zz top

Micki Free with his sidekicks: JMP 2061X heads, 1974X combos, and SV20C combos. The guitar is a Teye Gypsy Queen model.

The veteran blues-rocker uses low-wattage amps to creative a massive, high-intensity sound that nods to heroes like Hendrix, Trower, and early Clapton.

Micki Free is not a less-is-more kind of player—at least when it comes to amps. His setup is all reissue Marshalls: two JMP 2061X heads perched on 4x12 stacks, a pair of 1974X combos, and double SV20C 1x10 combos. They look great together and, of course, sound even better.

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Billy Gibbons is known to favor T-style guitars. On his new track “Hombre Sin Nombre,” he used a 1956 Fender Tele for a break that features pinch harmonics and gobs of reverb.
Photo by Gerardo Ortiz

ZZ Top’s guitar wizard honors his childhood roots on Perfectamundo—his first solo record ever—with a mix of Afro-Cuban beats, rumbling Hammond B-3, and plenty of gritty, greasy, growling guitar.

The Gandalf of Texas blues-rock guitar, Billy F. Gibbons, has traded “how, how, how, how” for “cómo, cómo, cómo, cómo” on his first solo album, the surprising and yet entirely Gibbons-esque Perfectamundo. The surprise lies in the lyrics and rhythmic lilt, which are both distinctly Latin and suggest the kind of Afro-Cuban grooves found on Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club or a classic record by mambo king Tito Puente. The “Gibbons” factor lurks in the low-end grit and cosmic grease he smears all over the album’s 11 tracks. It’s these sounds that make Perfectamundo, like many of ZZ Top’s hippest recordings, a trippy journey through the terrain of BFG’s dust, gasoline, and cerveza-infused musical psyche.

Perfectamundo raises questions, the biggest being: Why a solo album after 46 years as the 6-string brujo and primary diviner of one of rock’s coolest and most successful bands?

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