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ZZ Top sound?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by bluejamul, Sep 20, 2003.

  1. bluejamul

    bluejamul TDPRI Member

    12
    May 17, 2003
    San Diego
    Any ideas on how to approximate a ZZ Top type sound with my ash AT with Nocaster bridge/Twang King neck through a 59 Bassman RI?
     

  2. redshoesjim

    redshoesjim Tele-Meister

    197
    May 26, 2003
    california
    what sound are you looking for

    they have so many ! can you name the song that has the tone you like on it ?
     

  3. Reno Sepulveda

    Reno Sepulveda Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    Nowhere man
    Re: what sound are you looking for

    That's the key right there. Plus you have to get the right tuning. Billy uses open G a lot. Jesus Just Left Chicago, I'm Bad I'm Nationwide, It's Only Love etc. A Tele works great on those with both pickups on. I like The Rat for anything raunchy.

    But this brings up a question. Does the 4 position switch mod on a tele nudge you over into humbuckerville or what? I've been getting into Weezer latley and need a little more oooomph. Or should I just give in and buy a Les Paul Jr?

    Reno
     

  4. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    re 4 position Tele switch & Rev Gibbons gear etc...

    The series connection with the 4 way switch does get a fat humbucker tone, it's not the same as a Gibson but it sounds good.
    For even more fun , get one of Deaf Eddies 5 way switches, you'll have all 3 stock sounds + series ( FAT ) and series out of phase ( Funky Strat out of phase type tone )

    As far as ZZ Top, who really knows what Billy Gibbons uses , he is a master of B.S. in interviews, he's probably used all manner of guitars, pickups, amps and effects.
    I did recently read that live he has some rack mount digital 31 band EQ's that he uses to get the "Pearly Gates" humbucker tone not matter what gutiar he uses, makes sense to me, since they did a tour with some Custom Shop Esquires a while back.
    So maybe you ought to try out an EQ pedal first, I have had a few parametric EQ pedals, you can really do some tone tweaking with one of them.
     

  5. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Doctor of Teleocity

    Apr 28, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    Re: what sound are you looking for

    Hey Reno...you're opening up a can of worms there. :D

    Billy actually uses standard tuning on almost every ZZTop recording. I know for sure that he uses standard tuning on Jesus Just Left Chicago and Nationwide. I've had this same conversation with friends over the past 10 years, so I've made a point of watching him closely at concerts now.

    The last time I saw him, earlier this year, he played the same guitar for almost the entire set. It was that red "blob" looking guitar that Bo Diddley gave him, and it was definitely tuned standard...in standard intervals at least (may have been tuned down).

    He did change out to Pearly Gates for slide on Just Got Paid and one other song, but still in standard tuning.
     

  6. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Doctor of Teleocity

    Apr 28, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    Having much experience with a Bassman RI, I'd say that a Rat pedal wouldn't be a bad place to start. I've used a Sans Amp GT2 with GREAT results. It does take some tweaking, but it's a very versital pedal.

    I wouldn't waste a ton of time though, trying to get the right pedal, or other gear. You'll spend too much time and money on it. Your time will be better spent studying his licks and technique. Once you get a handle on that, you can make it happen with most any decent gear out there.

    Now that I just re-read what I typed, let me say this - don't become obsessed with any one player, no matter how good they are. Lord knows we've got enought SRV clones out there right now. If you like Billy Gibbons, check out some of the guys that influnced him. To many to list here - email me for a list.
     

  7. Reno Sepulveda

    Reno Sepulveda Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    Nowhere man
    Re: what sound are you looking for

    [quote=" Hey Reno...you're opening up a can of worms there. :D
    Billy actually uses standard tuning on almost every ZZTop recording. I know for sure that he uses standard tuning on Jesus Just Left Chicago and Nationwide. .[/quote]

    Well I'm not going to argue with anybody named the Good Texan over anything ZZTop ;^). It's just that for me, those two songs are much easier to mimic when I tune the guitar to open G. A person could probably play Start Me Up in standard tuning as well if they had to.

    I do love senor Gibbons tone.

    Reno
     

  8. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Ad Free Member

    May 10, 2003
    Near Milwaukee
    Gibbons

    Doesn't he play a Les Paul with an Xpandora pedal in the newer stuff? I read once that he plays super light gauge strings like 8's. Or am I wrong?
     

  9. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    at least that's what he said...

    ...could be more of that throwing the interviewer for a loop just for kicks.

    he said for rhythmeen he was using really light gauge stuff and tuning waaaay down. don't see how that's possible, considering some of the cuts go down to B and below! also on this album he kept discussing the Expandora, Orange amp cabs, and a whole mess of amps - older stuff mainly, tweeds, Marshalls, etc. guitars were said to be Pearly Gates, and a whole slew of stuff with P90s and such.

    most of his older stuff sounds like mainly a Gibson thru old Marshalls or tweeds to my ears.

    maybe one of those Fat Boost pedals with the Bassman cranked would do the trick, or at least be a good starting point.
     

