Watch ZZ Top's Elwood Francis use a 17-string bass guitar onstage for Got Me Under Pressure

Elwood Francis (left) and Billy Gibbons perform onstage in Huntsville, Alabama on November 5, 2022
(Image credit: ace11115/YouTube)

Last July, Dusty Hill, ZZ Top's longtime bass guitar player, died at the age of 72.

Hill's place in the band, as per the late bassist's wishes, was taken by the band's longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis. 

Now, even though ZZ Top have famously used some rather colorful guitars over the course of their lengthy career, fans at the band's recent (November 5) gig (opens in new tab) at the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall in Huntsville, Alabama were probably a bit taken aback by what they saw when Francis first stepped onstage with the group.

The bass in Francis's hands wasn't a four-string or a 5-string bass guitar, nor was it a six-string model. 

No, readers, this yellow-finished low-end behemoth was a (by our count, at least) 17-string bass. You can see it in action in the fan-filmed footage of the band's opening number that night (Got Me Under Pressure) below.

Now, not to be a kill-joy, but a spin of the video does seem to show Francis only using three or four of the beast's strings. 

Still, the skill involved from swinging from the low notes at the very top of the bass (fretted, of course, over the top of the neck) to the middle and higher notes all the way at the bottom is pretty impressive. The Little Ol' Band From Texas has always known how to take simple elements (in this case a steady-grooving bass line) and put on a show with them, after all. 

Now, all we need is for Billy Gibbons to invite Jared Dines and his 20-string Mountain Dew Meme Guitar onstage with the band for the djentiest ZZ Top show ever...

Also of note at this particular gig were the purple "fuzz" guitars the band used for Legs.

"The fuzzy guitars have gone Royal," the band wrote of the guitars in an Instagram post (opens in new tab) last month. "Royal Purple that is!"

For tickets and more info on ZZ Top's forthcoming shows, visit the band's website (opens in new tab).

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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.