• TGP is giving away a Strat, Tele, and Jazzmaster. Click Here for full details.
    Click Here to upgrade your account and enter today!

Help me get that BB King sound with pickup choice

AJ Love

Senior Member
To get back to the original question, there are a number of humbuckers that can get into the BB "tone zone"..... I personally like Lollars but Throbaks to Gibsons can get you there....

Gibson 490R and 498T pickups are indeed what are in his signature guitar. I'd start there


Yeah, it isn't as though BB had a signature tone other than (for the most part) whatever humbuckers were on his Gibson into whatever Fender or other clean-ish amp was behind him. Some stuff was obviously louder because the guitar is really singing and holds some feedback but most of the studio cuts are clean and cut at lower volume. really-
The Key to BB's sound is to just play that style. Vintage-ish humbucker into a clean-ish amp will get most of those tones. It's the phrasing and licks that tickle the ears and say BB!
If the OP is looking for a recipe, the last time I saw Kid Anderson do this song he just nailed the BB through the whole thing. I don't recall which guitar he used but I did ask what pickups he had (Duncan Antiquity) and he was playing through one of his Redplate amps. Here's video of the same song but the night I heard sounded better than this. He doesn't stick to BB licks as heavily as the night I saw it.

One might contrast the tonal difference with the same song, different guitar:

That's a big mother****in' dude, yeah?


Silver Supporting Member
That's a big mother****in' dude, yeah?
There exists a demented genius working in the field of genetics (perhaps robotics as well) who has been secretly working on the creation of the ultimate superhuman blues guitar player. No one knows his name or exact whereabouts but this modern day "Dr. Frankenstein", we suspect has been plying his trade in the Scandinavian countries for the last 30 odd years, particularly, Norway. We know this because of the otherwise inexplicable surfacing of incredible blues guitar talent from a region utterly lacking in previous blues tradition. It is thought that "Kid" Andersen is an earlier experiment, one in which TOO much guitar talent caused abnormally large and continued growth and an obsession with getting guitar parts "right".
"Kid" escaped from his/its? creator(s) in his late teens, perhaps even injuring the mad doctor. Details are murky but the Kid then appears halfway around the world in California a bit over a decade ago Where he immediately finds work with Charlie Musselwhite, John Nemeth, and others. He currently plays in Rick Estrin's Nightcats. He can play anything with strings...probably better than you. He plays pedal steel fer Chtulhu's sakes! Anyhoo, The mad doctor's subsequent experiments have produced more "human" sized results like Borny and Frank Bjordal, who appear outwardly normal but still exhibit prodigious and precocious blues guitar ability. How else would YOU explain it?


Buddy Boy

I listened to the whole clip! Rarely happens these day;pretty damn good I'd say.
I love 50's B.B. to death, but his 60's tone also really killed. His ES-355's (as the decade wore on) were probably equipped with Gibson T-Tops. This guy does a pretty decent job of capturing mid-late 1960's King tone (at least the "loud" B.B. tone he sometimes went for) with his late 60's 335, also probably equipped with T-tops.



I believe Mistah King plays a Gibson with that thing that Gibson lovers love to hate (and immediately remove) - a Varitone. I just bought a 345 and have to agree - position 2 is the one.


I have a late 90's Lucille and the baritone lowers output a lot.

BB's phrasing and technique did change over the years, but of course you can hear one note from any era and know that it his him.

FWIW - the varitone makes for a very useful art rock / indie style guitar. Set the amp hotish and loud , use the pickup selector tone and volume in conjunction with a fuzz face and there are a tremendous variety of tones available with easily controlled feedback


Get any good PAF style pickups. I like Wolftone Legends, or Duncan Aniquities. Then crank your amp up loud,met hen turn down your guitar volume until you get a clean fat tone. I would say guitar knobs at 5 and the amp on 8 would a good place to start .

Trending Topics