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ZZ Top Tone

RossE

Inspired
Plexi or JMPre-1 OD2
Celestion greenbacks
Supposedly he rolls the treble all the way down on his rig.
Lot's of good info on the internet, just google it......
 

Cainer

Experienced
I've had the best luck with Marshalls (Plexi) and the bridge pickup in a Les Paul or even a Tele. I guess it also depends on what era - they got pretty processed there in the 80's ;) For that style ( at least the earlier stuff) I find just a Marshall amp with no fx is the best approach.
 

austinbuddy

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
I'd note on older albums Billy G. sometimes used a Tweed Deluxe with Les Paul for leads, so check that out, but mostly I'd use Jumpered Plexis. For the more processed-era ZZ Top of the 80's, try the JMP-1 amp model and use the MD421 mic on greenbacks -- all juicy mids.
 

JT2

Inspired
If you listen to his isolated tracks you'll be amazed at how they sound. Thin and middy. But in the context of the mix, HUGE.
Double tracking, sustain, a spike in the EQ and digging into the strings helps. I doubt that you'd create a patch that sounds like what's in the mix. That as a stand alone patch is not very impressive. But, never give up.
 

cnaufel

Experienced
If you listen to his isolated tracks you'll be amazed at how they sound. Thin and middy. But in the context of the mix, HUGE.
Double tracking, sustain, a spike in the EQ and digging into the strings helps. I doubt that you'd create a patch that sounds like what's in the mix. That as a stand alone patch is not very impressive. But, never give up.
Very true! A had the same impression and was amazed when I heard the isolated tracks...
 

austinbuddy

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
YES!

If you spend any time mixing and recording, you learn this very quickly: a great, full and rich sounding guitar tone by itself does not necessarily sound great when blended together with all the other instruments going on!

Counter-intuitive, but often true, especially with bands of five or more members/instruments. It needs to be mid-dy to punch through for leads and occupy it's own sonic space without conflict with the rest of the sound.

LOVE the sound of the early ZZ Top albums (not the re-issue with there reverb-drenched drums - bleh) - that is quintessential Plexi Tone (and some Tweed amps thrown in, I believe the lead on "La Grange "may have been a Tweed Deluxe for example).
 

steadystate

Fractal Fanatic
Sorry for the following, but I have long-standing issues with this subject.

The intro of Tush has significant energy in my subwoofer, which is crossed over at 80 Hz. When I turn my sub off, the tone suffers. Many pro recordings feature guitars that make my sub move.

I will never subscribe to the practice of high pass filtering guitars in a mix as a given. There is no more effective way to emasculate palm mutes on the low strings, or the guitar tone in general.

The FIRST thing most board operators here do is put my axe through highpass and lowpass filters, rendering my painstaking efforts to balance my tone impotent. Instead of taking the time to balance the bandwidth of the instruments (except bass and kick), they obliterate all but the midrange, leaving a weak and bland tone. One guy used a 250 Hz lowpass filter and 4 kHz highpass. He "learned" this was the correct way to mix. My tone was shit.

Even a small amount of energy in the low end can be extremely important. The difference between a hint and none can be huge. IMOHO, many engineers are simply lazy and choose to use a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel to make their job quick and easy. They can't take the time (or don't have the skill) to balance the low/high end between the instruments (including vocals), so they simply remove all of it. A lame practice that yields a lame tone.

Again, my apologies. I do not mean to derail the thread; I only mean to point out that Billy does in fact have some lows in his tone on many of his recordings. This is part of what makes his tone exceptional to me in many cases, even though it may not be apparent (because it is done properly). Also, isolated tracks may not (and often don't) have the same eq as the release from which they came.
 
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