A genius guitarist with an inimitable look and eccentric style, Billy Gibbons has gone down in music history as much for the fat sound of his guitars as for his beard, which has become inseparable from the Reverend. Being an unbridled collector of instruments, Gibbons was also particularly inventive when it came to designing original models. Among the myriad of guitars he has designed over the years, the red Billy Bo occupies a special place. What has become an iconic guitar is in fact a tribute to two generations of bluesmen, Billy Gibbons of course, but also Bo Diddley, to whom we owe this guitar shape. The John Bolin Billy Bo Gretsch Prototype available at Matt's Guitar Shop is a rare guitar designed by John Bolin. It features all the characteristics of the Reverend's personal guitars, and pushes the Billy Bo to the peak of its qualities.
Let's take a look back at the history of the Billy Bo, a mythical guitar with a new and profoundly futuristic design. In 2005, Billy Gibbons signed his first signature model to Gretsch, a guitar with an absolutely radical design that was not new. Indeed, the Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird was a shape designed by the legendary Bo Diddley in 1959. The Brooklyn-based brand only made one for him at the time, which he then offered to Gibbons. This historic piece remained in the ZZ Top boss's archives for a long time, until he brought it out again for a recording, and then suggested that Gretsch develop a double-signature model bringing together two generations of guitarists, hence the name Billy Bo, for Gibbons and Diddley. The Billy Bo retains its original shape, but the pickups are TV Jones Powertrons, more suited to the modern fat sound preferred by ZZ Top.
John Bolin and Billy Gibbons began a fruitful collaboration after meeting backstage at a ZZ Top concert in Boise, Idaho. Billy Gibbons fell under the spell of Bolin's instruments, and the two men soon embarked on several guitar projects designed with the exacting standards of one and the technical mastery of the other. Master builder John Bolin worked closely with Billy Gibbons, building over 100 custom guitars and basses over more than twenty years. Over the years, they have created eccentric instruments that draw on the former's extensive expertise. They built guitars in a variety of materials to satisfy the Reverend's overflowing imagination: carved, gold, flamed, fur- and leather-covered, or even distorted tops... Their partnership extended to the personal guitars played by Billy Gibbons on stage. Indeed, John Bolin progressively built the Billy Bo guitars played by Gibbons on stage – mainly for weight reasons.
This rare Billy Bo John Bolin Prototype comes directly from the Billy Gibbons collection, and was built by luthier John Bolin. It combines all the characteristics specific to the Reverend's personal instruments: the remarkably light weight compared to its Gretsch equivalent, and the rabidly working bridge pickup. Another exceptional guitar to discover at Matt's Guitar Shop!
Group : ZZ Top
Main guitar : Gibson Les Paul Standard 1959
An absolute “must-hear” track : Just Got Paid
Billy Gibbons is the boss. The boss of guitarists with his sensual tremolo and the fat sound like a burrito he gets from his Les Paul. The boss of singers with his rocky and twangy sound. The boss of bandleaders with ZZ Top, his trio whose lineup has remained the same since 1969. The boss of engineers, with an impeccable sense of staging. And finally the boss of collectors, with several hangars filled with several thousand guitars that he has acquired over the years. Legend has it that he would have a copy from every year of every model from the major brands, and that may not be just a legend... In any case, the guitars that we know he has are enough to turn heads. From “Mistress Pearly Gates”, the famous Les Paul 59 that has always been with him, to his 54 hardtail Strat that we often hear in addition to Pearly Gates, along with his many custom hotrod guitars.
His career began in 1967 with The Moving Sidewalks, one of the few psychedelic Texas rock bands inspired by the 13th Floor Elevators. They opened for Jimi Hendrix before breaking up in 1969, when Gibbons founded ZZ Top.
The trio began with rich and traditional blues rock before going in a more electronic direction, starting with Degüello in 1979. That direction was confirmed with the Eliminator/Afterburner/Recycler trilogy. Three albums where the blend of Gibbons’ blues with the synthesisers and drum machines of the time produced a result that won over many fans, whether they came to trio’s music through singles like Gimme All Your Loving and Rough Boy, or through the band’s excellent videos that were often played on MTV. Since then, ZZ Top has reinvented its music once again with a fatter, more organic, and fuzzy sound. Gibbons has made multiple appearances as a guest star on other musicians’ albums. He has also released two albums under his own name: Perfectamundo, which explores Cuban music, and Big Bad Blues, which returns to his first loves, between Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. The circle is complete.