ZZ Top equipment

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This is the musical equipment used by the members of the hard rock/blues rock band ZZ Top.

Billy Gibbons[edit]



Gibbons' most famously known guitar is the white spinning fur guitar made by Dean Zelinsky of Dean Guitars (and matching bass played by ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill) featured in the 1983 "Legs" music video.

Billy Gibbons' choice of electric guitars has primarily been Gibson. His first guitar was a sunburst 1962 Gibson Melody Maker.[1] In 1968 Gibbons acquired the instrument most associated with the sound and style of ZZ Top, when he purchased a sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar from a farmer in Houston, Texas for $250. The guitar was named "Pearly Gates", a name taken from the dangerous-to-drive, rolling-wreck auto that he sold for the money to buy the guitar. This guitar has become the foundation/benchmark of every ZZ Top album since the group formed in 1969.[2]

Gibbons continues to play Gibsons with ZZ Top, owning various models including an early-'50s Les Paul Goldtop, a 1958 Flying V, and an early model of the Gibson SG, made in 1961 with a cherry red finish.

Along with Gibson, Gibbons is also known for playing various Fender guitars. During his stint in the Moving Sidewalks, Gibbons used a white 1963 Fender Jazzmaster and Fender Esquire.[3] A couple of Fender guitars were featured on the Tres Hombres album, including a 1950 Fender Broadcaster on "Jesus Just Left Chicago" and a hard-tail sunburst 1955 Fender Stratocaster on "La Grange" and "Apologies To Pearly". He used a sunburst 1958 Les Paul for the slide guitar in "Just Got Paid," as well as a 1955 Gretsch Roundup on "TV Dinners" from Eliminator. He has also famously used an extremely rare "Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird" given to him by Bo Diddley. The use of this guitar (beginning with the 2003 ZZ Top album "Mescalero (album)") inspired a signature production model, the "Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird." For the "Mescalero (album)" Billy Gibbons also relied heavily on Ulrich Teuffel's futuristic Birdfish guitar, claiming it was second only to his 1959 Les Paul Sunburst Standard, affectionately known as the "Pearly Gates." According to Gibbons, "It really shines on Mescalero because of that dirty, raunchy tone. I defy any other instrument, besides these odd-ball things, to get that crazy.“[4]


Gibbons' sound is based on a 100-watt Marshall Super Lead made in 1968. According to an interview with music retailer Musician's Friend in 2008, Gibbons stated the importance of the Marshall Super Lead in ZZ Top's sound:

"I would say that it was the '59 Gibson Les Paul, better known now as 'Pearly Gates', plugged into a hundred-watt Marshall. [It] designed a sound that still resonates today."[5]

Along with the Super Leads, he has used a variety of Marshall's products, including the JCM 900 Dual Reverb,[6] Bluesbreaker, JTM45, Major,[7] and Lead 12.[6] Recently, his live touring rack consists of the JMP-1 Preamp, combined with power amps like the Valvestate 120 or the 9200 model.[8]

Gibbons has a large collection of vintage Fender amplifiers (his first amp was a Fender Champ), and collects Fender Dual Professionals. Other Fenders he has used include a Fender Bassman and Fender Tweed Deluxe.[9]

Gibbons used a Legend 50 watt hybrid Combo on Eliminator album.

Here’s what Eliminator engineer Terry Manning said Billy used on Eliminator:

“The amp used, almost exclusively, on Eliminator was a Legend. This was about a 50w hybrid unit, employing a tube/valve preamp and a transistor power amp. This is the amp which has a finished wood case, and a rattan-type cane grill. It has one 12″ Celestion speaker.

Gibbons now uses Magnatone amplifiers.[10]

At the 2010 Winter NAMM show, Dunlop and Gibbons unveiled a new line of guitar accessories, Rev. Willy's. These include Gibbons inspired picks, strings, and slides.[11]

For the 2016 tour the bass and guitars were each fed through eight Magnatone tops and speakers.

