Gibson is one of the pioneers of the “blues box”, and have consequently influenced the designs of parlor guitars as we know them today. As such, their small body guitars are of particular interest to fans of the instrument like us, their potential consumers and even their competitors. This time around, we will be featuring the Blues King, a variant of their L-00 shape with built-in electronics.
An important distinction that the Blues King has over the L-00 is its extra-shallow body, which reduces the lower frequencies to warm up the mids, resulting in a cutting tone that’s great for blues, that also works well for folk and ragtime style guitar playing. Following conventional blues box builds, the top is crafted from solid spruce, however the back and sides are crafted from bubinga to give the instrument a more earthy appeal.
The top is supported by hand-scalloped, radiused top bracing, a feature that’s usually only found in limited run boutique guitars. It is said that the carefully scalloped bracing helps focus the sound toward the center of the body for improved projection. The bracing pattern follows after the ones found inside L-00 from the ’20s and ’30s, and is attributed by Gibson for the tighter and warmer midrange tone of the instrument.
Crossing over to the stage from your couch, this premium parlor guitar is equipped with LR Baggs Element Active pickup system. It utilizes an undersaddle piezo pickup and an onboard preamp with a discrete volume control that’s mounted beside the soundhole.
For the mahogany neck, Gibson employed a rosewood fingerboard with carefully rolled edges. Being part of their premium line, the necks are carefully inspected by their team before being installed into the body, ensuring they follow the correct specs including the scale length of 24.75″ and nut width of 1.725″. It joins the body at the 14th fret follow modern acoustic guitar designs.
Cosmetic enhancements of the guitar include its single-ring rosette which consists of three-ply binding. It complements the tortoise pickguard which follows the same layout as the ones found on L-00s from the early 1900s. All these eye candy appointments, including the binding, engraving and inlays are handcrafted into the instrument, to ensure attention to detail. Other features include nickel Grover Mini Rotomatic Tuners, rosewood vintage style bridge, and a non-slotted headstock.
The Gibson Blues King is currently listed as out of production, but a few of them sometimes pop up on online selling and trading sites with a price tag of around $1800.