on custom shop models for those who missed out on the full blown version due to collector interest - although I must admit I do prefer the more restrained look of this. If I have missed anything please let me know...

  • Gold Grover Tulip tuners: 14:1 ratio
  • Full Block inlay fretboard: Elegant top-shelf looks extend Gibson tradition
  • 490R & 490T humbucker pickups: Slightly overwound to give a traditional Humbucker tone with a touch of modern edge
  • No F-Holes: B.B.'s own preference
  • 6-Way Varitone switch: All the switching versatility of the great ES-355's
  • Stereo and Mono Output facility giving conventional output or the ability to run each pickup separately
  • TP-6 tailpiece: The TP-6 delivers the ability to fine tune any string on your guitar in seconds
  • Symmetrical double rounded cutaway ES-355-style semi-hollow body.
  • Three-per-side tuners, Nashville tune-o-matic bridge, TP-6 tunable stop tailpiece.
  • Arched laminated maple top, laminated maple back and sides, no f-holes, multi-ply top and back binding.
  • Set three-piece maple neck, 22-fret bound ebony fingerboard with large pearl block inlays.
  • Vari-Tone rotary tone knob, three-way pickup switch, two 1/4 in. outputs, gold hardware,
  • Custom shop certificate of authenticity included.
Main similarities/differences with 80th Anniversary 2006 Model:
  • Retains the multi-ply bound headstock with black overlay and B.B. King 80th birthday inlays.
  • Gold 'Lucille' inscribed truss rod cover (NOTE: this cover was inscribed 'Gibson' on the 80th anniversary model).
  • Raised bound plain pickguard (NOTE: this was engraved with B.B. King signature and crown logo on the Anniversary model)
  • Two plain covered pickups 490R, 490T (NOTE: these were engraved on the Anniversary model), same stereo electronics.
  • Four black speed knobs (NOTE: these were gold 'UFO' knobs with MOP inserts on the Anniversary model).

Very light, careful, sparing usage. All original. Two owners (including me) from new. No signs of serious play wear - I suspect it has only been lovingly played and then replaced carefully in its case. I wanted it as a working studio guitar, but quickly decided after bringing her home she doesn't deserve a life being hostage to rogue mic stands bashing into her - and hence have decided to let her go.

Any surface marks on the black finish (inevitable as soon as you touch it) would probably rub off - but there are no noticeable dings or scratches. I say this because perfection is impossible and no doubt in that deep black finish there might be a mark I haven't noticed - which is why I NEVER say 'mint'. I have only gently wiped the gold finish to remove fingermarks - but gold does fade (and in a matter of a couple of years on many guitars). I photographed it as it came out of the case from storage, it certainly wasn't dolled up for the camera. The dust will just wipe away, likewise the finger marks on the machine heads.

Like I said, I never like to say mint, because I have yet to see the perfect guitar even in a show room. Nevertheless this is as good as you are going to get after 10 years. Truly a beautiful musical instrument, even when you close your eyes and just play...

  • RATING = B+ (Outstanding condition for 10 year old guitar)