Billy Gibbons


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Guitar collection Billy

Fender Champ amp

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Gibson Les Paul Sunburst & Gretsch G6199 (Billy-Bo)

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Z Esquire Tele Masterbuilt

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Marshall Super Lead 1968

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Marshall Valvestate 120


Billy Gibbons was born on September 16, 1949 at Tanglewood, a suburb of Houston, Texas.

Billy grew up in a wealthy family that aspired classical and country music aswell. But after seeing Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show, Billy became fascinated by the Rock 'n Roll. Other early rockers like Little Richard and Jimmy Reed also caught his attention.
At Christmas of 1963, Billy got his first guitar as gift, a Gibson Melody Maker complete with a Fender Champ amplifier. The first tones he took out the instrument were songs of his idols.
On his 14th Billy formated his first band, The Saints, which after a few months already broek up. Billy then joined with a band called The Coachmen, which mainly engaged in psychedelic music, inspired by bands like Jefferson Airplaine and Jimi Hendrix. Later is also still recognizable in ZZTop.

The band changed the name to the Moving Sidewalks. In 1967 they released their first single, '99th Floor' and one years later the first album, 'Flash'.
In 1968 the band was part of a tour with Jimi Hendrix. Jimi gave an interview that time to know that from the new generation of guitarists, Billy was one of his most favorite. In 1969, the Moving Sidewalks dissolved.

 Moving Sidewalks
The Moving Sidewalks

Billy went searching in a more pure blues-boogie style. He found in two other Texans, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard, two outstanding blues musicians and ZZTop was created.
The name is ZZTop decompose in the name of blues legend B.B. King. The band would therefore first Z.Z. King being named but it showed too much resemblance to their hero. They claimed that King also stood at the top and did so by ZZTop.

Billy (without beard)

The strength of the trio is the deposit of a solid base on which the Billy with strong guitar riffs can build. Or as Billy himself once said: "They put a nice rug in front of me where I can enjoy dancing it."
There are many guitarists who have embraced the technique of Billy.
The classic La Grange is a good example where the style and technique of Gibbons is well recognized.

His guitar collection is extensive and includes practically all the famous brands and models. In the studio he plays various models, but during his performances the G6199 Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird and Gibson Les Paul Sunburst are most favorite. But the Les Paul Sunbursst is still the most appreciate of Billy.

The G6199 Jupiter Thunderbird is a design from 1958 by master boogie/blues virtuoso
Bo Diddley. Billy got as gift an original model from Bo. Together with Bo, they make some changes and in 2005 came a new version on the market, the G6199 Billy-Bo. The guitar has a mahogany body and neck of one piece and a laminated maple top.

Bo Diddley
Bo Diddley with its original G6199

A remarkable little guitar from the collection of Billy is the Chiquita Travel Guitar.
It is a product of the cousins Mark and Dan Erlewine. Mark Erlewine repaired guitars and other stringed instruments began in 1970 with his cousin Dan a company to build guitars in Austin, Texas. Late seventies, he met Billy who was looking for a handy little guitar so he during the tour of the band wich he still could playin the plane. Thus, the cousins Erlewine developed the Chiquita.

Chiquita Travel guitar

It is a small instrument with a total length of 27 inches. This format with 23 frets is a bit tricky to play and after the 12th fret is a bit tight for guitarists with thick fingers. There is a single, double-coil humbucker pickup on, and despite the small body of this instrument has a good resonance.

The base amplifier for the sound is a Marshall Super Lead 1968. Along with the Super Leads, Billy used various Marshall products, including The JCM 900 Dual Reverb, Bluesbreaker, JTM45, Major, and Lead 12.

His rack also contains a JMP-1 preamp, combined with amplifiers as the Marshall Valvestate 120 and 9200.

ZZTop being now about more then 40 years together and still touring successfully. Billy Gibbons makes occasional solo outings. So he was at the U.S. music fair in the NAMM 2008 guests at the stand of Fender. Here he played on the Z Esquire Tele Master Built, in a performance with Cindy Cashdollar, Jimmy Vaughn, G.E. Smith.
(see video)

Billy with Gibson SG Special