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Rumor Spreading Around: Gear & Tone


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ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons has used all kinds of gear throughout the years, so there's no specific piece of gear that you need in order to sound like him. He's able to make all kinds of different guitars sound like him, which proves that 90% of tone comes from how you play, and how you dial the gear you already have.

But one thing that will help you get the sound right for this song is to try keeping a light touch. Don't hit the strings too hard since that's where a big part of his tone comes from. So keep that in mind as well.

Gear-wise, a good place to start for this song would be a single coil guitar. I use my Telecaster on the neck pickup and I run it through a modeled Fender amp with the volume set to 9 out of 10. If I was hitting the strings at full force, the amp would break up, but with the soft touch and hybrid picking it works out perfectly.

For the distorted parts I add a distortion pedal similar to a RAT. I have the distortion set to 11 o'clock, the hi-cut set to 2 o'clock, and the volume set to be slightly louder than the bypassed volume. If playing live, you can either step on the pedal to switch between your clean and dirty sound, or you can turn down your guitar volume, which will clean it up.

For the doubling rhythm guitar, I'm using the same basic settings but with a different cabinet primarily so they don't sound exactly the same.

For the lead guitar I'm also using the same settings, but I switch between my neck and bridge pickup to get a warmer and brighter sound.