  10. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Doctor of Teleocity

    Apr 28, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    Re: re 4 position Tele switch & Rev Gibbons gear etc...

    I think this is probably the most accurate statement regarding Billy's gear. I have read all of the articles too, and when I read that line about using the lightest gauge strings he could find and tuning them down, I actually laughed out loud in the store.

    Over the years, I've read about him using Les Pauls, Esquires, Marshall heads & cabs, Expandora pedals (like 8 of them strung in row?), Orange stuff, a Marshall JMP-1 preamp direct to the board, and 1x12 iso cabs, just to name a few. I think he may make up stuff like this because he knows some players will read the article then run out and try to find that equipment. He just does it to screw with us.

    As far as vintage ZZTop tones go, I'd put my money on Les Pauls and Marshalls. The newer stuff? I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the studio with a rack of PODs!
     

  11. Reno Sepulveda

    Reno Sepulveda Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2003
    Nowhere man
    ZZtone

    Remember when Knopfler recorded Money For Nothing? He said he was going for that ZZtop sound. Now Knopfler is a great player, had money to burn and access to all the studio tricks of the day. He even bought himself a nice Les Paul just for the occasion and he still couldn't pull it off. He was probably reading those interviews too.

    I always wanted one of those amps that Billy said were custom made for him by the guy that owned a small guitar and bait shop out in the boonies.

    Reno
     

  12. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    re Money For Nothing Knopler

    That for sure doesn't sound ANYTHING like ZZ Top, I can't believe that he was going for that tone!
    It sounds more like a LP into a wah half cocked into a Marshall than anything else.
    Weird!
     

  13. Billy Claire

    Billy Claire Tele-Holic

    994
    Mar 20, 2003
    Outside Boston MA
    I'm almost positive that that old ZZ sound is into Fender tweed Champs...
     

  14. Billy Claire

    Billy Claire Tele-Holic

    994
    Mar 20, 2003
    Outside Boston MA
    but of course, I didn't answer your question. The sound he got was an amp on 10. Put your Bassman on 10 and you'll have it. You'll kill people but the tone will be awesome. Cover half the speakers with a guitar case....
     

  15. El Capitan

    El Capitan Tele-Holic

    808
    Jul 14, 2003
    AUSTIN, Tejas!
    The "Z" and the Rev Billy G

    :D
     

  16. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    Memphis TN
    don't forget the famous ( infamous? ) Legend amps

    Remember those? cool oak cabinets, cane grilles , sot of "Boogie" looking, they are hybrid amps, ss preamp/tube power amp I believe.
    The Rev Gibbons was an endorser for them way back when , and I remember the Rio Grande amps, Tejas Marshalls?
    This is kind of like discussing how to get Eric Clapton's or SRV's tone, which one do you want? ;)
     

  17. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Doctor of Teleocity

    Apr 28, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    Re: don't forget the famous ( infamous? ) Legend amps

    Yeah - it may be fruitless...but it's fun too. Just as long as everyone keeps smiling! :D

    The other thing is this - 99% of us are getting our information from the same sources - guitar magazines. I can still remember reading some of those first GP magazines way back when (how to get Angus Young tone???). All we know is what they tell us, and what we might see at a concert. It would be rare for anyone to be able to say they were present when song "x" was actually recorded.
     

  18. marshallmelloman

    marshallmelloman Tele-Holic

    550
    Apr 7, 2003
    More interesting to me would be his fingerings for some licks. I've been checking out ZZ's "first record" and "rio grande mud" and pinching some licks (there's alota good ones) it isn't exactly un-tricky stuff sometimes tho. The sound on those records I'm sure Billy could get close to with any good Les Paul (or any guitar really) and any good amp turned up- but playin those licks right is the hard part. Pull offs in funny spots -odd over the bar licks that sound like a comp but aren't-1/4 step bends into a pull-off that sound like a psychadelic donkey-right hand fingers come sneekin in for some spank-pedal steel , and that's just the first track! Cool stuff. Like most of the greats he's got his unique little tricks and quirks, he put some freshness back into the blues and rock and those pentatonic scales. Another goldmine of licks to dig into.
     

  19. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Doctor of Teleocity

    Apr 28, 2003
    Nashville, TN
    I think what I like most about the early ZZTop stuff was that it seemed like he rarely play the same group of licks twice. Always something different. And if you think about it - there really aren't many signature ZZTop "licks".
     

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