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RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects
Whenever Billy Gibbons hits the road with ZZ Top, he brings with him a collection of bespoke, drool-worthy guitar goodies. Such is the case with the band's current run, dubbed the Gang Of Outlaws tour, in which 'That Little Ol' Band From Texas' headline a bang-up extravaganza that also features 3 Doors Down and Gretchen Wilson.
Gibbons and his trusty guitar tech, Elwood Francis, welcomed MusicRadar to the MGM Grand at the Foodwoods in Mashantucket, CT recently to show us the axes, amps and effects that help power the distinctive ZZ Top live sound, which you can see in the exclusive video above.
But there's one thing more: Seated in his dressing room, Gibbons reaches into his pocket and pulls out a Mexican peso. But not just any peso - this one's a guitar pick. And like most things Gibbons, there's a story:
"The preference of plectrums started early on with a Fender heavy-gauge pick," he says. "Having gotten used to it, we found that the heavier the gauge, the preferential they turned out to be. From living in Mexico for a few years when I was a punk, I remembered they had a peso coin that was so sizable that the idea became, 'Hey, I bet we could lay a pick within the confines of the coin and maybe have a machinist bevel it down.'
"Which we did. They don't make those large-sized peso coins anymore, but we got lucky and found a sackful. Even better, we found a machinist who was set up to bevel them down to playable picks. We've been on it ever since.
"We kind of jump between the rare peso coin and a plectrum made by Jim Dunlop, who came to the rescue with Billy G pick made from a plastic-like substance that was intended for racing car windows. He stumbled upon this substance, and it was perfect for picks.
"Between the peso and Dunlop Billy G Special, I'm covered," he says with a chuckle.