RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects

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Guitar tech Elwood Francis and ZZ Top s Billy Gibbons with a John Bolin built Pearly Gates replica

Guitar tech Elwood Francis and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons with a John Bolin-built Pearly Gates replica
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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Francis and Gibbons show off a road case filled with guitar goodness

Francis and Gibbons show off a road case filled with guitar goodness
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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Those are Billy Gibbons fingers holding his Mexican peso pick

Those are Billy Gibbons' fingers holding his Mexican peso pick
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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Francis prepares to replace a battery in Gibbons Silvertone Howlin Wolf guitar

Francis prepares to replace a battery in Gibbons' Silvertone 'Howlin' Wolf' guitar
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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The battery in Francis gives the Silvertone a few strums

The battery in, Francis gives the Silvertone a few strums
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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Gibbons John Bolin built Stoner T style guitar

Gibbons' John Bolin-built 'Stoner' T-style guitar
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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A John Bolin built T style guitar with Chinese lettering

A John Bolin-built T-style guitar with Chinese lettering
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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John Bolin modified Gibson Melody Maker

John Bolin-modified Gibson Melody Maker
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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The John Bolin built Fur Bo with Gretsch parts and a TV Jones Filter Tron pickup

The John Bolin-built 'Fur Bo' with Gretsch parts and a TV Jones Filter'Tron pickup
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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A John Bolin built Pearly Gates replica

A John Bolin-built Pearly Gates replica
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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That s Gibbons on the headstock of the John Bolin built Pearly Gates replica

That's 'Gibbons' on the headstock of the John Bolin-built Pearly Gates replica
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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A Magnatone 50 watt two channel prototype

A Magnatone 50-watt two-channel prototype
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects


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A Marshall Class 5 five watt combo used by Elwood to monitor Billy s signal

A Marshall Class 5 five-watt combo used by Elwood to monitor Billy's signal
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

RIG TOUR: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on his guitars, amps and effects

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Pre soundcheck Francis kills time while the guitars await duty

Pre-soundcheck, Francis kills time while the guitars await duty
(Image: © Joe Bosso)

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.