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BB King's Live at the Regal ES-335

Tim's Guitars

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Nov 15, 2015
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74
I know there have been a few threads in the past about the fairly unique ES-335 BB used during the period, and most likely for the Live at the Regal shows.

From what I can see it looks like a long guard ES-335 in Stereo, with varitone and based on the bursting on the sides in Argentine Grey with (factory?) grovers....assuming it was indeed Argentine grey, and the "Stereo" on the truss rod cover, guess it was a 1960 example....

I know a few long guard 335s with varitone exist, but this must be the only Argentine grey version!

Anyway would love to know where this guitar wound up; can't be many like it!

123848005_1761467057355817_8080718976385817956_n.jpg ApolloMarch1963BBKing2a.jpg gal_apollo_22.jpg R-12674271-1539803973-5297.jpeg.jpg IMG_8373.jpg
 

El Gringo

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Apr 8, 2015
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I remember playing an Argentine Grey 335 at Buzzy's shop @Lark Street a long time ago in a distant galaxy and that thing had the nicest sweetest tone and sound and this was unplugged . Can you believe that ? This was a dot neck , long guard with a stop tail and ABR-1 .
 

jrgtr42

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Mar 24, 2005
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With the Varitone / Stereo, wouldn't that have been an ES 355?
Al;though BBs does have the dot inlays, and crown headstock...
but GIbson has always gone against their own specs...
 

seafood

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Jun 11, 2003
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this is great!!! thank you!......where is that guitar today??? when i saw B.B. in the sixties....he had a red es-355 stereo........the classic...BB KING GUITAR!!!!.......long before He went to the walnut models.....always sounded great!!!! whatever he was playing!!!!.......THE KING OF THE BLUES!!!
 

El Gringo

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Normans Rare Guitars , was just showing a 1964 block neck 335 with a factory Varitone non stereo , with different pickup surrounds with a choke and Patent Sticker pickups , with a stop tail in sunburst
Check video out at 5 minute mark .
 

goldtop0

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Aug 19, 2003
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Normans Rare Guitars , was just showing a 1964 block neck 335 with a factory Varitone non stereo , with different pickup surrounds with a choke and Patent Sticker pickups , with a stop tail in sunburst
Check video out at 5 minute mark .
Yep at the 5 minute mark and continuing on ........................M2Ms...........I wonder how many more $$ these ES ones cost back then.
 

El Gringo

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Apr 8, 2015
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Yep at the 5 minute mark and continuing on ........................M2Ms...........I wonder how many more $$ these ES ones cost back then.
That's a very good question .Also , I would like to know how much of a wait time beck then ? Sort of like is the wait time any different today versus back then ? Just a dumb curiosity question of the kind that I always have ?
 

TM1

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Jun 27, 2003
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I’ve seen a couple of Varitone 335’s over the last 50+ years!
 

BursTech

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Apr 20, 2014
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I never cared for the Varitone and I guess if you followed the prices of used ES-335/345/355 guitars over the years most people didn't either. But it is an interesting circuit, designed by a very nice man and great engineer who among dozens of other things also designed the Gibson AlNiCo Staple pickup, and then the Gibson PAF Humbucker. Seth Lover said the only reason the Varitone guitars existed was that Gibson had inherited a large batch of the Varitone switches from a company they had purchased and Ted McCarty told him to design something that used them or else they would have to throw them out.

I wish they had thrown them out.

But good on Seth for making something 'useful' out of them for his boss. Gibson should have given Seth a small royalty for many of those brilliant designs that they put in so many of their products, but they never did.
 

GotTheSilver

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Apr 14, 2007
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I never cared for the Varitone and I guess if you followed the prices of used ES-335/345/355 guitars over the years most people didn't either. But it is an interesting circuit, designed by a very nice man and great engineer who among dozens of other things also designed the Gibson AlNiCo Staple pickup, and then the Gibson PAF Humbucker. Seth Lover said the only reason the Varitone guitars existed was that Gibson had inherited a large batch of the Varitone switches from a company they had purchased and Ted McCarty told him to design something that used them or else they would have to throw them out.

I wish they had thrown them out.

But good on Seth for making something 'useful' out of them for his boss. Gibson should have given Seth a small royalty for many of those brilliant designs that they put in so many of their products, but they never did.
BB certainly used the varitone. You can hear the different tone on various recordings, sometimes more full, sometimes more thin and stinging. I remember seeing him change the setting while watching him play live.
 
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