Guitarist Billy Gibbons’ and bassist Dusty Hill’s toys can be summed up by three Bs: bold, Bolin-made, and because they said so.

On the current ZZ Top tour, Billy Gibbons starts the night with a John Bolin-made purple telecaster. The guitar was made in 2012 and has a 24 3/4 scale, a chambered mahogany body with a flamed-maple top, a set mahogany neck with painted maple fretboard, Glendale saddles, a Cream T BFG Banger pickup with LED pole pieces, and checkerboard binding. According to Gibbons’ tech Elwood Francis, this guitar is “feather light.” Like all of Gibbons’ guitars, it’s strung with .07-.038 strings.

ZZ Top approaches gear like they approach facial hair: Go big or go home. Billy Gibbons’ tech Elwood Francis and Dusty Hill’s tech Ken “TJ” Gordon give us the behind-the-scenes rundown of the current touring setup.

Billy Gibbons’ Gear
Here’s a glimpse at what Billy’s been using live, but let it be known that it’s already changed. “We started the tour using the Les Pauls for the encores, but that gave way to whatever guitars we happened to pick up along the way,” said Billy Gibbons’ tech Elwood Francis from the road in mid-November. “Things change at the drop of a hat. In the past week, we've acquired four guitars and six fuzz boxes—and the tour only has three more gigs.” 

Dusty Hill’s Gear
Tech Ken “TJ” Gordon describes Dusty Hill’s bass tone as, “Texas blues with a little nastiness and a lot whoooo!” Here he guides us through Hill’s gear, including a collection of basses that were custom-made to match the guitars of bandmate Billy Gibbons.

How to Reamp Your Guitar | Recording Dojo

This well-established, simple technique opens up a new world of sonic possibilities.

[Originally published February 14, 2022]
Welcome to another Dojo! This time I’m going to show you how to reamp your guitar and explore some creative ways you can re-amps other tracks as well (soft synths, vocals, drums, etc.). In my earlier column “Why Guitarists Shouldn’t Diss DIs,” I mentioned the benefits of using a DI for creative recording. If you have a DI box, dust it off! You’ll need it when I show you how to get more out of your DI-recorded guitar and bass tracks by reamping them into your pedals and amps to capture new perspectives and even add some new reverberant spaces. Tighten up your belts, the Dojo is now open.

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A lightweight, portable amp series developed after months of forensic examination of vintage valve amps.

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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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