Guitar rig[edit]

A detailed gear diagram of Billy Gibbons' 2003 ZZ Top guitar rig exists.[12]

Dusty Hill[edit]


Preferring the Fender style bass, Dusty Hill also uses many different basses and amplifiers in different combos, and maintains a large collection of vintage as well as custom basses by noted luthier, John Bolin of Bolin Guitars USA. Hill is noted for designing simple, uncomplicated basses with a single pickup with a single volume knob, with the sometime rare addition[clarification needed] including a specially powered knob for tone control.[13][14]


  • Vintage Fender Telecaster Bass - Only used during recordings.
  • Fender Precision Bass
  • Custom Fender Telecaster Bass - Fitted with custom wound DiMarzio pickups.
  • Custom reversed Telecaster Bass
  • Custom Telecaster Bass - With reversed headstock.
  • Dean (Gibson Explorer-style) custom bass - Covered in white sheep wool, with spinning unit.[15]
  • Custom reversed Precision Bass
  • Bolin Guitars custom - White hollowbody bass.
  • Dean Z
  • Danelectro Longhorn Bass (Used in-studio on all of ZZ Top's First Album)
  • Customized Fender Jazz Bass
  • 21 Ball Hamiltone (only one made - designed and created by Jim Hamilton)



Frank Beard[edit]



* Tama Starclassic Maple drums:[16]

  1. 18"×22" Bass Drum
  2. 6"×14" Starclassic Maple Snare
  3. 5.5"×10" Tom Tom
  4. 10"×10" Tom Tom
  5. 6"×12" Tom Tom
  6. 14"×14" Floor Tom
  7. 16"×16" Floor Tom
  8. 16"×18" Floor Tom
  9. 5"×12" Snare Drum


* 2002 Paiste cymbals:[17]

  1. 16" 2002 China
  2. 16" 2002 Crash
  3. 15" 2002 Medium Hi-Hat
  4. 18" 2002 Crash
  5. 19" 2002 Crash
  6. 20" 2002 Power Ride
  7. 13" Signature Mega Cup Chime
  8. 17" 2002 Crash
  9. 14" 2002 Medium Hi-Hat
  10. 18" 2002 China


* Pro-Mark drumsticks:[18]

  1. TX2SW Hickory 2S wood tip (length: 17”/diameter: 0.63”)
  2. TX440W Hickory 440 wood tip (length: 17”/diameter: 0.63”)


* Remo drumheads [19]


* Ddrum triggers [20]


* Tama hardware:[16]

  1. Iron Cobra Power Glide Single Pedal
  2. 1st Chair Wide-Rider Drum Throne

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harward, Randy (24 February 2009). "Inquirer: Billy Gibbons - Guitar World". Guitar World. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Billy F. Gibbons" (PDF). The ToneQuest Report. Georgia: Mountanview Publishing. October 2002. p. 4. Retrieved 25 Aug 2010.
  3. ^ "Billy F. Gibbons" (PDF). The ToneQuest Report. Georgia: Mountanview Publishing. October 2002. p. 3. Retrieved 25 Aug 2010.
  4. ^ Guitar World, June 2003
  5. ^ "Making Our December 2008 Cover - Billy Gibbons". Musician's Friend. December 2008. Retrieved 21 Aug 2010.
  6. ^ a b Doyle, Michael (1993). The history of Marshall: the illustrated story of "the sound of rock". Hal Leonard. p. 25. ISBN 0-7935-2509-8.
  7. ^ Paul, Alan (3 December 2009). "Prime Cuts: ZZ Top". Guitar World. Future US. Archived from the original on 26 March 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  8. ^ Prown, Pete; Lisa Sharken (2003). Gear Secrets of the Guitar Legends: How to Sound Like Your Favorite Players. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 119. ISBN 0-87930-751-X.
  9. ^ Pittman, Aspen (2003). The Tube Amp Book. 165: Hal Leonard. ISBN 0-87930-767-6.
  10. ^ "Bringing Back The Magnatone" (PDF). The Music Trades. 164 (1). February 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Dunlop's NAMM 2010 Accessories Demo Video". Dunlop Manufacturing. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  12. ^ Cooper, Adam (2003-03-23). "Billy Gibbons' 2003 ZZ Top Guitar Rig". GuitarGeek.Com. Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  13. ^ "Dusty Hill Biography". Archived from the original on 2012-06-22.
  14. ^ "Hollowbody Bass Archive » Dusty Hill of ZZ Top". Hollowbody Bassist. Archived from the original on 2010-09-04. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  15. ^ deanguitars.com
  16. ^ a b Tama Artist Profile
  17. ^ Paiste Artist Profile
  18. ^ Pro-Mark Artist Profile
  19. ^ Remo artists
  20. ^ Ddrum artists

External links[edit]