Did BB King ever use the Varitone?

Average Joe

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Never seen him touch it on stage, so if he used it I imagine it's set permanently in one position. But did he use it at all?
 

mmcquain

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1,126
On his Blues on the Bayou album I think he may have changed settings on a couple of songs based on how the guitar sound varies from one track to another. However, I've seen him like 12 or 13 times in concert and I don't recall him changing it. I can't remember for sure but I think he kept it on setting 2 (maybe).
 

wildschwein

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4,026
Word is that B.B. likes position 2 and leaves it there. Apparently this is the choke plus a 0.001uf cap. His tone is often described as being out-of-phase but it's probably more to do with choke in the varitone which can cut quite a lot bass by itself. Chucking in the various caps gives you midrange filtering effects.
 

buddyboy

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I think by the mid to late '60's he was just running his stereo 355s into a single Fender amp with a mono chord and setting his pickup selector in the middle position. That would give him the out-of-phase tone, which he would then dial more in our out by playing with the neck and bridge pickup volume controls. I don't think he used the VT at all.
 

Average Joe

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11,936
I'd forgotten that you can get out of phase tones from a 335 running it in mono. Whether it's the varitone or the OOP there's something going on with his tone besides the standard humbucker sound.
 

wildschwein

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4,026
Yeah it is a kind of a thin trebley-type sound with a nasal, almost horn-like timbre. OOP or a choke will give you sounds like that.
 






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