The Texas rockers have used the same tone formula for decades, but when it comes to gear and making a statement, they’re kings of style.

Dusty Hill’s new No. 1 bass matches Billy Gibbons’ No. 1 guitar, and both are chambered John Bolin creations. The new designs are called the “Peeler” guitar and bass, because of the paint-peeling look, which is a laminate sticker design that was inspired by the peeling finish of a ’56 Precision bass that was damaged in a flood. All of Hill’s basses are ’50s slab-body Precision basses that feature Babicz bridges and stacked Seymour Duncan Precision reissue pickups. The bridge pickup in Gibbons’ T-style is a Cream T Billy Gibbons signature Banger and Mash.

ZZ Top’s guitar and bass tech, Elwood Francis, explains the ins and outs of the newest guitars and basses that Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill have out on the road for 2015.

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It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

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