The secrets behind Billy Zoom's guitar tone on X's Los Angeles

Billy Zoom
(Image credit: Clayton Call/Redferns)

Billy Zoom remains one of the most fascinating figures of the early punk rock scene, mainly because he never truly fit the mold of the typical punk guitarist. 

Inspired by Johnny Ramone, he adopted a similar spread-eagle stance on stage and unleashed a brutal wall of distorted powerchords, but his beatific smile contrasted the de rigueur punk scowl, and his gleaming vintage Gretsch 6129 Silver Jet was downright upscale compared to the pawn shop prizes most punk players preferred. 

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.