Billy Gibbons 1959 Les Paul

Even after honing his guitar skills for four-and-a-half decades, Billy Gibbons continues to evolve as a player. In a just-published interview with M – Music & Musicians, the six-string maestro said these days he emphasizes economy and tone. “It’s so much better to express yourself in 12 notes than it might be in 24,” he explained. “The spaces between the notes are music, too, so there’s a whole lot there and it’s more comfortable to play and hear if you don’t overwhelm everybody. As far as tone is concerned, the dirtier the better. Our motto is ‘grit is good.’”

Gibbons went on to extol the virtues of a certain longtime companion. “Nothing else sounds as good as Miss Pearly Gates, that special, special 1959 Gibson Les Paul Burst …,” he said. “It’s got its own special blend of herbs and spices, and has stood us in good stead in the studio and on the road.”

Asked about future goals, Gibbons alluded to forthcoming solo projects. “There’s a spate of BFG [Billy F. Gibbons] solo releases pending,” he said, “and we hope those are out before long. It’s electronica-skewed work and certainly won’t be confused with ZZ Top, which is the very point. Why do something different if it sounds the same? This is and doesn’t.”

ZZ Top’s most recent album, La Futura, was released in September.